A Time of Altars

By Jack Hayford

 

Abram passed through the land to the place of Shechem, as far as the terebinth tree of Moreh. And the Canaanites were then in the land. Then the Lord appeared to Abram and said, “To your descendants I will give this land.” And there he built an altar to the Lord, who had appeared to him. And he moved from there to the mountain east of Bethel, and he pitched his tent with Bethel on the west and Ai on the east; there he built an altar to the Lord and called on the name of the Lord. So Abram journeyed, going on still toward the South. – Genesis 12:6-9

…to the place of the altar which he had made there at first. And there Abram called on the name of the Lord… Then Abram moved his tent, and went and dwelt by the terebinth trees of Mamre, which are in Hebron, and built an altar there to the Lord. – Genesis 13:4, 18

Altars are a memorial of the places where God meets us

Altars represent the occasion and place where we have had a personal encounter with God. We may not always be able to make a physical altar, but there can be one established in our hearts. When we celebrate communion, we are celebrating the grandest altar of all, the Cross of Calvary. The Son of God was the ultimate sacrifice, and His work on the Cross reconciled all humankind to God, made possible for our lives to be infused with meaning, for our sins to be forgiven and to give us the promise of eternal life.

Altars appear throughout the Bible in many different forms. Some of them are:

A place of encounter – The Lord met Jacob in a crisis and the next day he built an altar at that place (Genesis 28).

A place of forgiveness – The brazen altar of the tabernacle sacrifice was offered as an advance testimony that there would be a once-for-all sacrifice in God’s Son.

A place of worship – The most common altar built by people to acknowledge their praise to God was the altar of incense, the holy place where priests would offer worship to the Lord on behalf of the people and themselves.

A place of covenant – An altar was built where the covenant was made between the Lord and Abraham, and the land was sealed as a timeless promise to Abraham and his offspring (Genesis 15).

A place of intercession – The prophet Joel called for intercession by leaders on behalf of the people and their devastated economy.

God has a place of “altaring” for us

There is a place of “altaring” and a price of altering. Altars have a price–God intends that something be “altered” in us when we come to altars. To receive the promise means we make way for the transformation.

Have you ever felt that the Lord put in your heart an expectation of promise? Such aspirations come from the Lord (Psalm 62:5). You sense anticipation of something God has put in your heart and underwritten by promises in His Word. You look at the promise and begin to picture in your mind what it’s going to be like. The fact is, we often visualize things that have nothing whatsoever to do with what God wants to do with us.

Abraham knew there was a place for him, and God has a “place” for you. There is a longing in every human heart for where we are meant to be, but we get caught up in our notion of how it’s going to be fulfilled. When the Lord told Abraham he had a place for him, Abraham probably imagined a verdant valley, flowing stream, lovely mountains. But the Scripture says he came to a place were Canaanites were living in the land. The Canaanites were the most perverted, corrupt culture in human history. They were the Satanists of that time.

Abraham’s building of the altar represents his saying: “I’m accepting a promise, understanding that this is different than what I thought it was going to be, but it’s also something that I believe God can bring to pass. I trust You, Lord, that You will make it work.”

Be encouraged to let your heart receive the promise and embrace wherever you are right now, even if it seems much different that what you hope for. If the Lord is there with you He can make it work, but it will require the building of an altar on your part to say, I’m willing and to trust that God is greater than your preconception of how it’s supposed to be.

Abraham calls on the Name of the Lord

When the Bible says that Abraham called on the Name of the Lord, it was more than prayer. The word “name” contains the concept of character.

Our perspective of God is on this side of the completion of the Old and New Testaments. But in Abraham’s time, God was just beginning to rework His communication with fallen humanity. Abraham answered a call because he believed in God and sensed Him drawing Abraham’s heart to a promise of something that he could not be or do in himself.

Abraham believed that there was a true and living God in the midst of the pagan culture around him. Now the Lord says to him, “I want to teach you about Me.” Abraham was coming to know the Lord and he called on the name—and character—of the Lord.

Abraham leaves and then returns to where God met him

When a famine strikes, Abraham decides to take matters into his own hands and moves his family to Egypt (Genesis 12:1-12). That only creates a bigger problem than if he’d stayed and remembered the promise the Lord gave him. The Lord met him in Egypt anyway, helped him through, and Abraham returned to altar he’d made and called on the name of the Lord (Genesis 13:4).

We all fall for that. God’s really busy and He may not notice what I need right now. But if God has a place for you and He’s showing you Himself in that place, provision will never ultimately be your problem unless you try to figure out how to make it for yourself.

There are people who launch out on their own and distanced themselves from the place the Lord says He has for them. Our Father says, “You know Me differently from the way you are acting right now.” Just as surely as He met Abraham and brought him back to the altar of promise, so He wants to meet you today. You’ve got to decide to come to that altar, and that altar is the Cross of Jesus.

Whatever you have done to violate trust with God (and that usually constitutes having violated trust with other people or making compromises you knew were not right) the Lord calls you to come back. Abraham wanted to move on in knowing God, so he came back to the altar he had built and called on the name of the Lord (Romans 10:13; Zechariah 13:9).

Redemption means fulfillment of God’s purpose in you

Following the episode of stress between he and Lot over territory, Abraham graciously offers Lot his choice of the land, saying he will take whatever remained beyond it (Genesis 13). Abraham may have wondered if in doing that, he’d given away the store. But the Lord appears to him and says, “I still have the land for you, and I want you to pace it out and see its dimensions.” As a result of that, Abraham built an altar.

Have you ever wondered if what you thought your life was going to be will never be realized to the degree it might have?

I believe it’s a very clear statement from God’s heart saying that ultimately, you don’t need to worry about the things that seem to encroach on the realization of God’s purpose in your life. There are some things that are irrecoverable. You can’t go back and scrape up all the pieces of everything. But our life is not constituted only of those pieces. There are issues over which the Lord promises to bring about the fulfillment of His purpose in you, notwithstanding the thing that’s happened. That’s what redemption is about (Joel 2).

The Lord is telling Abraham that the loss is not irrevocable as far as His purpose in him is concerned, and to that, Abraham built an altar.

There are some who need to come today and say, “Lord, I’m going to decide that You have not called me to lead a second-rate life because I allowed second-rate things to cut in on what was Your first-rate plan.” Let the Lord work His redemption fully and thoroughly as you come to the altar.

The price of altering

What it takes to build an altar are rocks, broken things. The geological application is relevant, there are volcanic explosions in our lives, seismic events, the grinding of life. You can take hard things and arrange them before the Lord or you can drag the rocks around and be burdened by them. Or when you’re frustrated at lugging them around, you get mad and throw them at somebody else. The way you build an altar is to bring those hard, broken things before the Lord and put them there.

The price of altering is that you have to pour your life out over it saying, “Lord I come and present myself to You!”

At the altar, the price is paid for renewal when we’ve been at a distance, for securing hope we may have thought was lost and for receiving promise, even if it’s in an unpleasant environment. Come to the ultimate altar and receive the ultimate promise and provision made offered in our Lord Jesus Christ.

 

 

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Enter His Kitchen With Thanksgiving and His Pantry with Praise

This Mother’s Day and every day, feeding my kids is an opportunity for prayer.
KRISTEN DEEDE JOHNSON

Enter His Kitchen With Thanksgiving and His Pantry with Praise

In recent months, a number of my friends have become converts to the way of the Instant Pot. As I’ve listened to them share the many ways in which Instant Pot cooking makes their lives easier, I’ve found myself wondering: What is it about life today that makes those with an Instant Pot so very grateful for this gadget? Conversely, what makes those of us without one imagine that it could solve every meal-making crisis that we face?

This Mother’s Day, like every day, a lot of women in my demographic face an ongoing quandary: Our ability to tend to the home is often compromised by the pace of life that many of us are living, the norms that we’re trying to uphold, and the multiple callings to which we’re trying to be faithful. Despite our sincere desire to treasure the ordinary and embrace the quotidian, it often feels like the caregiving parts of our calling get relegated to the cracks and margins in our lives. And yet Scripture’s invitations—to “give thanks in all circumstances” and “pray continually” (1 Thess. 5:17–18)—apply as much to those cracks and margins as to any area of our lives. How, then, do we pray and “practice the presence of God” in the midst of these daily pressures?

I’ve found this struggle especially poignant in the context of daily lunch-making. I would buy an Instant Pot in a minute if it could make my kids’ school lunches for me. As I wash grapes and roll up slices of turkey, I can feel welling up inside me the need to do something more productive, the sense that my time would be better spent cranking out emails, and the desire to get this done as fast as humanly possible.

The pressure to squeeze lunch-making into the cracks is not unique to me as a working mom. I watch my single friends struggle to find time to even get groceries in the fridge, never mind to cook and clean. And I listen to my homeschooling friends struggle to fit everything in, too. Even my friends with a deep commitment to hospitality feel the stress that comes from commercially established standards of housekeeping and food-making. We all feel these tensions, even as we long to live differently.

The phenomenon of “feeling rushed” has become so noticeable that it’s now a measure used by the Pew Research Center. A quarter of women surveyed said they feel rushed all of the time. This increase in pressure comes in part from shifting norms around work and also from shifting norms around parenting. Another part of the picture—perhaps the most notable one—is related to the degree to which we as a society have attuned our lives to the cultural values of efficiency and productivity.

As Anne-Marie Slaughter notes in Unfinished Business, American society as a whole has identified the competitive world of breadwinning as more important than caregiving. That means we often don’t know how to value acts of caregiving—from cherishing lunch preparation to tending to our aging relatives to investing in our communities—or to name why they matter.

As a believer, I face the additional challenge of naming why caregiving matters from a Christian perspective. Scripture, however, makes this delightfully clear. When I read the whole biblical story in light of the themes of home, homemaking, and caregiving, I begin to see them everywhere: God created a home for us in which we could dwell with him and care for each other and the rest of his creation. We lost our home when we were expelled from the garden. God made a covenant with Abraham, promising his descendants a promised land in which they could make their homes. Jesus tells his disciples that they will join him in his Father’s home, full of many rooms. God promises that in the age to come, we will dwell with him in his redeemed creation.

All throughout the Bible, we read about God caring for his people by providing food, drink, and clothing (including the very tender act of making Adam and Eve clothes after they had sinned). The psalms, too, reflect themes of caregiving. “The psalmist’s portrayal [in Psalm 104] is of God as a great housekeeper,” writes Margaret Kim Peterson, “pitching a tent, clothing himself with light and the earth with water as with garments, ordering boundaries, making homes for creatures, giving them food, sustaining all life, creating and re-creating through the Spirit.”

If housekeeping and caregiving are significant enough for God to attend to, then surely they are significant enough for me to give focused, loving attention to—even when I’m feeling rushed. Lunch-making, like all things, is a space where I need to practice thanksgiving and prayer.

To help me cultivate this posture, first, I try to savor the God-given gift of having children in my home who need to be fed and nurtured. Their needs—for grapes and sandwiches, carrots and cucumbers—are part of the caregiving calling in my life. As I do, I place myself in the company of Christians like Brother Lawrence and Kathleen Norris who were deeply aware of God’s presence in the ordinary goodness of the kitchen and the laundry line. As Tish Harrison Warren writes, “I want to learn how to spend time over my inbox, laundry, and tax forms, yet, mysteriously, always on my knees, offering up my work as a prayer to the God who blesses and sends.”

Second, I try to think about my small actions as a way to participate in God’s enduring commitment to caregiving and homemaking, as evidenced throughout Scripture. I receive the gift of God’s care through his saving love, which clothes me in righteousness, and through his ongoing presence in my life, which sustains and nurtures me daily. As I eat and drink and put on clothes, I am likewise receiving caregiving gifts from the God who created us to be both physical and spiritual. Accordingly, when I nurture my children’s faith and prepare food that nourishes their bodies, I strive to remember that I’m reflecting God’s care for their whole selves.

Third, as I reflect on these biblical themes of caregiving, I remember those who don’t have enough food or access to safe water. This in turns reminds me of the imagery we see in Scripture that depicts the age to come: feasts, wedding banquets, vineyards bursting with fruit, and the elimination of suffering from hunger and thirst. These biblical images of God’s abundant provision point to his deep-seated desire for us to have our physical needs met, even here and now. As I make lunches, I can pray a Latin American prayer—“O God, to those who have hunger give bread, and to us who have bread give the hunger for justice”—and let those words shape our commitments as a family.

Finally, I try to stop and name my desire to be ever-efficient, and then I offer this impulse to God. As I do, I am reminded of the importance of community. The cultural forces that shape my inclination toward productivity are ones that I can’t resist on my own. Attending to biblical convictions about caregiving does indeed make a difference, but I need other Christians to help me imagine new ways to live and different values to prioritize. I need a larger church community to help counter messages that I’ve absorbed my whole life about productivity and efficiency and what counts at the end of the day. And I need to ask for help from others in the body of Christ, instead of independently rushing to fit it all in and get it all done.

On my own, it’s easy for me to receive this call to praise and thanksgiving as one more burdensome “should” in my life. But when I join with others who are likewise wanting to “practice the presence of God,” it becomes easier to receive Jesus’ promise that his “yoke is easy and [his] burden is light” (Matt. 11:30). Together we have access to a caregiving God who is there to hear our pleas of desperation and our prayers of thanks—even as we bend over the cutting board.

Kristen Deede Johnson is professor of theology and Christian formation at Western Theological Seminary. Her latest book, The Justice Calling (co-written with Bethany Hoang), won the politics and public life category for Christianity Today’s 2017 Book Awards.

 

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The “A” Word

May 10, 2019 by Discerning Dad

 

 

Men…we were created in the image of God to be the covering for our families…the rock, the foundation, the supplier, the hunter/gatherer, the fix-it guy, the put-gas-in-my-car guy, the guy who has all the answers for our kids crazy questions….the guy who mows the lawn and pulls weeds.

Well darn…that’s a lot of responsibility.

But do we let our family see us sweat about it? Heck no. Instead, we bottle in our feelings, restrict our positive emotional output and kick the dog when we are frustrated. If the dog’s not available, we kick the wife and kids…. maybe not physically but certainly emotionally.

A man’s hidden paradigm – anxiety – we bury it deep inside and don’t let ANYONE in to see all of it…maybe glimpses, but that’s all. The American culture is to keep anxiety buried (or medicated) so it can’t be seen. I have been (and still sometimes am) that man. The problem is that anxiety isn’t just about being worried. As men we don’t stand around wringing our hands waiting for things to get better.

We usually look for some sort of outlet to divert the need to think about the things that cause us stress…. any distraction. It can be sports, obsessing over a hobby, or maybe burying ourselves in our job. These things are socially acceptable…and the church community generally doesn’t have an issue with either.

On the socially “unacceptable” end of the spectrum, anxiety can also be the conduit that leads to other issues. We were designed to be on this earth and walk in the power and authority of God, but we trade that power and authority for other things.

Fear, Anger, Lust, Control

These attributes can be manifest in many ways…. family abuse, substance abuse, pornography, affairs…. pick your poison. If you are doing something not honoring God, I guarantee you know it. We may be very good at hiding our sins, but we know the entire time, unequivocally, that it is sin. But is this how God instructs us to deal with stress?

So, what does the Word say about how to deal with anxiety?

Let’s look at a scripture that Paul wrote while sitting in an uncomfortable jail cell, probably hungry (hangry?) and thirsty and not knowing what his fate may be at the very next moment…. a perfectly good reason to be stressed out….and probably a bit agitated.

Phil 4: 4-9 – Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
8 Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. 9 Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.”

Okay men…let’s break this down.

1. Rejoice in the Lord always …I will say it again, REJOICE! – God is our #1 priority! You are NOT rejoicing in your circumstances…. you are rejoicing in who God is and that He is with you during your circumstances. If you place your problems and circumstances before God, they are an idol in your life.

2. Let your gentleness be evident to all. – RELAX…. This begins very close to you and your circle of influence. At home. With the kids. With your wife. With the dog. Alone in the car dealing with traffic. At work. In public. Stop being defensive. Don’t feel the need to prove you are right. Take a cue from Elsa…. LET IT GO.

3. The Lord is near. Duh…you know this…. or at least you should.

4. Do not be anxious about anything, but in EVERY situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.
a. Bring your situations to God – Pray immediately and let God know specifically what your worries are.
b. Be THANKFUL – THIS IS HUGE! Let God know how much you appreciate all He has done in your life!! Think about this…. How great do you feel when your kids show you appreciation and gratitude just for being Dad??

5. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
a. Our Promise from God for being obedient to verses 4-6!

6. Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.
a. Verses 8 & 9 are NECESSARY!
b. Whatever unnecessary things in life cause you anxiety cut them out…This is necessary and will require for you to do some soul searching. If our current political situation causes you stress, stop watching the news, cut out social media, stop letting people bait you into conversations that get you fired up. YOU know your triggers. Identify them and leave them alone. Think about things that are pleasing to God…. I don’t think our Savior cares too much about Russian collusion.

7. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.
a. And the God of peace WILL be with you. Wow! Mic drop.

Prayer: Lord – In the midst of my problems I choose to focus on YOU!! Regardless of the difficulties my path may present, YOU are GOD and YOU are MIGHTY, and YOU are SOVERGN. I will trust in YOU and LEAN on YOU for all things in my life. LORD, THANK YOU for all that YOU are in my life, Thank YOU for my family, my existence and the opportunity to REJOICE in YOU. I give my worries to YOU and accept the PEACE that YOU promise in my life. I choose today to focus on YOU and the things that please YOU. LORD, make your path and will clear to me daily. In JESUS MIGHTY name! Amen!

Jordan Lynde
Guest Discerning Dad

 

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A Pilgrimage to Secure Boundaries

by Jack Hayford

 

“Lift your eyes now and look from the place where you are—northward, southward, eastward, and westward; for all the land which you see I give to you and your descendants forever…Arise, walk in the land through its length and its width, for I give it to you.” (Genesis 13:14b-15, 17)

This was the first time that I have ever referred to one of our trips to the Holy Land as a “pilgrimage,” but it was just that—a mandate from the Lord to go and pray in Israel. We were a group under God’s hands, joining in prayer with multitudes also praying for the peace of Jerusalem. We knew somehow that our actions in the invisible realm were pivotal, invoking through prayer the rule of God Almighty. Never have I felt involved in a more significant venture. Believers and secular people alike in Israel were deeply moved by our visit.

We went with a sense of mission to exercise the practice of prophetic prayer, literally moving through the land to touch the North, South, East, and West. As a prayer team, we built altars at each of these boundaries of the nation, where we lifted up key issues to be proclaimed over the land. These are the same issues that need to be raised up over your life—kingdom principles that apply to all of us.

In the South, we built the Altar of TRUTH (Psalm 119:165), praying that Israel will honor the Word; that the Word be made alive—a veil removed to see more than words; to see truth: “You shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:32).

In the East, we built the Altar of LIFE (Ezekiel 37:9,14), praying that there would come an outpouring of the Spirit according to Zechariah 12:10: “I will pour on Israel the Spirit of grace and supplication, and they will look upon Me whom they pierced.”

In the North, we built the Altar of WORSHIP (Zechariah 14:16-18), praying in intercession that all who worship the Lord now in spirit and in truth would become a token invoking further grace, including breaking the drought in this land.

In the West, we built the Altar of PRAISE (Psalm 113:1-3), praying praise to drive back the darkness; praise for what has begun; and praise that Israel’s boundaries not only be secured but expanded in her mission to mankind.

I gained three convictions from this divinely appointed visit to Israel. First, the Spirit of prophecy is ready to come upon people who will rise in faith, obey with action, and work with discernment. Second, the Spirit of life is breathing with force ready to break down walls and bring salvation. Finally, the Spirit of harvest is calling for prayer warriors who will resist the Adversary and contend for God’s boundaries of intended blessing.

More than ever, there’s reason for us as the people of the Lord to let our hearts be quickened with anticipation and stirred with a sense of accountable duty. We are called to occupy until Jesus comes, and that responsibility centers on intercessory prayer and a faithful life of service that shows the love of God in everything we do. As the world faces uncertainty, let us march forward in full confidence that He has called us to action in prayer that will result in the securing and expansion of boundaries of intended blessing in our world and in each of our lives.

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Abide in Me

MAY 5, 2019 | CHRISTIAN MOM

 

Before 2018 ended, we went up to the Cloud of Glory Prayer Mountain in Lilo-an Cebu. It is a place where our church built for us to get away from the hussle of life in the city and seek the face of God.

For the past two years I have asked the Lord for His one word for me every year. Or should I say, my spiritual theme for the year. This year, God’s one word for me was REMAIN. In another translation from the Bible – ABIDE.

While browsing through my online notebook, I came across with one of the exhortations I made last 2017. I may have written this two years ago but this is a good reminder for me this 2019 and for the rest of my life.

In John 15:1 Jesus declared, “I Am the True Vine and my Father is the vinedresser.” , This was the last of the seven “I Am” declarations of Jesus recorded in the Book of John. This was His last message to His disciples before His pending crucifixion, death, resurrection and ascension. Knowing that His temporal leaving bothered His disciples, Jesus encouraged them with this beautiful metaphor as the True Vine Himself and God the Vinedresser.

The vine gives us a picture of a close, permanent and vital union with it’s branches. It is symbolic of entirely belonging to the vine. Jesus was saying “You are entirely Mine and I am all you need.” Jesus was saying although I will be physically away, I will continue to nourish, support, and sustain you like a vine sustaining and nourishing it’s own branches as long as it is attached to the Vine, as long as they abide in Christ.

John 15:5 says I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.”

This message goes out not only for the disciples but for every believer of Christ. We are to attach, depend, rely, abide in the True Vine Jesus Christ.

The word abide has been repeated 10x in the first 10 verses of Chapter 15. Jesus emphasized our need to abide in Him.

The word abide in the Greek means “we make our home in.” Abiding in Christ is much more than just being beside Him, it is making our home in Christ. Making our home is His love. And when we make Christ our home, we will see Him in all His beauty, stand in awe of His greatness, glory in His power and experience His strength.

Let it be that we make our home in no one else but Christ. He is the True Vine. He is all that we need. And much more let it be that He is all that we desire and want.

Psalm 27:4 “One thing I have asked from the Lord, that I shall seek: That I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, To behold the beauty of the Lord And to meditate in His temple.

Love,

Christian Mom

Abide in Me

Mother’s Day Encouragement: God’s Guidance for Happy, Respectful, Obedient Children

By Larry Tomczak – May 12, 2019

 

I heard a man of God rehearsing his upbringing when he inserted the following, evoking a hearty laugh from the audience:

“People ask me in my mischievous childhood if I ever got spankings? I surprise them when I say I was never spanked. But I sure got some ‘wuppins!’”

Enjoying Turner Classic movies and reruns of wholesome family shows like Andy Griffith or Lassie, an occasional spanking for little children was just the norm when they persistently misbehaved. A little protoplasmic stimulation to the backside of learning got a wayward child back on track with a lesson learned.

Celebrating Mother’s Day brings  pleasant memories for moms along with some persistent questions like the appropriateness of spanking in our hyper politically correct culture.

Years ago I authored a book now titled, “The Little Handbook of Loving Correction.” It was formerly called, “God, the Rod and Your Child’s Bod” but I changed it out of cultural sensitivity.

For every wonderful mother in America struggling with this nagging issue, receive this biblically informed reassurance as a gift. May it bring peace from alignment with God’s plan for raising happy, respectful and obedient children.

Realism in Raising Kids

Raising children requires a realistic perspective on our inherited sinful nature and a rejection of the “inherent goodness of man.” Adam rebelled and all of us have ratified that rebellion because of our inherited sin nature.

We don’t have to teach children to be selfish, lie, hit their siblings, steal or pout when they don’t get their way.  We do have to train them to learn to control themselves and do what is pleasing to God.

Don’t you just love it when parenting “experts” expound their views on TV in their world of Utopia? A couple living together with no children confidently shares their “wisdom” philosophy about raising their future children by simply reasoning with them, calmly affirming them and ignoring clear cut disobedience as “a stage they’ll grow out of.”

Yeah, right. Wait ’till they confront strong-willed little Grayson in all his glorious defiance one day! This is why seasoned veterans wince at this idealism and understand bumper stickers reading:

“Insanity is inherited. You get it from your children.”

Going God’s Way

Better to approach parenting God’s way and embrace the truth that appears on a plaque we had in our home:

“It is better to build children than to repair men.”

If you permit a child to nurture destructive habits, which they will one day be forced (with greater difficulty) to break, you are living beneath the revealed will of God concerning your role as a parent.

There is a difference between abusing a child and lovingly, responsibly disciplining him. Children know the difference between an objective spanking ministered in love and a smacking springing from pent up anger.

  • “Correct your son, and he shall give you rest; yes, he will give delight to your soul” (Pr. 29:17).
  • “Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child; but the rod of correction will drive it far from him” (Pr. 22:15).
  • “The rod and reproof give wisdom, but a child left to himself brings his mother to shame” (Pr. 29:15).
  • “Do not withhold correction from a child; if you punish him with the rod, he will not die. Punish him with the rod and deliver his soul from death” (Pr. 23:13).
  • “Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it” (Pr. 22:6).

God’s method for curbing harmful attitudes and nurturing healthy ones in young children is not parents going ballistic, threatening, screaming, hauling off in anger, or tuning out destructive conduct, bribing with candy or by banishment to a room to brood and fester in resentment.

Loving correction, which includes spanking at times, is an expression of love! Though not literally, have you ever experienced a “spanking” from the Lord for persistent, ungodly conduct?

“My son, do not despise discipline from the Lord nor grow weary when you are rebuked by Him for whom the Lord loves He disciplines” (Heb. 12:5-6).

Loving, Legal and Logical

Research reveals that in America up to 85% acknowledge they’ve used corporal punishment. Every state in America allows corporal punishment of children.

Due to disciplinary problems in schools many are reevaluating their policies like the Arlington school district outside Memphis, Tennessee. They voted to reinstate corporal punishment saying:

“Teachers need all tools possible.”

Former NBA superstar, Charles Barkley, has joked:

“If corporal punishment is a crime, then every black parent in the South is going to be put in jail!”

10 Essentials of Loving Correction

May this acrostic for CORRECTION reinforce the “basics.”

  1.  CLARITY: Loving correction always begins by clearly defining and communicating reasonable boundaries before they are enforced.
  2.  OBEDIENCE: Spankings can occur if there’s persistent, deliberate disobedience. “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right” (Eph. 6:1).
  3.  RIGHT ATTITUDES: We are to “serve the Lord with gladness” (Ps.100:2), so persistent whining and complaining have to be addressed.
  4.  RESTORATION: Embracing and reassuring a child afterwards enables us to avoid leaving them feeling guilty or rejected.
  5.  EXPLANATION: Taking time to explain the offense as well as enabling the parent to calm down (if needed), makes this essential.
  6. CONSISTENCY: Loving correction requires an investment and persevering commitment… “He who spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him disciplines him dearly” (Pr. 13:24).
  7. THOROUGHNESS: Shaping the will without breaking the spirit requires being authoritative not authoritarian so the child experiences some pain, versus simple “love pats.” “Chasten thy son while there is hope, and let not thy soul spare for his crying” (Pr. 19:18 KJV). “Now no discipline seems to be joyful at the time, but grievous, yet afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness in those who have been trained by it” (Heb. 12:11).
  8.  IMMEDIATELY: With exceptions, loving correction should be given in the moment not “when daddy comes home” hours later. “Because the sentence against an evil deed is not executed swiftly, the heart of the sons of men is fully set to do evil” (Eccl. 8:11).
  9.  OUT-OF-SIGHT: Discipline is administered in private so as to not humiliate or embarrass a child.
  10.  NEUTRAL OBJECT:  Scripture states a “rod (a small, flexible branch) of correction” not a hairbrush or the nearest object. Hands should be instruments expressing affection and tenderness; we don’t want children flinching or retreating when a hand is raised.

A closing question:

“Where is the rod administered?”

God in His wisdom prepared a strategic place on the anatomy of our toddlers and children which has ample cushiony, fatty tissue and sensitive nerve endings to respond to Spirit-led stings. “Fannies” are gifts from God! In 47 years of ministry, I’ve discovered that all children come equipped with one!

“On the lips of him who has understanding wisdom is found, but a rod is for the back of him who lacks sense” (Pr. 10:13).

Here’s the deal: Scripture tells us:

“reproofs of instruction are the way to life” (Pr. 6:23).

May this Mother’s Day gift of God’s timeless wisdom educate and encourage moms across America. God’s ways are always best when carried out consistently and in faith for His glory.

Happy Mother’s Day!

 

Original here

10 Things being a mother has taught me about life and people.

These are my beliefs, developed through personal experiences and studies of my own. They do not represent anyone other than myself. Many of these lessons work together to form an overall idea (such as #1 and #2). The scriptures used can be reflected on both the parents and the children as we are all learning to walk with Christ.

1. Our children are not empty sponges, looking to soak up whatever we throw at them. They are intelligent both emotionally and intellectually. They show us this in their ability to read our emotions, question us when something doesn’t feel right, and every time they show growth personally* in areas we have yet to focus on as their parents and life-coaches.
*Proverbs 20:11 “Even a child is known by his doings, whether his work be pure or whether it be right.” -KJV

2. A healthy environment is crucial to development. This one seems obvious, but for years I believed that because I had lived in toxic homes and had not been swayed by these particular tendencies, I was immune to them, as if they had no affect on me. This is not only inaccurate, its a dangerous mentality. A child may not take up the same addictions, habits or ideologies that they have been exposed to, but as they are building their personality’s foundation, *they will be affected by these subjects in a lasting manner. It is critical that we do our best as parents to equip our child with a strong sense of discernment for the inevitable ugliness this world will throw at them.
*Proverbs 22:6 “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.” -KJV

3. Social anxiety is not shyness. A shy child will warm up to their surroundings, while a child filled with anxiety caused by social activities will crumble into a fragile state, sometimes even leading to panic attacks. It is important to know the difference, so that you can learn how to guide your child in proper *healing depending on which one they suffer from.
*Hebrews 10:24-25 ” And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.” -NKJV
(I recommend this article by Andriana of A Love Worth Living For)

4. Children are born with likes and dislikes. Eventually they learn to either feed these personal diversities or curb them so that they can fit in with their environment. As parents, understanding this is a big part of learning how to talk, care and bond with your child. You need to take the time to *earn their trust and respect by showing that you can be firm in what is right and wrong, while allowing them to develop their interests.
*1 Corinthians 13:4-7 “Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” -ESV

5. Spiritual growth must be met with dedication. Regardless of your personal beliefs one thing stands true; you have to *study to understand with clear intent what your beliefs are so that it may **manifest itself in your daily life. There is no spiritual growthfor someone who stands still in their beliefs, just as a man won’t find growth in a company or relationship he refuses to commit to.
*Mathew 5:6 “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.” -ESV
2 Peter 3:18 “But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.” -ESV
**Psalms 1:1-3 “Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. But his delight is in the law of the Lord; and in his law doth he meditate day and night. And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.” -KJV

6. Different people love differently. Just as your child is developing their likes and dislikes as part of their personal foundation, and inevitably the beginning to who they will become as individuals, they are learning to love, express love and build love in their own way. *They look to us for acknowledgment of these traits, for example: “Mommy, can I help you?” says the child who shows love by seeking opportunities to assist us. We have to keep our eyes open to these quirks and/or traits so that we may notice them and react appropriately as we help our children develop their own love language. In learning how to speak lovingly to our children according to their personalities, we can engage in more meaningful conversation with them, though we must remember that our main priority is to be their guide in life and sometimes that means stepping away from the idea that we are their ‘friend.’
*Psalms 127:3-5 “Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one’s youth. Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them! He shall not be put to shame when he speaks with his enemies in the gate.” –ESV Ephesians 4:2 “Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.” -NIV
Proverbs 1:8-9 “Hear, my son, your father’s instruction, and forsake not your mother’s teaching, for they are a graceful garland for your head and pendants for your neck.” -KJV

7. Life is about balance, but we as people must be consumed with positivity. This is not to say that we should walk naively through the world, absolutely not. However, we cannot let ourselves and our children fall into the negative aspects of life. We have to lean on the positives, building them, focusing on these much more often than we do any negative. A ‘realest‘ would tell you that they sway neither which way, but the truth is there is no fence to sit on. Your mind will notice either the positives, or the negatives first, from there you begin to form a decision. A neutral state does not exist on its own, because of this, a mind that *focuses on the positives will ultimately form a stronger relationship with happiness. A realest is merely an optimist without hope, or a pessimist without belief. (Please note the sarcastic relief, as neither is possible.) 😉
*Isaiah 12:3 With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation.” -ESV

8. House rules are not only for children. By this I simply mean that we, the parents, have rules set in place not just for the children’s wellbeing, but for our own sanity as well. Even things like, ‘don’t yell in the house,’ ‘organize your clothes, toys, books, etc.,’ and ‘clean up after yourself.’ Sure there are benefits to the child in each of these, but the pros weigh heavily in favor of the parents needs as well. If only so that we can focus our attention on more pressing matters, to say the least, because *we can not be with our children all the time but must be able to trust that they have been given proper direction.
*Deuteronomy 6:7 “You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.” –ESV

9. Less really is more. More clothes, more toys, more time, more money… whatever it is, chances are *the less you have of it, the better it is taken care of, appreciated and divided between your priorities. The same can be said about our interruptive tendencies as parents. Sometimes our children need us to step back and let them learn on their own.
*Psalm 37:16 “A little that a righteous man has is better than the riches of many wicked.” -NKJV

10. It is never too late to correct an error. Children and adults alike can both appreciate an honest apology. Follow that with sincere determination to correct your actions and you’ll set an example for others that is as genuine in character, as it is meaningful. We are all human and humans make mistakes, it is however *much more damaging to ignore these mistakes, repeat them and show no remorse for such actions.
*Mathew 12:25 “Knowing their thoughts, he said to them, “Every kingdom divided against itself is laid waste, and no city or house divided against itself will stand.” -ESV

I would love to hear what other parents have learned about life and people. If you have something you would like to add please feel free to share your thoughts in the comments bellow. ❤

Thank you for reading and God Bless!

What Has Parenting Taught You About Life and People?