Friday, February 25, 2011

"Foolish" Thoughts on Life and Death

Today, Jesus' death just seemed so strange and radical to me. All his closest friends run away terrified that He is letting soldiers attack him (Mark 14). He lets the soldiers lead him away (15:16) and the rest of their battalion come gang up to mock him, strip him, and beat him (16-19). And He did nothing! He just took this beating and looked so foolish to them. 

He couldn't even carry his own cross to be killed because he was that weak from it all (21). Yet, once on the cross, when offered the wine with myrhh (which would ease the pain), he didn't take it (23). So he's clearly weak, yet chooses to takes the full brunt of the pain. Everyone walking by mocked as well and shouted at him to come down from the cross and prove himself (30). The chief priests and scribes said loudly that he couldn't save himself (31-32). Even the criminals hung with him reviled him (32). He looks so foolish to everyone. And He doesn't defend Himself or prove Himself. So hard to read. 

Look at what happens next... it is SO amazing:
And Jesus uttered a loud cry and breathed his last. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. And when the centurion, who stood facing him, saw that in this way he breathed his last, he said, “Truly this man was the Son of God!

Did you see that? The temple curtain! Look at what happened: the curtain was torn in two. The curtain!!!! There's some debate whether it was the inner curtain (which separated the "Holy of Holies" where God dwelled from the rest of the temple) or the outer (which separated the Gentiles from the Jews). Either brings the same incredible truth- The barrier is gone and we have access to the Father! The centurion obviously understood that and concluded that Jesus was exactly who He said He was: the Son of God!

If it's the interior, it shows how Jesus is the perfect sacrifice to bridge the gap no priestly sacrifice ever could. The exterior curtain it shows the same. How? The outer curtain is said (by Josephus) to have a "panorama of the entire heavens" on it. This fits with the image Mark shared in Jesus' baptism when the heavens were opened up (1:10). Here He has fulfilled God's required sacrifice and the curtain is torn to symbolize that He broke through the barrier between the heavens and earth. God (in heaven) and man had been separated and that curtain symbolized the separation. And when Jesus died (alone), the curtain tore in two. God and man are no longer separated because Jesus took on the full wrath of God for our sins. And not just the Jews, but the Gentiles too. WOW!

Everyone hated him, spat at him, and called him weak. And yet this "weak" and rejected man did what no other had ever dreamed of trying: He tore down the curtain and brought God and man into fellowship together again. Now his enemies can be His own. THAT is power!!! And it didn't end in death, but then He beat death! He rose again (Chapter 16)!!!! So amazing! He rose again!!!!! 

and for who? Who did He endure that horror, the murder and death, and rise agin for? Who? The very people who abandoned him. His friends who fled. All who call out to Him to be saved. Even His enemies. Even me. His enemy now His own. It makes no sense at all. But I'm so very glad.

God has really convicted Andy and I here. This feels weak as I read it because it is not how we do things. We defend ourselves. We fight back. And we're considered weak and passive if we don't fight back. Someone once told Andy he is not a loving father if he doesn't "prepare" and fight for His family and for God but instead lets someone kill him (or us) without fighting back. That's not what I see Jesus call us to do or model Himself. 

Look at this passage. We see Jesus lay down His life humbly. We see Him beaten mocked, abandoned, and killed. That is what we deserve, but He took it for us. So to be killed today as we show that very love to others is not senseless (or passive!) and we are not alone as we go through it. He is with us, guiding us, strengthening us in our weakness. And even in our death, because of Jesus, we gain life. No one who kills us takes anything from us. 

Is it an easy call? No. Am I willing? Ouch! It's still such a scary thought to me. But I pray that He'll change my heart so that I'll be willing to love my enemies like He loved me. I type this knowing that I may be judged, mocked, and look foolish for even typing this. I look weak and selfish. And I am. I don't think I can actually live it out. I get scared just being alone in a dark room! Yet it's freeing to even ask Him for this. To believe Him for it. I long to stop valuing my own life here the way I do. I long to love others like He's loved me: with my whole life and death.

I'm convicted as I read His teachings that I've missed Him. I hear what He's calling His followers to and my life doesn't reflect it. I haven't lived it in action. Yet I'm encouraged by Mark 15, because I see that He knew I wouldn't be able to. He knew. And so He died so that I might no longer be a slave to sin, but to Him alone.

 Oh Lord, do this impossible work in me. Don't let me forget what it cost You and what You've done in Your great love for Your own. Thank you SO much. Please give me the strength to pull away from the things in this world that I've clung to foolishly and find my rest and strength and joy in You alone. Give me a love for my family, my friends, and even my enemy that seems foolish to others, but reflects Your heart for us. Help me live my life taking big risks and in all my living and in my dying, may it show that YOU are the treasure of my heart and my joyful portion!!!

"For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God."

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The Heart #5: Seeing Sin and Receiving Forgiveness

Please read post 1, 2, 3, and 4 to gain a better perspective of this post. All correction in our home comes from a loving call from God to engage our children to see their hearts, know their need for a Savior, and see the incredible love and grace of Jesus Christ who is that Savior.

Today, we'll look at our "next step" beyond questions in correction when there is outright disobedience. God lead us here through a children's pastor (who our friends introduced us to through a conference cd) As he shared his wisdom and experience with a local church body, we gleaned so much biblical truth. We later read a similar process in Tedd Tripp's book, "Shepherding A Child's Heart".

*Let me stress here that I believe the MOST loving thing God has done was to lay down His life for us. Correction shows love and is an important way to show Christ's love for us, but I do not say it's the only or even the best way. Just one way to show love out of a daily life seeking to show Christ in ALL we do and say.
“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. " John 15:12-13*

We follow this process only when our kids have directly disobeyed us. They know if they challenge, excuse, or delay that this is the process we go through:

The Steps of Correction (our version has some differences but the basic premise is found on page 150 in my copy of SCH):
After our child does one of the three core issues we lay out as "rod worthy" offenses we:
1) Go to a private place- We don't want to embarrass him in front of anyone. This is between him and God and us (the ones he disobeyed), so we go away to another room. 

2) I say specifically what he did wrong or failed to do and he agrees- we've walked through the 5 questions so he is prepared. This just confirms what he said.

3) Talk through why we correct- God calls you to obey Mommy and Daddy (Eph. 6) and if not to be corrected. Mommy obeys God and shows love by correcting you with the rod (Proverbs 13:24, 23:13-14, 19:18, etc...). Should Mommy obey God now by giving you the rod because you disobeyed?

4) Tell exactly how many rods for the offense (ex. 2 for screaming at mommy when i asked him to come. and he gains another if he fights the rod)
Why we use both "the rod" and our process to talk through sin: 
          "The rod and reproof give wisdom,
but a child left to himself brings shame to his mother.
        Discipline your son, and he will give you rest;
he will give delight to your heart.
       By mere words a servant is not disciplined,
for though he understands, he will not respond."
 -Proverbs 29:15, 17, 19
*note- Some spank with hand, some use paddles, wooden spoons, or switches from a tree in their yard, we use a gluestick (the long, rubbery kind for glue guns) as our "rod" because we like that when he reads about discipline with the rod, he won't be confused by why it isn't ever referred to as spanking. We also tend to be gentler and not battle anger with the gluestick then when we use out hands. We have no strong attachment or think anyone else should use or not use a gluestick.*

5) lay him over my lap, with underwear but no pants on (or diaper, but no pants when younger) and give (quickly) the # of rods I said. Then pull up pants.
*he is on my lap, not far away and alone. I pray this shows the swift way God deals with us, not leaving us to wonder about our sin. As I am with him even in his sin, though I'm grieved by it, I (representing God) pursue him in it in love, not anger, to be restored.*

6) Hold and hug and pray for him while he is sitting up on my lap- Sometimes he cries. Often I just tell him that I love him and it's hard to give the rod and I'm praying we'll be able to go without it someday as he sees Jesus.

7) Talk through the issue and point to the gospel- I'll often review our 5 questions with him, but this time I'll talk through as I ask and look for opportunities to share the gospel and show him that he doesn't have to stay in sin but can have full forgiveness in Christ! I encourage him here that he's not alone in sin (Mommy grapples in it too.) And that Christ can be known and He can remove his heart of stone and soften it to obey Him and love Him. So many AMAZING conversations have come from this. I should share some of this fruit in another post.

8) Pray. When little, I prayed. When a bit older, he repeated after me. Now Jimmy prays and asks God to forgive him and make him new.

9) I ask him what he could have done differently or could do next time or how he can "try again." He helps choose to ask for forgiveness and try to go again but obey this time.

10) He tries again and we rejoice! We hug. I cheer. We are fully restored and we now go back to whatever we were doing or where we were going happy. There is no anger or hurt between us. I LOVE this part because I believe it models the truth that when God forgives His own, he also puts His righteousness on us and sees us as Christ. *This step is not in Tripp's book but has been added in our home.*

What I love about this process for us has been to go after their hearts and show Jesus. Correction is not about the rod or punishment, but always to restore. In the moment, they are restored to us, but prayerfully they see their need for God and the opportunity to be restored fully and forever to Him.

Not every bad choice is disobedience. I'll share in my last post of this series how we can address bad choices our kids make...

*** Is this is all new to you and you would like to look for discipline and "the rod" in Scripture? There are so many great examples of God's loving hand of discipline, but here are a few passages God used in my heart as Andy first asked me to prayerfully consider biblical discipline and the rod: Proverbs 19:18, Hebrews 12:7-11, Proverbs 22:15, Proverbs 23:13-14, and Proverbs 19:15, 17, 19***

Monday, February 21, 2011

We're All in Him Together... Right?

"As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ... But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light."

I read this Scripture on a facebook status and it just jumped out at me that priesthood, nation, and people are ALL plural. It's not an individual identity described here.
I've struggled as God seems to show us a lot in this past year how we (Andy and I) aren't living out His Word fully. We've been missing Him. So we've gone to others and shared openly as we struggle. It's not easy to confess our selfish lifestyle to others, but we know it's healing and good. I'm reminded in this passage that this call is not just for Andy and me, but for us all. And there's a good and healthy response God's leading to in this passage for us together to be set apart for Him.

When we hear "set apart"/ separate, there are two dangerous camps we can fall into:
1) the "you may be over spiritualizing this" camp. This may be well-intentioned, but I never think it's good advice to suggest we are ever reading the Bible to literally. God is speaking to us through His timeless Word. Please don't discourage anyone from seeking Him and then doing what He says.
2) the "amen... but them" camp who excitedly agree with being "set apart" and even begin to change and grow by ridding themselves of sin snares. BUT, they have a bitterness at the American church and may begin to see themselves as better than the church. Don't miss this: You can be seeing these amazing truths and changing and growing, yet caught in the sin snare of bitterness or pride (or both). Which leads further into sin of gossip about His church and harsh words towards His people as you see their sin. Beware not to be quick to assume anyone else not living it out must not be His church. 
OLD picture of 20 Something, a place that lives out "together" for Him so well
Peter is stressing that the answer is between these two extremes. It's true that our lives/churches should look really different then they do. And yet, there is grace that only God does that work in us. And He is doing it in His body. One obvious evidence is that some of us are actually seeing our failings!
The use of the plural form in describing our roles reminds me that we are not meant to find our identity and plan separately, but together as God's group of people! And when God shows us His truth, it is not to judge the other people He placed us among, but to grow up in love with His people. A fresh understanding of His Word should be shared for the encouragement of others! 

I'm thankful He is revealing my sin that has been bondage to me and exposing how my lifestyle misrepresents Him. I think He wants "camp 1" to encourage and pray for us as He teaches us and go back to His Word and see if maybe He is calling all of us to obey in a more literal way than we have been. I would encourage "camp 2" to pray for for God to give those that don't see this truth His grace to see His worth and long for Him alone as full treasure... and then pray He'll enable you to give grace to the American church as a whole, your local church, or individuals who are not convicted yet or may never live it out. 

This is not an individual plan, but a group plan. God has been flooring me with SO much biblical truth in the way we do life. It was like He said, "This is not just for you. I care about the American church. I am doing a new work in my church, not just you." And I see it as I talk and pray with others in our daily life, listen to sermons and conferences from around our country, and even see glimpses on facebook. We are not meant to separate from his group of people. His plan is for us all. And OUR indentity is Christ as our all (our cornerstone) and our call is to share Him with all.

Yet we are called to be separate. I'll share more in my next post...

Thursday, February 17, 2011

The Heart #4: When to Correct

I've shared throughout these posts about our call as parents to show our boys their heart of sin so they can better see the beauty of Christ's great forgiveness for those who are His and how by beating death, He redeemed ALL that our sin destroys. You can read more in post 1, post 2, post 3.

Before I share our full process of correction in sin, I thought I should share how we gauge when to correct. We always look at character and heart, not action! Many things are bad and harmful, but we want our boys to see their sin and seek God. We know that once they are Christ's, their actions will begin to change over time to reflect Him. So we set boundaries to reveal their sin and teach them God's ways. 
"Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it."- Proverbs 22:6
We start showing their sin while they are young. This is to lay a foundation of boundaries and show them how they continually fail. Seeing sin and failure is good because we aren't leaving them hopeless! We always share God's grace and forgiveness for those who are His. This isn't to scare them, but to lovingly show their need and point them to the only One who can and does meet it: Jesus.

When a child is young, we pick three core areas -like 1)coming when we say come 2) not hurting anyone purposefully, and 3) stopping whatever he was doing when Mommy says "No, Buddy." We do this so his entire day isn't spent being corrected and he is clear on our expectations. Other things may be important but we talk through them.

Example: Caleb loves to throw food off his tray even after I tell him "No."He will often look right at me and smile and then throw it over. So I touch his hand (some hit gently or squeeze- we just touch firmly- an NEVER in anger. Never!) and say "No, thank you." He will often cry or scream. This shows me that he knows what I'm saying and prayerfully, he is learning that Mommy is the authority over him (We'll someday teach that it is God who is over everyone and everything, and we submit under Him as His loving agents to show them His loving authority.)

Jimmy is older. Somewhere around 2-ish, we started talking through and going through a whole process with him that gives swift physical consequence but is always to restore him fully and show Christ. We only discipline if he has clearly and directly rebelled against our authority...

Paul and Tedd Tripp both define obedience as "a willing submission to my parents that causes me to do what I am told---
Without Challenge
Without Excuse
Without Delay"

This has been a great tool to help instruct Jimmy so he knows our expectations and he is never surprised or hurt by us as we correct him. He only goes through correction when he directly disobeys us by challenging, excusing, or delaying a boundary we set.

Let me stress again that we aren't trying to correct his behavior just for obedience sake. We are praying that he'll see his heart need and seek Jesus, who gives full and abundant life. Sin always leads to death (though we think as we run towards it that it will bring freedom). Sin gives a hunger for more and yet is never satisfied and we are in bondage. Jesus came to pay the price of death for those who are His. When we seek forgiveness in Him and repent from our sin, we gain freedom. This is what I want my children to know and see and have for themselves. Freedom.

"... you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness. But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed... "- Romans 6:16b-17

I'll share in the next post (Post #5) our entire process of showing that through correction and in Post # 6 how we address bad character...

Monday, February 14, 2011

The Heart #3: Questions, questions, questions

I've been sharing about our hearts. In post 1 I said that everything we say and do flows out of our hearts. In Post 2 I shared my tendency to want an easier way than the time it takes with my kids to help them see their hearts.

Some of you have (naturally) asked what process we go through with our children to help them see their sin. We have nothing new or unique to us, just what we appreciated as solid biblical truth expounded on by Paul Tripp in his dvd conference "Getting to the Heart of Parenting" and by his brother, Ted Tripp in his book, Shepherding a Child's Heart (discipline process on page 150). Both are amazing and I highly recommend getting them and going through them as a couple.

Our main purpose in these questions is to help Jimmy (and Caleb one day) to see that everything he does flows out from his heart... and that is where the lasting change in him will come from as well. Always from the heart outward...
"... for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks."- Luke 6:45

The 5 Questions- always in THIS order to show how behavior comes from the heart outward):
1) What was going on?
2) What were you thinking (or feeling) as it happened?
3) What did you do in response?
4) Why Did you do it? What did you hope would happen because of it?
5) What was the result?
We are so alike it's scary!
These are pre-correction. It's what we walk through right as something happened before we respond in any way. One example: 
Jimmy finds out we are having spinach at dinner and cries (you laugh, but it happens.) and then yells at me and throws his head down on the couch grumbling and complaining.

Me: "What happened?"

Jimmy: "You promised me I could pick where we eat out and now you lied and I have to eat spinach!"
*note- this is his version. I don't correct it ever. It's just a way for me to see what he is thinking. Even if I'm confident I never promised eating out and see nothing wrong with spinach, I don't even address that here. Right now is about his heart.*

Me: "How did you feel when you heard me saying I'm making spinach?"

Jimmy: "Mad. Sad."
*note- sometimes he says he doesn't know. then I usually ask differently, like "What were you thinking when you heard.." or I give a handful of options: "Were you happy? sad? mad? didn't care?"
This is not about the emotion, but just to show him that his response came from his heart, not the situation. *

Me: "So what did you do when you were mad?"

Jimmy: "I was unkind."
*note- He almost always downplays his sin. He'll use excuses or make it less than it was. I'm not concerned with that right now because I'm just trying to let him see his heart and need. There is a time for showing that, but not here.*

Me: "What did you hope would happen when you were unkind?"

Jimmy: "You'd know I was mad and you'd let me pick where we eat."
*note- Sometimes he's more vague, but usually it is something he hoped would happen and he sees that he tried to make it happen by this action of disobedience.*

Me: "And what did happen?"

Jimmy: "Now I'm in trouble and have to be corrected."

This is where I usually share a passage we've studied together over the years: Galatians 6:7-8
 "for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life."
We talk about how if you don't plant at all or plant a bad seed, you can't expect a good crop. If you work hard and use good seed, you expect to see a good crop in time. It's the same with us, if we are loving and kind and obey, we enjoy time with Mommy, but when we are unkind and mean, we will be corrected. Screaming, grumbling, and fighting did not get a chance to eat out. Now we are still eating spinach with dinner, and we also are going to be corrected for being unkind....

He is learning through this that his actions came from his heart outward. He's learning that God cares about his heart and Mommy does too. I'll share in the next post how our next step of correction comes in to show that sin hurts and leads to death BUT there is hope and forgiveness in Jesus...

[read the rest of this series here: Post #4- When to Correct,# 5- Our correction process, #6- Addressing bad character]

Friday, February 11, 2011

Daily Life: Say “ I Love You”

“Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God.”- 1 John 4:7

I've been thinking a lot about how we are called to build one another up in love and spur each other on towards Christ. Sometimes I think we get caught up in ourselves and miss it.

Yet, I've been so spurred on at times when people have encouraged me intentionally. And sometimes just encouraging others brings such joy and excitement for God as well. 

 I want to encourage you to tell people that you love them and some reasons why. As I know more and more how God loves me, it should compel me to love others. One of the simplest ways we show love to others is by telling them! I believe we can do this in big ways and small.

1)    Say “I love you. And I’m thankful that you….” when you see him/her.

2)     Make a short list of things you love about each family member and read it in person to immediate family and send it in cards and emails to extended family.

3)     Call (or send a text, facebook message, or e-mail) affirming something specific you’ve recently noticed about the person

4)    Send a card and write in it something you appreciate about the person and sign that you love them

5)    Pray for them when they come to mind and then tell them you did

Will you take this challenge with me and share with someone that you love them and God loves them even more?

I’d love to hear creative ways you’ve shared that you love someone. Or share about someone who impacted you when they told you they love you. Leave a comment with your story below!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Would I go away sad????

Reposting an old Facbeook note of mine: and Freeing Truths....
“And behold, a man came up to him, saying, "Teacher, what good deed must I do to have eternal life?" And he said to him, "Why do you ask me about what is good? There is only one who is good. If you would enter life, keep the commandments." He said to him, "Which ones?" And Jesus said, "You shall not murder, You shall not commit adultery, You shall not steal, You shall not bear false witness, Honor your father and mother, and, You shall love your neighbor as yourself." The young man said to him, "All these I have kept. What do I still lack?" Jesus said to him, "If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me." When the young man heard this he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.”-Matthew 19:16-22

The guy in this story was trying to earn God- He did what was right. He had made the law attainable and missed what it was meant to do- expose our sin so we could see our desparate need for God. We aren't supposed to be able to fulfill the law. There is only One who could and did fulfill the law: Jesus! So Jesus took it the next step for him and exposed his love for his own possessions over love for God. The need was always for Jesus, not to “get” the better life down the road eternally, but to know JESUS.

I’m struck now by how Jesus would have that same conversation with me. How am I trying to earn Him still? Do I think I’ve attained anything? Or has the law exposed my need (oh I pray it’s truly Jesus and only Jesus my life is about)?

But the BIG question for me is: What else is there that Jesus would bring up for me when I could answer yes I’ve done this for all the others? What is the thing/ person/ lifestyle/ etc. that if He told me to let it go in order to be completely in Him might cause me to, like the rich young man with many possessions, turn and walk away sadly?

I’m convicted that that there are many things/ppl in my life I’ve chosen and would hang my head sorrowfully and walk away for… and God is showing me that though I have failed to let them go over and over, through His strength (and clearly ONLY by His strength), I can give up my grip and walk away joyfully toward Him (I blogged once in more depth about not just leaving but also going TO Him. You can read that here). What a freeing thought. I really don’t want ANYTHING in my life to mean more to me than God Himself.

-Not Andy (who I pray God gives me a lifetime with but know that is not promised)
-not Jimmy and Caleb (who I pray I get to watch become husbands and fathers themselves who love God wholeheartedly, but know that is a gift not promised either),
-not my family of origin… or their salvation (oh how hard this one is to let go!!!)
-not my family by marriage (who i tried so desparately to feel wanted in and wound up missing Christ while deepening the gap between us for so long),
-not my dear friends and church family
-not our “home”
-not the dream of owning our own home one day
-not our ministry
-not my dream of being thin
-not my health
-not our paycheck
-not even my life itself
-not ANYTHING!!!!

I SO want to say, like Paul (Phil. 3:7-15), that it is all trash and I would WAY rather know Christ and be found in Him than to have any of these gifts that I’ve held as precious and dear, but are truly not even worth comparing to the surpassing love of God. I am SOOOOO far from living this out and praying that Christ will continue, in grace, to guide me closer and closer to hIm so I can truly hold loosely all that I’ve been given- and have JOY in the loss of them, knowing HE is the great treasure. I believe He is doing this work in me and now, today as I read this passage, the conviction turned to absolute JOY that He has already begun this work in me and he WILL see it through to completion (Philippians 1:6)

Will you pray with me and hold me accountable and remind me of the surpassing worth of Christ when you see my grip tighten on these gifts?  Is there a gift God has given you: something or someone in your life, that He wants you to hold loosely-or even let go of completely- so that you can experience the true JOY in Him alone as well? I want to encourage you too, to give it up and walk away… not sorrowfully from him, but JOYFULLY towards Him as the true treasure!

Monday, February 7, 2011

The Heart #2: Do I skip the heart because I'm lazy?

For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.” - 1 Samuel 16:7

I shared in my first post in this series how the Bible teaches that our our behavior flows from our hearts.

I've been watching myself as I parent. Some days I'm SO tired from conversation after conversation with Jimmy. We have a whole process we go through to address his disobedience. We start with 5 quick questions for him to show Jimmy how the disobedience came from his heart. Sometimes, we then go through a correction/discipline and prayer time. Always, he gets to "try again" and be fully restored. It's really cool to walk through his sin with him and come out fully restored. We have no anger or hardship afterwards, but can continue on in our fun as family. We have AMAZING conversations about Christ during it, BUT, it's a long process and as sin compounds on sin, sometimes I can't even remember when we started or what the original issue was!

It's no easier with my little guy. Here's my day with Caleb: "No thank you." "No, Buddy." "Mommy said no."He will look directly at me and smile before throwing food, pulling the blinds, or running away as I call to him. Some days it feels fruitless to say this again and again. I'm tired and I think, is it worth it?
Caleb (6 months old): rolled over to pull down blinds while watching to see what I'd do
When I don't walk through Jimmy's sin or set boundaries so Caleb can see his sin, I'm missing a chance to show them how great God's love for us is that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. When I don't walk through their sin, I can't show the Rescuer. If I'm honest, it's because of my own love for myself above all others. My behavior is showing the sin flowing from my heart. I just want a break (ease of life) more than I want to care for my children's hearts. Ouch!

We want our boys to know Christ and live forever in abundant joy and peace in Him. The gift of knowing Jesus and being His only comes only from God, but He graciously allows us to point them to Him.

We get to show them His great love and forgiveness. And not just in the fun "Bible story" part of our day. We share throughout as we walk and talk and play. And as we sin. Yup. We can teach that though it seems freeing at first when we indulge in sin, it is actually bondage that, in the end, leads to death. Jesus came to rescue His own as we flounder helplessly back again and again to our sin. What better time to share the good news that Jesus came and took the wrath for his enemies and put on us his righteousness than when they see how far off and in need they are?

It might be easier to yell at them, or just give a quick punishment, or lay a guilt trip them. It would be done quickly. That's SO tempting sometimes and we've had some people lovingly (and not so lovingly) tell us we should use guilt, manipulation, yell at them, or just overlook sin. But God's Word doesn't show that. It says we are to guide their hearts to love Him with ALL their hearts and to train them up in the way they should go.

 So, do I skip the heart for my temporary ease? Or do I press on to the harder work of loving my kids by showing them their heart need and the great Savior who redeems all our sin destroys? 

I'm praying I'll point to Jesus.
"Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord."-Ephesians 6:4

I'll share our questions to get to the heart and discipline/correction process in the next few posts...

[Read the rest of the series here: # 3- Questions, #4 When to correct, #5- Our correction process, #6- Bad Character]

Friday, February 4, 2011

Update for Urgent Prayer Request

Remember Stephen, the Nigerian Bible translator who was kidnapped? Please keep praying with us for his safe return.

A glimpse of Wycliffe's post:

Please intercede with urgency:
  • Ask God to protect and minister to Stephen while he’s being held.
  • Pray also for his family and the Tarok translation team.
  • Pray for Stephen’s immediate release and reunion with his family.
  • Ask God to use Stephen’s witness to bring his captors to repentance and salvation. (See Acts 16:25-34)
In my desperation I prayed, and the LORD listened;
he saved me from all my troubles.
For the angel of the LORD is a guard;
he surrounds and defends all who fear him.

– Psalm 34:6-7 (NLT)

Read the full post here

Thursday, February 3, 2011

When Sin is Beautiful

Is sin ever good? The short answer is no. Though God certainly allows sin and uses people’s sin for our good at times. Sin may not be good, but, seeing our sin is beautiful.

You really don't have to teach sin. My youngest, Caleb happily went back and back to pull on our blinds (as I would say "no." and move him away) as soon as he could roll on the floor. Jimmy used to run away when we’d say come and went through a painful few months of defiantly coming out of his room well after we had put him to bed for the night over and over again. 

One thing I really love about sin being exposed so easily in Jimmy is how it gives him a chance to see it. Though I don't remember anyone teaching me that I was good, I grew up actually believing I deserved love and was good (oh my). As we discipline Jimmy when we see these sin snares he runs to, he sees over and over again how he can't measure up. But it doesn't end there with him not measuring up. That's the beauty of the gospel applied to our lives... It reveals how sinful and undeserving we are, but also how gracious and loving a God we have who has come to save us.

We’ve had a couple conversations in the midst of correction where he actually said, “I am always bad. Mommy. Why can’t I just obey?” Through tears at times I have lovingly shared with him that only One is good. Only Jesus. And that the depth of Jesus' love for His own is shown by his death for us while we still hated him. He has not left us in our sin, but instead promises forgiveness and life forever for those who are His. Simply because we are His. Not because we deserve it, but because He loves us. What a beautiful truth to see because sin is exposed.

Another thing I love (and hate at times) about our boys’ sin as it comes out is what it draws out in us. I’m amazed at how embarrassed I get when they do anything wrong in public, or the anger that boils up when either of them says unkind things to me. It provides (sometimes painful) opportunities for me to see my sin (which I try to hide) as it comes out and go back to the gospel and remember how I need a Savior and how Jesus has fully covered my sin and makes me new. I need to go back and back to remember. My kids help me daily.

So I see Jimmy’s sin as a teachable moment for us both.  His sin exposes my sinful pride. And when Jimmy sees how he sins again and again, it provides an opportunity for him to hear the gospel and for it to take root in his heart.  So sin isn’t good, but seeing our sin and turning from it to Christ is beautiful.