No, I am not referencing a TV commercial targeted at people my age … and, with last week’s “By G through F” in mind, I am not working on any sort of Alphabet Soup.  Rather, I am going through another basic catechetical thought as a means of reminding myself (and, perhaps, you too) of a few fundamental teachings of the Christian faith.  Thus, the “Three P’s” are not Price, Price, and Price … though they could be if we were to be focused on the price Christ paid for our salvation … incarnation … humiliation … damnation … “(Christ) being found in human form, humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross” (Philippians 2.8).  However, as I said, this is not the “Three P’s” I am thinking of today.
The ”Three P’s” emanate from both kings and fathers (parents). And since we know our God as both King and Father, they in the pure sense emanate from him.  I like to describe these “Three P’s” as the role or function of both king and parent.  Each is equally important and valuable.  If one is lacking, the other two tend to get short-changed as well.  And, at least in some ways, they remain important as long as life continues.
The first of the “Three P’s” (although there really is no order) is Protect.  It is the king’s job to protect the people of his kingdom.  Similarly, it is the role of parents to protect their children.  And, while we may challenge him on this at times, our ultimate protector is God the Father.  I think this is why Psalm 121 is one of my favorites: “The Lord will keep you from all evil; he will keep your life.  The Lord will keep your going out and your coming in from this time forth and forevermore.” (Psalm 121.7-8)
The next of the “Three P’s” is Provide.  It is the role of the parents to provide for their children.  The same thing goes for the king.  And what are those words with which Jesus taught us to pray“Our Father in heaven … give us this day our daily bread.” (Matthew 6.9-11)  And, since by virtue of creation, the entire human race is counted as his children, Jesus also reminds us “he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.” (Matthew 5.45)
Protect … Provide … and … are you wondering what the 3rd P will be?  I did not include it for a long time.  In fact, if you were a catechetical student of mine in my younger years, you probably only learned of “The Two P’s”.  Finally, though … and I don’t know if someone suggested this to me or it just appeared .. it became very clear that there is a third essential P.  And it is, drum roll, … Prepare.  It is the role of both king and parents to Prepare those they serve for the future.  And, certainly, no one does this better than our Heavenly Father.  This is one of the reasons why the words of our Lord in Gethsemane are so comforting.  “In my Father’s house are many rooms.  If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you?  And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.” (John 14.2-3)
Protect … Provide … Prepare … Unfortunately, most earthly kings tend to focus more upon protecting their power, providing for themselves, and preparing massive demonstrations of their personal value.  My, oh my, how sin perverts our perception!  And how different this is from the Price Jesus paid to establish his kingdom!  I think it is as simple as the difference between the Law and the Gospel.

It is probably worthwhile to consider these “Three P’s” of parenting.  Of course, we cannot protect our children from ever getting hurt.  And it is likely that at times we will provide them with too little or too much.  It is that 3rd P that we may often miss (as I did for years) that really brings everything together.  In fact, I would suggest our not protecting them from ever getting hurt actually helps to prepare them for the future … as does provision that is scarce or overwhelming.  In other words, Preparing them for the future is the most important of the “Three P’s” because it is incorporated into all three of them.

Which gets me to the “bottom line” of preparing them for the future.  If we just have their earthly future in mind we are missing the boat.  Yes, it is essential that we prepare our children to become responsible adults … in this regard I like to say (somewhat tongue-in-cheek) that the role or goal of the parent is to become irrelevant.  However, the quintessential role of a parent preparing their children for the future never ends (think 1 Thessalonians 5.17).  And this is the task that I fear is so often ignored … Preparing them for eternity.  Some suggestions:  Provide them with God’s Word and a great example.  Protect them with prayer and positive encouragement. 
Perhaps a great closing illustration is the jailor of Philippi.  “(Paul and Silas) said, ‘Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.’ And they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all who were in his house.  And he took them the same hour of the night and washed their wounds; and he was baptized at once, he and all his family.” (Acts 16.31-33)  Think about this on your own … all of the “Three P’s” are found … not in Alphabet Soup … but in baptism!

The Three P’s