Are you growing in Christ? While we don’t earn God’s love through good works or stay in His graces because of them, a life that has truly been changed will produce different fruit. In fact, Jesus said, you will know a tree by its fruit (Lk. 6.44). The amount and quality of our fruit is often a good indication of our spiritual maturity. Today’s New Testament reading talks about some of that fruit. Continue reading →
Are you involved in what God is doing in the earth today? Are you praying fervently for God’s will and for revival in the hearts of His children? Are you praying for the unsaved and for our leaders? Or could you be a Christian fatalist passively waiting for God to do what He’ll do?
Also read about praying for our enemies, the result of not parenting God’s way, and the importance of walking in the light. Continue reading →
Angry children—we see them in the grocery store, in the schoolyard, on the news, and possibly in our own homes. While all of us, including our children, are responsible for our choices, as parents we’re warned not to provoke our children to anger. Two ways we do that are by living an hypocritical lifestyle, telling them one thing while doing another, and parental role-reversal. Both of which we’ll look at today.
We’ll also talk about the armor of God, what it is and how we put it on.
Over the last few days we have been talking about Paul’s description of a Spirit controlled life from Ephesians 4 and 5. If you missed the earlier posts, you can read them here and here. In this chapter Paul addressed the parent-child relationship.
Children should honor and obey their parents (vss. 1-3). Parents should raise their children “in the discipline and admonition of the Lord” and not treat them in ways that would provoke them to anger (v. 4). Many of the ways we provoke them involve living a hypocritical life—teaching them to act one way while we act another. For example:
We can’t discipline our children for lying and then “call in sick” because we don’t want to go to work.
We can’t teach our children not to steal and then pilfer from our employer.
We can’t preach respect for authority while we disdainfully talk about “the cops” or brag about what we can get away with.
We can’t discipline them in anger or chastise them because they have “broken our law” by bothering or inconveniencing us.
In this week’s Mondays at Soul Survival I listed 25 ways we provoke our children to anger. The list came from a book by Lou Priolo, The Heart of Anger. Some of the other ways on the list are: marital disharmony, having a child centered home, being inconsistent with discipline, and parental role reversal. You can read the rest of the list here.
But I’d like to talk a little more about parental role reversal. In Ephesians 5 Paul said:
22 Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 23 For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church; and He is the Savior of the body. 24 Therefore, just as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything.
25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her.
And in verses 31-33:
31 “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.”32 This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church. 33 Nevertheless let each one of you in particular so love his own wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.
As wives we are to submit to the leadership of our husbands (v. 22) and show them respect (v.33). Husband’s are to love their wives with the same kind of servant love with which Christ loves His church (v. 25),
Submission is a concept that is often misunderstood and certainly not a popular in today’s world. But lack of submission is nothing new. It’s part of the curse of sin, as is, the failure of husbands to love and lead biblically.
To the woman He said:
“I will greatly multiply your sorrow and your conception; In pain you shall bring forth children; Your desire shall be for your husband, And he shall rule over you” (Gen. 3.16).
The New Living Translation says, “you will desire to control your husband.”
As wives our sinful desire is to usurp our husband’s leadership and theirs is to rule over us harshly or to withdraw and refuse to lead at all.
When this happens, it creates all kinds of problems in the marriage. One of those problems is its effect on our children.
God’s command to submit has nothing to do with our worth as women. It has nothing to do with intelligence or ability. It has to do with God’s design. Look at verse 32 again, “This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church.” The design has been in existence since eternity past. It’s the same design He has for the church. The design is the Trinity.
In the Trinity, Jesus submitted to the Father (Matt. 26.39; Jn. 8.28) and the Holy Spirit proceeds from and glorifies the Father and the Son (Jn. 16.7, 14). In the church, the church is to submit to Christ and the congregation is to submit to and respect her leaders and Christ. In the family the wife is to submit to the husband. The children proceed from the mother and father and are to show them honor and respect. It’s God’s design.
Satan, as the ruler of this world and the enemy of God, hates God’s design. In the garden, he deceived Eve into acting independently, ignoring both her husband’s leadership and God’s authority. It should come as no surprise that he continues to attack God’s social institutions of marriage and the church.
If you’d like to read more about this subject, I’ll list some resources at the bottom of this post.
Our relationship with God should, also, affect our employer-employee relationships. If we work for someone else, we should be good, faithful employees. We should work hard, not just when the boss is looking, but all the time, out of a desire to please God, who sees everything (Eph. 6.5-8). Bosses should treat their employees and subordinates well, again out of a desire to please God (Eph. 6.9).
The Armor of God
Then in verses 10-17 we have the “armor of God” with which all believers should be equipped. We need to wear the “belt of truth” by getting rid of anything in our lives that will hinder us from having victory in the battle. Unforgiveness, bitterness, jealousy, and the like have no place in a believer’s life and will hinder your walk and spiritual growth. Continue reading →
One of the most concise instructions for parents appears in the book of Ephesians. It says, “… do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord.” Some of the ways we provoke our children to anger seem obvious, but others may be less so. Could you be provoking your children to anger in ways you haven’t realized?
Welcome to Mondays @ Soul Survival
Could You Be Provoking Your Children to Anger?
Parenting … it’s both one of the greatest privileges and one of the greatest responsibilities we have. And our example is a hard one to live up to … it’s God Himself, the One Perfect Parent.
Thankfully, God knows we won’t do this perfectly and He gives us His grace everyday. All the wisdom and help we need is available to us for the asking (Heb. 4.15-16; Jas. 1.2-5), as is His forgiveness when we fail (1 Jn. 1.9).
Often that grace is extended to us through the very children against whom we occasionally sin. When we humbly go to them and seek their forgiveness, they usually extend it readily and quickly.
But God does expect us to be faithful to study His Word, to pray for ourselves and our children, to be humble when we fail, and to grow in any area where we may lack understanding (2 Tim. 2.15, 3.16-17).
The book of Proverbs is jam-packed with principles for parenting and all the biblical principles for other relationships apply to the parent-child relationship, as well. But, one of the most concise instructions for parents appears in Ephesians 6.4:
… do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord.
We’ll talk more about training and admonition in a future post. But let me just say that fathers and mothers are responsible to educate their children morally, spiritually, socially and in every way. It’s not the church or the school that is primarily responsible, it’s us, as parents.
We’re to help our children understand that we are not the ultimate authority. We are under God’s authority and, as His agents, are responsible to raise them in ways that are pleasing to Him.
Training and admonition include both reproof and encouragement. Our goal, as parents, should be to raise children who have a reverence for God, a love for His Word, respect for parents and others in authority, an understanding of Christian principles, the ability to exercise self-control, and a desire to please God.
But in today’s post I want to focus on the first part of this verse, “do not provoke your children to wrath.” The NIV says, “do not exasperate your children.”
We must be careful not to provoke or exasperate our children by being harsh, unreasonable, unfair, angry, cruel, selfish, or by showing partiality. Even godly discipline and instruction should be gentle, fair, and done in love.
Lou’s book is one of my favorite parenting resources. He’s been a biblical counselor for over 30 years. He’s a Fellow with the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors and an instructor with the Birmingham Theological Seminary. But more important, he’s a parent and his books are practical, readable, and applicable to the daily realities of parenting.
I often recommend it in counseling as a tool to help parents take the principles home and work with their own children. But it’s easily usable by any parent who wants to help prevent or deal with anger in their own children. It will not only help you get to the heart issues your children may face, but will deal with your own heart, as well. Continue reading →
Could you be guilty of parental legalism? Parental legalists often focus on behavior as opposed to the heart. If we make Christianity all about “the law,” we may fail to help our children understand their need for genuine heart change and a personal relationship with Christ.
Also read about:
How and how not to communicate with a person who is acting like a fool.
And the foolishness of idolatry, even the kind you could be practicing.
I’ve been talking about legalism for several days now. Remember the Judaizers or legalists had come in trying to impose their brand of religion on the Galatians. As human beings we love having a set of rules to follow instead of allowing God to make a change in our hearts or the hearts of others.
Lou Priolo in his book The Heart of Anger talks about how we do this with our children. We make our rules (be in bed at 8.30; you can’t watch that TV show; no dating until you are 16; don’t talk with food in your mouth) on the same par with God’s commands (love God with all your heart; love your neighbor as yourself; do not lie; do not steal, etc.).
It’s not that children shouldn’t obey the rules their parents lay down for them (one of God’s commands is “children obey your parents in the Lord …” Eph. 6.1-3), but we must help our children understand that those are temporary rules for the household and not God’s law. Otherwise we run the risk of either making little Pharisees of our children or causing them to view Christianity as a legalistic religion instead of a relationship with Christ. Without that personal relationship with God, many of our kids will turn away from the things of God once they’re out of our homes.
Instead we need to lovingly teach our children to obey us as God’s temporary authority in their lives, while teaching them the truths and freedoms and principles of a genuine relationship with God and helping them see their need for the Savior. He is the only One who can ultimately change their hearts.
Christians, throughout the centuries, have been persecuted, rejected and martyred for their faith. What are some of the reasons why the world hates us? Paul Nyquist in his book Prepare: Living Your Faith in an Increasingly Hostile Culture lists 3 reasons.
14 Now thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and through us diffuses the fragrance of His knowledge in every place. 15 For we are to God the fragrance of Christ among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing. 16 To the one we are the aroma of death leading to death, and to the other the aroma of life leading to life.
As Christians, we represent Christ to a dying world. For those who respond to the Gospel in saving faith leading to a changed life, we are “the aroma of life leading to [eternal] life” (emphasis added).To those who reject Christ we are the “aroma of death” because instead of responding to the truth and light we offer with repentance, they respond in rejection and anger.
This should help us understand why even those we care about can become so hostile when we commit our lives to Christ and begin to share what He’s doing in our lives.
Christians, throughout the centuries, have been persecuted, rejected and martyred for their faith. As Americans we have been somewhat insulated from that truth, but as I discussed yesterday the culture we live in is changing rapidly. More and more believers are experiencing job losses, harassment, persecution and even arrest for standing on biblical principles.
One of the more difficult truths for us to grasp is that the world hates us. The world doesn’t tolerate us— even though toleration is a supposed value of our society. It doesn’t like us. No, it hates us. Jesus makes this plain in John 15:18– 27.
He goes on to say:
As relational creatures, that truth can gnaw at us. We crave acceptance. We long to be loved. We desire to be esteemed, valued, and respected. We can yearn for those things from the world. But Jesus says that acceptance will never happen. The world doesn’t love us. The world doesn’t even like us. The world hates us.
Jesus lists three reasons the world hates us in John 15. Nyquist explains them this way: Continue reading →
Often when we harbor some sin, we console ourselves by claiming it only affects us. But whether we sin or whether we choose righteousness, we never do it in isolation. The effect of our sin on our children and others can be profound and long-lasting. Will we affect them for good or evil?
Also, read about the conclusion of the Book of Ecclesiastes and the sweetness of God’s wisdom.
Verse 17, “But the mercy of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear Him, and His righteousness to children’s children.”
Often when we harbor some sin, we console ourselves by saying we know it’s wrong but claiming it only affects us. But, in reality, whether we sin or whether we choose righteousness living, we never do it in isolation. Our actions and behaviors do affect others, especially our children. That doesn’t mean that God punishes our children for our sins (Ezek. 18.20), but our actions do have an effect on them—sometimes a profound effect!
Sometimes, Children who grow up in a home where the family attends church and says all the right things in public. But at home their parents fight, give one another the silent treatment, and refuse to solve problems biblically. Often those children walk away from the faith when they go off to college or leave home. Biblical Christianity was never lived out for them. Instead, they saw hypocrisy.
Children who grow up in a home where drugs or alcohol are abused are often neglected, emotionally and physically. They may pick up the lifestyle they saw lived out or become angry and bitter.
Children whose parents go from relationship to relationship or turn to work or hobbies instead of solving problems with their spouse, may never learn to solve problems or resolve conflict in Christ honoring ways.
Conversely, when we choose to live righteously, it also affects them. No one knows us like those who live in our own home. When our children see us living in the fear of the Lord when no one else is watching, it can be more powerful than all the words we use to teach them right from wrong. To fear the Lord is to recognize that He alone is God, to reverence and respect Him as God and to be more concerned about pleasing Him than either ourselves or other people.
When we go through tests and trials, there is often a roller coaster of emotions. But we don’t have to let our emotions run the show! As believers, how can we learn to live by something other than our feelings and emotions?
Also read about the meanings of God’s name, how joy follows loving discipline, and how the truths of the Gospel contain the power of God.
Our friend Job is on quite a roller coaster. In yesterday’s reading he had some of the most incredible revelation from God and in today’s reading He thinks God has totally abandoned him.
Isn’t that a picture of the roller coaster of emotions we can all experience when we are going through a test or trial? The important thing to remember is that even though the feelings are there, they’re real, and they’re often strong, we don’t have to be controlled by our emotions. By that I mean, we don’t have to let them determine the way we act and respond!
In spite of all his roller coaster feelings, Job stayed faithful to God. Remember what his wife said at the beginning, “Why don’t you just curse God and die!” (my paraphrase). But Job didn’t waver from his faith in God, even though he didn’t understand why God was allowing all this calamity.
So how can we avoid letting emotions run the show in our own lives?
“Do not withhold correction from a child, for if you beat him with a rod, he will not die. You shall beat him with a rod, and deliver his soul from hell.”
I know these are hard verses for some and something that flies in the face of much of the current child psychology.
As with other areas of thought, psychologists say one thing and God’s Word says another. We must each answer the question, “What is your source of truth?”
That was God’s question to Adam and Eve.
God had said, “Don’t eat the fruit for if you do you will surely die.” Then Satan came along and said, “You will not surely die, but you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”
The passage goes on to say that their eyes were opened and they saw that “they were naked.” God’s question to them was, “Who told you that you were naked?” In other words, what or who is your source of truth?
Of course, we must remember that Scripture is to be interpreted in light of other Scripture. Ephesians 6.4 says, “… do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord.” We must have the right heart attitude when we discipline our children. God does not want us to discipline our children in a way that would injure them, neither are we to do it in anger.
This passage is talking about “loving” physical discipline used when appropriate. Discipline that hurts enough to make an impression, but not so much as to do bodily harm. It should be done in love, with the best interest of the child in mind, and should include loving instruction in helping the child come to genuine repentance.
The “rod” might be a wooden spoon for a younger child or a small flat paddle for one a little older. Again, something that will sting and bring tears, but not anything that would do real harm.
I’ve heard many of the arguments against spanking. Number one among them is that they will just learn to hit, too. But when discipline is administered lovingly on the backside with a “honey-I-love-you-too-much-to-let-you-go-your-own-way” attitude, even a young child knows the difference between a spanking and hitting in anger.
There are a number of good books on the subject of child discipline from a biblical perspective. I’ll include some links at the bottom.
Today’s Other Readings:
Job 27 & 28:
The Secret Things Belong to the LORD
In chapter 28 Job talks about the precious things in life which men will work so hard to dig out of the earth—gold, silver, precious stones. Then in verse 12 he says:
“But where can wisdom be found? And where is the place of understanding?”
The Bible teaches that the wisdom of God—that is—that measure of wisdom which He gives to men and women must be dug out, too. But there is, also, a wisdom that remains with God.
Verse 13, “Man does not know its value, nor is it found in the land of the living.”
Deuteronomy 29.29 says:
“The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but those things which are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law.”
God doesn’t always see fit to explain everything He does to us! There are things and truths and reasons which we will not know until we get to heaven, if then. But there are things that we can understand and those things are revealed to us through His Word. Continue reading →
Verse 19, “Restore us, O LORD God of hosts; cause Your face to shine, and we shall be saved!”
As I read that verse, my first thought was, even though they constantly wandered away from God, they knew where their salvation could be found.
Many of us have done our best to raise our children “in the discipline and admonition of the Lord,” only to have them wander from the faith or fail to make a personal commitment to the Lord. We are often confused and discouraged, because we saw parenting as something of a formula. If I do “A + B” (take my children to church, teach them biblical truth, send them to church camp, etc.), then God will give me “C” (believing, obedient children).
We back up our belief with verses like Proverbs 22.6:
Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.
But this is not an iron clad guarantee that our children will serve God or that they will never rebel. Remember, God’s children rebel, too, and He’s the perfect parent.
What it means is they will not be able “to depart” from the truth. They won’t be able to escape what they know. They can choose to walk away, but the truth will follow them like their shadow and be there when they come to their senses as the prodigal son did (Lk. 15.11-31) and as the Israelites did on many occasions.
Notice verse 12.14 about Rehoboam, “… he did evil, because he did not prepare his heart to seek the Lord.” The NASB says, “he did not set his heart to seek the Lord.” Other translations of that word include “to direct” or “to stand upright” or at attention.
Rehoboam was a mediocre king because he had a mediocre relationship with God. He never completely forsook God, he just never sought Him wholeheartedly. He didn’t pray as his father did for the wisdom he needed to rule the kingdom. He didn’t search the Scriptures to know the heart of God and get His wisdom. Matthew Henry in his commentary on the Bible says, “… he engaged not, his heart to seek the Lord …”
So how do we prepare our hearts to seek the Lord?
Our hearts, as the old hymn says, are prone to wander, we don’t automatically seek the Lord. We must purpose to do so. We first need to ask God for His help, then we need to read and study “at attention” and, finally, we need to set our minds, be determined, to obey those things He shows us. Continue reading →