May 14, 2018 |What I learned about parenting from planting an apple tree…
They say the best time to plant an apple tree is 20 years ago.  That makes sense if you’re wanting to harvest apples this year.  But if an apple tree wasn’t planted in your yard 20 years ago, then I guess you’re out of luck. 

This was on my mind while planting a few new fruit trees earlier today.  With the help of my three year old son, Jud, we planted two Fuji apple saplings and two Red Haven peach saplings in our back yard.  As the dad of three young children, I’ve noticed a lot of similarities between raising children and 

having an apple tree.  

  • Fruit trees are not cheap.  Planting a fruit tree requires a significant financial investment.  Likewise, raising a child is not cheap.  There’s a financial investment required to having children.  
  • Fruit trees requires work early on.  There’s digging the hole, regular watering, and pruning the new tree before it will bear any fruit.  Likewise, children require lots of work early on.  There’s sleepless nights, diaper changes, and running from school function to ball practice when your children are young.  
  • Fruit trees take time to produce fruit.  The saplings Jud and I planted today won’t produce an apple or a peach for at least 3-5 years.  That means lots of money, time, and energy without any reward for several years.  Likewise, parents exhaust themselves investing time, energy, and finances into raising children, and it will be several years before you see the results of your investment.  

And while the short-term yield is very low, the long-term results can be simply overwhelming.  I am planting these small fruit trees in a location to the west of our home in hopes they will provide some wind block during cold winters.  I’m looking forward to the delicious pies the fruit from these trees will make.  I know we will enjoy the birds and butterflies these trees will invite into our yard.  

Likewise, Amber and I hold tightly to the hope that the Lord will bless our parenting today with a harvest of rewards when Ella Joy, Liana, and Judson are adults, who love and lead their own families in the same faith we’ve invested into their lives now.  

That’s the hope behind the promise found in Proverbs 22:6 which says, “Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it.”  This is really a “reap what you sow” promise.  What you invest into your children when they are young, that is what you can hopefully expect when they’re older.

They say the best time to plan an apple tree is 20 years old.  The second best time to plant an apple tree is now.  Let’s not look back twenty years from now and wish we had invested differently into our children.  Now is the time not to miss.  

In Jesus’ Name, 

Ashton

May 7, 2018 | There’s no such thing as a perfect parent…

There’s no such thing as a perfect parent.  There, I said it.  For many of you, this was a moment of “duh” because you have already realized this reality for many years.  But for at least of few of you, to realize this reality, you have just experienced an incredible moment of peace.

 If you have sinned (which Romans 3:23 affirms is all of us), then you are sinful and need of God’s grace (which Romans 5:8 says Jesus did for you even before you were born).  And if you are sinful, then you are a sinful spouse (if you are married).  And if you have kids, you are also a sinful parent (which Jesus says is true in Matthew 7:11).  The same mercy and grace that Jesus freely offer to you for the forgiveness of your sins are available to you as you parent your children.  

For those of you with kids still in the home, this is a powerful reminder that every one of your parenting mistakes is redee
mable by the power of the Holy Spirit.  You still have opportunities to raise your kids to know the love of Jesus.  You still have opportunities to influence your children with your faith and to show them that God’s love is unlimited.  

If your children are grown and have left the home, know Jesus extends grace and mercy is transforming realization.  No doubt you have vivid memories of parenting mistakes; and yet, God is good and He has the authority to redeem even the most prodigal of children.  

The honest reality that I’ve discovered about parenting is that we were never supposed to be the perfect parents.  We are supposed to show them the perfect Father.  And we show them our perfect Father in how we draw near to Him every single day.  

Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 11:1Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ. We can’t make our kids (no matter their age) follow Jesus.  We can’t follow Jesus for them.  But we can show them how.  
We model for our kids how to love Jesus.  We model for our kids how to read the Bible.  We model for our kids how to pray.  We model for our kids how to be forgiven of our sin.  We model for our kids how to receive mercy as sinners.  

You will never be a perfect parent.  But we have been forgiven by a perfect Savior and we worship a perfect Father.  Let your children see how you follow Jesus.  Your example will encourage them to follow Jesus themselves. 

In Jesus’ Name, 

Ashton 

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One Response to “Beyond Sunday”

  1. Nancy perry says:

    Thank you. It’s a pleasure to go to church now.You not only preach from the Bible but also from your heart. If I didn’t know any difference I would think you were Dr Stanley son. I watch him 3 times each week. Keep up the great work and I will be their every Sunday if Lords willing
    God Bless you and your family.

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