“Parenting by ‘The Book'” January 27

 

Parenting by "The Book"Parenting by the book: parenting books abound today and most of us have probably read one or more of them at some time. But when was the last time you read the parenting book? All of God’s Word is written from the perspective of a Father to His children. Proverbs, in particular, contains a lifetime of wisdom for parenting and for sharing with our children.

 

Today’s Readings:
Exodus 3 & 4
Psalm 16.1-6
Proverbs 5.1-6
Matthew 18.1-20

 

Parenting by the Book

 

Proverbs 5.1-6:

Parenting & Proverbs

 

Verse 1 starts out “My son, …” Solomon was teaching his son and, of course, God is teaching His children.

Proverbs is full of instruction for us in all of our daily living, but it also gives us lots of wisdom to help us be godly parents. In today’s reading we find some strong warnings about sexual issues:

1 My son, pay attention to my wisdom;
Lend your ear to my understanding,
2 That you may preserve discretion,
And your lips may keep knowledge.
3 For the lips of an immoral woman drip honey,
And her mouth is smoother than oil;
4 But in the end she is bitter as wormwood,
Sharp as a two-edged sword.
5 Her feet go down to death,
Her steps lay hold of hell.
6 Lest you ponder her path of life—
Her ways are unstable;
You do not know them.

I can’t help but wonder how many fewer teen pregnancies and other sexual consequences there might be if we as fathers and mothers faithfully taught the truths in Proverbs 5 to our sons and daughters.

parenting bible momVerse 3 speaks of the “immoral woman.” Most of us don’t think of our teenage daughters as “immoral women” when they text “inappropriate” photos of themselves to some boy, but they are behaving like it. Perhaps we need to do a better job of teaching them what the Word of God says about their behavior.

It’s the Word of God that will pierce their hearts.

“For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart” (Heb. 4.12).

While we’ve been deceived into thinking we need to soften the truth to protect their “self-esteem,” our sons and our daughters are becoming involved in sexual activity and making decisions which can alter their lives for years to come.

Of course, the principles in Proverbs and elsewhere in the Bible are not limited to those on sexual behavior. God’s Word provides the help we need to live godly and to instruct our children in every area of life (2 Pet. 1.2-4).

A few that are especially applicable to parenting:  Continue reading

“Favoritism, Impatience & Birthrights” January 13

 

Favoritism, Impatience & Birthrights - Isaac’s and Rebekah’s twins, Jacob and Esau, are grown now. Isaac’s favorite is Esau, a hunter and man’s man. Jacob, it seems, was a mama’s boy and homebody. Their favoritism led to manipulation and deceit that would, eventually, split their family apart.

In today’s reading the first cracks appear as Jacob manipulates his impatient, impulsive brother. In the process, Esau throws aside his birthright. His behavior has a great lesson for us as believers in Christ.

Also, read about “God Our Righteous Judge,” the blessings that come from “Honoring the Lord in Our Giving,” and about spiritual and physical healing in “Unless the Father Draws Him.”

 

Today’s Readings:
Genesis 25 & 26
Psalm 7.6-8
Proverbs 3.9-10
Matthew 9.18-38

 

Favoritism, Impatience & Birthrights

 

Genesis 25 & Genesis 26:

The Death of Abraham

 

In these two chapters we see Abraham’s remarriage to Keturah after Sarah’s death and the record of other children. We also see Isaac and Ishmael reunited by Abraham’s death. It appears that their love for their father was greater than any differences they might have had.

We also see the confirmation of God’s promise to make Ishmael the father of twelve princes. Ishmael and his twelve sons were the forefathers of many of the Arab peoples. Ishmael plays an important part in Muslim tradition, where he is considered a prophet. While there are differences of opinion about Keturah’s identity, her sons were probably the forefathers of other Arab tribes.

 

Parental Favoritism

 

In Genesis 25.19 Isaac and his family take center stage in the Genesis narrative. We see God using barrenness again to work His purposes. After twenty years Isaac prays for God to open Rebekah’s womb and God answers with the conception of twins. When the pregnancy is difficult, Rebekah prays and asks God why. He answers:

Two nations are in your womb, two peoples shall be separated from your body; one people shall be stronger than the other, and the older shall serve the younger” (25.23).

As the sons grow up they are very different. Esau is a hunter and outdoors-man while Jacob is a homebody. And sadly, Isaac and Rebekah each have a favorite (25.28). Even though, God will use all of this for His divine purposes, we can see from their story some of the problems favoritism causes.

Tomorrow we’ll read more about the consequences of favoritism. If there are similar issues in your family I would encourage you to study these passages carefully and prayerfully, seeking Gods help and wisdom.

But favoritism wasn’t the only family issue.

While Ezekiel 18.20 tells us that each person is responsible for his or her own behavior, we also see in Scripture that children learn from their parents. And in chapter 26.7 Isaac tells Abimelech’s men that his wife is his sister, just like his father Abraham did. So while we’re not responsible for their choices, we are responsible for the example we set.

 

Selfishness, Impatience & Birthrights

 

But for now let’s look at chapter 25.29-34,

29 Now Jacob cooked a stew; and Esau came in from the field, and he was weary. 30 And Esau said to Jacob, “Please feed me with that same red stew, for I am weary.” Therefore his name was called Edom.

31 But Jacob said, “Sell me your birthright as of this day.”

32 And Esau said, “Look, I am about to die; so what is this birthright to me?”

33 Then Jacob said, “Swear to me as of this day.”

So he swore to him, and sold his birthright to Jacob. 34 And Jacob gave Esau bread and stew of lentils; then he ate and drank, arose, and went his way. Thus Esau despised his birthright.

The writer of Hebrews had this to say about Esau:

12 Therefore strengthen the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees, 13 and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be dislocated, but rather be healed.

14 Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord: 15 looking carefully lest anyone fall short of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble, and by this many become defiled; 16 lest there be any fornicator or profane person like Esau, who for one morsel of food sold his birthright. 17 For you know that afterward, when he wanted to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no place for repentance, though he sought it diligently with tears (Heb. 12.12-17).

I don’t know about you, but, on the surface, that sounds pretty harsh to me. What was it that Esau did? Or does it go deeper, to who he was?  Continue reading

Blended Families Part 16: 4 Rules of Communication + LINKUP

Hi Everyone, I apologize. Some code must be corrupted in this post. I have tried everything to eliminate it. Removing photos, redoing things. Nothing seems to help. But the linkup is working.

 

Last week in Blended Families Part 15: Helping Children Adjust we talked about the two major pitfalls into which parents in blended families fall: either becoming overly focused on the children’s outward behavior or turning their children into victims. Today we’re going to talk about biblical communication and God’s methodology for change.

Some children in blended families adjust quickly and easily, but others struggle with fear, worry, anger, and loyalty conflicts.

Children may be angry about losing their position in the family, losing the dream of their original family being restored, unwanted changes, jealousy toward new step-siblings or any number of other things.

One of the most important skills in overcoming anger and building good relationships is learning how to communicate in a loving, God-honoring way. Ephesians 4 contains some of the clearest passages on the subject of communication. The principles can be summed up in 4 easy to understand “rules” that you can apply and teach your children.

 

4 Rules of Communication

 

  • Be honest.
  • Keep current.
  • Attack the problem, not the person.
  • Act, don’t react.

 

Be Honest.

 

Ephesians 4.25 says:

Therefore, putting away lying, Let each one of you speak truth with his neighbor,” for we are members of one another.

Sounds simple enough, but being honest is more that just not telling a lie. It’s, also, more than blurting out the unadulterated truth. It involves being open and transparent in a loving way.

The first part of being honest is to communicate. “Let each of you speak …”

The second part is to speak truth. It’s not enough to just “not lie.” We must also speak truth.

For example: If, after you and your husband agreed not to make any unnecessary purchases, you put those shoes you wanted on your credit card, slipped them into the house when you’re husband wasn’t home, and simply never brought it up, you may not have lied, but your weren’t being honest either.

Our children need to understand the same principle. Instead of just punishing them for not telling you about a bad grade, sit down and explain why it’s wrong from God’s Word. Let them know that you struggle with living God’s way, too. Use it as an opportunity to teach them how much we need His help to live His way. Turn it into a gospel moment.

Whether they listen attentively or roll their eyes, you’re planting seeds.

So we and our children are to speak and to speak truth, but we must also learn to speak the truth in love. Ephesians 4.15 says:

[B]ut, speaking the truth in love, [we] may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ.

For example: If your child grew up learning to make his bed and keep his room reasonably neat and now shares a room with a step-sibling who doesn’t seem to know what a clothes hanger or a hamper is, the answer isn’t to tell his sibling he’s a slob.

Instead, help him learn to pray (another gospel moment) and ask God for wisdom about talking to his brother. It could be something like, “Hey, I’m not crazy about cleaning the room either. I used to resent it when my mom made me stay home until I did. But I learned it’s easier to just get it over with. It looks better when my friends come to hang out, too. Can I give you a hand?”

So rule #1 is: “Be honest.” Speak. Speak the truth. Speak the truth in love.  Continue reading

Blended Families Part 15: Helping Children Adjust + LINKUP

 

Blended Families Part 15: Helping Children Adjust - Today we'll discuss how to help your children and step-children adjust to blended family life and some of the issues that may need to be addressed.

I so sorry the linkup is late. My mom fell a couple of weeks ago and broke her hip. I’m staying with her for a while and just got her home from rehab yesterday. Please keep her in your prayers, not just for her healing, but for her to come to know the Lord.

Blended Families Part 15: Helping Children Adjust

 

Over the last two weeks in “Blended Families Part 13: Differences Between Households” and “Blended Families Part 14: Overcoming Evil,” we have been looking at ways to deal with the different rules and expectations between your household and that of your ex in a God-honoring way. We, also, looked at how to evaluate whether or not to address any particular situation and how to respond when you ex isn’t willing to work on issues. Last week we talked about ways to live in peace and solve problems. Today and next week, we’ll discuss how to help your children and step-children adjust to blended family life and some of the issues that may need to be addressed.

Click here for previous posts in this series.

 

The Challenge for All Families

 

When asked about the greatest commandment, Jesus replied:

37 “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself’” (Matt. 22.37-39 NLT).

This can be challenging in all families as people live with one another day after day, seeing each other in the best and worst of circumstances. It’s especially challenging as we seek to blend two families into one.

Yet, no where is it more important that we, especially parents, live out these commands. We won’t do it perfectly, but we can do it humbly and imperfectly, by relying on God’s grace. Doing so is important to our children’s view of Christianity.

 

Loving Though They Didn’t Choose

 

While their parents chose a partner, children are called to love people with whom they didn’t choose to live. In the process, their hearts are exposed as they’re forced to share, submit to parental authority, to give, and to love. And while all families face change from time to time, children in a blended families often face sudden and drastic change.

Some of the changes might be:

  • Birth order
  • Position of priority with the biological parent
  • The need to share a room
  • Moving
  • A change of school
  • A change of neighbors
  • Loss of contact with extended family

And we could add many more.

 

Two Major Pitfalls

 

Parents in blended families can easily fall into one or both of two major pitfalls.

The first is to get focused merely on outward behavior without addressing the heart. Parents may come up with a rule for everything. The focus becomes all about complying with those house rules. Of course, some rules are OK, but focusing on compliance without dealing with heart issues creates little pharisees, at best.

Children learn to live in that economy. They learn how to get what they want by keeping the rules and, often, learn to manipulate by showing the right amount of penitence over bad behavior. Then when they’re out from under their parents’ authority, they begin to live out of the thoughts and motives that were in their hearts all along. They go away to collage or leave home and quit doing what’s right.  Continue reading

“Are you growing in Christ?” December 5

 

Are you growing in Christ? - 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 (<a class="bible-gateway" href="http://biblegateway.com/passage/?search=%26quot%3BLk.&version=NIV" onclick="biblegwlinkpop(this.href,'"Lk.',800,950);return false;" target="_blank">"Lk.</a>). 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. 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.

 

Today’s Readings:
Hosea 1 & 2
Psalm 138.4-6
Proverbs 29.17
1 John 3

 

We have finished the “Major Prophets”—Isaiah, Jeremiah, Lamentations, Ezekiel and Daniel. Now we are beginning the “Minor Prophets”—Hosea through Malachi. In the New Testament, once we finish 1 John we have only three epistles (letters): 2 John, 3 John and Jude, before we begin the book of Revelation.

On to the Word …

 

Are you growing in Christ?

 

1 John 3:

We Shall Be Like Him

 

1 Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! Therefore the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. 2 Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. 3 And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure (vss. 1-3).

Think about that, “we shall be like Him.”

Jude said it this way:

“Now all glory to God, who is able to keep you from falling away and will bring you with great joy into his glorious presence without a single fault” (Jude 24).

God who saved us and declared us righteous is working in us in the present. He is using the “all things” of Romans 8.28-29, to help us become progressively more and more like His Son. But one day, when we stand before Him, He’ll finish the work He started in us (Phil. 1.6) and cause us to stand before Him without a single fault!

Keep GrowingIn the meantime, we need to read and study and memorize and meditate on God’s Word (Ps. 119.11; 2 Tim. 2.15) and with His help seek to become more and more like Him by obeying His commands. Jesus said the greatest of those commands is to love God and love others (Matt. 22.37-40).

Verses 16-18 of today’s reading:

16 By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us. And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. 17 But whoever has this world’s goods, and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him?
18 My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth.

Let’s ask ourselves: How am I doing in that process of spiritual growth? Am I loving others sacrificially? Am I “laying down my life”—willingly giving up what my sinful heart desires in order to do what is best for others? Am I loving, not only “in word or tongue, but in deed and in truth”? Am I becoming more like Christ?

 

Today’s Other Readings:

 

Hosea 1 & 2:

Adulterers and Adulteresses

 

In this rich little book the prophet is commanded to marry a prostitute so he would be a living example of God’s love for His people in spite of their spiritual adultery.  Continue reading

Blended Families Part 14: Overcoming Evil + LINKUP

 

Blended Families Part 14: Overcoming Evil - Last week in "Blended Families Part 13: Differences Between Households," we began looking at ways to deal with the different rules and expectations between your household and that of your ex in a God-honoring way. We looked at how to evaluate whether or not to make an issue out of any situation and began talking about how to respond when you ex isn't willing to work on issues. This week we'll discuss more ways we can seek to live in peace and solve problems.

Blended Families Part 14: Overcoming Evil

 

Last week in “Blended Families Part 13: Differences Between Households,” we began looking at ways to deal with the different rules and expectations between your household and that of your ex in a God-honoring way. We looked at how to evaluate whether or not to address any situation and began talking about how to respond when you ex isn’t willing to work on issues. This week we’ll discuss more ways we can seek to live in peace and solve problems.

Click here for previous posts in this series.

Last week I left off with the question, “What if, after all your planning and attempts to handle a particular situation wisely and well, your ex is not willing to work with you or solve the problem?”

I said your first reaction might be to return evil for evil or at least to withhold any good. I encouraged you to remember that is not a God-honoring option (Rom. 12.17-21), that God will not allow you to be in any situation that you cannot handle in a righteous way (1 Cor. 10.13), and that He promises to use every situation for your good and His glory by helping us become more like Christ (Rom. 8.28-29).

Now let’s look at that Romans 12 passage again:

17 Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men. 18 If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men. 19 Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. 20 Therefore

“If your enemy is hungry, feed him;
If he is thirsty, give him a drink;
For in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head.”

21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

This passage instructs us to do all that we can to live at peace with others. There’s no exception for former spouses. It also says that we are not to seek revenge or return evil for evil. And unless an ex or the new spouse is doing something illegal (in which case we need to involve the proper authorities), we are to overcome evil with good.

Returning evil with evil comes naturally and returning evil with good feels awkward, at first. And there are, usually, well-meaning friends and family members telling us to do the opposite. But this is an opportunity to determine to live in ways that are pleasing to God (2 Cor. 5.9), rather than ourselves or others.

What are some ways we can overcome evil with good?

 

Returning Evil with Good

 

Ways to return evil with good:

  • Take your children shopping to buy Christmas or birthday gifts for your ex and his or her spouse.
  • Be flexible with visitation.
  • Allow him or her to have the children for a holiday or another special day.
  • Acknowledge them and, possibly, sit with them at events in which your children participate.
  • Invite them to your child’s birthday celebration, graduation party, or other special event.
  • Send cookies or some other treat when the children visit.
  • Speak well of them to others.
  • Meet a need (send a meal when someone is sick, etc.).
  • Buy birthday or special occasion gifts for your children’s step-siblings.
  • Pray for them.

Brainstorm other ideas and share them in the comments section.

 

As Much as It Depends on You

 

Notice verse 18 says, “If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men.” We are to do our part and leave the results with God. We’re not to quit because our efforts aren’t appreciated, fret about it, or expect something in return.

Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for Him;
Do not fret because of him who prospers in his way,
Because of the man who brings wicked schemes to pass.
Cease from anger, and forsake wrath;
Do not fret—it only causes harm (Ps. 27.7-8).

When we do something only to get a certain result, our motives are wrong. Our desire should be to please God (2 Cor. 5.9), not to get our ex-spouse to change. Things may change, but if that’s our primary motivation, we’ll quit if we don’t get the result we desire.

We, also, need to have a biblical view of success. We’re successful when we obey God. If we’re right with God in our attitudes and actions we can have peace and joy whether or not our circumstances change.

“As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you; abide in My love. 10 If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love. 11 “These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full (Jn. 10.9-11).

A note of caution: While we should apply these principles, we always need to remember that our current spouse is our priority. Don’t pour time and energy into your relationship with your ex that rightfully belongs to your spouse and be careful to include him or her in your plans to overcome evil with good.

 

Prepare for Life in a Sin-Cursed World

 

We live in a sin-cursed world and we need to know that people will sin against us.

14 But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you are blessed. “And do not be afraid of their threats, nor be troubled.” 15 But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear; 16 having a good conscience, that when they defame you as evildoers, those who revile your good conduct in Christ may be ashamed. 17 For it is better, if it is the will of God, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil (1 Pet. 3.14-17).

So we need to prepare for it. My husband told me once that every day as he prays, he chooses in advance to forgive anyone who sins against him. We need to plan to forgive and extend grace to others whether or not they deserve it. It’s the way God deals with us. We, also, need to plan how to overcome evil with good. Even when we know we should, it won’t just happen.

One of the hardest times to do it is when we believe our children are being hurt by the other parent’s inconsiderate or sinful behavior. For example, it’s your ex’s week-end to have the kids, but he or she never shows up.  Continue reading

“Are you a Christian fatalist?” December 3

 

Could you be a Christian fatalist?Could you be a Christian fatalist by failing to get actively involved in what God is doing? Are you failing to pray, and instead, passively waiting for God to do what He’s going to do?

Also read about praying for our enemies, the result of not parenting God’s way, and the importance of walking in the light.

 

Today’s Readings:
Daniel 9 & 10
Psalm 137.7-9
Proverbs 29.1
1 John 1.1-10

 

Could you be a Christian fatalist?

 

Daniel 9 & 10:

Are you doing your part?

 

In chapter 9, Daniel had learned from his study of the Scriptures that the 70 years of captivity was close to its end. But instead, of passively waiting for that to happen, he humbly prayed, confessing the sins of his people and asking God to fulfill His promises.

Too often, we take a “Christian fatalist” view that God’s going to do what He’s going to do. We fail to understand that God desires to use the prayers of His people as part of the process of fulfilling His will in the earth. Prayer doesn’t change God, but it ushers in the promises of God and changes us as we get involved in what God is doing!

Notice, though, Daniel didn’t pray based on what they deserved. He didn’t say, “This isn’t fair,” or “Why are You letting this happen to us?” (9.5-12). And even though he wasn’t personally guilty, he confessed their sins to God as a nation and asked for mercy. Then he asked that God move because of who He is:

18 O my God, incline Your ear and hear; open Your eyes and see our desolations, and the city which is called by Your name; for we do not present our supplications before You because of our righteous deeds, but because of Your great mercies. 19 O Lord, hear! O Lord, forgive! O Lord, listen and act! Do not delay for Your own sake, my God, for Your city and Your people are called by Your name” (9.18-19).

In chapter 10 we see a glimpse into the heavenly battles which are behind the events of human history. Even though demonic powers are at work to influence nations and individuals to rise up against God, His people, and His work in the earth, it is God’s will which will stand.

 

Today’s Other Readings:

 

Psalm 137.7-9:

Praying for Our Enemies

 

prayer 3

This psalm was probably written toward the end of the captivity in Babylon. Perhaps the people saw the weakening of Babylon and looked forward to the defeat and complete annihilation of the enemy who had so pridefully and harshly oppressed them.

As believers we, too, should look forward to the time when God’s enemies will be defeated and destroyed, but not out of malice or personal revenge. In fact, we should be praying for our enemies in the hope that: Continue reading

Blended Families Part 13: Differences Between Households + LINKUP

 

blended-16

Blended Families Part 13: Differences Between Households

 

If you missed last week’s post on the importance of seeking forgiveness for your part in any conflict, I would encourage you to read it. It’s so important that we do our part to live at peace with everyone, including our ex-spouses.

This week in “Blended Families Part 13: Differences Between Households,” we’ll look at how to deal with the different rules and expectations between your house and that of your ex. We’ll also talk about how God can use it all for good.

Click here for previous posts in this series.

 

Different Rules & Expectations

 

Struggles over different rules and expectations from one household to another are some of the biggest and most frequent problems blended families and single divorced families face. If you’ve been divorced for any length of time, you’ve probably faced challenges in this area.

While parents may feel very strongly about their own rules, differences are not necessarily sinful, or even wrong, they are just different. If something is clearly immoral or illegal, you should involve the proper authorities. Otherwise, you should seek to accept one another’s differences.

Surprisingly, children can adjust to differing sets of rules. And since Philippians 2.3-4 says that we are to prefer others rather than ourselves, it’s wrong to insist that our rules be followed at the other parent’s home.

 

So on a practical level, how do you deal with differences in a God-honoring way?

 

Suppose you ask you son to turn off the TV and do his homework and he responds, “Dad lets me watch TV first.” You can just gently and firmly say, “That’s at dad’s house, now turn off the TV and do your homework.” No commentary needed.

Your ability to do it in a way that glorifies God will depend on your thinking. If you immediately think, “I can’t believe my ex is that irresponsible!” or “Why doesn’t he respect my rules?” it will show up in your attitude both with your son and your ex.

1 Corinthians 13.7 says, “love believes all things.” It might be better translated “love believes the best.” You can choose to believe the best about your ex. Watching TV first doesn’t mean he doesn’t care about your son’s homework, it just means he’s handling things differently.

We also have to learn to recognize the difference between our rules and God’s commandments. While you may think doing homework first is wiser, it’s your rule, not God’s commandment.  Continue reading

Blended Families Part 10: Behavior Contracts + LINKUP

 

Blended Families Part 10: Behavior Contracts + LINKUP

Blended Families Part 10: Behavior Contracts

 

In last week’s post, “A Plan for Successful Step-Parenting,” we talked about beginning to plan for more effective step-parenting, starting with better communication between you and your spouse and working on a “behavior contract” for each child when age appropriate. Today we’ll talk about how to have a family conference and introduce the behavior contract to your children. We’ll also discuss how to get older children and teens to use a “think paper” to examine their own hearts and actions. (By the way, “behavior contracts” and “think papers” are great for all families, not just blended ones.)

Click here for previous posts in this series.

Last week I said that many parents in blended families (and all families) spend too much of their time putting out fires and dealing with bad behavior. Let’s look at our two parenting verses again:

Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord (Eph. 6.4).

Fathers, do not exasperate your children, so that they will not lose heart (Col. 3.21).

More than merely dealing with bad behavior, parents should be instructing their children in right ways of living and responding. Rather than just trying to control their behavior, we should be teaching them to control themselves.  “Bringing them up” means helping them understand how to live under God’s authority and gain a desire to please Him.

Last week I introduced a “behavior contract” as a tool that can be useful in that plan.

Remember, God gives us clear instructions. He spells out how we should live and the consequences of disobeying Him (Gen. 2.16-17; Deut. 28; Gal. 6.7-8). We should do the same for our children so we don’t exasperate them with unclear expectations and inconsistency.

I suggested you start by making a list of the strengths and weaknesses of each child, list character qualities that need to be developed, and come up with appropriate rewards and consequences. From those lists you can work with your spouse to develop a behavior contract for each child.

Example for a 15-year-old boy:

behavior-contract

Notice, rewards are not always material things. Remember, the goal is to learn to live under God’s authority with a genuine desire to please Him.

 

Introducing the Behavior Contract to Your Children

 

Once you and your spouse have worked up a behavior contract for each child (you may have to simplify it for younger children), sit down as a family. If necessary, confess your own failures to be consistent, provide clear expectations, or any other way that you have sinned against them.

Let them know that you have confessed your failures to God (providing you have) and that you have a plan to change with His help. Explain the goal of parenting and that you will answer to God for your faithfulness in this area. Take a few minutes to pray as a family. You may want to read Ephesians 6.1-4 together.

teen-girlThen meet with each child and review their lists of strengths and weaknesses. Spend as much time praising them for their strengths as you do talking about their weaknesses. Explain the behavior contract and go over each item.

If the child has some suggestions to which you can agree, make those changes. But this is not a negotiation, you are the parents and you are not required to make changes that you don’t believe are beneficial.

Post the contract in a prominent place and take a few days to teach and implement it before beginning the consequences. When it’s necessary to give consequences, remind the child that consequences result from their choices. Forgetting is not an excuse. Consistency is key. It’s not the severity of the consequences, but the certainty of correction that brings results.  Continue reading

“Angry Children, Hypocrisy & the Armor of God” October 5

 

Angry Children, Hypocrisy & the Armor of God - 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 children, are responsible for our choices, as parents we're warned not to provoke our children to anger (Eph. 6.4). One way we do is through hypocrisy, telling them one thing while doing another. Before you proclaim your innocence consider today’s reading in Ephesians.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 children, are responsible for our choices, as parents we’re warned not to provoke our children to anger (Eph. 6.4). One way we do is through hypocrisy, telling them one thing while doing another. Before you proclaim your innocence consider today’s reading in Ephesians.

Also in today’s New Testament reading, we’ll talk about the armor of God. What is it? How to we put it on?

 

Today’s Readings:
Isaiah 61 & 62
Psalm 115.9-13
Proverbs 26.24-26
Ephesians 6.1-24

 

Angry Children, Hypocrisy & the Armor of God

 

Ephesians 6.1-24:

Parent-Child Relationships

father with his son parenting

This chapter continues to illustrate how a Holy Spirit controlled life should be reflected in various relationships.

Children should honor and obey their parents (Eph. 6.1-3). 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 (Eph. 6.4). One way we provoke them to anger is by living a hypocritical life—telling them one thing and while doing another.

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.

We can’t say one thing while we do the other without being parental hypocrites and without the strong possibility we will provoke our children to anger.

In his book The Heart of Anger, Lou Priolo lists 25 ways parents provoke their children to anger including: marital disharmony, having a child centered home, being inconsistent with discipline, and parental role reversal, among others.

In the Workplace

office work coffeeOur 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