Corollas, Crack, and $1,000 Cash

won’t say my Toyota Corolla is old, but the insurance on it covers fire, theft, and chariot collisions. My trusty car has taken me from the General Conference in Indiana to the Grand Canyon in Arizona.  More than 200,000 miles now, my car has been as dependable as Forrest Gump. And I wouldn’t trade it for a Mercedes Benz (OK, now I’m exaggerating!), because Corollas never die. 
Last week a businessman in the community hopped in for a ride and I found myself apologizing for the less-than-quiet cruise. “Not a problem,” he said, “I’m guessing your kids go to Rogers Adventist School and that’s more important than a new car.”
Frankly, I’m happy to drive a heap if it helps my kids to receive a quality Christian education. I, for one, am thrilled to send my kids to a school that regularly teaches values that help to build character.
For example, last week they celebrated Red Ribbon Week at their school. Each day the students were reminded of the perils of drugs, alcohol, and tobacco. I’m all for help from the teachers in training my kids in this area.    
To team up with teachers in this effort, I pass along a suggestion I recently got from my friend Dan. He explained how he made a deal with his kids that if they would go until they were 20 years old without using any alcohol, drugs, or tobacco, he would give them $1,000 cash. All three of his kids determined to drain Dad’s coffers some day. Just recently Dan’s oldest child turned 20 and he scored a sweet payday. Their son said, “Many times through the years I’ve been offered drugs, but I said to my friends: ‘Are you crazy? I’d lose a thousand bucks if I took a swig of that stuff.’”
So my wife, Cherié, and I made the same offer to our girls Claire and Lindsey (ages 6 and 11). We adapted the idea—raising the payoff age to 21, and throwing “no premarital sex” into the deal. The way we figure, a thousand bucks is nothing compared to bailing our kids out of jail or paying for a DUI accident or helping them fight a crack addiction. Moreover, as a pastor I’ve seen a steady stream of kids through my office that are racked with guilt for crossing boundaries in a relationship that they weren’t emotionally ready to cross. I’m happy to offer an incentive to my girls if it helps to save them that pain. 
Our heavenly Father wants to spare each of us from such pain as well. The Bible teaches, “Don't you know that you yourselves are God's temple and that God's Spirit lives in you? If anyone destroys God's temple, God will destroy him; for God's temple is sacred, and you are that temple” (1 Corinthians 3:16-17, NIV).
Ellen White adds, “God requires the body to be rendered a living sacrifice to him, not a dead or a dying sacrifice. The offerings of the ancient Hebrews were to be without blemish, and will it be pleasing to God to accept a human offering that is filled with disease and corruption? He tells us that our body is the temple of the Holy Ghost; and He requires us to take care of this temple, that it may be a fit habitation for his Spirit” (Ellen White, Christian Temperance and Bible Hygiene, p. 52).
Use It If It Helps
I’ve nothing to push on this deal. You may wish to adapt it to your situation. You may be a grandparent and offer this reward for your grandkids. Perhaps you’re a kid and you want to float the idea past your parents. This suggestion comes from one concerned parent to you in a file labeled, “If it’s helpful to you, then use it!” 
In my opinion, one of the best investments I can make in my children is to encourage them to treat their bodies as the temple of God. That’s the point behind this idea of offering an incentive to make God-honoring choices.
What I like most about this suggestion is that it has opened up the channel of communication between us as parents and our kids. Perhaps the most important factor in keeping our kids drug-free is to have parents that are open and willing to talk about the real issues kids face. By doing this, I have already had several conversations with my oldest daughter about drugs and premarital sex. The talks have been fun.
“So what are you going to do with your $1,000?” I asked her.
“I dunno,” she said. “What can I buy for $1,000?”
“You could buy Daddy’s car,” I said.
“Really?” her eyes swelled to the size of kiwis.


Karl Haffner is senior pastor of the Walla Walla Church in College Place, Washington.


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