Correcting Children: Positioned for Favor

So what gets you into a position of favor (right standing) with God and man like Jesus was?

Is it possible? Absolutely. Easy?….You decide.

How can parents give this incredible gift to their children?

An example from Jesus’ boyhood : Jesus showed obedience coupled with individuality. Let’s look closer at verse 52 for our answers.

51 Then he went down to Nazareth with them and was obedient to them. But his mother treasured all these things in her heart. 52 And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man. Luke 2:51,52

1. Wisdom

17 But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle,[a]reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy.18 And the [b]seed whose fruit is righteousness is sown in peace [c]by those who make peace. James 3:17-18 (NASB)

We can teach our children to be worldly wise or we can train them to be wise in the world with a wisdom sourced above and beyond it.

2. Stature does not always mean “height”. The Greek word used here is Heli and means “ascent to God”. It is wise to encourage your child’s relationship to God. All kinds of good attitudes and behaviors will sprout from that relationship. Worldly wisdom cannot boast about the same over all success.

3. Favor with God and man

Instruction from Proverbs:

Let not mercy and kindness [shutting out all hatred and selfishness] and truth [shutting out all deliberate hypocrisy or falsehood] forsake you; bind them about your neck, write them upon the tablet of your heart.

4 So shall you find favor, good understanding, and high esteem in the sight [or judgment] of God and man.

Lean on, trust in, and be confident in the Lord with all your heart and mind and do not rely on your own insight or understanding.

In all your ways know, recognize, and acknowledge Him, and He will direct and make straight and plain your paths.  Proverbs 3:3-6 Amplified Bible (AMP)

Mercy – 2617 hesed:- unfailing love, loyal love, devotion, kindness, often based on a prior relationship, especially a covenant relationship; disgrace

Truth 571 ‘emet:- faithfulness, reliability,trustworthiness; truth, what conforms to reality in contrast to what is false

Loyalty

Love

Reliability

Reality

These are essential traits on everyone’s journey to maturity. But what parents really want is to be proud of their children. The opposite of pride is disgrace in the context of this Proverbs 3 type of mercy. So here is what The Wise have to say about that:

To Moms:

15 The rod and reproof give wisdom,
But a child [
a]who gets his own way brings shame to his mother. 
Proverbs 29:15 New American Standard Bible (NASB)

The rod has been talked about as a spanking stick. In reality it is an identification piece similar to a mini totem. It is a physical reminder of WHO the family is and hence who the child is and must align themselves with.

Reproof is tôkēhâ:- rebuke, punishment, correction

Wordpress banner compassLong ago when my son was still a toddler, I was bothered by a repeating behavior. One day a friend asked me, “So… how long are you going to keep letting him do that?” Her words helped to alert me to the fact that as a mother, I could take corrective action. My child must align himself with me. Not the other way ’round; I did not have to align myself with him. And neither of us were under compulsion to align with the world in general. I had to insist that he align with me.(Grownup parents who have been abandoned as children benefit from such conversations.)

To Dads:

Whoever keeps the law [of God and man] is a wise son, but he who is a companion of gluttons and the carousing, self-indulgent, and extravagant shames his father. 
Proverbs 28:7 Amplified Bible (AMP)

God places you in your family but you can choose your friends. Children do not start out knowing who good friends are. They need to be taught and encouraged to seek the time and companionship of wise people. They need to learn the skills, perks, and perils of association. They need to be able to sort information, conversation, personality, motivation, and moderation; These come primarily from a daddy’s instruction.

Companions make such a difference in the raising of children. A companion of fools suffers harm  … and if you want to be wise spend time with the wise. Early childhood is the time to orchestrate good friendships and bolster the good habits you are training into your child. Friends can help do that. 

Children find their friends and mentors …their heroes… in many places. Not all of them are tangible, real people. Some are found in cartoons, movies, games and books. Invest in and promote good ones.

Guide your children when finding people or characters to emulate… if you spend time with the wise, you grow wise..What qualities gain favor with God and man?

Wisdom

Stature

Mercy

Truth

May they be a part of your family forever… in ever increasing measure. Amen.

Correcting Children part 1 , Correcting Children part 2

Reality Shared

I’m seeing the needs of so many hurting people and I want to share my story with them. Then a little voice says in the back of my mind, “Yeah, but you’re not finished with that yet. Are you?”

No. I’m not. But I am learning some phenomenal things along the way. Wordpress banner compass

Truth, for instance. What I had previously relegated to the realm of “boring” isn’t.

There are two major chunks of Scripture that talk about “truth”. In both sections the meaning is similar – That which conforms to reality. If you take that one phrase and insert it into the place formerly taken by “truth” it is mind blowing.

Let’s try it on this one starting with the NASB version and replacing truth with [That which conforms to reality.]:

Then that lawless one will be revealed whom the Lord will slay with the breath of His mouth and bring to an end by the appearance of His [ a]coming;   that is, the one whose [ b]coming is in accord with the activity of Satan, with all power and [ c]signs and false wonders,  10 and with [ d]all the deception of wickedness for those who perish, because they did not receive the love of  [That which conforms to reality] so as to be saved.  11 For this reason God [ e]will send upon them [ f]a deluding influence so that they will believe [ g]what is false, …
2 Thessalonians 2:8-11 

Lessons:

  • Truth is received.
  • Love of the truth – what conforms to reality… what is real… must be received before salvation. You cannot get to salvation without reality.
  • To know the truth is one thing. To love the truth is quite another.
  • Truth/ Reality is constantly warred against powerfully and successfully.
  • In some cases God himself fights against the knowledge and love of reality/truth. Although he desires all men everywhere to be saved and come to a knowledge of [That which conforms to reality], He makes it more difficult for some to do so with a thing called a deluding influence. It might be helpful to pray about those things or people that influence friends and family. Amen?

I wonder who in our culture today is trying to escape reality? 

This is serious business. It effects our approach to sharing Jesus with those around us.

Trans genders? TV Couch potatoes? Gay rights activists? Book enthusiasts? Gamers? Facebook Junkies? Virtual reality fans? Heroin addicts? Pastors? Lay Leaders? Prison Guards? Convicts? Alcoholics? Abusers and those souls they have violated and abused? The abandoned and those who abandoned them?

So how does one love the truth when circumstances may truthfully be worse than awful?

We can say, “Yes. My life is/was terrible”. We can also say, “He brought me out of the miry clay. He puts my feet on the Rock to stay. He puts a song in my heart today. A song of praise… Hallelujah.” 

We can say, “Yes. My humiliation is weighty and I am burdened. Christ shoulders the burden with me. With Him at my side it becomes lighter”. 

We can say, “Yes, I am weak and imperfect. My Creator’s power is made perfect in my weakness. Through him I am made strong”.

Look at Him. His splendor is unrivaled…even though I am not so wonderful.”

Friends, let us never escape reality only to share empty, strange stories with people who couldn’t care less. Rather let us embrace reality and through our love of the truth, truly love the hearts, minds and souls of the hurting around us. Amen.

Correcting Children: Perfecting the Process

Correcting Children (part 2) (part 1)

In terms of perceptions, discipline and correction are so similar the differences are barely discernible. Take a look at the definitions though.

Discipline [Strong’s #4148 – mûsār] is a Hebrew word meaning the wisdom and teaching involved in correcting errant behavior.

Correction [Strong’s #3198 – yākah] is a Hebrew word whose renderings open up a slightly different perspective: To reason together, to be vindicated, rebuke, discipline, punish, decide, argue, defend, judge, to be chastened, to lodge a complaint against.

Growing up I thought discipline was getting a spanking to correct my behavior… that is, to make me stop doing whatever “wrong” I got in trouble for. If I’m reading these definitions correctly, my child self had them flip-flopped. Correction carries the concept of punishment, among other things, and discipline is the wisdom and teaching that should go WITH the correction.

Let’s consider Jesus.

In the Luke 2 passage we find Mary and Joseph upset because what they expected about Jesus’ behavior didn’t quite work out. Instead of tagging along behind them he made his own choice to stay in the temple.

46 After three days they found Him [came upon Him] in the [m][court of the] temple, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions.

47 And all who heard Him were astonished and overwhelmed with bewildered wonder at His intelligence and understanding and His replies.

48 And when they [Joseph and Mary] saw Him, they were amazed; and His mother said to Him, Child, why have You treated us like this? Here Your father and I have been anxiously looking for You [distressed and tormented].

49 And He said to them, How is it that you had to look for Me? Did you not see and know that it is necessary [as a duty] for Me [n]to be in My Father’s house and [occupied] about My Father’s business?

50 But they did not comprehend what He was saying to them.

51 And He went down with them and came to Nazareth and was [habitually] obedient to them; and his mother kept and closely and persistently guarded all these things in her heart.

52 And Jesus increased in wisdom (in broad and full understanding) and in stature and years, and in favor with God and man.

What Jesus was doing wasn’t “bad”. It was actually quite phenomenal. Everyone else was impressed. Mary and Joseph were… “amazed…distressed and tormented”.

As a parent I can understand that. Curve balls while parenting make parents just a little crazy.

It is interesting that Jesus had to point out to them that what he was doing was a good and natural thing. Apparently, Joseph was OK with that but Mary was not.

Take a look at Mary.

Even after Jesus returned willingly with them and was habitually obedient to them, his mother had to force herself to remember not only the temple event but that Jesus was an obedient child…always obedient (i.e. kept and closely and persistently guarded all these things in her heart).

Mothers are like that. It takes a lot out of us to worry and it is something we have all been cursed with. Only the LORD can obliterate the curse of sorrow and worry mothers live with. Once He does, we are enabled to trust God with our children and living of life becomes abundantly more peaceful.

Deciding about what, where, when and how to train up your child is both a learning process and a partnership. First, you must learn who God made your child to be… and keep reminding yourself of it just like Mary. Next you must always keep the goal in mind. God wants them to be the perfect them not the perfect you.

Mary’s first words, ” Child, why have You treated us like this?” are aimed at correction but incredibly self-focused and self elevating. Those driving forces will never bring about positive change in the child.

Again, the aim of discipline is to strengthen the child. Working with them instead of against them is the better way. Trying to train them to be other than who God has made them (even if you think it is “good” will always be troublesome … to one or all of you.

Back to Jesus.

He flip-flopped Mary’s attempt at correction calmly reasoning, “How is it that you had to look for Me? Did you not see and know that it is necessary [as a duty] for Me [n]to be in My Father’s house and [occupied] about My Father’s business?”

As a parent and a grandparent I’m not sure I would have responded well to that. Jesus’ active response to Joseph and Mary is exceptionally simple. He obeyed. All parents appreciate that.

Jesus learned obedience through what he suffered [3958- paschō:- to experience, suffer, endure (almost always in New Testament with reference to unpleasant experiences) ]. Is that suffering generated by discipline or correction? …Both or neither?

During the days of Jesus’ life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with fervent cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission. Son though he was, he learned obedience from what he suffered and, once made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him. Hebrews 5:7-9 New International Version (NIV)

What I find Jesus always saying is that no miracle, indeed, no word, came out of him unless the One who sent him told him to say or do it.  Suffering brought that about. It is really weird to think of Jesus being taught or learning through correction BUT he did.

The results were reverent submission, perfection [5048 – teleioō:- to perfect, complete, finish (pass.) to reach a goal, be fulfilled, completed, made perfect] and beneficial leadership. Isn’t that what we all want for our children?

Why else would we say things like, “Do what I tell you, and complete the task regardless of how you feel about it.” And by the way, attitude does count. You might not say that bit but that is a silent conversation in both directions that either hangs heavily in the air or is a refreshing breeze.

Children do not start out perfected, only with gifts ready to be perfected. Are your children artsy and or creative? That’s a God- gift. Are they athletic? That’s a God- gift. Are they social? That’s a God-gift. Are they nature lovers? That too is a God-gift. Embrace their God-gifts and make efforts at strengthening those areas of their lives.  Children seldom reach their goals without encouragement and help along the way. Stack the odds in their favor.

None of us begin perfect, we grow into being complete within the context of community.

That may involve correction. It may involve unpleasant consequences or even punishments. Conversely, it may involve discipline which includes warnings as well as encouragement. It may even be fun for you and your child. (Correction fun?! Now there’s a new thought; build somebody up and see how much fun it can be.) The goal is to reach a glorious end….for everyone.

The wisdom taught that brings about proper realignment must be in agreement with reality. Children have been gifted by God with a “That’s total crap!” detector. They might articulate it differently but it’s there.

For example: All children everywhere know that the words – “It hurts me more than it hurts you.” – are false words. They don’t care about your emotional distress, nor should they. The child knows you are not feeling the pain you are inflicting; ergo you just lied. Worthless words are damaging.

Don’t talk worthlessly when sharing your wisdom and teachings. Use words during those events on purpose with specific goals in mind.

To quote Hebrews 12:11 again – colored for emphasis:

11 For the time being no discipline brings joy, but seems grievous and painful; but afterwards it yields a peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it [a harvest of fruit which consists in righteousness—in conformity to God’s will in purpose, thought, and action, resulting in right living and right standing with God]. Hebrews 12:11 Amplified Bible (AMP)

This double chain reaction catalyzed by discipline has a specific end game – right living and right standing. That is where our words become important; purposes, motivations, systems of thought and thinking skills, what our deeds say about us, etc. those then become the outline of sorts for those correction “conversations”…the discipline (wisdom and teaching) that counts as effective correction.

So what gets you into a position of favor (right standing) with God and man like Jesus was?  It is possible. Check in again for “Correcting Children Part 3”.

Until then, may the LORD, Creator of all that is, bring your relationships with family into perfect alignment with His ultimate best for you. Amen

Freedom and Slavery

Freedom is a curious thing.

What I find most curious is that in the Bible centered, Christ following way we are freed from one situation to another; from helpless and grudging service for one master to cheerfully serve a completely different master.

We are not set free to float in and enjoy freedom itself or to party one day of the year for a past victory. Rather we are set free in order that we may be free to choose slavery to righteousness, becoming a bond slave to Christ on a daily …even moment-by-moment …basis.

It’s a transfer thing. …with benefits.

18 and having been freed from sin, you became slaves of righteousness. Romans 6:18 (NASB)

Slavery to Christ is a good thing because He is trustworthy. Our lives are precious to Him.

28 Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy-laden and overburdened, and I will cause you to rest. [I will [a]ease and relieve and [b]refresh [c]your souls.]

29 Take My yoke upon you and learn of Me, for I am gentle (meek) and humble (lowly) in heart, and you will find rest ([d]relief and ease and refreshment and[e]recreation and blessed quiet) for your souls.

30 For My yoke is wholesome (useful, [f]good—not harsh, hard, sharp, or pressing, but comfortable, gracious, and pleasant), and My burden is light and easy to be borne. Matthew 11:28-30 (AMP)

So then we all have a choice to make.

16 Do you not know that if you continually surrender yourselves to anyone to do his will, you are the slaves of him whom you obey, whether that be to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience which leads to righteousness (right doing and right standing with God)? Romans 6:16 (AMP)

Wow. Anyone?

Yes. Choose carefully. Not all slavery is evil but one type of slavery is definitely lethal.

5 In [this] freedom Christ has made us free [and completely liberated us]; stand fast then, and do not be hampered and held ensnared and submit again to a yoke of slavery [which you have once put off]. Galatians 5:1 (AMP)

Christ is the one who set us free from bad slavery by purchasing our lives and taking our punishment on a Roman cross, then rising to live again victorious over that death. He is the master most worthy of our consideration.

Just a thought….

Correcting Children: the Role and the Goal

Correcting Children (part 1)

Proper roles within the family unit are important and your children will test these particular waters often to see if anything has changed. Mom has hers. Dad has his. Siblings have theirs.

Let’s be clear and teach them clearly that the “child” role in the family is that of “servant”. The master is/are the parent(s).

4 What I am saying is that as long as an heir is underage, he is no different from a slave, although he owns the whole estate.
Galatians 4:1 New International Version (NIV)

Much of parent child conflict with correction happens because there is a testing and/or misunderstanding about this truth. The child asks by his actions, “ What position of power do I occupy in this family unit?” If the parent is not confident in their superior position or unwilling to teach the child with due respect that the child holds a somewhat lower position, power play problems begin to plague Mom and Dad eventually rippling outward to the extended family. There is a point of no return here. Early training and constant reminding; the maintaining of proper family role boundaries is essential.

19 Servants cannot be corrected by mere words;
though they understand, they will not respond

Proverbs 29:19 New International Version (NIV)

(In the KJV, the word ‘respond’ is translated ‘answer’- 4617:- reply, answer, response, purpose. It combines the ideas of 6030 with 6031:- to answer, reply, respond; usually verbal, the response can involve action; to sing to or about; testify, bear witness, give an answer, lift up; combined with:- to be afflicted, to stoop down,to be concerned about, be worried about, to be afflicted humbled oppressed; to subdue, humble, mistreat; to deny oneself; to keep occupied, to keep busy, to humble oneself [to be humbled by force implies dishonor).

The purpose or goal to all disciplinary action taken by the master is a response; Usually compliance.  Generally, the master is aiming to establish good habits  within the servant so that the servant can be trusted to accomplish their given tasks independently. In parenting, we call this response goal ‘obedience’ — Humble, self initiated, occupation to complete the task given without talking back but in a pleasing manner. Whereas, the goal of correction is knowledge of the truth. Both go together.

For example: Ryker (18 mos.) has been told not to get on the fireplace hearth. However, he sees mother and Nana walk on it all the time. Why does HE get in trouble for putting his foot on it. Why can’t he sit there like they sometimes do? The answer is that he is wobbly. It is not safe especially when it’s hot. Grownups are more stable and have learned a proper respect for the fireplace. Ryker’s perception of the danger is questionable. Sometimes it’s hot, sometimes its not. Reality is that the danger potential changes. How is he supposed to sort it all out?

Ryker’s response is to repeatedly test this seemingly unfair boundary. Decisively, to the point that it is fast approaching the appearance of a rebellious attitude. The look at you first, toe to the line defiant I’m a person too type of response.

It’s not rebellion. Ryker is not a “bad” boy. He is testing his environment. Treat it like rebellion and you’ve lost.

Not only does this require correction ( that instruction that brings about alignment with reality) it may also require a disciplinary action as the Scripture teaches… mere words will not bring about a response… a course correction. Action plus instruction with a calm assertive tone is priceless in this situation.

What is the desired response? Compliance with the instructions in a trustworthy, timely and pleasant manner until such time as he is deemed ready (by his ‘masters’) to help build fires in in the wood stove or to be close to it without being harmed.

Ahhh discipline. 

18 Discipline your children, for in that there is hope;
do not be a willing party to their death.
Proverbs 19:18 New International Version (NIV)

Hope sure beats death doesn’t it? Sometimes death occurs from ignorance: solution – instruction, warning. Ignoring danger signs as an act of the will –choosing to do so — also has death potential; solution: Correction that beings about realignment. Sometimes death is more than a safety of life issue, it is evidenced by a child’s inability to function properly in one or several areas of living. More about this later… but praise God, God raises the dead. Amen?

Discipline rendered ‘chasten’ in the KJV 3256:- to correct, discipline, to accept correction, be warned, be disciplined; to punish, correct, discipline; to instruct, train, strengthen; to catch; to let oneself take warning.

At the forefront the goal of discipline is warning with a touch of instruction or training in order to strengthen. Essentially we are aiming to enable the child to be strong in the correct area.

11 For the time being no discipline brings joy, but seems grievous and painful; but afterwards it yields a peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it [a harvest of fruit which consists in righteousness—in conformity to God’s will in purpose, thought, and action, resulting in right living and right standing with God].

Hebrews 12:11 Amplified Bible (AMP)

Disciplining a child is much more than saying, “This action bothers me so I will train (spank, give time outs, withhold privileges, etc.) it right out of him.” Though discipline does involve pain, we want instead to focus on establishing good habits, learning to accept constructive correction, learning to process and take warning effectively, build self-initiated skills, (we want them to be independent, right?) and to strengthen what God has already given to the child.

Little masters (parents) need to keep in mind that The Master (God Himself) does not want them to be despised and their angels talk to God about each of your children. So what  the little masters say and do becomes very important.

While disciplining children benefits from Scriptural precedent, when disciplining a child it is not wise to use Scripture to effect a little “master’s” own agenda.

EX: One mother would constantly say, “I’m going to make you a meek and quiet spirit if it kills me!” Her go-to reference was the KJV version of Peter’s words:

But let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price.    1 Peter 3:4 King James Version (KJV)

What she didn’t understand was that this passage does not give license to tell someone to shut up when it bothers you. Her child was a talkative, happy little girl until being so brought the child grief. The mother was successful in beating down her daughter’s desire to talk and thus crippled her conversational skills- something that, now grown, child is still recovering from forty years later.

A different look at a more appropriately translated version is in the Amplified:

But let it be the inward adorning and beauty of the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible and unfading charm of a gentle and peaceful spirit, which [is not anxious or wrought up, but] is very precious in the sight of God.      1 Peter 3:4 Amplified Bible (AMP)

This adorning of the soul is SELF initiated. It is gentle and charming because of inner peace that only God can give. It is not wrong to talk. It is wrong to talk wrongly…. The Bible has a lot to say about talking and those instructions would have been strengthening not crippling.

Raising children is difficult. Disciplining children is not a pleasant task but take Paul’s encouragement:  For the time being no discipline brings joy, but seems grievous and painful; but afterwards it yields a peaceable fruit of righteousness.  Let’s not make it more difficult. Let’s purpose to gain the good result.  

17 Correct your son, and he will give you rest; yes, he will give delight to your heart.

Proverbs 29:17 Amplified Bible (AMP)

The word translated here as “correct” is that same word rendered “discipline” above, Strong’s word 3256 – yāsar. Not only does correction bring habits of righteousness to your child, correcting him or her brings rest and delight to you, the parent. That is well worth the discomfort of the process. 

We all come to the point where we realize we can’t do this on our own. We need help. Amen?

Father, God, LORD of creation, please help us to be better people ourselves and to lead our children correctly in the Name of Jesus who saves us from our sins. Emmanuel who is with us side by side, strengthen us to accomplish this task efficiently and excellently. Thank you. Amen.

Repent?

Repent.”

This is a curious word associated with witch hunts, the inquisition, and today’s courtrooms, Bible thumpers who mean well and Bible thumpers who have hidden evil agendas. God is real and those who worship Him must align themselves with reality. Never be shy about investigating the truth… physical and spiritual truth no matter what the history has been. John 4 

Let’s start at the beginning. John the Baptist and Jesus certainly saw repentance as foundational. Consider the similarity of their first message:

John’s message:  Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” Mt:3:2

Jesus’ message: Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” Mt. 4:17

Remarkably simple, isn’t it?

Jesus built on that message a bit later with these few elements:

 Now after John had been [a]taken into custody, Jesus came into Galilee,[b]preaching the gospel of God, 15 and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God [c]is at hand; repent and [d]believe in the gospel.”

Mark 1:14-15

As the disciples prepared the way for Jesus they too, preached that people should repent. Mark 6:11-13Hebrews calls repentance from acts that lead to death an elementary doctrine of faith in God. Hebrews 6:1-3 

Having been “saved” over 40 years ago, the grade school teachings of faith should be mastered by now but sadly they’re not. Partly because nobody told me;  Partly because I didn’t investigate it myself. Then the other third is that I am not in the habit of practicing repentance. Practice and mastery always go together.

First things first.

What does it mean to repent?

The word for repent used in the Bible is 5162 and 7725 in the Old Testament; 3340 and 3338 in the New Testament.  I’m using Strong’s concordance reference numbers. Read below for the definitions of the words themselves.

5162 – nāham – to relent, repent, change one’s mind; be grieved ; to comfort, console, express one’s sympathy, to avenge one’s self. (Well now, that realigns my thinking somewhat. … comforted?! … personal vengeance?!!)

7725 – šûb – to turn back, turn to, return; to restore; to be recovered; to be returned; from the base meaning of turning back comes the figurative extension of restoration of relationship as when one turns in repentance to God.

3340 – metanoeō – to repent, to change any or all of the elements composing one’s life: attitudes, thoughts and behaviors concerning the demands of God for right living

3338 -metamelomai- to regret, repent; to be repentant, changed of mind, remorseful

Is the message becoming clear? I know I still had questions. Maybe you have asked these too.

Repent from what? Doesn’t that have to do with being bad? …taking a wrong turn? What if I’m a good person, choosing to do what’s right as a daily priority? 

Repent to what? If I’m going to choose a path, I want to know where I’m going. Logical, common sense goes a long way. Reality goes further;  I want to know the realities of where I’m going. Describe the destination honestly so I can make informed choices, please. 

Why? What benefit do I get if I choose to turn away from life as I know it? Do I even have to? How important is repentance in the grand scheme of things anyway?

How? By what power or action can I repent? Again, being realistic is vastly superior to bad intel. Don’t tell me how to get to Detroit and give me directions to Houston.  Don’t advise flip flops then take me hiking on a mountain trail. … that would be crippling and make me grumpy.  Various acts of nāham would be incredibly tempting.

Repent. It’s a simple sentence. …a direct command. It is also a much larger topic than I’d imagined. So let’s take this piece of our faith’s foundation one question at a time. Let’s base what we believe on what God really says. Ready?

Who can repent?

From what?

To what?

Why?

How?

Repentance anyone?

Noah’s Days Remembered

It is easy to understand if you but cast a glance

Salvation of the chosen – Noah’s days in remembrance.

 

What a shame they carried on

The culture of the day, 

Denying truth their eyes could see

Until it was too late.

Focused on themselves, their own business made them blind.

Salvation could be theirs … but by default they declined

 

Noah stood apart from his neighbors about that very thing.

Noah saw things differently – the life that truth could bring.

He chose to walk with God each and every day,

To share the things he saw, what he learned along the way.

Noah was a righteous man, blameless among the people of his time

Born to comfort from God’s curse, he condemned them for their crimes. 

Man marries any girl he sees, is violent and proud.

Oppression rules the land and hangs its heavy cloud.

 

One day while they were talking, God shared His little plan

To cleanse the earth of creatures and wipe out every man.

The flood would come; God was angry at mankind.

Deep sorrow filled God’s heart and occupied his creative mind.

The LORD would save a remnant … in a box upon the sea

In holy fear Noah built it – board by board,

Active

faithfully.

 

God did not build the ark, but had Noah see it through.

God didn’t do the job at all, but told Noah what to do.

Together they brought this project to its successful end.

Preaching and protected, God gave this work to His good friend.

 

Noah was careful to obey God’s word to the uttermost detail.

It is because he did this, that his mission did not fail.

If those who travel on this globe called upon the LORD,

God would send salvation. They’d enjoy its sure reward

In ships you build and ships you see your success would be the same,

If you called upon the LORD and honored his most Holy Name. 

Father Not

Father not my will but thine be done.

Father not from earth, the heavenly ONE.

Father not of one but chosen few,

Father not your work but mine to do.

Father not seen by flesh and blood.

Father not daunted by fire nor flood.

Father not called my father in vain.

Father” not once but again and again.

How should we remember our father? How do you remember yours? Some give gifts on Father’s Day. Some light a candle. Some post on Face Book remembrances for the departed loved one. Some of us just cry for a bit. 

A Hebrew word “remember” (Strong’s word 2142 – zākar) means ‘to be born male’ among other renderings of being reminded or made mention of. Males in the families typically carry the family name into the next generation. 

We carry on the name of our father by being called by his surname. (Praise God that I do not have to become male to do that!!) Last names do have meanings and predominantly describe a clan’s work or behavior. Over the years, people would associate the children with the father’s reputation, health or illness, skills, abilities, preferences, tragedies or triumphs, wealth, poverty, strength or weakness, education, politics or religion.

Over several more years, individuality became king and carrying on the family name or restoring its honor was lost in a vast sea of ideologically strong willed but floundering children. One could almost say that association with the head of one’s childhood home in itself became the garbage of society hardly worth throwing into landfills.

Tragic.

It is curious that children have a way of promoting remembrance. The way mom did this and dad does that show up in our children without our permission and cause us to remember. Sometimes those are good things and sometimes not. Whichever the case, we are transported immediately and whatever went around has come around again …to roost.

It sounds like I am advocating the restoration of the father-child relationship. To be sure, that was a task given to Elijah and necessary  to prepare the way for the LORD. I am not doing that here. 

Jesus says to call no man “father”.  Why? You already have one. ONE and only one. My personal sorrow turned to joy because of this one important family realignment.

So I am advocating a return to honoring our heavenly Father properly not merely restoring broken earthly relationship. Earthly restoration may happen in the process. Honestly, for some, that never happens.

As a part of Yahweh’s family, He alone takes that Father role in your life. He provides. He teaches. He guides. He rewards. He corrects. He inflicts punishment. He comforts and restores. He fights for you. He challenges you to be excellent.

We do not have a BBQ in his honor one day out of the year. If He is relegated to even one day’s respect per week the relationship suffers. Rather, He expects 24/7 – 365 active, name bearing acknowledgment.

It remains a truth of community: the son does what the father does

To be sure, there are some things our Heavenly Father does that we cannot do — like judge the whole earth, send the Holy Spirit, save souls from damnation, or add time to our lives. However, if we do what he tells us to do with the strength and guidance He gives, that is enough. Our habitual obedience from one generation to the next brings Him the name-bearing honor He deserves.

Jesus’ Will Today

Jesus’ Will Today I pray

Perhaps Jesus will come today.

What will He find me doing?

Offering Him some prayers today.

What will He hear me saying?

Caring for those He sends my way

No matter who they are?

Asking Him

To help them

To obey His pull

Within their heart?

Instead…

Focused on the things I love

Success and doing each one well

I missed a chance to speak for others

On their behalf, faith and victory to propel.

In matters of life’s daily chores

Worn out and really sore

That in this day of His,

I forgot whose Name it was I bore.

Next time…

Will he find

That I’ve been kind

To those He calls His own?

Will I speak what is true and just?

Will I use His loving tone?

The Fragrance and the Flowers

An arrangement of joy in down town Walla Walla, Washington
An arrangement of joy in down town Walla Walla, Washington

When life seems overwhelming

And circumstances crowd you out;

When squished is all you’re feeling,

And longing for an out;

Just remember

God gathers ALL the pieces.

He holds them in His hand.

Though they’re not

Where you might place them,

Together they look grand.

He chose them very carefully

And set them all just so.

The fragrance and the flowers

Bring Him much joy you know.