April 8, 2013

Knowing God- the best methodology out there!

Hey everyone!  This morning I have the pleasure of introducing to you one of the most Jesus-loving and intentional friends I know, Kari.  In everything she does, she has a biblical basis for it.  She always is trying to discern how God is working within every detail of her life.  She humbly sets a great example for those of us who were not raised in that type of culture but long to set that example for our own children.

Hello all! I am so thankful to have this opportunity to share. My name is Kari. I have a little man, Titus, who is 6 yrs. old, and two daughters, Eliana (4 1/2 yrs going on 17) and Leala (who just turned 3 and is just happy to be here). :) My two princesses stay busy spinning in tutus and playing "house" in which their story lines usually involve rescuing and caring for orphans from a distant land. In the midst of all that precious  playtime come selfishness, fits, and tears :). My first born has a super sensitive heart toward the things of God and would tell you his role as a man is "to protect and provide." He loves learning, legos, listening to the Bible, and loves his friends and family. Since Titus has hit age 6, though, we have begun to shift our understanding of how we discipline and train Titus. Not all of his mishaps these days are out of "defiance" like they used to be when he was 5 and under. A lot of his mishaps recently are from a simple lack of character. Ex. He is jumping around being goofy, trying to get attention, and in the process he knocks his sister in the head with his knight sword. Or he doesn't knock anyone with anything but we notice he is being overly silly with the purpose to get all eyes on him. Or he responds to a simple dilemma with lots of emotional crying. Titus has entered a new age and stage in life. He understands "respect and authority" and generally seeks to honor God in how he relates to adults. But, new things are happening...New attitudes, new ideas, new struggles, new emotions, and new hurts. This is the background that God is using to shape me in my recent views of child training. 

There is a lot that Mommies can learn and share with others in regards to methods of child training. Yet methods often change and flex even as we assess each of our own children's needs that correspond to their ages/stages. The One who never changes is the "method" (per se) that I want to write about today. 

The most helpful place I can ever point a Mommy to is God Himself. One God, who exists in three persons- the Father, Son, and Spirit, whom we have been created to enjoy intimately. There are so many times as a Mom that I literally put my hands in my face during my kids squabbles and just cry out to God for help. Both kids are being selfish, neither wants to consider the other, pointing them to a Scripture proves ineffective to work sorrow or true change, and when i try the Christian hedonism route- "but THIS would make you most happy"...they both plainly declare, "then I don't WANT to be happy." (Cross arms and pout). 

Well, they are right. My children were born into a world of sin where even their own hearts don't desire God. God is the only One who desires God, and God is the only One who causes us to desire Him. For "there is none righteous, no, not one; there is none who understands; There is none who seeks after God." Romans 3:10-11In and of themselves, they are right...they DON'T want to be happy. 

Hmmm...options now. I could simply discuss the issue privately instructing what sin each one needs to "put off" or what righteousness to "put on" instead, spank each one for being sinful toward each other, pray for restitution and forgiveness, reaffirm their acceptance as my son or daughter, and afterwards simply put away the game they were playing that was so tempting to them. OR I could do all of that but make them go back and work out a way to play the game peacefully. I could just realize that everyone is tired and put everyone to bed early....show mercy with no spankings, but game over. Or I could choose a host of other approaches. 

Yet, at this point in the day, with this particular squabble, I realized by the sensitivity of the Holy Spirit, that using those "methods" today wasn't going to be a tutor to bring them to Christ. The way this day had gone, I didn't feel like those usual methods would effect true repentance or heart change with my two older children, and that's what we ultimately desire as parents, heart change, right? 

Sigh. The life of a mom- "what do I do?" I called my  husband at work for his godly and wise ideas, and he didn't  pick up. Thus, the question remained, "What do I do?" as children are sitting in front of me already dictating to me the consequences they DON'T want. 

In these moments there often isn't a book answer. Thankfully God gives us many of these moments so we can't take pride in thinking we have it all figured out. Yes, we should study the Scriptures and have resources to know how to train and discipline our children. Yes, we should read books by godly authors and sift through their logic to discern if their methods are reflective of God's heart. Yes, we should be diligent to enact the things we learn with raising our children to teach them to love God and love others. Yes, we should refuse to coast and just "do what our parents did" with no thought or seeking the Scriptures.  As the Scriptures say, "let everyone be convinced in his own mind." Rom 14:5. John Piper just asserted in a sermon I listened to that "we need more convictions" in the church "not less!" Yes. Yes. Yes. 

And YES, you will have moments still when none of these methods work or moments when you look at your child and realize that the stage he/she is in at this very moment is...different. And though you may have had resources and felt confident when he was 5yrs old, a logical and yet sensitive 6 yr old is now looking you in the eyes, and you feel resource-less. And those are the moments I write about today. 

I feel the difference in my heart in parenting when I have had a week where I have really walked by the Spirit because I have been close to God through His Word and prayer. Those are the weeks where I really realize my desperate need for God. When that kind of humility drives my "parenting ship," the results are helpful, encouraging, and fruitful. I STILL may not know how to handle a fit or a disagreement, but I am ok with not knowing because I know that God is ultimately their heart changer, not me. 

My exhortation to Mommies today is simple. It's just two words,"know God." God is the only One in these moments that can help you. Know Father God. Oh, Father God! You delight to give us the kingdom. You patiently endure with us. You discipline us with brokenness in Your own heart. You sing over us while smiling. You give us not only the things we need but the things we want. You lavish and You withhold. You already know the deep places we fear to let others in. You are forever wise and have ALL the answers, yet intentionally do not tell us those answers some days. You are merciful and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in goodness and truth. You forgive sin yet never let the guilty go unpunished. Oh Father, we love you. Cause us to know You, Father God. 

Know Jesus. Jesus. (Sigh, pause, and smile.) Our Teacher. Our Lover. Our intercessor. The One whose hands are the lifter of our heads. Our ultimate example of selflessness. The One who came to serve not be served. The humble One who deserved it all yet never demanded it. Our healer. The One who is full of grace and yet simultaneously full of truth...who knows the perfect moment to say the perfect words to that exact person. The One who took my place, took my punishment, and took my condemnation, so I can live like I never did any wrong. Your work on the cross silences my accusers. Wow. My good news. My Lover. My Savior.

Know the Spirit. Mysterious Spirit! Your whispers delight my soul. Your comfort outweighs any other. Your ministry to my soul is unexplainably precious. Your conviction often comes through encouragement. You praise Christ at work in me when the crowd is silent. You work change...softly and tenderly as Jesus calls, You work. You give gifts that enable the body to thrive. You tell me what to do when I feel frozen. You calm my rage and calm my fears. You are a Spirit of peace. With you I am safe, for your purpose is to glorify the Son. Spirit of wind. Spirit of fire. 

Mommies, come, let us return to the Lord! Let us press on to know the Lord! He is our Lord, our God, our Maker! And as we go to the secret places with our God, we will often hear a voice behind us saying, "this is the way to parent, walk in it." And it may look different than what we read in our parenting book that day. And other days we will hear His silence in those difficult parenting moments. Yet, frustration will not result in our hearts, rather a soft smile will spread across our faces. Perhaps that day, it's not about us having a champion parenting moment. Perhaps that day it's not about our kids having the perfect parenting parent. Perhaps God just wants us to see, "wow, that's what I look like when I am selfish." Perhaps God wants us to simply feel humbled by not having all the perfect parenting answers. Perhaps His silence means something amazing that we will never know this side of Heaven. And our hearts will then be kept in perfect peace when our minds are stayed on Him because we trust in Him. Because we know Him. "Let us know; let us press on to know the LORD; his going out is sure as the dawn; he will come to us as the showers, as the spring rains that water the earth.” -Hosea 6:3


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