|Session 4 - Part 1: Application - using Wisdom and Knowledge|
Slowly the creature scanned the horizon. None of the inhabitants of this strange land were in sight. Now it began, carefully picking it's destination seeking those things that glitter, shine, or move. "Target acquired captain!" shouts the navigator. "Full speed ahead" is the response.
"Honey, try to remember that there's a baby in the house now. Let's not leave any drinks on the low coffee table, O.K.?"
"Good thinking, this way Junior won't be tempted."
Remember the glass of water from chapter four? Well, with a little bit of forethought an entire incident could have been averted. Some people refer to this process as "baby proofing" the house. It is really a simple procedure. Relax this won't hurt a bit.
First assume the position of prayer in the middle of a chosen room. This is so that you are able to hear from God. We are not just doing this in order to prevent damage to the vase that Aunt Ethel gave us at our wedding we have to protect our children from themselves until they are able to reason. I clearly remember the massive scaring on my father's shoulder. This was the result of a toddler checking to see what was for dinner rather than asking. I for one do not want to be responsible for that type of incident if I can avoid it.
Please remember that you are not going to be able to prevent every bad thing that could possibly happen to your child. A responsible Christian parent does all things as best as they can and then prayerfully places his or her child in the able hands of a loving heavenly Father.
O.K. that's step one, now, plant both of your hands firmly on the floor and begin exploring. It's amazing how different the world looks from here.
Jesus said in Matt. 18:3 that we needed to become like little children in order to enter the Kingdom of God, so, let's continue our exploration of the world of a child. Here we are on the floor.... we are now little children.... therefore that big wooden thing with the shiny stuff and all those metal things is not a China Hutch, it is only what we see. It's tall thing, with beautiful panels that change color as we move, and cold loop shaped things that make noise when we touch them.
It's not a China HutchIt's a tall thing will shiny doors and rattling metal loops to a baby
For those of you who are having a difficult time here I will interpret as I am fluent in both adult and child thought patterns. The shiny panels that change color are the glass doors and the loops that make noise are the handles. Babies as well as toddlers are touchy feely people. They are not interested in the function of an item, they relate to it by how it looks, sounds feels, and most of all tastes. Speaking of taste, did you know that many houseplants are poisonous? Also many of the scrubs, which we keep close to our homes, are also poisonous!
Now I am not telling you to reorganize everything you do for the sake of the children, I am simply asking you to think ahead. There are certain things which I refused to allow my children to do (this doesn't mean if you let your little ones do them you can't read the rest of my book, I just want you to consider that the things you allow have consequences), for example, my children were deprived the privilege of playing with pots and pans. If you think banging noises are hilarious, that's just peachy. However, remember that you trained them to believe that opening cupboards and taking the contents out, and then proceeding to scatter them around a room is acceptable behavior. Also keep in mind that those same pots may have hot liquid in them next time your toddler reaches for them.
If you think banging noises are hilarious, fine. I trained my children to play different games
Here is another example of a very common practice among parents, a practice, which Joy and I never, NEVER allowed. Our children didn't have the great pleasure of playing with keys. How many of you have spent, or know someone who has spent long hours looking for the keys to their car? Little Johnny knows where they are, and in eight months when he begins to talk he will tell you where he put them. Remember, you are training these little people. What are you teaching them?
Back in chapter two, I told the story of my oldest son and the low coffee table, which contained both his toys and our stereo. It will be up to you as parents to determine what is within the ability of your child and what is an unnecessary temptation. I will gladly admit that some of my earlier child discipline was egotistical and proud. I have no doubt that there were some things that I did which caused my son to receive correction when he might not have needed it.
Consider carefully each of your children, as they are all different and precious in the sight of God. Knowledge without wisdom will often go astray, so seek God daily for he is the source of both.
Some children respond easily to verbal commands. Others need physically reminders. Still others are deceptive at an early age. They will listen when you speak to them, and then look for an opportunity to do what they want to do when you are not looking.
As you watch your children grow, you will see very clearly that every human being is a sinner right from birth. We are lost and need a savior. Some children will be more obvious, but all will reveal their self-serving nature. Do not allow yourselves to be deceived these are definitely the sons and daughters of Adam and Eve. Left to themselves, they will follow the path to destruction. It is your job to see that they start out and stay on the narrow road that leads to life (Ps. 14:3, Ps. 53:3, Rm. 3:10-12).
Our children as well as we ourselves are ultimately just sons and daughters of Adam and Eve!
No one except God knows your children better than you! You however must keep yourself emotionally balanced and proceed with your child's training according to the word of God. This chapter on application follows immediately after the chapter on the fruit of the Spirit. I placed it here because it is not possible to get spiritual fruit if you sow natural seed. If your training program is filled with emotional decisions, selfish choices, plans based on fears of what other people will think, you are going to give your child a handicap.
Now my wife and I know a thing or two about handicaps. Our second child was born with Meconium Pneumonia Syndrome (which is a fancy way of saying he had stuff in his lungs and probably would die), which resulted in Cerebral Palsy. Jacob was given a 5% chance to live, but God had other plans. Today he attends Florida State University where he is studying girls. We have hopes that soon he will even begin to decide upon a career. (Recent update he now works for Florida State University in their School of Medicine).
Anyway, the reason I brought Jacob into our discussion on application is that we Americans seem (in my opinion) to be more likely to cater to what we see as a weakness, in a person. This in most cases further handicaps them by allowing self-pity, guilt, and worst of all the lack of experience to direct their lives. Children must experiment. In the testing of the walls of their lives, they become secure. In the failures they learn to persevere, and in the successes they gain confidence in themselves and under your leadership, in God.
We as parents must overcome the "Victim" mentality that is so prevalent in our society. Replace it with the "As you sow, so also shall you reap" understanding, toss in the concept of a loving God who is actually interested in your well being and cap it with a scripture... how about this one "because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment!" (James 2:13 NIV).
Do you have a victim mentality? Do you cater to your child's weakness
We treated Jacob exactly the same as our other five children (with the obvious exceptions being where it was not physically possible. i.e. he couldn't walk, so his chores were different.) This resulted in a child who accepts his situation as being from God. He was then free to be himself and go as far a God would take him. So far God has taken him a six-hour drive to the state college campus. He is very independent and will be able to live his life in service to our King just like the rest of his brothers and sisters.
In addition to the freedom to explore life and find his place in God's purposes, he also provided a rich opportunity for my other children to learn genuine Christian service right in their own home. See, lemonade really does come from lemons!
In the Computer business they have coined a phrase that I think is very good. It is used to explain bad results from both hardware (Computers and other equipment for those of you who are not preparing for the mark of the beast), and software alike. The phrase is "GIGO". This stands for Garbage In, Garbage Out. Now let me explain how that relates to us as parents.
If you feed incorrect or inaccurate information into a Computer you will get incorrect or incomplete results. This is because the Computer believes "EVERYTHING" that it is told.So do children!
Whatever you feed into your children is what you will get back. This also explains why (and I am being serious now) teenagers come up with incorrect and often destructive solutions to life's problems. They are working with incomplete data. "Garbage in, garbage out".
You are going to be setting the standards of their lives. Believe me on this one, my children are all grown up. I have the opportunity to look at them as adults now. The next generation is also growing up, and I see the good, the bad and the down right ugly that I helped to build into them.
Let's be practical, merciful, loving and full of faith. With forethought, according to God's word, train your children.
Session 4- Part 2: Endurance, Faithfulness and Consistency
Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. (Gal 6:9 NIV)
Babies are cute. This is true whether they are human, or almost any other species found on the planet. Cute however, is not enough to get you through the daily grind, which we all experience. The best behaved, most trustworthy, consistent children will still need to be corrected. After all, they are in training. Remember that they are fully able to learn all about their environment from birth, but they are programmed from the factory with only the essentials in place. They can eat, cry, and eliminate. The basic body functions work, but the rest is a learning experience.
You have been selected by God and given the most important task on the planet, namely to train and educate the heirs of the kingdom of God.
Remember, this is not a secondary task. If you fail in this endeavor, yet are successful in business, you have not at all fulfilled the call of God upon your life.
If you preach mighty sermons, have a long list of benevolent acts which you have done in the name of Jesus, but fail to bring your children to Christ by word and deed, you have not obeyed the spirit nor the letter of God's Word.
Nowhere in the scripture are you commanded to be successful in the things of the world we live in, in fact we are told to be careful how we relate to this world. Handle the things of earth with a light grasp while holding tightly to the things of God. You will find many passages that testify to the results you will receive for diligently following God's ways (including earthly blessings in some cases).
We are certainly responsible for how we handle the things God has given us, but earthly riches are not the goal of the Christian experience contrary to many contemporary teachings. It is however clear, that we are commanded to train our children in God's ways, and often we see examples in the Bible of people who were severely disciplined by God for failing to do just that. Just for the record here is an example - In the very first chapter of the book of Samuel the prophet, we find a long discourse on the behavior of the sons of Eli the prophet. Included in this tale are both the sins of the sons as well as the failure of the father to do the right thing. The resulting judgment is not only death for those who disobey God's commandments, but loss of position, inheritance, and general favor before God.
Now before you pull out your Grace of God scriptures, please remember how I began this chapter.... everything in the past was written to teach us! This is indeed the Grace of God itself!!! Should we ignore the Grace of God and give ourselves liberty that God does not give?
God's Grace is when He shows us what will happen if we continue our current path!
Now back to the matter of endurance... So there you are, training, teaching, praying, and pleading with your two year old.... yet he/she continues to disobey. It almost seems to be a challenge, or a personal vendetta. Perhaps you think it's a demon, because it makes no sense to you... you know the result of this type of behavior is only pain, yet the child continues down that path.
Maybe you did well with the little critters, but now that they are
getting older, and now you are
Prayer should not be a last resort in the lives of believers. If it is, your prayer life will probably be ineffective. There is nothing wrong with praying in a crisis, but if it is the only time you pray, that indicates a spiritual problem.
It is so much easier to make godly decisions when you are prayed up. At the very least you can be confident that you have made yourself available to God should he want to speak to you. He speaks softly so it is necessary for you to get quiet!
I am not speaking through my hat! I have been in the battle! I have fought with stubborn strong willed children to the point where I feared that I was abusing them!
When you fall off the rock upon which you stand, then you are in danger of abuse. As long as your heart motivation is to train them to walk with Jesus, and your goal is their well being, you will not abuse them, but you must be strong!
Patient endurance... yields a good harvest at the proper time, but you have to keep on plugging away! This is where relationships in the body of Christ are so important. Look for people who have successfully gone before you. Remember, no one does a perfect job.
You want to build relationships with people who humbly return again and again to the word of God for insight. The proof of the pudding is in the tasting they say; I say the same applies to fruit. It can look good on the outside, but have no flavor or worse than that be sour on the inside, so you must really get to know the fruit of their labor if you are going to trust their insight.
It is also of the utmost importance to humble yourself before God and the brethren and get prayer support. This is no game, it's deadly serious! Your children's spiritual lives depend upon it
The other side of endurance is consistency. Children can detect those weak moments and by nature they seem compelled to test them. In the same fashion, they are also very adept at noticing and attacking inconsistent behavior. Older children often become manipulative because of this kind of unintentional instruction. They take up the practice of playing both ends toward the middle... you know... Mom said it was O.K. with her if it's O.K. with you. Using half-truths or just downright lies.
On the other hand, smaller children get confused. As an example, suppose little Johnny has climbed onto the counter and gotten a cookie, which he clearly knows he is not supposed to have. You faithfully spank him, pray with him, and love him. Then due to some misguided guilt, you give him the cookie anyway. What have you taught him? Perhaps he learned that no doesn't always mean no. Or, that there are rewards for disobedience. I wonder if God really means no when he says it???
The thing that makes Christianity so wonderful is that we have the opportunity to relate with someone who never changes. You can count on any promise in the Bible being true. Isn't that a great comfort? If God says you're his child and he will never leave you or forsake you, count on it! If God says don't do that, it's bad for you... count on that too.
Last but not least, I would like to discuss Faithfulness. You might say that someone who endures and is consistent is faithful, and although I would not disagree with you, I think that is only a limited understanding of the word. Remember, faithfulness is listed in the fruit of the spirit in Galatians chapter 5. Perhaps it is worthy of a longer look.
As in all things Godly, Jesus is our example. Looking at his life, we certainly see that he was consistent and endured hardships to accomplish those things he set out to do. However if being faithful only means doing the things you are told to do or have promised you will do, we have missed the most important point! Jesus did everything He did as a man! By the way, just to get theological for a moment, if He didn't do it as a man, He wouldn't have been qualified to pay your debt of sin.
How could that be possible? To live a life without sin? That my brothers and sisters is the point of Faithfulness!!! It means very literally to be full of Faith. If you are faced with a task beyond your abilities such as walking on water.... keep your eyes on Jesus and you can do it! We are in service to a God of the supernatural! He is training you right now to go beyond your natural abilities. Nowhere will this be more evident than in training children to follow after him (after all, what is more unnatural for a carnal child to do than follow spiritual ways?).
God is faithful and so we also must be. Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. (Heb 11:1 NIV) Raising children requires that we be FULL OF FAITH. Faith comes by hearing God. Therefore... read his word and pray... you will hear God and be full of faith.
|Study Questions: Session Four - Application, Endurance, Faithfulness
1. Can you rename several items in your home so they make more sense to a child's mind? Will that help you keep your children safe and out of trouble?
2. Don't like loud banging noises? What can you do about it, they are just children - True or False?
3. Ultimately, your children are sons and daughters of ____________ and _____.
4. How should we deal with our children's weaknesses?
5. When should you use prayer?
6. If the proof of the fruit is in the tasting, how can you tell if
a person's teachings are valid without trying the fruit?