Saturday, July 25, 2015

Four Family Waypoints - #4, Excellent Life Experiences

Our first real football game - professional soccer.
Even though "minor league", still an excellent time
How hard can it be to create excellent life experiences for your family and you?  Spend the money to get to either Orlando or Anaheim and there you go!  A happy place, perhaps even the happiest on the planet.

For the last three posts, we have been considering Four Family Waypoints (reference points used in navigation, I think about them as a word picture to illustrate us navigating our family toward our stated mission) I was once tempted to think that this is the easiest one.
  • Authentic Worship can be challenging because there are a lot of false idols and gods out there, it is easy to fall into that trap, and worshiping the One True God is the minority view in the world nowadays.  Besides, you and I might disagree on who the One True God is.  
  • Loving Relationships can be challenging because that is not modeled well in popular culture.  
  • Worthwhile learning can be challenging because each model - community schools, private schools, and home school - has its own advantages and disadvantages.  
Comparatively speaking, what can be so hard about excellent life experiences?  Aren't creating memories for the kids through vacations and holidays where it is at?

Yes and no.

Where is life really lived?  Is family life forged during the two weeks of vacation, or is it the 50 weeks of doing life together?  Both.  As important as my vacation days and what I do with them are to me, and how they do indeed contribute to life's adventure, there is more.

I believe it is a mix of day - to - day with special moments.

We can choose to make our routine day - to - day excellent if we wish, or as my Father-In-Law has been known to say, "brilliant in the basics".  For example, here are some of what makes life excellent for me.  Perhaps they can inspire some ideas of your own:
  • I get up on time every morning and have breakfast with my Darling Bride.
  • I strive to perform at my job in such a way that is a calling, not just a job.
  • At the end of the work day, Lord willing, I get home at a reasonable time so that we can have dinner together as a family (thanks Mom for establishing that in our home!)
  • We try to do at least some activities together as a family after dinner and on weekends, such as bicycle rides swimming pools, quality TV and movies (yes, that is possible), visiting extended family...
  • We worship together as a family.
John Piper, in his book Don't Waste Your Life, gives me good counsel on how create excellent life experiences by critiquing what he calls the "avoidance ethic" :
People who are content with the avoidance ethic generally ask the wrong questions about behavior.  They ask, "What's wrong with it?  What's wrong with this movie?  Or this music?  Or this game?  Or these companions?  Or this way of relaxing?  Or this investment?  Or this restaurant?  Or shopping at this store?  What's wrong with going to the cabin every weekend?  Or having a cabin?  This kind of question will rarely yield a lifestyle that commends Christ as all-satisfying and makes people glad in God.  It simply results in a list of don'ts.  It feeds the avoidance ethic.
The better question to ask about possible behaviors is:  How will this help me treasure Christ more?  How will it help me show that I do treasure Christ?  How will it help me know Christ or display Christ?  The Bible says "Whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God" (1 Corinthians 10:31).  So the question is mainly positive, not negative.  How can I portray god as glorious in this action?  How can I enjoy making much of him in this behavior?
On the other hand, we find clues in the other Waypoints - when we know, love, and serve the One True God, love others, and are lifelong learners, we are able to make decisions are formed by those truths.  In other words, excellent life experiences are the every day mortar that holds everything else together.

Embracing the adventure of a life well lived

It takes work, but having an attitude of embracing the adventure of a life well lived together to the glory of God and under His Guidance, not only in the next day trip or weekend away but also in the routine of a day's work, chores, school, and opportunities to love and serve others.  In contrast, recently Darling Bride tells me of an acquaintance now twice divorced and there are kids involved.  Don't underestimate the simply valuable joy of being together and doing what you do today in Jesus's name.

As good as John Piper's words are the words of Jesus are even better.  In John 10:10, He says, "The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy.  I came that they may have life and have it abundantly."

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