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Living Your Words

9 April 2012 in Uncategorized

Simply let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one” (NIV).

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.

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Who’s Your Father?

9 April 2012 in Uncategorized

1 Jn 3:1: How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! (NIV).

When I was in school, I remember walking through a hallway and hearing a father outside the principal’s office. His voice was intense, but not angry.

“Whose son are you?” the father said, as he looked his 10-year-old son in the eye. The boy meekly looked away. “Look at me,” the father said, “and answer the question. Whose son are you?” With tears in his eyes, the boy looked at his Dad and said, “Yours” with a hint of shame. “No, my son, I want you to say it loud and proud,” the father responded. “I’M YOURS!” The boy yelled, looking his father full in the face. Immediately, the father embraced him.

I later learned the son had received harsh consequences for breaking a rule at school. Tears filled my eyes as I remembered the above verse. When we trust Jesus Christ as our savior, we become children of God. We can yell, “I’M YOURS” to our Heavenly Father.
Pass God’s unconditional love to your children. Take time to thank Him for showing us eternal grace!

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Consequences

5 August 2011 in Uncategorized

Genesis 2:24: For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh (NIV).

God’s plan for our kids is for them to become progressively less and less dependent on us and eventually to leave our home. We can help them develop the skills they are going to need as adults by allowing them to make more age-appropriate choices and experience the consequences of those choices.

Learning to be a good decision-maker is a skill that is learned, and kids will make mistakes along the way. You will be tempted to intervene to prevent mistakes or rescue your kids from consequences, because you hate to see them in pain. Challenge yourself to adopt a longer perspective and ask yourself what will be more painful – allowing them to make mistakes under your roof or postponing the learning opportunity until later in life when the stakes are much higher?
When you allow your kids to experience the consequences of their mistakes, you prepare them to be capable adults.

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Grace Changes Everything (part II)

1 August 2011 in Uncategorized

2 Corinthians 12:9: But He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” (NIV).

We can only receive God’s grace when we are honest about our need and admit we’re not self-sufficient. Perhaps you have accepted God’s grace on an intellectual level, but have failed to receive it where it counts-in your heart and soul. You end up spinning your wheels trying to be “good” because you really can’t believe God loves you just as you are.

The greatest gift you can give your children is to step into the reality of God’s grace. This means letting go of the idols of performance that have given you a false sense of worth. When you experience the warmth of this truth, your whole perspective on life and relationships will change. You will be able to extend this grace to others, especially your children.

Allow your weaknesses to lead you and your children to His grace.

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Grace Changes Everything (part I)

1 August 2011 in Uncategorized

2 Corinthians 12:9: But He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” (NIV).

Do you have difficulty accepting help from others? Does it make you feel weak, incompetent, or vulnerable? Receiving help requires letting go of your self-sufficiency-even if it’s just for a moment. Instead of feeling vulnerable, many of us prefer to hide behind a mask of confidence and capability.

Sadly, this affects our relationships with our kids. Sometimes we have it so “together” that it’s hard for our kids to believe we even need a Savior. We may think we are being strong, but when we fail to admit our needs and struggles, our kids are often reluctant to share theirs. They may feel inadequate in comparison and compelled to hide behind their own masks.

Ask God to reveal where you’ve been depending on yourself instead of Him and remember He often meets our needs through others.

Take a risk today and allow someone to help you – maybe even one of your kids!

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Empathy

1 August 2011 in Uncategorized

Ephesians 4:15: speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ.

“Our love grows soft if it is not strengthened by truth, and our truth grows hard if it is not softened by love.” — John Stott.

The essence of empathy is balancing truth and love. A rescuing parent leans heavily on love, but shies away from truth. A dictating parent leans heavily on truth, but mixes in little love. A counselor parent is able to express his love for the child no matter what they say or do, yet is strong enough to deliver appropriate consequences and to allow his child to struggle so that real learning takes place. It is a difficult balance, and our anxiety or anger often reveals where we fall on the continuum between rescuer and dictator. Is your love too soft, or your truth too hard?

Striking a balance between truth and love models our heavenly Father’s relationship with us.

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Knowledge vs Wisdom

1 August 2011 in Uncategorized

1 Corinthians 1:20-21: Where is the wise man? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not come to know God, God was well-pleased through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe.

The education of our children can be an all-consuming passion. We struggle to get them into the right schools, starting with preschool and continuing through graduate school. But we must keep in mind that a great education does not guarantee success in God’s eyes. Many of today’s schools, particularly colleges, consider the message of the cross “foolish.” To them it is a sign of weakness, disgrace, and low standing. As parents, we must counter that message with the truth that the world’s wisdom does not save. The greatest secular education misses the point – only the cross can save.
Wisdom is available when we seek God. When we concentrate our efforts on teaching our children the value of an eternal perspective, we can worry a little less about the world’s view of where wisdom can be found.

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Weakness vs Strength

1 August 2011 in Uncategorized

1 Corinthians 1:27, 25: But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong…. Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.

The world’s definition of “strength” is much different from God’s. For example, our culture defines strength as having one or more of the attributes it values most – money, power, beauty and fame. Images from the media deluge our children and us with the idea that a successful person is one who is strong in these qualities.

Yet Christ valued none of these attributes. He came to serve, rather than be served, and to give His life for us. The Corinthians did not understand that kind of strength. I wonder whether we are much different…

Reading the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7) reminds us who the strong really are – those who do not rely on their own strength, but rather depend on God to supply the power.

Teach your children God’s concept of a strong person – one who surrenders.

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EXAMPLE

1 August 2011 in Uncategorized

1 Cor 10:23-24: Everything is permissible – but not everything is beneficial. Everything is permissible – but not everything is constructive. Nobody should seek his own good, but the good of others (NIV).

Be very mindful of the example you are setting for your kids. While it may be OK with God for you to have an expensive car or expansive wardrobe, what do your kids, who are less mature, see? They may see someone indulging themselves with the world’s idea of treasure. Consider the lesson you may be indirectly teaching your children and then make the decision to buy or not. Are you building up or tearing down? Your kids are developing a value system by watching you.

Everything you acquire is an example of your real value system to your children. Where your treasure is, there your heart will be.

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Balancing Goodness(love) and Severity (truth)

1 August 2011 in Uncategorized

Romans 11:22: Therefore consider the goodness and severity of God: on those who fell, severity; but toward you, goodness,if you continue in His goodness … (NKJV).

It is interesting to note the number of times the Bible describes God as exhibiting two attributes that are opposites. In this verse, they are goodness and severity. God’s love is expressed in His goodness, but it is not His only characteristic. He is also severe with those who disobey. He balances these attributes perfectly as He relates to His children.

We are called to imitate God in our relationships with our kids. We cannot always be “good” because there will be times of rebellion and disobedience in their lives. We cannot always be “severe” because that creates resentment and fear. A balance between the two is our goal, and God promises to give us the wisdom to achieve that balance (Jas 1:5).

Ask God for the wisdom to balance goodness and severity in your relationships with your children.