Children who grow to expect whatever makes them happy, often approach the throne room of God like spoiled children and grow to be selfish adults. How does your parenting help or hinder your children’s understanding of God? Could you be setting them up for failure in their relationships with a future spouse or others without even realizing it?
Here we begin the story of Sampson. We’ll talk more about Samson’s calling and how God used him tomorrow, but today I’d like to comment on a few things about his relationship with his parents.
Obviously, these were loving people who desired a child very much. They believed in God and reverenced Him as we see from their responses when they realized they had been visited by the Lord.
But I have to wonder how they parented Samson. The first interaction we see between them and their son is in 14.1-2:
“Now Samson went down to Timnah, and saw a woman in Timnah of the daughters of the Philistines. So he went up and told his father and mother, saying, ‘I have seen a woman in Timnah of the daughters of the Philistines; now therefore, get her for me as a wife.'”
His parents wanted him to do what was right:
“Then his father and mother said to him, ‘Is there no woman among the daughters of your brethren, or among all my people, that you must go and get a wife from the uncircumcised Philistines?'” (v. 3).
““Get her for me, for she pleases me well” (v. 3).
“Get her for me!” And, of course, they did. Sometimes in our love and desire to see our children “happy,” we can easily become indulgent with them, giving them the idea that the world revolves around them.
Our children learn much about the nature of God from us. If we allow them to expect
whatever makes them happy, how will they approach the throne room of God? Many believers seem to think that God is there to give them whatever they want without regard to His will or His knowledge of what’s best.
This “get-me-what-I-want” attitude will also hinder their relationships with others. Paul said: Continue reading →
Have you ever said, “I don’t want to force my religion on my children. I’m just going to let them grow up and decide for themselves”? Today’s reading in Judges gives us a clear picture of the result of that kind of parenting.
But on the other side of the equation, some have made Christianity merely about keeping rules. Though often well-intended, this can drive children far from God.
If you set out to read through the Bible this year, you may be tempted to quit because you’ve gotten behind or started out late. I want to encourage you to keep going whether you just keep reading where you are or start with today’s reading. Either way you will probably read more than you have in the past. Even when it’s challenging or we do things less than perfectly, it’s still worth the effort.
Even if this is your first day visiting this blog or you just visit occasionally, we have lots of wonderful things to read and understand from God’s Word in the days and weeks ahead. So jump in and join us!
On “Forcing” Religion on Your Children
Judges 1 & 2:
A Generation Who Did Not Know the Lord
As we’ve talked about in the last few days, the nation of Israel was now in the Promised Land, but even though God had promised them complete victory, they failed to follow through and completely drive out the idol worshipers who had polluted the land and caused God to declare judgment against them. They thought they had things under control and did not need to completely obey God.
In addition, the older generation had failed to adequately teach their children about God. One of the saddest verses in the Bible is 2.10:
“When all that generation had been gathered to their fathers, another generation arose after them who did not know the LORD nor the work which He had done for Israel.”
More times than I care to think about, I’ve heard well-meaning parents say, “I don’t want to force my religion on my children. I’m just going to let them grow up and decide for themselves.” That sounds good in some ways and, to be sure, we can’t “force” our children to believe.
On the other side of the equation, we need to be careful that we don’t present Christianity as merely religion by making it all about rules. Many a parent has learned the hard way that you can’t insist on some legalistic standard that drives your children away from God.
Many people consider parenting to be the mother’s job and, even if they believe both parents need to be involved, mom often ends up with most of the responsibility. But parenting isn’t a one-person job. God intended for moms and dads to parent as a team.
Welcome to Mondays @ Soul Survival.
Marriage: Made in Heaven? Part 14 “Parenting as a Team”
We’re in a series on God’s design for marriage. If you haven’t read the previous posts in this series, you can read them here. In today’s post we’ll talk about how important parenting as a team is to our marriages and to our children.
Ephesians 6 says:
¹ Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. 2 “Honor your father and mother,” which is the first commandment with promise: 3 “that it may be well with you and you may live long on the earth.”
4 And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord.
There is so much packed into those four short verses. More than I could ever address completely in a single post. So, if you’re a new believer, new to parenting, or have a desire to grow in this area, I have provided an extensive list of resources in another post, “Parenting from the Foot of the Cross.” I hope you’ll check it out.
But, for today, I want to focus on the team aspect of parenting.
Many people consider parenting largely the mother’s job and, even if they believe both parents need to be involved, mom often ends up with most of the responsibility. But notice, Paul addressed verse 4 directly to fathers.
Of course, he’s speaking to mothers, as well. But the father, as the head of the home, has the responsibility to see that children are brought up “in the training and admonition of the Lord” (Eph. 5.22-24; 6.4). He is the one who will ultimately answer to God (1 Tim. 3.4-5).
But parenting isn’t a one-person job. God intends for moms and dads to parent as a team.
I understand there are many godly single parents out there. Some are single, not by their own choice. Others came to Christ after becoming parents or are single for a variety of other reasons. But I think we would agree that God’s design has always been for children to be raised in a home with a mother and a father. Continue reading →
The Bible has so much to say about parenting, and we have many great resources today to help us understand and apply its teachings. It’s also an area where we need to apply the gospel, both to ourselves and in the grace we give our children. Check out this great list of resources for parenting kids from toddlers to teens.
Joshua 9 & 10
Parenting from the Foot of the Cross
The Bible on Parenting
Verse 24, “He who spares his rod hates his son, but he who loves him disciplines him promptly.”
There is so much advice about parenting out there, much of which contradicts this truth. But we have to decide who we are going to believe—God or man!
The Heart of Anger is written to parents and includes journals and other helps to work with your children. But it first helps parents better understand what they may be doing to contribute to their children’s anger.
As parents we are warned in Ephesians 6.4:
… do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord.
So before Lou delves into the child’s behavior, he helps parents evaluate their own heart attitudes and behavior. His list of 25 ways parents provoke their children to anger is worth the price of the book.
Are you thirsty for God, desperate for His truth? Do you yearn to know Him better? And, if not, what is the remedy? What are the diseases that set in from prosperity and how do they affect our desire for God?
Verse 1, “As the deer pants for the water brooks, so pants my soul for You, O God.”
Have you ever felt so dry and thirsty for God that you thought you would die without Him? Most of us, if we’re honest, would say “no.” Personally, I’m convicted every time I read that verse. In fact, a lack of spiritual enthusiasm for the things of God is almost epidemic in the American church. I read this on John Piper’s website, Desiring God. The post was written by Jon Bloom. You can read the whole post here.
American Christians live in the most prosperous nation in world history and the one in which it costs the least to be a Christian.
This environment can be deadly to faith. It allows false faith to masquerade as real very easily. And its power to dissipate zeal and energy and mission-focus and willingness to risk is extraordinary because it doesn’t come to us with a whip and a threat. It comes to us with a pillow and a promise of comfort for us and our children. The former makes us desperate for God. The latter robs our sense of desperation.
And it’s the lack of a sense of desperation for God that is so deadly. If we don’t feel desperate for God, we don’t tend to cry out to him. Love for this present world sets in subtly, like a spiritual leprosy, damaging spiritual nerve endings so that we don’t feel the erosion and decay happening until it’s too late.
So we must fast and pray for and support the suffering church in the diseases that can set in from harsh adversity. But we must also fast and pray for God to deliver us from the diseases that set in from prosperity. We need him. We can discipline ourselves in various ways. But we cannot manufacture our own desperation. Only God can make us desperate for him.
So God, whatever it takes, increase our awareness of our dependence on you in everything! Keep us desperate for you so that the deceitfulness of sin does not harden our hearts (Hebrews 3:13). In Jesus’ name, amen.
Are you willing to pray that kind of prayer? If so, let’s fast and pray for ourselves and each other and for our brothers and sisters in the body of Christ here in our nation and around the world! May we become desperate for God! Continue reading →
I couldn’t decide what to title this post. There were so many things I wanted to highlight. I could have called it “Parenting 101” or “Delighting in the Lord” from Psalm 37 or “Wisdom, Respect & Stupidity” from our Proverbs reading.
Or even, “Mary, Saint or Sinner” because there is so much confusion about the mother of Jesus. Does she intercede for believers? How should a Christian view her? You can read more about this in today’s New Testament commentary.
But because I like these posts to be practical, something you can put to use in your life today, I decided to focus on the practical ways we can apply God’s parenting principles.
Chapter 6.6-9 is one of the clearest passages on parenting. It says:
And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.
First we are to hide God’s Word in our hearts. Then we are to faithfully teach it to our children, not just in formal ways, but as we go about our everyday activities—when we are relaxing at home or having a family dinner, when we are out running errands, when we go to bed at night and the first thing in the morning.
We should constantly look for ways to incorporate spiritual lessons into the events of everyday life. But we can’t do that unless He is an ever present reality in our own lives—unless we’re aware of His involvement all the time, in the daily routine of life.
Do you stop to consider what He says when you feel the pressure to make a sale at work? When you have a fussy child? When the waiter gets your order wrong? When you feel unjustly accused? When someone just zipped into your parking space?
Do you seek His guidance when faced with a decision or a choice to respond to some person or situation? Do you seek His peace when your are anxious or His ability to forgive when angry?
Is Jesus only someone you sing about on Sunday or is your relationship with Him a reality all the time?
Where’s your Bible? Is it where you’ll see it and pick it up first thing in the morning or does it spend the week in the car with empty soda cups and gum wrappers and until you carry it in to church on Sunday?
What does it mean that God visits the iniquity or the sins of the fathers on the children to the third and forth generation? Are those children doomed spiritually? Are they bound to repeat their parents sins? Will they bear the guilt or the punishment for their parents sins?
Verse 14.18 says, “The LORD is slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness, forgiving iniquity and transgression; but He will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generations.”
What does that mean? Are those children doomed spiritually? Are they bound to repeat their parents sins? Will they bear the guilt or the punishment for them?
Let’s look at another passage of Scripture:
“The person who sins will die. The son will not bear the punishment for the father’s iniquity, nor will the father bear the punishment for the son’s iniquity; the righteousness of the righteous will be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked will be upon himself” (Ezek. 18.20).
Scripture never contradicts Scripture. So we need to dig a little deeper to understand our passage from Numbers.
It’s my understanding that when the word translated “visited” is used it refers to physical consequences. And children do, often, suffer physical consequences for their parents’ sins.
They may be exposed to horrible lifestyles, suffer physical or sexual abuse, live in poverty, or be neglected in many ways.
Other choices and lifestyles affect children, too. For instance, when parents choose to divorce, the children are tossed back and forth between two households, sometimes put in the middle of arguments, and have limited time with one or both parents. Continue reading →
What a group these Israelites were! Once again they turn on Moses. Even though they were being led by a pillar of cloud by day and fire by night, instead of turning to God in prayer, they blame Moses for their thirst. His response is to go straight to God and again God meets their need supernaturally.
What do you do when faced with difficult people? Do you go straight to God or start talking to your girlfriend, your buddy, your co-worker, or someone else?
I wonder how many times God has been ready to help us, but we failed to acknowledge our dependence on Him by going to Him in prayer and asking for His wisdom and favor.
Strong Willed Children
Sometimes you have to wonder why God chose the Israelites as His covenant people. But these were the “children” God had chosen and asked Moses to shepherd. Whom has he asked you to shepherd? A strong willed child? A dawdler? A talker? Several unruly boys? An alien who inhabits your teenage daughter’s body? Or maybe it’s a class of rowdy 6th graders or a group of high school students? Continue reading →
“You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and those who are great exercise authority over them. Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you, let him be your servant …”
How is your parenting? Are you parenting with a true servant heart? Are you raising children who will have servant hearts when they become husbands, wives, parents, employees or bosses?
20 Then the mother of Zebedee’s sons came to Him with her sons, kneeling down and asking something from Him.
21 And He said to her, “What do you wish?”
She said to Him, “Grant that these two sons of mine may sit, one on Your right hand and the other on the left, in Your kingdom.”
22 But Jesus answered and said, “You do not know what you ask. Are you able to drink the cup that I am about to drink, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?”
They said to Him, “We are able.”
23 So He said to them, “You will indeed drink My cup, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with; but to sit on My right hand and on My left is not Mine to give, but it is for those for whom it is prepared by My Father.”
What a picture this passage is of our sinful, selfish nature apart from the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit in our lives! Later we will see the change in the Disciples after the day of Pentecost when the Holy Spirit comes to dwell in them and the other believers for the first time.
But now the Disciples, who have been with Him for a large portion of His ministry, listening to Him teach and learning from Him, are still focused on themselves. James and John, the sons of Zebedee, grown men, either convince or allow their mother to come and ask Jesus if they can be His two top advisers when He starts to rule.
It’s obvious they still don’t understand the kind of a kingdom He has come to establish. The Jews expected their Messiah to come and overthrow the oppressive Roman government, but Jesus came to establish a spiritual kingdom.
The rest of the Disciples weren’t much better, “And when the ten heard it, they were greatly displeased with the two brothers” (v. 24). The text continues:
25 But Jesus called them to Himself and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and those who are great exercise authority over them.26 Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you, let him be your servant.27 And whoever desires to be first among you, let him be your slave—28 just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many” (vv. 25-28).
I have to wonder if there wasn’t a bit of a sigh, a “Don’t you guys get it?” But instead, He explained how godly, Christian leadership should look.
No matter what we are called to do in the body of Christ, whether in our personal and public ministries, or in our personal, familial and secular lives, we are called to have servant hearts. That means we are to have servant attitudes in our marriages, with our children, with our extended families, in our neighborhoods, in the work place, and in the church.
How might that look in our parenting, for example? It does not mean we wait on them hand and foot and neglect teaching them responsibility. It means we cultivate a desire to teach them respect, responsibility, and obedience, not out of a desire to make our own lives easier or to look like successful parents to others, but out of our desire to see them grow up to be godly men and women.
Serving our children includes godly, loving discipline and doing it consistently, even when we’re tired and would rather keep watching TV. It means disciplining when you have worked all day and feel guilty about it, because you know it’s what they need!
Spoiling them, catering to their every whim, giving them every toy or gadget, always letting them do what they want, is not being a loving servant to them. When our children grow up thinking they are the center of the universe and “deserve” everything they can get, we have done them a huge disservice! In fact, we have sinned against them! Ask yourself, “Am I raising the kind of son or daughter I’d want to be married to, have working for me, or have as my boss?” Continue reading →
There are so many important truths in today’s readings. I had a hard time deciding which one to feature in the title. I hope you’ll take the time to read today and let me know what spoke to you.
Our Exodus reading illustrates the importance of being willing to keep standing and trusting God when things get worse instead of better and can help us understand that we are in a spiritual battle.
Psalm 16 reminds us where real joy is to be found.
Proverbs 5 warns us of the consequences of sin. All of us need to heed the warnings in this passage, but if you have teenagers, knowing these truths and teaching them to your sons and daughters is so important. This may be one of the most important passages for boys to understand even before they come into their teens.
Finally, Matthew 18 illustrates the seriousness of unforgiveness and its effect on our relationship with God.
Now Moses has returned to Egypt to do what God has told him to do. He has gone to his brother Aaron and received confirmation from him, from the elders, and from the people (Ex. 4.27-31). But when he and Aaron go to Pharaoh to demand he let the people go, things don’t turn out so well! In fact, things get worse!
Have you ever felt that way? You surrender your life to God or you make a decision to turn and go God’s way in some area of life. At first it’s great. You know you’re doing the right thing … but then things start to go wrong! Continue reading →