Sunday, September 21, 2014

Rebellious Children, Rebellious Adults

Do you have a strong willed child? Do you have a child that creates tension in the home, chaos or brings you to tears regularly?

First, recognize that God hand picked each of your children. He is completely sovereign and knew beforehand what you and your children needed. Never question His will or His plan. It is perfect. The experiences that you will encounter because of a particular child are the exact ones you need, and vis-versa, the relationship your child is given is what he or she needs to grow into being the person of God he or she was created to be. God makes no mistakes and nothing is a coincident.

Second, you can teach your children and shape their experiences, but you do not make their choices. Every single person is born with freewill. If your child has a strong independent will and chooses to disobey regardless of the consequences, it is not your fault. Of course, no earthly parent will ever be perfect, but if you commit your children to God and bend your will to obey Him as you raise your children, you can rest in knowing you have done your best. You have raised the child entrusted you to parent for Him.

If you still have a child under eighteen, set clear expectations and consequences. Consider to even write them down and have older children sign them as a way of agreement to give them no wiggle room in manipulating your words. As a couple determine to be consistent in following through with consequences for disobeying. Withholding a privilege or giving extra chores/responsibilities is not pleasant for a parent but a child shrewdly knows if one parent is lenient or if the parents can be played against one another. Back each other up and discuss your differences in private.

You want to shape the heart, not only the behavior. This sound so reasonable and easy, but this is the one area in which a strong willed child will not obey. Due to the might of parents, he will recognize when he has to change his behavior, but a sour heart can build and brew under seemingly complying actions. As a Christian parent you need to pray for your child, show grace in your interactions and live a daily transformation life before you children so they can witness in your life what it looks like to be obedient to God and to be conformed little by little into Christ-likeness.

In the end, accept the truth that you cannot make inner will choices for your child. Adam and Eve, and every child of God from that 6th day of creation has chosen to disobey their perfect parent. Don't be shocked if you have a child that ignores instruction and disobeys you. Be warned though that a child who never surrenders his life to God, rebels family rules and disrespects you will grow into a rebellious adult. Do not enable your child to make bad choices. Limit their finances if they are buying items that are not healthy, take their electronics away if they fill their life with negative influence, and be steadfast with your consequences. The penalties and pain in childhood have much less gravity and permanence than the poor choices made in adulthood.

In Isaiah 30: 1-5, 8-15, God speaks to His rebellious children, (note: I have inserted "world" for Egypt"):

"What sorrow awaits my rebellious children,”
says the LORD.
“You make plans that are contrary to mine.
You make alliances not directed by my Spirit,
thus piling up your sins.
2For without consulting me,
you have gone down to the world for help.
You have put your trust in the world’s protection.
You have tried to hide in his shade.
3But by trusting the world, you will be humiliated,
and by depending on him, you will be disgraced.

5All who trust in him will be ashamed.
He will not help you.
Instead, he will disgrace you.”

A Warning for Rebellious
8Now go and write down these words.
Write them in a book.
They will stand until the end of time
as a witness
9that these people are stubborn rebels
who refuse to pay attention to the LORD’s instructions.
10They tell the seers,
“Stop seeing visions!”
They tell the prophets,
“Don’t tell us what is right.
Tell us nice things.
Tell us lies.
11Forget all this gloom.
Get off your narrow path.
Stop telling us about your
‘Holy One of Israel.’”
12This is the reply of the Holy One of Israel:
“Because you despise what I tell you
and trust instead in oppression and lies,
13calamity will come upon you suddenly—
like a bulging wall that bursts and falls.
In an instant it will collapse
and come crashing down.
14You will be smashed like a piece of pottery—
shattered so completely that
there won’t be a piece big enough
to carry coals from a fireplace
or a little water from the well.”
15This is what the Sovereign LORD,
the Holy One of Israel, says:
“Only in returning to me
and resting in me will you be saved.
In quietness and confidence is your strength.
But you would have none of it.
I love that throughout the Bible God is gracious and always ready for a child that returns in repentance. He says is Isaiah 29 that once a person recognizes the error in his ways, he will be restored blessings to his life.

As a parent of an adult child, my husband and I have recently been through the gut-wrentching experience of having to kick our child out of the house even though he had no place to go, because he was rebellious and disrespectful.

Today this is not commonly done. I was shocked that outside the Christian worldview, parents are instructed to ignore what their adult children do in their home, to let them make their own adult choices and to live like they want while still providing for them. But this advice only enables a child to continue longer in their destructive choices without facing the consequences of responsibilities. Today we have prodigal sons living the wanton life in their family homes and parents are afraid to stop supporting their child because they don't want to loose the parent -child relationship.

Any child that is disrespectful of their parents does not really have a true relationship with them anyway. Giving in to an adult child is only enabling them to live in sin and destruction. Be strong and courageous and make the hard choices that will end up in positive blessings in the long run.

You might also enjoy reading Raising a Christian Child and The Secret Power of a Mother's Prayer.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

I Love The Church

I have gone through seasons as a Christian of nearly three decades of struggling in local church congregations: mostly feeling like I simply didn't fit in, not being able to find a place to belong, not building strong relationships and once deeply serving seeing the dirty side of the local church--the politics of those who rule the organization. 

So our family went through a new season for about three years: we were unchurched. It was not that we didn't want to be in a church. 

Beautiful old church in PA that I visited. Like many old church buildings it is being repurposed for other uses than worshipping God, because congregations in the NE of USA no longer are large enough to be housed in and to financially afford such a church building.
I confess, I was exhausted; I felt so beat up, rejected and unaccepted.

I smile when I wrote "rejected and unaccepted" thinking isn't that the same thing, but realizing that it is actually two different kinds of actions. Rejection is when you are let go, when you are told you don't fit or when some stops being your friend. Unaccepted is when you can't find a place to belong, when people smile but don't let you into their world. And through all we have experienced I am not bitter; I have so many dear Christian friends from every church we have ever attended for any length of time. Matter of fact, my dearest friends (my-come-along-side-spiritual-buddies) don't attend the same local congregation as I do now.

But most importantly, I am not bitter because I have in all seasons had a consistent loving relationship with Jesus. My relationship with God does not follow the ups and downs of my relationships with people. He is steadfast. He is faithful. His love never fails. He never gives up on me. He always accepts me with open arms. Truly, He talks to me and walks with me every day.

So how does all of this make me love the church? I have heard it said many times that the church is the bride of Jesus Christ. Interestingly, this phrase "the bride of Christ" is not in the Bible, but many passages of the Bible refer to the Church symbolically as Jesus' Bride. Here are a few I selected:

Revelation 19:7-9 - Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready.
Revelation 21:2 - And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.
Ephesians 5:25-27 - Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; 
The church we belong to today (Experience Community in Murfreesboro, TN) does not have membership. It talks a lot about the Church as a whole being all of the Christians. We pray regularly for all the different local churches in our city and in the Nations. We are not in competition with other local organizations; we function out of a local group but we are taught to see ourselves as part of the whole Church, not simply a local group. This has really changed the way I view the Church. It no longer is in a building or one specific group; the walls are down and I see myself a part of all Christians whether I attend their "local church" or not. I view everyone as my brother and sisters. I honestly did this before but not as strongly. It is amazing how de-emphasizing membership has enlarged my view of the Bride of Christ and increase my love for His Church. It is also amazing how connected I now perceive myself to the Church. My love interweaves with the lives of all of my Christian brothers and sisters and we are a large living organism, not a local organization.

We are getting our feet wet and beginning to minister within our local church to serve others, but my service in Christ is everywhere. I don't ever see how I would feel like I didn't belong to the Church again, since I view myself as part of the entire Church of Jesus Christ throughout the world. It is freeing and enlarging my love for the Church. I thank God for allowing me to experience this and teaching me to understand what it means to be part of His Church and how to love Her with a passion that I never knew was possible.

My prayer for you is that you first know the Lord Jesus Christ intimately, personally and then that you engage with other believers embracing them, knowing that like you they are being sanctified by God, remembering:

 For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus. (Philippians 1:6)

If you enjoyed reading this post, you might also like Love of the Brethren