June 28, 2009

Obstacles To Character Training- Sin Nature (The Flesh)

So far, I covered the importance of parental stewardship and that God is seeking godly offspring. Also, I shared the importance of having a biblical philosophy of parenting. Today, I will talk more about character training and some obstacles you may be facing.
Obstacle #1 – The Sin Nature
I know this is hard for some of us to acknowledge but our little bundle of joy was born with a wretched sinful nature. You will not have to teach him or her how to say “no”, how to not share, say “mine”, or to outright defy you. It all just comes so naturally to this precious little sinner.

Galatians 5:16-1:7 So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature.17 For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want.

If you are not expecting your child to disobey you and use every bit of his strength to oppose you, you will be a disillusioned parent.

Proverbs 22:15 is clear “Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child; but the rod of correction shall drive it far from him.”

Our primary objective, as parents, is to teach our children to surrender to the Spirit and not to the sinful nature.
One way to accomplish this is to teach them self-control.

When Tim and I were young parents we learned this reality through very difficult circumstances. When our oldest daughter was eighteen months old she was diagnosed as hearing impaired/deaf. She had no form of communication other than screaming with great frustration, flailing her body, or throwing whatever she had in her hand. Sometimes she would bite, pull hair, or push another child down in her attempt to communicate. It was a very difficult time for us as parents because we had lofty ideals about training our child and they just weren’t working. No matter what we tried, nothing seemed to get through to her.

One day someone said to me “The greatest thing you can teach your daughter is self-control. If she can learn to control herself, she can learn anything.” It was an ah-ha moment for us. We started on a long journey of discipline and instruction. After much prayer and deliberation, Tim and I came up with a plan that we were both comfortable with and agreed to follow it consistently. Teaching our daughter to control herself became a priority. For example: If she wanted a snack she would have to use sign language and use her voice in a calm manner rather than screaming uncontrollably. We had many long days of nothing but instruction. For many of those days, I was tempted to give up because of discouragement. But by enduring, we were able to teach her to control herself so that she could learn. So much peace came to her once she realized that there was another way to communicate which was pleasant and got her the desired response. She started using her voice in a more pleasant way and became an all around pleasant little girl.

I don’t want to minimize the work that went into this process. Because it was apparent our little girl would never be able to function in society if we didn’t make the changes necessary, it propelled us to do the hard work. In our case, the consequences of not teaching self-control were obvious. But for many, the results aren’t seen until it’s too late to make a difference.

Many times in our attempt to address a behavior we, as parents, actually react with the same behavior we are correcting in our children. This makes our attempt to correct or instruct meaningless.

We cannot simply allow our children to negatively “express themselves” without correction. We must love them enough to resist their self-destruction.

Galatians 3:24-25 clarifies this process: Before this faith came, we were held prisoners by the law(boundaries), locked up until faith should be revealed, so the law was put in charge to lead us to Christ that we might be justified by faith.25 Now that faith has come, we are no longer under the supervision of the law. (NIV)

Our goal is not to just have “good” or “well behaved” children. Our goal as parents is to be good stewards over our children directing them to Jesus Christ by the law. In turn, they will grow in relationship with Him through faith and therefore become obedient to His Spirit. This is when they have there own personal AH-HA moment and realize, “This is why Mom and Dad taught me self-control, so that I would avoid self-destruction before I came to Christ.”

Galatians 5:18-23: But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under law. 19 The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality impurity and debauchery; 20 idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21 and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God. 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy , peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. (NIV)

I encourage you to ask yourself, “Am I willing to make whatever sacrifices necessary to build character in my child?” Will you make the adjustments necessary to model the character you are teaching?
Grace-Works, Elaine

June 3, 2009

Charting The Course

Here are a few passages to ponder as you continue charting your course through the parenting series.

Proverbs 29:18 Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he.

You must know where you want to go and how you are going to get there.

Proverbs 4:26-27 Ponder the path of your feet, and let all your ways be established 27 Do not turn to the right or the left; Remove your foot from evil.

Once a course is charted you must consistently stick to it.

Galatians 6:7-9 Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. 8 For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life. 9 And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.

Parents plant things into their children daily. The things planted will produce a harvest. A parent cannot plant criticism, sarcasm, and insults into their children and expect them to produce love, encouragement, and kindness.

II Corinthians 9:6 But this I say: He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully.

You must make certain commitments to your children and keep them in order to reap the rewards of pleasant children. Two hours of family time a week cannot compete with unending hours of television, computer and other influences. (Remember the Duet. 6:4-7 principle).

II Timothy 1:5 When I call to remembrance the genuine faith that is in you, which dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice ,and I am persuaded is in you also.

One of the greatest gifts you can give your children is a genuine faith. Leaving a legacy of spiritual fervor rather than just having a religion is essential to passing on a godly seed.

Proverbs 23:4-5 Do not overwork to be rich; Because of your own understanding, cease! 5 Will you set your eyes on that which is not? For riches certainly make themselves wings; they fly away like an eagle toward heaven.

“A child’s birthright is the right to spend time with his family.”
Frank Minirth

Setting time aside at the beginning of each year to pray and seek God’s direction as you chart your course for your family is helpful. Tim and I have done this for many years. We typically get away one weekend in January. The whole purpose for our trip is to reevaluate our goals from the previous year and then to seek God’s direction for the current year. Our charting includes many aspects of our lives. When our children were young we would discuss areas we thought we needed to improve in as parents, as well as areas of difficulty for our children. We would develop a plan as to how we could possibly teach and train them in those areas to help them grow stronger. We would typically focus on particular character traits as well as certain behaviors. For example, one year our goal was to focus on being a servant to others. We felt that some of our children were struggling with selfishness and ungratefulness. In order to combat this attitude, we spent time volunteering and doing acts of service as a family. We reinforced the concept of being a servant by memorizing scripture pertaining to serving others, reading books about those who serve, as well as consistently addressing attitudes that were opposite from that of a servant. Behavior problems were a bit different. We would define the problem and then decide as a couple what we thought were appropriate consequences. After informing our child of our decision, we would work together at being consistent with discipline. Though working together as a couple makes it so much easier, I am aware that you don’t all have that luxury. I encourage you that if you don’t have an involved partner, consider seeking the Lord for guidance and begin to implement a plan as an individual. Parenting is a difficult stewardship and without the support of your partner it can be quite challenging. When you get discouraged and want to quit always remember that Grace-Works.

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Just a few pictures of Julia from our recent camping trip!