Nightly dinners are central to sharing hearts and minds.
Almost every night, without fail, we gather round the dining table, light candles, turn on music and share in the comfort and pleasure of each other's friendship and a meal shared together. I will write about the role that feasting and breaking of bread together has in discipleship another time.
Last night, I was in a hurry, so Sarah threw together Oatmeal muffins and I made potato soup in about ten minutes. (a favorite of our family--and it is rainy and 40 degrees here!)
As per Clarkson values, someone started a discussion on personal morality. I plunged into the conversation and asked, "Why do you stay morally pure? What has kept each of you committed to moral purity, even in the midst of living in very post modern, liberal places?"
The conversation took twists and turns and loudness of voice as they told stories for friends, shared convictions, and pontificated a bit. (The culture of eating meals together regularly!)
"Why have so many capitulated to the cultural standard even though raised in Christian homes?" became a focus of the topic.
SELF-GOVERNMENT--PRINCIPLES OF OWNING OUR OWN LIVES OF EXCELLENCE was the line repeated by all of the kids. And then they chimed in together,
"I CANNOT MAKE YOU HOLY. I CANNOT MAKE YOU CHOOSE TO BE EXCELLENT. YOU HAVE A WILL AND YOU HAVE TO DECIDE IN YOUR HEART WHAT KIND OF PERSON YOU WANT TO BE. WHEN YOU DECIDE TO OBEY AND CHOOSE TO BE HOLY, YOU WILL BE BUILDING A CHARACTER FOR YOURSELF THAT WILL SERVE YOU THE REST OF YOUR LIFE."
I guess I had repeated it so many times, that it was burned onto their consciences--the idea of self-government, ruling over your life and being a steward of all that you have been given and taught.
I think that many parents are trying to moralize their children--rule based. Now moral ideals and principles must be taught. But teaching must reach the heart to inspire. Inspiration creates the environment in the hearts, minds and souls of children to wanting to be a hero, wanting to have a marriage based on the partnership of two people called together to make an impact for the kingdom of God.
And of course, the daddy added, "If a child does not have a proper self-image of who he is, what he wants to become, confident of the calling and character in his life of being based on unchanging truth, then that child will be subject to the whims and sways of culture."
And so, looking back, I would have personal quiet times, read great authors and inspiring theologians who made me want to serve Christ radically, and then I would sit in the humble surroundings of our living room with pajama clad, milk mustached children and share passionately about the significance of their lives and how God could use a normal person, just like them, to change the world. We would speak of battles, and becoming warriors and heroes. We would speak of great stories, that choices had consequences. And then I would say, "But you have a choice to make. Only you can decide to embrace the holiness and greatness of God by faith. I CANNOT MAKE YOU HOLY. I CANNOT MAKE YOU CHOOSE TO BE EXCELLENT. YOU HAVE A WILL AND YOU HAVE TO DECIDE IN YOUR HEART WHAT KIND OF PERSON YOU WANT TO BE. WHEN YOU DECIDE TO OBEY AND CHOOSE TO BE HOLY, YOU WILL BE BUILDING A CHARACTER FOR YOURSELF THAT WILL SERVE YOU THE REST OF YOUR LIFE ."
And so, all concluded that they had understood that holiness and morality is a result of vision, understanding self-government, practicing owning their lives and knowing that it was a matter of their personal character--believing what was true, making choices in light of their convictions, having a high standard of personal character.
So, what did you discuss at the dinner table last night?