What Can a Mere Child Teach Us?


Acts 23:11-35; Mark 10:13-15

A conspiracy was formed. Forty Jews came together and developed a plot to finally rid Paul and his message of salvation through Jesus Christ. “They bound themselves under a curse: neither to eat or drink until they had killed Paul.”

Unbeknownst to them, Paul’s young nephew overheard their plot. With great courage, he came to his uncle and told him what he heard. Paul instructed the centurion to take him to the commander so he could give his report.

The commander took the boy by the hand and listened to what he had to say. Remarkably, this commander took seriously what this child reported. He did not underestimate the intervention of a child.

As a result, this commander put in motion a plan to protect Paul. He was able to securely and successfully escort Paul to Rome. While a prisoner, yes; but not just any prisoner, one who was in chains for the gospel and one who would boldly preach the good news of Jesus.

And who did God use to help Paul? A mere child! We assert that he was a child based on the language used in Acts 23:19, “Then the commander took him (Paul’s nephew) by the hand, led him aside, and inquired privately, “What is it you have to report to me?”

It’s not likely the commander took the hand of a grown man and led him to a place to hear his report. Either way, a child or one younger than ourselves, we can never dismiss the wisdom of those that God uses to instruct us.

One thing we can learn from children is how to have the kind of faith we need to get to heaven. Over and over, my children have taught me as much as I have taught them. God works through His people regardless of age. To be a learner like children means to set aside our pride, come humbly to the water and drink. It doesn’t matter if the pool is prestigious in form or simple. Does it have fresh water where we are spiritually nourished, is the question?

Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me. Don’t keep them away. God’s kingdom belongs to people like them. What I’m about to tell you is true. Anyone who will not receive God’s kingdom like a little child will never enter it.” (Mark 10:14-15).

Children are very receptive to truth. They want to know what is real and what is not. They have an inner desire to know God and worship Him.

Children have great faith! We would do well to learn from them as well as help them grow in this faith of theirs.

I came across an interesting illustration that Charles Spurgeon shares:

I heard the story of a man, a blasphemer…an atheist, who was converted singularly by a sinful action of his. He had written on a piece of paper, “God is nowhere,” and ordered his child to read it, for he would make him an atheist too. The child spelled it, “God is n-o-w h-e-r-e. God is now here.” It was a truth instead of a lie, and the arrow pierced the man’s, own heart.”

Because of their humility, children are able to see truth. Their innocence allows them to approach life with a deep desire to seek what is real. They can teach us much. Never underestimate the wisdom and intervention of a child or a disciple younger than you! God can teach you so much through them!

 

 

What to do When Your Child is in Sin? A Controversial Approach


Robbie keeps returning to the same misbehavior over and over as a child. Without any discipline, he learns that he can get out of whatever he does wrong without any consequence. As he becomes a teenager, he begins to delve into sinful habits of stealing. At every turn, he will steal from his friends, then he graduates to small stores, and then finally, he goes bigger as he breaks into homes taking large items. He finds that he’s successful until one day; he steals from the wrong home. The cops swarm his house, handcuff him and take him in. His parents are horrified. Instead of facing the consequences, they look for a way out for Robbie; they hire a lawyer who gets Robbie off the hook. His parents figure, “It’s his first offense. Surely he won’t do it again.” But with no real consequence Robbie learns he can continue to return his sin and never pay the cost for it. His parents pacify him, excuse his behavior. The horror of him sitting in jail was too much for his mother. She couldn’t bear it, so she and her husband did all they could to avoid this very important lesson in life,  discipline is good for it produces holiness in us.

If parents make light of the consequences of their children’s sin, they are also making light of the grace of God that can save them.

One of the greatest gifts we can give our children is to let them suffer the consequences of their actions. What our kids discover in this discipline is dryness, desolation and waterless places. This may seem horrible to a parent, but the reality is it’s a good place for our kids to be when they are trapped in sin. For it is in these places our children will find humility and true repentance. It’s here that God can reach down and pull them out of their pit. He can take them from this posture of brokenness and give them a new life with a new purpose.

mother-hugging-her-daughter1

As parents we may think that pulling our children out of their consequences is doing the right thing by them, but the truth of the matter is this: every time we rescue our kids out of their consequence we hinder them from coming to Jesus. Without realizing it, we teach them to depend on themselves and not on God and His truth. We teach them that their humanness is enough. And sadly, they find themselves in deeper pits as a result. When we enable them, we actually dig their pit for them.

God, Himself, disciplines those whom He loves. He doesn’t do this to harm us, He does this to help us. Hebrews 12:6-13 tells us, “For the LORD disciplines those he loves, and he punishes each one he accepts as his child. As you endure this divine discipline, remember that God is treating you as his own children…God’s discipline is always good for us, so that we might share in his holiness. No discipline is enjoyable while it is happening—it’s painful! But afterward there will be a peaceful harvest of right living for those who are trained in this way. So take a new grip with your tired hands and strengthen your weak knees. Mark out a straight path for your feet so that those who are weak and lame will not fall but become strong.”

God disciplines because He loves us. As parents we must discipline our children because we love them. Our discipline protects them from worse dangers; it teaches them to look up not within. Most parents want what is best for their kids, but some don’t realize that giving them the best requires some hard decisions. It’s not easy to let our kids suffer or to choose not to rescue them from their consequences. When we just look at the temporary we are not developing their future. We must look ahead for our kids for they surely are not doing so while they are in their state of sin.

As parents we can find our next steps in Hebrews 12:12-13, “So take a new grip with your tired hands and strengthen your weak knees. Mark out a straight path for your feet so that those who are weak and lame will not fall but become strong.”

These two verses are very much to the parent when dealing with a child that’s continually in sin. The Lord is calling you to do three things while your child suffers their consequences:

1.) Take a new grip. In other words, we must take a new approach to our child.We must discipline them or allow them to go through the hard time of paying for their mistakes; but while doing this, we love them. We give them hope by showing them the fruit that can come from this difficult time of suffering. We ask them the question, “What have you learned from this?” If they have learned nothing, we tell them what they could learn.

2.) Strengthen your weak knees. When we think we cannot bear to see our child suffer the consequences, we find our strength in the Lord. We draw upon His purpose for our child. As David says in Psalm 63:2, “Gaze on God in the sanctuary and see His strength and His glory.” This requires a great deal of prayer on our part. We must pray for our resolve to be in His plan, and pray for our child’s heart to come to a place of humility and repentance. And if our child doesn’t know Christ as their Savior, then we must pray for their hearts to be drawn to the Lord for it. Brokenness is the best place to discover our need for Jesus. Let us not rob this experience from our child by rescuing them from their penalty.

3.) Mark out a straight path for your feet. When we decide that we are going to do what is best for our child then we will strengthen the weak and the lame in our child. We will actually help them become strong enough go through the suffering and help them see a new path to follow when the time of sentencing is over.

Loving our children in the way they need our love is not always easy. It’s hard, but if we love them the way God loves us, we have the potential to see great fruit in them. One of my main goals as a mom was to raise children who loved and honored God and who were blessings to the society they lived among. To accomplish this, I needed the Lord to direct my paths and I needed some tough skin to make the hard decisions in my kid’s lives. I learned to not become weary with doing what is right; I believed that in the end I would produce a harvest of glory if I didn’t give up!

40 Days of Parenting Lessons – Day Four


“God tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young” (Isaiah 40:11).

We live in a harsh hurried culture that often does not gently lead those that are young. It takes understanding the limits and abilities of our little ones in the family to slow down and be patient with their pace.

Jacob traveled a long journey with his family to meet his brother Esau whom he had been estranged from for years. The reconciliation between the two brothers caused a great desire to reunite and journey back to Esau’s home. But the journey had already been far too long for Jacob’s children and the young animals with him. Setting aside his enthusiasm to reunite with his brother he said to Esau, “My lord knows that the children are tender and that I must care for the ewes and cows that are nursing their young. If they are driven hard just one day, all the animals will die. So let my lord go on ahead of his servant, while I move along slowly at the pace of the droves before me and that of the children, until I come to my lord in Seir” (Genesis 33:13-14). Jacob understood the tender age of his children and the condition of his flock. He decided to go at the pace of the young instead of pushing them forward at the pace of the elders.

How often do your children hear you say the word “Hurry”? Do we consider their pace before our own? If we drive our children beyond their capabilities and push them too hard we will meet rebellion, distrust and death in our relationship with them.  I can remember a time when my daughter was quite ill and I so wanted her well. I wanted her healing to come quickly, but God wanted me to be patient. I had a choice: to walk at her pace or push her at mine. I chose to walk with her; the time it took to walk with her actually was to my blessing as it created time to know and grow with her. God developed a close indestructible bond between us – we went from just being mother and daughter to becoming sisters in Christ.

Wait with your child. Walk with them. Not only will your child grow according to the design the Father has set for them, you will grow a relationship with your child that God had already purposed for you both. We serve a patient God who walks with us, so why not model our parenting after His ways. Parent your children with the same character of our God. Parenting is a process of cultivating relationships not a project of producing adults.

 

 

40 Days of Parenting Lessons – Day Two


“Listen, my son, to your father’s instruction and do not forsake your mother’s teaching. They will be a garland to grace your head and a chain to adorn your neck” (Proverbs 1:8-9)

Instruction and teaching have very different meanings in this passage than one might think. It appears they are one in the same, but they are not. Though if married together they make a beautiful garland and chain that graces the head of a child with wisdom and adorns their neck with a medal of honor.

Instruction is often paralleled with education and teaching. But in this passage it refers to discipline, chastening and correction. A father’s role is important in this area, so that their child can grow with the correct perception of the world: its foolishness as well as its benefits. Instruction takes time, and often fathers don’t have the time. If no time is available, the father will either skirt the instruction all together or it’s hurried without love. Notice how a father instructs his child in Proverbs 4:1-4, “Listen, my sons, to a father’s instruction; pay attention and gain understanding…when I was a boy in my father’s house, still tender, and an only child of my mother, he taught me and said…” This father related to the son. He shared his experience of when he was a boy with his father hence saying, “when I was a boy.” I can literally see this father bending down on his knee looking into the eyes of his son and sharing his experience with him. Such grace and strength!  Instruction is best given when one relates and equates themselves with the learner. A child will receive instruction with greater eagerness to follow. Fathers and mothers alike can learn from this. Relate to your children; don’t just relay information to them.

In the Hebrew teaching specifically means to teach the law, manners, customs, prophetic (visionary) teaching, and direction in human and divine matters. Wow! What a charge, ladies! In other Proverbs a father is given the same charge, but don’t think for a minute that a mom isn’t just as responsible in teaching her children these same important lessons in life. God designed a mom and dad to be a team when it comes to raising children. When instruction and teaching work together, they link a bond in the child that is not easily broken.

 

Day Nine of 40 Days of Prayer for FRC


Father,

You show us that a giving church is one whose hearts are united as one; one in which each person in the body allows your grace to powerfully work through them. I praise you for a giving church at FRC. Each person hops on the chance to serve the poor, feed hungry children, and reach beyond our community to the ends of the earth. It’s beautiful to see so many serving and loving others through your grace.

Even still, I lift up our church finances. We are dangerously behind our budget, which limits the impact we can have on the discipleship of those that come to our church. While we are a giving church to the community, we need to be more giving inside our church family. The ministries are suffering. I pray for hearts to be burdened for the ministries we have that disciple adults, teens, and children in the Lord. We have new opportunities coming forth in the fall – divorce recovery, children’s musical, children’s renovation, next-steps classes, etc. 

You have called us to minister to those inside as much as those outside. Not much different from our own families. We feed our children in the home as well as feeding those poor out of the home. Give us a balance in giving, so that just like the first church in Acts, “there are no needy persons among us.” With one mind and one heart the disciples brought the money earned from their sales to the Apostles feet so that it could be distributed to anyone in need. While we may not be tangibly giving food and clothing to those in need that attend our church, we have a great responsibility to disciple them within the ministries you have called us to give. It takes resources to keep these ministries alive. Please provide as you have promised you would.

Give us pause for our church family. You are the great Provider for each person in our church and for our church family. Burden us with your heart to give. Holy Spirit, teach us the value of tithing and giving to our church family. Teach us why, teach us how, and give us wisdom in what we are to give. You are the owner of all we have; you are the potter of our souls; mold us and make us into your servants of grace inside the church as well as outside.

In Jesus Name,

Amen.

Acts 4:32-37