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Proverbs for Parenting

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Photo Credit: freedigitalphotos.net

When we had our first child, my mother-in-law gave us a book called Proverbs for Parenting by Barbara Decker. It’s a topical study on the book of proverbs as it applies to parenting. Ms. Decker separates the book into sections organized by category. Topics include Reverence for God, Godly Character, Self-Control, Wisdom & Instruction and so much more.

The book is introduced by quoting Deuteronomy 6:6,7 which says,

Deut 6:6,7 KJV

6 And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: 7 And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.

Ms. Decker quotes the KJV but I like how the Message version says it too:

Deut. 6:6,7 MSG

Write these commandments that I’ve given you today on your hearts. Get them inside of you and then get them inside your children. Talk about them wherever you are, sitting at home or walking in the street; talk about them from the time you get up in the morning to when you fall into bed at night.

The idea here is to infiltrate God’s word into our children’s lives.

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Photo Credit: freedigitalphotos.net

The author goes on to point out that she noticed in her own parenting that correction and discipline sounded like “No.”, “Stop.” “Quit.” or “Don’t.” Instead of instructing her children with God’s word.

On page 2, in the introduction, She says,

If one of my boys dawdles in carrying out his task of taking the silverware out of the dishwasher and putting it in its proper place, I have the resource and option of teaching him a proverb about work, such as:

     Proverbs 6:6-8

      Go to the ant, thou sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise:

     Which having no guide, overseer, or ruler,

     Provideth her meat in the summer, and gathereth

her food in harvest.

And once I have instructed him with this proverb, perhaps later a simple reminder of the ant would suffice as encouragement…

Do you see what she’s saying? Instead of simply trying to control our kids’ behavior by nagging, demanding, and complaining, instructing with God’s Word is not only more practical, but it is more rewarding and a more meaningful form of correction that our kids may actually take to heart.

Easier said than done, I know. Here are a few ways to implement focusing on God’s Word from day to day:

1.) Take time in God’s word for yourself. How can we teach those under our care if we aren’t learning on our own? Join a Bible study, memorize scripture, listen to a sermon online, read a spiritually challenging book before bed. Whatever you can do to be in the Word and be challenged in your walk.

2.) Follow Deut. 6: Memorize scripture with your kids, encourage your kids with scripture, and discipline & correct with scripture.

3.) Pray that God would change your heart and the hearts of your children.

We are definitely just at the starting point. Trying to change our focus to scripture and not on what we need to do or or what was done wrong. If we focus on God’s Word, He’ll do the changing and convicting.

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Photo by Ryk Neethling

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Leading Little Ones

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Photo by Waiting For The Word

Leading Little Ones. It’s the title of my blog, but it’s so much more than that.

It’s what I desire to do with my life.

It’s what I’ve been called to do as a parent and as a mother.

My pastor spoke recently about shepherding the flock where you are placed. He’s been speaking in 1 Peter and his last sermon was on chapter 5 verses 1-4. I decided I want to frame this passage in my home. It not only speaks to elders of the churches…it speaks to everyone in one way or another. It’s personal and practical. Take a look:

5 To the elders among you, I appeal as a fellow elder and a witness of Christ’s sufferings who also will share in the glory to be revealed: 2 Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, watching over them—not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not pursuing dishonest gain, but eager to serve; 3 not lording it overthose entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock. 4 And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away.

Peter is addressing leaders. Aren’t we all leaders in some way? He also recognizes himself as a leader and that he is responsible to shepherd his flock too.

He says to shepherd the flock that God has given you. Lead them. Care for them.

Peter knows this responsibility well. Remember this passage from John 21?

15 After breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?”

“Yes, Master, you know I love you.”

Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.”

16 He then asked a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?”

“Yes, Master, you know I love you.”

Jesus said, “Shepherd my sheep.”

17-19 Then he said it a third time: “Simon, son of John, do you love me?”

Peter was upset that he asked for the third time, “Do you love me?” so he answered, “Master, you know everything there is to know. You’ve got to know that I love you.”

Jesus said, “Feed my sheep.”…

A command from the mouth of Christ. Yep, Peter knew this command well. It was written on his heart by the very one who created him.

To me, this passage simply screams ‘motherhood!’ As parents, we are responsible for leading our children. We are to shepherd them. But here’s the kicker: Look at verse 2 of 1 Peter 5.

—not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not pursuing dishonest gain, but eager to serve;

He says, don’t do this because you have to. Do it because you are willing. Do not do it  for selfish reasons. Do it because you are eager to serve. How often am I eager to serve? Rarely. How many times am I in it for selfish gain or only thinking of myself? Often.

He goes on to say,

3 not lording it overthose entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock.

There’s no excuse for a power struggle here. Do not lord over your children, but rather, be an example to them. That hits me right between the eyes. It so pricks my heart. I am to lead my Children in God’s ways because He has given them to me. I am to lead them not because I want to, but because I am eager to serve Him and not to receive gain for myself. I am not to dominate my children, but I am instead called to be an example to them…an example of a godly woman, wife, and mother; an example of a gentle spirit; an example of Jesus.

What more is there? If I am simply focused on being a Christ-like example, won’t other worries, burdens, and fears just fade away?

And what are the benefits?

4 And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away.

Ahhh… A promise from the Promise Keeper. When our Shepherd, the Chief Shepherd comes again… we will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away. Will that be a physical crown? I don’t know. But I have an inkling it’s going to be much better than that. But it’s a promise just the same.

I have hope in the Lord…He is my Good Shepherd. He is my example. And by His example and mine, my children may just end up as His sheep.

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Got Baggage?

      Emotional baggage. We all have it. It is the thoughts that we carry with us all the time…thoughts, memories, or opinions. Maybe it’s a thought you had about yourself or someone else and now you are buried by the shame or guilt. Perhaps it is a situation that you handled badly or a moment that changed your life forever… these moments that you dwell on. Emotional baggage can cause distress in our relationships. It can also affect our spiritual walk. Most of the time, this baggage is influencing how we see ourselves and how we see God. It can keep us from growing spiritually,  loving fully, and ministering to others. These bags weigh us down and keep us from getting closer to those we love and they even keep us from knowing God as He is.

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 photo by Malias

Over Mother’s Day weekend, we loaded the kids in the van and went to visit my in-laws. Their church has a banquet every year for Mother’s Day. They also have a service and theme for the evening. The service began with a skit about a woman who goes into a store to buy a new bag to carry all of her stuff (she was carrying several shopping bags). She sits down to explain to the sales woman what she needs a new bag for. Interrupting her, the sales woman offers the burdened customer several bags. Each one was designed to carry specific types of baggage. The sales woman goes on to give the customer many bags, purses, and cases that will carry burdens such as fear, addiction, and jealousy. Finally, the customer realizes she is weighed down with all of her emotional baggage and she realizes how it is affecting her life. She turns to the sales woman and asks her what to do. She offers the heavily burdened woman a small change purse. She says, “Change. This is what you need. But you can’t do it yourself. Only Jesus can exchange your baggage for this tiny change purse and give you true peace and fulfillment.” Of course, the woman leaps at the opportunity for this free change purse. And all she did was stand up and take it.

Have you ever been so desperate for something that you couldn’t contain yourself? Well, when we have baggage and we begin to use it against others, or create others’ baggage, that is our heart crying out for change! Even just carrying your own baggage is your heart’s way of playing keep-away with God. When we do that, our spirit cries out for God’s change and healing.

That evening, the speaker spoke out of Psalm 55. This is a psalm of desperation. David is crying out for God to hear his heart. He starts by saying,

Listen to my prayer, O God, do not ignore my plea; hear me and answer me. My thoughts trouble me and I am distraught because of what my enemy is saying, because of the threats of the wicked; for they bring down suffering on me and assail me in their anger. My heart is in anguish within me; the terrors of death have fallen on me. Fear and trembling have beset me; horror has overwhelmed me. Psalm 55:1-5

Doesn’t he sound grieved?  David, of course, did not have an easy life. His relationships were definitely not perfect. The king was trying to kill him and later, he had an affair and had the woman’s husband killed. He was certainly not a perfect man. But no matter what David did, he seemed to leave his bags at God’s feet. He may still have carried it for a while like we do. But ultimately, David remembered that God knew it anyway and I think that was a comfort to him. Instead of hiding himself and his baggage from God, he took refuge is God’s mercy and grace.

Listen to his prayer in verses 2-3:

 My thoughts trouble me and I am distraught 

because of what my enemy is saying…

 I don’t know about you, but that sounds a lot like me. My thoughts trouble me daily. I am often distraught because of what my enemy is saying. I may not have a physical enemy searching after me for my life, but I have a spiritual enemy. We all do. And sometimes, I can be an enemy to myself. I give way to thoughts…memories…opinions… and I dwell on things that Satan places in my way. Dwelling on those thoughts…emotional baggage…causes me to be blind to God and forget His plan for me. I lose sight of His power, grace, and love. That’s what baggage does to me. It affects my attitude, it affects my prayer life, my relationships, and it even affects me physically. Emotional baggage is real.

So, how do we get rid of these bags and move on to change? The speaker at the event explained that it’s as easy as ABC:

A- Assess: Search your heart and pray that God would reveal to you the baggage you’re carrying. Psalm 139:23-24 says:

23 Search me, God, and know my heart;
test me and know my anxious thoughts.
24 See if there is any offensive way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting.

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Photo by Lel4nd.

B- Beware: Be aware of situations that cause you to worry or compare yourself. Baggage can come from anywhere. Know where you are weak and be on guard. 1 Peter 5:8 NIV says,  Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. He’s ready for you. Be aware.

 Also, beware of others’ baggage. You can sometimes see it in their attitude, choices, and words. Don’t let another person’s baggage create more of your own.

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Photo by  permanently scatterbrained

C- Check your bags: Drop your bags and let Him pick them up. Leave it all at God’s feet. And my favorite part: there’s no weight limit to check these bags. Whatever your struggles, whatever your choices, your behavior…it doesn’t matter. Check your bags at the cross.

This video from The Skit Guys shows baggage as it really is: