Robert Frost wrote, “Home is the place where when you have to go there, they have to take you in.” There’s no place like home. No matter how bad we mess up or how disappointing life gets, it’s the one place they have to take us in.
Jesus told of a wayward son who messed up big time, wasting all his dad had blessed him with. He became homeless and was so hungry he wanted to eat leftover slop fit only for animals. But when he came to his senses, he thought about home. He knew he didn’t deserve to go there, but he went anyway. And his dad was so overwhelmed with joy he welcomed him home.
The dad represents God, and the wayward son represents you and me. It’s Jesus’ way of telling us that we all mess up–but nobody messes up so badly that when he decides to come home to the Lord, the Lord won’t welcome him back to a right relationship with Him. Is it time for you to come home to the Lord?
So he got up and came to his [own] father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was moved with pity and tenderness [for him]; and he ran and embraced him and kissed him [fervently].
In most sports, there is one feat that galvanizes the fans. In golf, it’s a hole-in-one. In basketball, it’s the slam-dunk. In baseball, it’s the home run. But in football, it’s the touchdown. It always brings fans to their feet.
The objective is simple. The team with the most points wins and usually that means the most touchdowns. But the greatest and most exciting touchdown has yet to occur, and when it does, the players on the winning team will go wild with joy. Those on the losing team will be devastated with defeat.
The Bible tells about it in the Old and New Testaments. The Messiah will touch down on the Mount of Olives outside Jerusalem when Jesus returns.
Do you believe it? Will you be ready for the ultimate feat?
How you respond in faith to Christ determines whether you are on the winning team or losing team–forever.
It is my hope that you’ll be able to celebrate the touchdown, when Jesus comes!
A modern day phenomenon in the age of TV is the irrational outpouring of pseudo grief. People grieve more intensely for an image they’ve never personally known, than they do for a neighbor or family member who dies.
We saw this most dramatically with the death of Lady Di and JFK, Jr. Both represented what society saw as the best of their nation’s royalty. Both were young, glamorous, attractive and wealthy. They were the ideal in the world’s eyes. Yet, most of us didn’t know them. We just knew the image presented on the screen.
Do you care more for images than the real people in your life?
Who do you grieve for the most when they’re gone? If it’s an image on TV, you’re living a ‘pseudo life,’… not a real life. For real living comes with real relationships and sometimes, with loss, that involves real grief. But when that loss comes, a real relationship with God will get you through that grief. Real relationships have real pain, but they also have real meaning. Meaningful relationships with God and your fellow man are essential to real living.
Do you ever say, “It was just too tempting,” or “I wish I hadn’t lost my cool?”
A key to successful living is self-control–controlling our emotions, desires, passions, or our tongue. Self-control is about self-discipline. The Bible compares it to sports. It says, “Run your race to win. Everyone who competes in the games exercises self-control in all things.” Self-control is essential to success in living, as well as in sports.
Let me suggest a few ways to learn it:
1. Clarify your purpose–what are you trying to accomplish? Is it to lose a few pounds? Then your decisions will be shaped by that purpose.
2. Be honest with yourself about where you lack self-control. Alcoholics who find victory over booze know the first step is admitting their inability to control the problem.
3. Ask God for self-discipline.
4. Take action on that discipline, one day at a time. Self-control is a real key to successful living.
Gentleness (meekness, humility), self-control (self-restraint, continence). Against such things there is no law [that can bring a charge].
Three Keys For Mom
It’s not easy being a mom these days. Whether you’re home full time or working outside the home, there are challenges. There’s a verse of scripture in Romans that contains three keys for moms and, really, anyone who wants to live a victorious life:
Be joyful in hope. Every mom has hope for her kids. When a mom trusts in the Lord and believes His promises in scripture, she can be joyful in hope for the future of her family.
Persevere in trials. There will be difficulties and trials for every mom (kids not doing well, times of feeling unappreciated, etc.). But when her hope is grounded in God, she can find strength to endure any trial.
Be devoted to prayer. Hey, moms, with so many trials and so much out of your control, be devoted to prayer. Turn your concerns, your fears, and your children over to the Lord. Prayer is the power source for being a great mom and a great person.
Hope, perseverance, and prayer–three keys to victory for moms and most everyone.
Forgiving Our Enemies
In 1962 in Montgomery, Alabama, a young, unknown Baptist preacher came home to find a large crowd gathered in front of his house that had just been bombed.
He ran inside to see if his wife and daughter had survived. He found they were unharmed. He comforted them before going outside to the large, angry crowd.
They had gathered with chains and weapons to retaliate against the white community for such a despicable deed. He told them there would be no retaliation saying, “Jesus tells us to love our enemies, to forgive those who persecute us. Now go home.” Thus began the legacy of an amazing man with a unique spirit, Martin Luther King, Jr.
What King did on that occasion isn’t natural–it’s supernatural. The ability to forgive our enemies who have wronged us is often beyond our natural ability, but it is the Spirit of Christ. It is true Christianity. It is a power available to us all and it can change the world.
THREE TO ELEVEN
When a child reaches age three, he acquires a sense of autonomy and at the same time combats a sense of doubt and shame. The child begins to break away from his total dependency on mother and father. This is a trying time for the mother, who has carefully and tenderly held a baby for the past three years. Yet in God’s plan, the baby grows and must establish himself as an individual. After all, he is not merely an extension of his parents but another human being. As at an earlier age, the child learns more through attitudes than through teaching.
At four to five years, the child acquires a sense of initiative and overcomes a sense of guilt. He begins to intrude into the space of others and develops other friends outside his family circle, beginning the lifelong process of learning to get along in a crowded world. This really is the golden age of learning because at no other time is the child more ready to learn or relate cooperatively with others. His conscience increasingly assumes the role of his parents. He is asked to take on more responsibility in his family and his world. Consequently, this is an excellent age to teach responsibility and initiative.
During the period from six to eleven, the child acquires a sense of industry and fends off a sense of inferiority. He is pressured to become part of the adult world and assume more responsibility. Before a person can be a good parent, he must learn to be a worker. Thus, childhood is the training ground for the future, the golden age for learning skills and trying new activities. At this age, the child also begins to compare his parents to other adults. This is healthy because it gives him a view of the larger world.
In the parable of the lost son, the father restores the rebellious younger brother to his former position at a great cost to the elder brother. Why? His father had divided his property between them before the younger brother left. The younger brother spent his portion and the family estate now belonged to the elder brother. For his father to restore the younger brother meant taking something away from the elder brother and he was angry. His attitude reveals that he had served his father to earn a reward rather than out of love.
As parents, we often have the same attitude towards our Heavenly Father. We are resentful when we struggle with our kids while non-believing parents seem to be coasting along. We feel entitled to greater blessings and we remind God that we faithfully attended church, prayed, and read our Bibles. Ironically, obedience can be the biggest hurdle to experiencing grace because we tend to feel as if we’ve earned it.
There is a true elder brother, however. Unlike the elder brother in the parable, he seeks us and desires to have a relationship with us. He came down from heaven and willingly paid the cost to bring us home. Recognizing what Jesus was willing to do to “find” us makes all the difference.
Obey God in response to His blessings, not to earn them.
Because this my son was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found! And they began to revel andfeast andmake merry.
“You’re the only mother who isn’t letting me see the movie!” “Lauren’s parents are so much cooler that you guys.” “Dad, you’re a control freak.”
Hearing these kinds of statements can really sting. And sometimes, our hurt feelings can cause us to be overly harsh in our words and discipline.
But as Christian parents, we are called to carry out our responsibilities with humility and love rather than sarcasm and guilt. This is only possible when we are confident of our value in Christ and allow His love to hold us up and cover the pain of disrespectful statements.
Don’t let your hurt feelings result in ungodly parenting.
He who has knowledge spares his words, and a man of understanding has a cool spirit.
If you trusted Christ as your Savior, you have a new identity. You are like an adopted child. You have a new name, new family and new traditions. Your old customs have been replaced by new ones that set you apart from those of other families. Paul describes this as being “in Christ”.
Satan would love to steal your identity. He seeks to lure you back to the old identity by tempting you with his family’s customs and traditions — anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language (Col 3:8), but you can resist his identity theft by practicing the customs of your new family — compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience (Col 3:12).
Your children were born into your new family’s traditions, and they should be raised that way. Your practice of the new customs will expel the old ones from your life. Your new identity based on your adoption into the family of God, is a powerful incentive for them to want to be adopted as well.
Protect yourself and your children from spiritual identity theft.
And set your minds and keep them set on what is above (the higher things), not on the things that are on the earth. For [as far as this world is concerned] you have died, and your [new, real] life is hidden with Christ in God.
As we tackle the details of life, we may neglect the most important thing; praying for our kids. Do you find yourself too distracted or exhausted to pray? Perhaps your prayers have become a bit routine? Paul gives us an example of a great prayer warrior in Epaphras. What does it mean to “labor fervently” in prayer? The Greek word used here is agoonizomenos (the English word is agonize) and describes the struggle of an athlete as he competes. It implores us to throw ourselves into prayer with persistence, discipline, and zeal.
Imagine if we invested as much time and effort praying for our kids as we spend on their sports activities–buying uniforms and equipment, going to their practices, and cheering them on at games!
Follow the example of Epaphras in praying fervently for your kids.
Epaphras, who is one of yourselves, a servant of Christ Jesus, sends you greetings. [He is] always striving for you earnestly in his prayers, [pleading] that you may [as persons of ripe character and clear conviction] stand firm and mature [in spiritual growth], convinced and fully assured in everything willed by God.
This verse refers to the journey of the Israelites out of captivity in Egypt to the Promised Land. God alone led the Israelites through the desert. They faced difficulties and trials, many of their own making, but through it all, it was very obvious that God was the only one that could protect and prosper them.
When we guide our children, we should follow God’s example and let them know that no foreign god should be allowed to come between them and the one true God. Keep in mind that “foreign gods” take a variety of forms in today’s world, such as money, power, beauty, and fame. We must be diligent to watch for the influence of these gods in our lives and the lives of our children.
Let your children know that the Lord alone is sufficient to lead your family.
So the Lord alone led him; there was no foreign god with Him.
When Saul turned against David, David was forced to run for his life. At one point, he and his men hid in a cave at the desert oasis of En Gedi. As Saul searched the area for David, he unknowingly entered the very cave where David and his men were hiding. Although David could have easily ambushed and killed him, he refused because he knew Saul was God’s anointed king. He left judgment to God.
When someone has wronged us or our children, we are often tempted to seek revenge. We may gossip, give them the “silent treatment,” or exclude them. We have a choice, however, to live our lives in the spirit or in the flesh. David refused to fight in the flesh, and left Saul’s judgment to the Spirit of God.
Live in the Spirit and allow God to be the judge.
May the Lord be judge and judge between me and you, and see and plead my cause, and deliver me out of your hands.
1 Samuel 24:15
It is so easy to take credit for the good things we acquire. But, we must not forget (or let our children forget) that all of our material possessions are blessings that God, in His grace, allowed us to have. And, the best things we have accumulated here on earth are nothing compared to the riches we will inherit as heirs of the Kingdom of God!
Despite what our culture may tell us, we have not earned our material blessings. There are others in less fortunate parts of the world who are far more deserving, but God did not choose to bless them as abundantly. Others have worked harder for less, yet still humbly accept the blessings God gives them as more than they deserve.
Humble yourself and thank God for the blessings He gives you.
And when the Lord your God brings you into the land which He swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to give you, with great and goodly cities which you did not build, And houses full of all good things which you did not fill, and cisterns hewn out which you did not hew, and vineyards and olive trees which you did not plant, and when you eat and are full, Then beware lest you forget the Lord, Who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.
The Israelites loved and trusted God as He led them out of captivity in Egypt. They had witnessed great miracles! It didn’t take long, however, before they began to grumble and complain about having to walk across the desert to the Promised Land. In the midst of difficult circumstances, they doubted Him instead of focusing on His faithfulness in the past. Ultimately, this lack of trust cost their generation the privilege of seeing the Promised Land.
Do you really trust the Lord? Most of us find it much easier to trust when things are going well, but when things are difficult, our faith in Him can be tested. In these times, it is important to remember when God sustained you through difficulties. Remembering those faith stories will help you and your family maintain an attitude towards God that is positive and anticipatory.
Negative attitudes lead to the “wilderness.”
The Lord your God Who goes before you, He will fight for you just as He did for you in Egypt before your eyes.
But as for you, turn and journey into the wilderness by way of the Red Sea.
Deuteronomy 1:30, 40
In these verses, Paul confronts the believers in Philippi because their complaining and arguing was harming their testimony about Christ. Instead of being “lights in the world”, they were behaving like unbelievers.
We may profess a deep trust in Christ, but what we truly believe will emerge in our words and attitude. Take a moment to consider your conversations. What characteristics would stand out to your children? Do you have a tendency to gossip, argue with others, or complain?
If so, you may want to reevaluate the source of your contentment. As Christians, we have an eternal hope in Christ that allows us to face the challenges of life with calmness and peace. If you find yourself relying on favorable circumstances or the actions of others to bring you happiness, ask God to strengthen your faith in Him.
Let your words and actions reflect the love of Christ in your life and be a light to others.
Do all things without grumbling and fault finding and complaining [against God] and questioning and doubting [among yourselves], That you may show yourselves to be blameless and guileless, innocent and uncontaminated, children of God without blemish (faultless, unrebukable) in the midst of a crooked and wicked generation [spiritually perverted and perverse], among whom you are seen as bright lights (stars or beacons shining out clearly) in the [dark] world
Jewish law provided that punishment should fit the crime, but also that it not be too severe. A penalty that was too light minimized the crime, but a punishment that was too severe degraded and humiliated the person. Penalties were required to be “just”.
This is the law of our country also, according to the Eight Amendment. Should the principles be any less effective in our discipline of our kids? Sometimes we overdo our discipline. Maybe we had a bad day or the offense was one that just got under our skin.
Regardless, when we discipline our kids too harshly, we have violated this principle. The best response is to demonstrate what a person of integrity does when they have wronged anotherÑapologize specifically and ask forgiveness. That does not mean there is no consequence for the original offense. It only means we recognize we have also offended and that we are not above the rules.
Then if the guilty man deserves to be beaten, the judge shall cause him to lie down and be beaten in his presence with a certain number of stripes according to his offense. Forty stripes may be given him but not more, lest, if he should be beaten with many stripes, your brother should [be treated like a beast and] seem low and worthless to you.
Although she did not call out to him, Jesus saw the widow who had lost her son. How wonderful to be seen by the Son of God! Not only did He see her, but this verse says His heart went out to her. He connected with her suffering.
What encouragement for us as parents. Jesus sees us, too, but not in a casual, indifferent way. He feels our pain and He knows our struggles. You can take comfort in knowing that as you walk the sometimes difficult and painful path of parenthood, His heart goes out to you as well. Remember that you are not alone. He is walking alongside you this very day.
You are known and loved by the Son of God.
[Just] as He drew near the gate of the town, behold, a man who had died was being carried out–the only son of his mother, and she was a widow; and a large gathering from the town was accompanying her.13And when the Lord saw her, He had compassion on her and said to her, Do not weep.
When raising kids, there are situations that make us feel inadequate because there is nothing we can do to “fix” the situation. Maybe our child’s feelings were hurt when they were excluded from a party. Perhaps a love interest “dumped” them or they were cut from a team.
One of our biggest obstacles in trusting God is our own sense of strength. The truth is we can never be too weak for God to use us, but we can be too strong. When we recognize the limits of our control, however, we are much more likely to embrace our need for God.
Let your weaknesses become an opportunity to point your kids towards the real source of strength; dependence on Christ.
But He said to me, My grace (My favor and loving-kindness and mercy) is enough for you [sufficient against any danger and enables you to bear the trouble manfully]; for Mystrength andpower are made perfect (fulfilled and completed) and show themselves most effectivein [your] weakness. Therefore, I will all the more gladly glory in my weaknesses andinfirmities, that the strength andpower of Christ (the Messiah) may rest (yes, may pitch a tent over and dwell) upon me! So for the sake of Christ, I am well pleased andtake pleasure in infirmities, insults, hardships, persecutions, perplexities anddistresses; for when I am weak [in human strength], then am I [truly] strong (able, powerful in divine strength).
2 Corinthians 12:9-10
The Garden of Eden was perfect until Adam and Eve brought sin and shame into the world. God covered their shame, but that covering came at a cost. To provide the skin needed to make garments, an innocent animal was slain.
What a foreshadowing of Christ’s work on the cross! Jesus, the Lamb of God, shed His innocent blood for our sin so God could cover our shame as well. And, although the Bible does not specify, would anyone be surprised if the animal slain in the Garden of Eden turned out to be a lamb?
God demonstrated the response of a loving Perfect Parent; He covered the shame that caused Adam and Eve to hide. Then, He delivered consequences for rebellion in a way that Adam and Eve (and their descendants) were taught a powerful lesson about His provision of righteousness in the future.
Had God not first covered their shame, Adam and Eve may not have received the lesson. God’s act of covering them demonstrated He would never leave or forsake His children. Adam and Eve could receive the lesson because they loved and trusted the Teacher.
Covering shame makes teaching possible.
For Adam also and for his wife the Lord God made long coats (tunics) of skins and clothed them.
When: Wednesday, August 21, 2013 @ 6:15pm
What: This is a benefit to raise funds to provide Tabitha Schulke with a wheelchair equipped van!
Who: Featuring Performances By Starship Renegade, Cry Of Stones, Unlockable Praise, & The Mzungu’s!
Invite friends via Facebook!
After Adam and Eve ate from the tree, they realized they were naked. In response, they hid from God and sewed fig leaves together to cover their nakedness. God’s response to Adam’s sin was a question: “Where are you?” Now, you can be certain that God had not misplaced Adam! He asked the question for Adam’s benefit, not His.
The legacy of Adam and Eve’s act is that we are still hiding today. Shopping, food, drug and alcohol abuse, and sometimes even exercise represent our “fig leaves.” Still, God continues to ask us, “Where are you?” He is calling for us to come out of hiding and into a relationship with Him.
What an example for parents! Call your kids out of hiding by asking open-ended questions and listen to their answers with understanding, rather than meeting them with judgment and shame. If you need to give consequences for their disobedience, choose to give those consequences with empathy.
Meeting your kids with empathy helps them come out of hiding and into relationship.
But the Lord God called to Adam and said to him, Where are you? 10He said, I heard the sound of You [walking] in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; and I hid myself.
As Christians, we should spend our lives discovering and using our spiritual gifts, and the same is true of our kids. This pursuit is essential if we are to accomplish God’s purpose for us, because we can’t do anything for Him without the gifts He gave us. With those gifts, however, we can accomplish a lot!
Isn’t it encouraging that God equips us specifically to do the things He has called us to do? That is the beauty of spiritual giftsÑthey enable us to minister as God intended. Of course, the reverse is also trueÑwhen we try to do anything other than what God has enabled us to do, we fall outside His design for us and we are destined to fall short.
Help your kids uncover their God-given gifts, cultivate them and help them put them to work, for the glory of the Lord.
Having gifts (faculties, talents, qualities) that differ according to the grace given us, let us use them: [He whose gift is] prophecy, [let him prophesy] according to the proportion of his faith.
These verses describe the qualities necessary to raise well-rounded children in a spiritual family. Some of these qualities are associated with moms, such as patience, gentleness and a devotion for her children that makes her want to spend time with them and nourish them, physically and spiritually. Other qualities are associated with dads, such as encouragement, comfort and urging their children to live lives worthy of the Lord.
Paul and the other missionaries supplied these qualities to the believers in Thessalonica so that they could grow spiritually. He filled the role of both mom and dad, and he also gave us a beautiful picture of the needs of kids and the roles of parents in meeting those needs. Whether you are in a one- or two-parent family, the kids’ needs are the same. But take heart, God will equip each of you to do the job He has called you to (Heb. 13:21).
Trust God for the strength and qualities necessary to raise your children.
For you know how, as a father [dealing with] his children, we used to exhort each of you personally, stimulating andencouraging and charging you12To live lives worthy of God, Who calls you into His own kingdom and the glorious blessedness [into which true believers will enter after Christ’s return].
1 Thessalonians 2:7,11-12
Paul’s prayer for the Philippians could easily be our prayer for our kids. Who doesn’t want their children to abound in knowledge and insight and be pure and blameless, making decisions that reflect God’s righteousness? How will you help them reach those lofty goals?
One way is to give your kids more choices and opportunities to learn from hands-on experience. Good decision making isn’t learned overnight. Your kids may have to make some poor choices along the way before they will know how to make good ones. Obviously, you won’t give them just any choice because they should only be given choices you are willing for them to make. But the opportunities to give significant choices are endless.
Practice with little choices for little kids and more expanded choices as kids mature. Walk beside them as they get their hands dirty. Enjoy the process!
Kids who are encouraged to make lots of appropriate choices gain knowledge, insight, and discernment.
And this I pray: that your love may abound yet more and more andextend to its fullest development in knowledge and all keen insight [that your love may display itself in greater depth of acquaintance and more comprehensive discernment], So that you may surely learn to sense what is vital, andapprove andprize what is excellent andof real value [recognizing the highest and the best, and distinguishing the moral differences], and that you may be untainted andpure and unerring andblameless [so that with hearts sincere and certain and unsullied, you may approach] the day of Christ [not stumbling norcausing others to stumble]. May you abound in andbe filled with the fruits of righteousness (of right standing with God and right doing) which come through Jesus Christ (the Anointed One), to the honor and praise of God [that His glory may be both manifested and recognized].
We all make mistakes in parenting at times; we will yell at our kids, lecture or nag them, rescue them from their mistakes, punish them harshly, etc. This does not surprise God. He knows and He is willing to forgive it all. You can surrender your guilt and your shame to Him. He will take your selfishness and neglect, too, if you turn to Him and confess.
That’s a great relief! God is in charge, and He is willing to work alongside you to raise your kids. When you do something wrong, He will help you model humility as you confess your sin to them and ask for their forgiveness. Sometimes God even uses our mistakes as opportunities to connect with our children in a more personal way.
Rely on the Perfect Parent and He will purify all your mistakes.
If we [freely] admit that we have sinned andconfess our sins, He is faithful and just (true to His own nature and promises) and will forgive our sins [dismiss our lawlessness] and [continuously] cleanse us from all unrighteousness [everything not in conformity to His will in purpose, thought, and action].
1 John 1:9
We do not always know how faithful we are until we are tested. Trials have a way of exposing those areas where we are trusting in ourselves instead of relying on God. Paul encouraged these believers by showing them the value of God’s sanctifying work in their lives.
The purpose in sanctification isn’t to reveal a person’s heart to God. He already knows! Rather, it is to reveal the heart to the person himself. This can be painful at times as we are confronted with the depths of our sin and challenged to mature spiritually
Pray for God to expose the “logs” in your eyes and the strength to embrace the sanctification process. Difficult times provide an opportunity to become more Christ-like and to be a humble example for our family.
Trials expose our weaknesses and challenge us to grow spiritually.
But we, brethren beloved by the Lord, ought andare obligated [as those who are in debt] to give thanks always to God for you, because God chose you from the beginning as His firstfruits (first converts)for salvation through the sanctifying work of the [Holy] Spirit and [your] belief in (adherence to, trust in, and reliance on) the Truth. 2 Thessalonians 2:13
The apostle Paul knew that faith is the key to an obedient life. By faith, we are able to increase our love for one another and persevere in the midst of trials (2 Thes. 1:3-4). In this passage, he goes on to show us how faith is connected to power.
Faith allows us to receive God’s power to fulfill His purpose for our lives. It is like the battery charger on my laptop. If it is not plugged in, the battery will not recharge and my laptop will go dead in a short time. When I keep the power cord plugged in, the battery stays charged and I have the ability to work for long stretches.
When we rely on our own strength to do the right thing, we soon become frustrated as we reach the end of our human abilities, But when we glorify Jesus and yield to His will for our lives, we tap into a power that far exceeds our human will.
Stay plugged in to God’s power through prayer and faith.
With this in view we constantly pray for you, that our God may deem andcount you worthy of [your] calling and [His] every gracious purpose of goodness, and with power may complete in [your] every particular work of faith (faith which is that leaning of the whole human personality on God in absolute trust and confidence in His power, wisdom, and goodness). 2 Thessalonians 1:11
God gave you children, and you are expected to raise them for His glory. You are a steward of God’s children and, as a steward, you must answer to your Master for your efforts. Fortunately, you don’t have to account to other masters, other stewards, or to those under your care. Ultimately, only God has the authority to judge your work.
That’s great news! You don’t have to answer to other parents or the culture you live in. The competition is over! You are not required to conform to the world’s view of success because the world is not your master. And, when your kids are upset with you for restricting or disciplining them, you can take comfort that their approval is not your goal.
That doesn’t mean you have carte blanche to treat your kids any way you want; your Master has provided instructions about your relationships with your kids (see Eph 6:4), but it does mean that you should be seeking to please Him first. Be a faithful and sensible steward of your kids.
And the Lord said, Who then is that faithful steward, the wise man whom his master will set over those in his household service to supply them their allowance of food at the appointed time? Luke 12:42
Your family may hear about the terrible condition the world is in, and how it has never been more depraved or Godless. Some people anticipate a steady decline in morals and behavior until the Lord comes back and makes everything right again.
But sometimes we get so focused on the negative aspects of this world, we overlook the positive. There are echoes of His majesty all around us. You can see the fingerprints of God in mountains and oceans, in sunrises and sunsets, and even in the kind acts of strangers towards each other.
Busy schedules often rob us of simple pleasures. Take time to help your kids see God in His creation and appreciate the beauty of His craftsmanship. It might even be refreshing for you!
The earth is full of God’s work; let’s recognize it together.
The earth, O Lord, is full of Your mercyandloving-kindness; teach me Your statutes. Psalm 119:64
In this passage, Luke reminds us of the importance of prayer. The results are tremendous! The believers who prayed were “shaken,” “filled with the Holy Spirit,” and “spoke the word of God boldly.” Notice also that these Christians did not fill themselves with the Holy Spirit, but they were supernaturally filled by God.
As we face the challenges of parenting, we are constantly reminded of our need for the Holy Spirit! Whether you are rejoicing, struggling to find direction, or crying out in sorrow, recognize the opportunity to turn to the Lord in prayer.
Remember the importance of prayer. Astounding results take place by simply taking the time to talk to the Lord.
And when they had prayed, the place in which they were assembled was shaken; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they continued to speak the Word of God with freedom andboldness and courage. Acts 4:31
The word “discipline” in this passage means to educate or train, rather than to condemn or punish. Most of us realize our discipline stems from our love and concern for our kids. Interestingly, it is this same parental love that causes God to discipline us throughout our lives as well.
How does God discipline us? Often, it is by delivering consequences when we make mistakes, and then walking with us as we deal with those consequences. When we have learned from the process, He gives us new opportunities to obey, and helps us grow and mature in ways we never thought possible.
It is important to remember that the purpose of His discipline isn’t to defeat us. Romans 8:1 says, “there is now no condemnation for those who are in Jesus Christ.” Instead, He wants us to learn from discipline, to look towards Him, and keep going! What a great example of a Perfect Parent!
Embrace the Lord’s discipline as an expression of His love. Use Him as your model for disciplining your children.
And have you [completely] forgotten the divine word of appeal andencouragement in which you are reasoned with and addressed as sons? My son, do not think lightly orscorn to submit to the correction anddiscipline of the Lord, nor lose courage andgive up andfaint when you are reproved orcorrected by Him; For the Lord corrects anddisciplines everyone whom He loves, and He punishes, even scourges, every son whom He accepts andwelcomes to His heart and cherishes. Hebrews 12:5-6
The Jewish legal experts had many ways to get around the law and break oaths so that a person’s promises might mean nothing. Jesus, however, encouraged people to live their lives with such integrity that people would simply believe what they said.
Our actions should speak louder than our words. But too often, the opposite is true. When we say we will give consequences for disobedience and then fail to follow through, our kids may doubt the reliability of our words. As a result, we may use threats to convince our children that this time we really mean what we say: “This is the last time I’m waking you up” or, “Next time, I’m not bringing your homework to school.” Unfortunately, our threats are often perceived as just more meaningless words.
Provide your children with the sense of security that comes when your actions are consistent with your words.
Let your Yes be simply Yes, and your No be simply No; anything more than that comes from the evil one. Matthew 5:37
The young man went away sad because Jesus asked him to trade his identity as a rich man for that of a Christ follower. Jesus knew the cost that comes with complete surrender to God. But He also knew it was the only way to find true freedom and eternal purpose on earth.
Like the rich man, sometimes we find ourselves chasing after the validation that comes from worldly identitiesÑthe competent businessman, the skilled athlete, the organized housewife, even the committed Christian. After we have kids, being the parent of successful children is often added to the list. But focusing on these goals will cause us to become dependent on the opinions of people and less dependent on God. Success or failure in the world’s eyes can turn on a dime. God wants us to surrender all of these for complete dependence on Him.
What is your identity?
And behold, there came a man up to Him, saying, Teacher, what excellent andperfectly andessentially good deed must I do to possess eternal life? Matthew 19:16
Jesus answered him, If you would be perfect [that is, have that spiritual maturity which accompanies self-sacrificing character], go and sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have riches in heaven; and come, be My disciple [side with My party and follow Me]. But when the young man heard this, he went away sad (grieved and in much distress), for he had great possessions. Matthew 19:21-22
Most of us get excited at the thought of raising powerful kids. We want them to be in control of their circumstances. We want them to be first in line, to take charge, and to be the one deciding who and what goes where and when. Unfortunately, the pursuit of power without humility can lead to disastrous results. Kids who seek power for its own sake can be arrogant, domineering, and disrespectful of authority.
Christians are told how to become truly powerfulÑby humbling themselves before the Lord. When we demonstrate the proper respect for God’s authority, He allows us to be eternally influential in the lives of others. Tim Kimmel says, “True greatness does not have power as its goal, but it often gains power by default.” The amount of influence your child can have as an adult will be proportionate to their ability to grasp this principle as a child.
Teach your children humility and watch their influence grow.
Humble yourselves [feeling very insignificant] in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you [He will lift you up and make your lives significant]. James 4:10
If you are reluctant to talk about the gospel with your kids, you are not alone. In this passage, Paul gives us three reasons why he was able to courageously proclaim the message of Christ to a skeptical audience. It is the gospel of Christ, it is the power of God, and the result is salvation to everyone who believes.
The fact that it came directly from Christ gives the gospel authority. It is a message from the King Himself! And, the gospel carries the power of God the very power that raised Christ from the dead. But the best reason to be courageous is that the effect of believing and trusting the gospel is salvation freedom from sin and an eternal inheritance in heaven.
For I am not ashamed of the Gospel (good news) of Christ,for it is God’s power working unto salvation [for deliverance from eternal death] to everyone who believes witha personal trust anda confident surrender andfirm reliance, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.
Because we know God’s plan will lead us home to heaven, we can endure suffering along the way. In fact, if today’s suffering is “achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all” (2 Cor 4:17), we ought to be able to count suffering as a blessing instead of a curse. Nonbelievers do not have this perspective on suffering and must achieve their glory now, because their future is eternal suffering apart from God.
We don’t know what it will be like in heaven, but we know that today’s suffering is our training for an eternal future of ministry in the presence of the Father. Trials prepare us for that futureÑthey are God’s curriculum for eternity.
Treat your family’s trials as opportunities to glorify the Father and as training for your future.
[You should] be exceedingly glad on this account, though now for a little while you may be distressed by trials andsuffer temptations, 7So that [the genuineness] of your faith may be tested, [your faith] which is infinitely more precious than the perishable gold which is tested andpurified by fire. [This proving of your faith is intended] to redound to [your] praise and glory and honor when Jesus Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed One) is revealed.
1 Peter 1:6-7
Our example has a huge impact on our kids. There are liberties we have as adults that we can enjoy because we have the experience and maturity to keep them in perspective. But, these same liberties may be a trap for our kids because they don’t have the same experience and maturity. What was a freedom to you can turn into enslavement for a child who tries to emulate your behavior.
We may have to sacrifice some of our freedom because of our children’s immaturity. We may rethink our choices about drinking, movies, and TV, and even the words we use, and modify our activities because we don’t know the areas in which our kids might be prone to struggle. Until they can filter our actions through a more mature perspective, we may need to lovingly refrain from some of our liberties so that our actions will not become stumbling blocks to them.
Think about your example to your kids. Are they wise enough to copy everything you do?
Then let us no more criticize andblame andpass judgment on one another, but rather decide andendeavor never to put a stumbling block oran obstacle or a hindrance in the way of a brother.
We may look at the things we do for God going to church, tithing, Bible study as favors to Him and expect Him to appreciate our sacrifices of time and money. A sense of entitlement may even develop as we expect Him to reward us. However, God doesn’t need our sacrifices. He owns them already!
True worship recognizes that all things belong to God, including our time and our children. Every heartbeat is His gift. This perspective encourages us to make our offerings as true worship because we realize we have no claim on the things of this earth. It is only because of grace that we are able to have fellowship with Him and offer those gifts in the first place.
Don’t be resentful for being called to give back to God; see it as a privilege and opportunity to express your love and faith.
I will accept no bull from your house nor he-goat out of your folds. For every beast of the forest is Mine, andthe cattle upon a thousand hills orupon the mountains where thousands are. I know andam acquainted with all the birds of the mountains, and the wild animals of the field are Mine andare with Me, in My mind.
God wants our eyes to be fixed on Him. The world offers many distractions, and we may substitute our obedience for earthly indulgence. The more we do this, the more we learn to settle for less. John Piper, from his book A Hunger for God, notes, “If we don’t feel strong desires for the manifestation of the glory of God, it is not because we have drunk deeply and are satisfied. It is because we have nibbled so long at the table of the world. Our soul is stuffed with small things, and there is no room for the great.”
Our children listen to us say we want to do God’s will, and they watch us to see how it is done. Let your example be that of a deep relationship with Christ that satisfies and compels you to seek His will over your own.
Approach the banquet of God’s fullness, and bring your children with you!
Yet you do not know [the least thing] about what may happen tomorrow. What is the nature of your life? You are [really] but a wisp of vapor (a puff of smoke, a mist) that is visible for a little while and then disappears [into thin air]. You ought instead to say, If the Lord is willing, we shall live and we shall do this or that [thing].
This directive from Proverbs gives us great instruction on rearing our children:
*Train up means to lead and to teach; teaching your preschooler to obey and to understand who is boss.
*In the way he should go means being a student of your child. God has created each of them uniquely, and we want them to discover who God wants them to be.
*When he is old he will not depart from it. “Old” doesn’t mean teenager or young adult, but aged man.
Along the way, some kids break their parents’ hearts, but God’s Word offers hope that they will eventually come around. Take time to be a leader and a student of your children when they’re small, and there’s a far better chance they’ll listen to you and do what’s right when they’re old.
Train up a child in the way he should go [and in keeping with his individual gift or bent], and when he is old he will not depart from it. (Proverbs 22:6 AMP)
Parenting is an overwhelming calling. We get started with no experience, and by the time we have experience, it’s often too late. So much is out of our control, and there are so many negative influences in our children’s lives.
To be a good parent, where should we begin?
The most important starting point is for Mom and Dad to love and respect each other. Why? Because so much of the identity of our children is wrapped up in Mom and Dad. So much of their security is knowing that Mom and Dad really love each other. This means that even if you’re divorced, don’t make the mistake of tearing down your child by tearing down your ex. Build up your child by portraying your ex in the best possible light, even when it’s difficult.
Parenting is tough, but the most important way to be a good parent is to love your spouse. God commands it, and our children need it.
So that they will wisely train the young women to be sane and sober of mind (temperate, disciplined) and to love their husbands and their children, To be self-controlled, chaste, homemakers, good-natured (kindhearted), adapting and subordinating themselves to their husbands, that the word of God may not be exposed to reproach (blasphemed or discredited). (Titus 2:4, 5 AMP)
Let’s talk about the big problems of the first family.
No, I’m not referring to the President and the First Lady, but to the original first family, Adam and Eve. They were also the first family to have big problems–I mean big problems. Adam and Eve sinned by disobeying God, and their sin infected the whole human race.
They had two boys, Cain and Abel, and the problem of sin carried over to their children’s lives. Cain became so jealous of Abel’s blessings that he murdered him.
The first family had real problems–from Adam and Eve’s simple disobedience, to seeing one of their children murder his brother. The family of man still struggles with the same problem of sin today. But God has a solution in the person of Jesus Christ, Who came to save us from our sin problem. When a person looks to Christ, in faith, for salvation from sin, it breaks the negative chain of sin that enslaves people and families.
And they answered, Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ [give yourself up to Him, take yourself out of your own keeping and entrust yourself into His keeping] and you will be saved, [and this applies both to] you and your household as well.
(Acts 16:31 AMP)
Enemies In The Home
There are many enemies within the home seeking to destroy the family. Let me share a few:
Busyness. Everyone is over-committed, mostly through workaholism and activity-itus. This is true for all ages with our over-organized children’s activities.
Lack of spiritual and moral leadership by the father. Approximately 34% of all births in the U.S. are to single moms. Even in some families that have a dad, he’s often absent or practically non-existent.
Negative influence of media and technology. Kids spend more time with the TV than they do with their parents, and its influence can be overwhelmingly negative. It’s a substitute for family communication. Internet pornography is devastating marriages and perverting how some men view women.
Parents, a vibrant relationship with God through Jesus Christ is the best way to battle the many enemies within the home.
Beware lest there be among you a man or woman or clan or tribe whose heart is turning away today from the Lord our God to go and serve the gods of those nations. Beware lest there be among you a root bearing poisonous and bitter fruit, (Deuteronomy 29:18 ESV)