Session 5- Part 1: Reward - the light at the end of the tunnel
Audio File

It has been said that education is it's own reward. In other words, the things learned are of great benefit to the learner. The writer of the book of Hebrews has noted this very fact when he said, "No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it". (Heb12: 11 NIV). Few young people look forward to a harvest, but all without exception are glad enough when the produce of that harvest is set upon the table.

We as parents must look to the harvest. If we fail to have vision of the end results of our labors, we will at best fall short of the mark, or possibly fail to achieve the end of the race at all. With that in mind, I would like to take this chapter and share some of the Hutcher family experiences in the hope of instilling in your minds and hearts the truth that there is light at the end of the tunnel... and it's not a freight train going the other way.

As we share, I would remind you that not everything we did succeeded, not all days, months, and years were filled with victory. The righteous man falls down seven times... but he gets up eight! So children of righteousness press on!

Small children can be trained! Once they start toddling around whether on foot or crawling, they can and must be taught what "no" means. I am a living testimony as to the fact that this is not only possible, but it is the way it's supposed to be. At 58, my wife and I have twenty-one grandchildren. We not only taught our children to respond to no, but now we have the great pleasure of watching our own children do the same for their children.

During the years when our oldest children began to have children of their own, we were part of a home Church meeting Sunday mornings. There were up to ten children at the gathering with us. On some occasion, they were allowed to go into the back room and play quietly. Most of the time (and always for the entire worship and testimony time) they were in the same room as all of the adults and rarely did they cause a disruption! Their ages ranged from ten years old to only six months old. Eight of the ten were five years old or younger!

Miraculous you say? No, just a group of people who are committed to the word of God, and willing if necessary to stop their "HOLY" gathering in order to teach the truth of God's word by example. If the message is disrupted for a few moments by an unruly child who needs the loving correction of his parents so what! Do you think God is upset by the reality of life? Or for that matter, unaware of the needs of that child (and that parent)? Will the Holy Spirit of God Depart due to this interruption? After all, you are simply obeying God's word.

By the way, Joy and I trained our children in this fashion at a much bigger Church gathering of about two Hundred. It still works in larger groups. You just must be committed to it and believe it's the most important thing you can do for the children. There will be times when it is necessary for either the husband or wife to excuse themselves from the gathering and proceed to a secluded place where you are able to correct your child using whatever means are necessary. I personally recommend that the father take this responsibility whenever possible as it is the natural order of authority in the home.
When you read the charge to teach your children in Deuteronomy chapter six, and the command to discipline found so many other places in the scripture, you must remember that these charges were given to the men. The women were not allowed to approach the altar of God and did not read or study the scriptures directly.

Many a father has chosen to stay and hear the preacher speak from God's word and missed a personal word from the Heavenly Father himself as he lovingly applied the rod of correction.

When disciplining our children, we often get to look right into the eyes of the same rebellion that caused us to loose our place in God's garden. Most who are honest with themselves will realize that we are in a battle with that same rebellious spirit ourselves. This leads to humility and an appreciation of God's mercy. I realize that some of you think I am making a difficult task sound perfectly "Rosie". That is not my intention, I just want you men to take your God given place in the home and receive the blessing God has for you... it will make you a better man!

Now a word of wisdom… Sitting in the front row with little children is asking for trouble! I vividly remember the entire congregation of more than 200 people turning around to watch as I removed my disobedient son. As we left the room he was screaming at the top of his lungs " NO, NO, I DON'T WANT A SPANKING DADDY"!

That was 37 years ago and it really turned some heads. Try that now and in many congregations, you may have a real problem! Let me remind you that Bible based discipline is still legal although it is not socially popular. Wisdom demands that we pick our battles and not intentionally swat hornet nests. The goal of disciplining children is that they walk with the Lord. This is not some sort of contest in which we are able to boast that you did a great job and followed the Bible. At times, my discipline was only a legalist fulfilling of the word of God. OOPS... time for a definition!

Legalism: Carrying out rules and regulations without the leadership, or direction of the Holy Spirit of God. In other words.... rules for the sake of having rules. This is not Bible based.

Another example I would like to share is my wife's shopping excursions. Joy often would watch another lady's five children. This was when we had a small family of just five children of our own. Using advanced math calculation, I come up with a total of ten children. The oldest of these was twelve meaning there were a lot of toddlers in the group. Occasionally Burdines (a fancy Florida department store) would have a sale in the children's department and according to my wife (I know nothing about sales) it usually was worth the trip.

Please permit a side note as it is important. To the best of my knowledge, no woman (with children) could have possibly been involved in the placement of the Crystal department in the Burdines stores. No, I'm sure it was a man. I say this because you must pass through the Crystal department in order to get into the Children's department, and no woman in her right mind would do that. Men on the other hand would never even think about it until something was broken.

At any rate, the point of this story is that my wife successfully navigated ten children under the age of twelve through this department on a number of occasions through the years. Not once was there an incident. To this day the Hutcher family is free to come and go at will in Burdines. You can teach children to hold each other's hands or
to keep them in their pockets.

Another interesting experience is dining out. It is very gratifying to enter a restaurant, observe the panicked look on the waitresses face, and watch as it gives way to pleasure as your children exhibit better manners than many adults while eating out.

As the children get older, the joy of moving on to reason as opposed to using the physical discipline of spanking will be very satisfying. There are few things as valuable to me as watching an adolescent realize that certain behavior is not pleasing to God, and then making the effort to change. Now the true disciplines of a maturing believer begin.

The tree of knowledge was bad because it left God out of the picture, but... "The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding." (Prov.9: 10 NIV). There is a good knowledge, which God always intended us to have. That is the Knowledge of the Holy One.

Just think of it... you and your wife actively involved in the maturing of a saint of God! What better ministry is there? Sure there will be conflicts as they grow. Struggles to separate themselves from the love of the world they are living in, but it is a glorious thing to watch your own children mature in the things of Christ.

Think of it: You and your wife involved in the ministry of maturing the next generation of Saints

You will have conflicts between siblings as well as with the children yourself, but you will also have great joy as you observe the hand of a mighty loving God correct and adjust the hearts of parents and children alike. The lessons we are learning while training our children are eternal. The fruit will be enjoyed throughout the ages to come. Don't give in. Don't give up. You will reap a good harvest if you don't faint along the way.

What an amazing experience it is when your children begin to share Jesus with the other children in the neighborhood. Many opportunities will open for you that you would never have had without their open loving voices. Furthermore, they will be able to speak the truth to people who would never listen to you... like your parents for example.

I have been an automotive technician for most of my life. Several years ago one of my daughters worked for me at a gasoline station I had an interest in. She worked the register while I wrote repair orders, ordered parts, and spoke to customers. This particular child has an amazing gift for changing conversations about nothing into conversations about Jesus (not that the other children don't do this, this child just seems to have a special gift). What a joy it was to play ping-pong with the customers as she would start the conversations, and I would jump into those conversations from across the room.

As the children have gotten older, we have developed another (until now unknown method of evangelizing). Since I do not allow the children to date, we often become involved in conversations with prospective suitors early in the social contact. Young men must be interested in "courtship", young women need to be treated with respect and honor. Above all, no one is qualified if they do not know Jesus!!! At the time I am writing this chapter, we have three married children. Each one of them has met and ultimately brought their mates to Christ.

Now I am not suggesting that you use your children as some sort of bait for the purposes of luring young men and women to Christ, I am merely bring this to your awareness. We live in an increasingly dark world. Young people who are in love with Jesus are full of light and they will appear very attractive to those living in the dark. If you look for divine appointments, you will find that your children are a source of many good ones.

Joy and I have made it a practice to pray for our children's mates. We believe that God has a plan for our lives and that we can help or hinder that plan. One day you may find out that you were the only one in the whole world that was praying for them.

Live your life openly before your children... they will find out all your secrets anyway and they will respect your humanity and confessed need for Jesus. It will cause them to press on and find him as well. Together you will be the heirs of the grace of God.

Higher up and further in.... the master is calling.

Session 5- Part 2: The Assault - Testing

The labor had been extremely painful... not at all like the first one. In fact the first delivery had been so easy, that she hardly understood why everyone made such a fuss about childbirth.

This was different, and none of the training she had undergone, no counting tricks or special breathing, or little circles on her belly were helping. She was in pain, and she was afraid. The nurses had been in and out of her room and they were not very encouraging... suddenly the baby's heartbeat began to drop, calls went out for the doctor. A flurry of activity ensued and in a matter of seconds, the woman and her husband found themselves watching helplessly as an ash blue baby burst lifelessly into this world of sin.

I remember very clearly the emotions I felt as I watched that scene in May of 1974. The tears, the fears, the heart breaking disappointment. Yet from the bottom of my heart, I can still say that neither my wife nor I in any way accused God or felt any anger toward him. In fact, anger was not one of the many emotions we experienced.

"Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you". (1 Pet 4:12 NIV) Now I realize that Peter was not speaking specifically about life's difficulties, but rather spiritual persecution in that verse... so how about this one? "Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father"? (Heb 12:7 NIV)

In this jewel of a scripture, the writer encourages us to receive hardship, not necessarily spiritual hardship, but any hardship as being discipline from God! That, my friends, is not a popular teaching in the body of Christ... But it is one that I personally ascribed to with my whole heart!

The child spoken of in the beginning of this chapter is our second son, Jacob. Although he was given only a 5% chance of living, and then the likelihood of being a vegetable, he is doing just fine thanks to prayer and the mighty hand of God. Nevertheless, the trip from vegetable to college student was a long rocky road.

This was a testing from the hand of our loving father. His tests are not intended to show him some hidden fault within our lives so that He can repair them before some tragedy occurs. After all, He is God, and nothing is hidden from Him! The tests are so that we will see our weaknesses, faults, and sinful state of being and turn to Him!!! God tests everything. It is standard operating procedures in God's kingdom.

God tests everything - this is standard procedure in the Kingdom of God

Children on the other hand have a different purpose in testing their parents. It is built into them and they generally don't even know that they are testing us. Their purpose is security. If the boundaries don't move, you can comfortably turn your back on them without fear of the unknown creeping in behind you.

Trust me parent.... you will experience both types of testing, and knowing the difference between the two is most helpful in weathering the storm. Many parents, especially new parents misunderstand their children's motives, attributing to them some sort of malice which I don't believe exists. They draw an emotional conclusion, opening themselves up to the lies of the Devil.

Children are just what they appear to be. Most don't develop malicious intent or guile or other obscure forms of sinful behavior unless they are taught it by example. Yes, they are sinful, but they are usually not devious.

When a child drives you to the end of your rope, it is a very great help to realize that he/she is not trying to destroy you! I am not trying to be humorous at this point, I have seen that "I can't take it anymore" look in the eyes of my wife. Ten hours of seemingly continuous combat with a strong willed child can take its toll. How much harder it becomes when the Devil has you convinced that the child is intentionally trying to get you angry.

An Advantage that we have (although we don't often use it) is the knowledge that the Devil is a liar (see John 8:44 lies are the Devil's native language) and not at all creative. Since he is not creative, he is still using the same lies and part truths now that he told me (and everyone else) 30 plus years ago and in fact way back to the garden of God. Let's take a look at some of them.

"How can you expect them to do the right things when your so full of sin you're ready to burst."

"They're so cute... how can you spank them for such a little thing?"

"You're being abusive... just like your.... Mother, Father, Granddad, Aunt Ethyl, Uncle Glockenspiel".... you add the name.

"Give the kid a break, he/she, is only human"...

"Sure... God knows that if you eat from this tree, you'll be just like him... he's holding out, holding you back, he's not really interested in what's best for you!"

This is just a small rendering of the lies I have heard whispered in my ear over the years. I'm certain that you have your own list as well. If you compare notes with others who are trudging along the path of life, I'm sure you will notice a similarity in the things he says.

Regardless of whether the test comes from God in order to open your eyes as to your true
State of Spirituality, or if it is just your children testing the waters, it can still throw you off balance. How about this as a third possibility, you are being used by God to bring your children to a place where they realize their need for God.

Are your feet upon the rock? Do you have your Jesus brand walk on water sandals? This is one of your jobs! You are called of God to press on through trials and tribulation and preach the gospel through word and deed to your offspring! What higher calling is there in all the earth?

I realize that by this time, having read nine chapters, you are expecting some special pearl of truth. Perhaps some gems of wisdom mined from prospecting with Jesus for nearly forty years. Well, I have already given them to you... I hope your not tired of hearing it... they never will change... Prayer and God's Word are the secrets of success in the kingdom of God. Those who concern themselves with highly technical theology and endless genealogies often go astray. Those who cling to the hem of the garment of the Lord himself... are never more than an arms reach from the throne of mercy. Please don't misunderstand me, I am not against looking into difficult or obscure scriptures, but those things do not build up your relationship with God, and that is what is needed in the time of testing. You must know beyond all doubt, that God cares for you and has your best interest in mind. You need faith and confidence in a person, not in a doctrine. Jesus is the person, and he never changes.

Christianity is different from all other religions in the world for at least two reasons, number one, it's true!! Number two, it is based on a personal relationship with the founder himself!! If you will continue to build upon this relationship, Jesus himself will bring you into deeper waters and reveal great mysteries... if you are willing to pay the price. Let's add some new words to our Christian vocabulary and see what happens.

Meditation; Quiet Place; Persevere; Wait upon the Lord; Not My Will; and so many more!

I would like to encourage you to do a periodic evaluation of where you and your children line up in relationship to the world that you live in. In other words, does your Christian household look just like your unbelieving neighbors family life? Do you watch the same T.V. shows, read the same books, hope for the same careers for your children, have the same educational goals as they do? If the answer is yes, then I hope for your sake that the tests from God come soon and hard.

Many Bible believing families loose their children to the world because they live according to the standards of the world. This allows the children to be as influenced by worldly things in equal measure with Godly things. It is always easier to walk down hill than it is to walk uphill.

Now Jesus addressed this very matter and John recorded it for us in his gospel account. My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. (John 17:15-17 NIV)

Jesus left us here for the Father's purposes. He gave us the Holy Spirit so as to clearly explain his word and intention, thus leading us to a holy lifestyle in the middle of a decaying world. We can greatly reduce the testing we encounter in this life by choosing to seek and obey him, but tests and trials will come.

God has prescribed many of the tests and trials we experience in life. These tests, are designed by God Almighty, for his own divine purposes. Others are brought on by poor choices we make. As an example, if I choose to live beyond my means, (and I have) the difficult road back to financial stability is a test I have designed myself. This doesn't mean God will abandon me because I caused the problem, it just means I might not have had the problem if I would have made other choices.

This same principal applies in the training of children. If you teach your children that when you say no, it is still open to discussion, you are well on the road to a future testing. Someday you will really mean no, and they will demand a debate! In the case of little children, it may cost them their lives... no Johnny don't go into the street!!! Then again, in the case of older children it may also cost them their lives... no I don't want you to ride with _____, I don't trust him/her.
Remember, you set the standards you make the rules. If the line is movable, they will try and move it. There was an old oil filter commercial (I am an auto technician and so I remember it!) where the mechanic was replacing an engine. The dialogue in the scene indicated that the car owner had chosen to save money by using a less expensive product. The selling line was... you can pay me now, or you can pay me later! I suggest that this is a true principle in life. Paying for the correct solution now, saves a lot of grief in the future. May we all choose to pay the price now in order to lessen the difficulty later. Trust me on this, I have walked the path and am here to testify to the fact that it is easier to challenge a strong willed child at two years old than at sixteen.

Regardless of where the testing may originate, we need to open our eyes and live as mature believers. Stop blaming someone else for all our problems, which is what our current society does. We must realize that regardless of who brought the test upon us, Jesus is the solution. What a privilege we have! A personal tutor to get us through!

Study Questions: Session Five - Light at the end of the tunnel and The Assault (Testing)

1. Given the choice, who should apply discipline to a child and why - Mom or Dad?

2. Can children be trained to sit quietly through a two hour service?

3. Do you believe that life's hardships are discipline from God? For you? For your children?

4. What does "you can pay me now, or you can pay me later mean in child discipline?