Welcome the Nazarene

Welcome the Nazarene
© Christine J. Webster August 22, 2015 All rights reserved

Chorus:

Do you love me?

Feed my Sheep.

Do you love me?

Feed my lambs.

Do you really care who I am?

Verse 1

Love each other as I have loved you.

Let love shine in everything you do.

Chorus:

Do you love me?

Feed my Sheep.

Do you love me?

Feed my lambs.

Do you really care who I am?

Verse 2

Do you care what happens to my NAME?

Can you share my love or bear my shame?

Chorus:

Do you love me?

Feed my Sheep.

Do you love me?

Feed my lambs.

Do you really care who I am?

Verse 3

Do you introduce me to your friends?

Is your own life where our friendship ends?

Bridge:

What I’ve done for others, I do in Jesus’ Name

In word and deed I tend real needs

And welcome the Nazarene.

Chorus:

Do you love me?

Feed my Sheep.

Do you love me?

Feed my lambs.

Do you really care… who… I say … I Am? 

45 Philip *found Nathanael and *said to him, “We have found Him of whom Moses in the Law and also the Prophets wrote—Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.” 46 Nathanael said to him, “Can any good thing come out of Nazareth?”Philip *said to him, “Come and see.”
John 1:45-46 New American Standard Bible (NASB)

Anniversary Waltz

I will never leave you

I will be your friend 

I will not deceive you

On me you can depend 

Let’s cry on God’s shoulder

When no one is around

See, we’ll both grow stronger 

Our movements will astound 

Hand-in-hand… shine Love’s light

So everyone can see

His joy, His peace, His love,

His perfect liberty.

Hope will be our holder

When others are around.

Now and when we’re older

His dance the victor’s sound.

13 If we are “out of our mind,” as some say, it is for God; if we are in our right mind, it is for you. 14 For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. 15 And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.


2 Corinthians 5:13-15 

New International Version (NIV)

 

Truth: the Good Choice

Truth is a lighthouse for me. I can align myself with who and what I know to be certain and know I have made a good choice.

Should truth, the way of reality, be insulted or shamed?

I need to be on the lookout for destructive forces who intend to cause harm to the way of truth. Lighthouses do need diligent maintenance after all. Their job is important.

In my recent studies on “truth” I came across a passage that helps me to maintain truth by recognizing false teachers and their ways. Once I train myself to look for these things, repairing the needed beacon will be easier. I have separated the lines of the text to make the information stand out clearly.

Text: The Rise of False Prophets (2 Peter 2:2-3)

2 But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will also be false teachers among you, who will 

  1. secretly (privily- 3919) introduce destructive heresies (139), even
  2.  denying the Master who bought them, bringing swift destruction upon themselves. 
  3. Many will follow their sensuality [pernicious ways] , and
  4. because of them the way of the truth[that which corresponds to reality] will be maligned
  5. and in their greed they will exploit you with false words; 
  6. their judgment from long ago is not idle,
  7. and their destruction is not asleep.

The first thing I learn is that false teachers, akin to false prophets, move into an area with an agenda (word 3819- to bring in secretly – with, alongside, moving toward a goal having markers of purpose, getting results, commanding others to pay attention and listen to them.).

The next thing I learn is that their agenda is destructively divisive (139 – hairesis:- sect, religious party, heresy from 138 – to choose).

We crave belonging but we shouldn’t align with everyone. Who is coming along side you? What do they want you to pay attention to? What do they want you to choose? Is it divisive? Destructive? Why?Wordpress banner compass

I always thought heresy was equivalent to “lie” or false words. In this passage heresies are equivalent to our modern idea of “denominations” like Anglican, Episcopal, Methodist, Catholic, Reformed, Evangelical, Pentecostal, Emergent Church, etc: religious people divided into groups or “parties” like politicians are divided into their parties – Democratic or Republican, Libertarian, etc. In Scripture we are told of two or three divisions within God’s people: Pharisee, Sadducee, the followers of The Way, a “Nazarene sect” who later were called Christians.

In contrast, “false words” or “lies” are the tools used to separate good Christian people, effectively polarizing them away from each other. Can my Apostolic brother fellowship with brothers and sisters of less strict independent assemblies? That is a good question. Anything that causes either group not to enjoy fellowship in Christ is suspect.

Are any of these denominational divisions destructive – violent, strife ridden, isolationist? Would any of their teachings cause you to choose between them and what Christ really taught? Would they have you set yourself against others who love Christ and follow His commands?

But avoid foolish controversies and genealogies and strife and disputes about the Law, for they are unprofitable and worthless. 10 Reject a factious man after a first and second warning, 11 knowing that such a man is perverted and is sinning, being self-condemned.
Titus 3:9-11 New American Standard Bible (NASB)

Don’t associate with divisive people. That’s good advice if you want peace in your house.

Peter is so concerned about the destruction of the body of Christ that he explains more about these infiltrators. Here are some things these falselings do:

  • Deny the Master who bought them. Christ has purchased us.  ; HE has redeemed us. He is Master over us and a powerful master at that.  What happens to those who refuse to admit the truth about or the existence of Jesus as master?  Swift destruction. Don’t do that.
  • Follow their sensuality. “Sensuality” is translated as [pernicious ways] in the King James version of the Bible. From this version we can go to Strong’s concordance to discover the meaning of the word. (684 – apōlia – destruction, ruin, waste; from 575 – away from; by means of; out of, against +3639 destruction, ruin –:from 622-violence, strife; 623-destroyer; 1842-to be completely cut off). Sensuality [taking pleasure in our five senses] and pernicious ways [setting out to violently destroy a person] are totally different things to my way of thinking. It remains that what we are really talking about in this passage is a wastefulness as regards relationship and a destruction that is horrible in nature…actions that kill relationships. I’m sure you can think up some. Here are a few I thought of:
      • Gossip separates close friends 
      • Cutting someone out on purpose or making them believe they are alone. Talk about waste! ….Amputees do not function the same way ever again. That’s something to consider, isn’t it? 
      • Selfish ambitions cause strife. It is easy to be selfish but God calls us out of that behavior. Ambitions… so often touted as virtues in our society, are slippery relational ground.
        • James 3:14-16 ; Philippians 2:3 Throwing people to the curb or under the bus to get what you want is not honoring to their Maker. Arranging your “friends” by religious party and religious politics is wasteful. I have seen selfish ambition destroy ministries within our church and so this particular item is most vile to me. It ruins already hurting people in their confidence as well as their sense of belonging. It ruins others by knitting themselves so tightly with one person that when God removes that person for whatever reason, they flounder within the group and grieve to a point of paralysis. They are ruined like a torn cloth. So sad. So unnecessary. Impartiality and gracious hospitality  are the better choices.
      • quarrels, arguments, disputes
      • stirring up dissensions
      • Have I forgotten any? If you have a warning about relationship killers, please add it in the comment section below.
  • Falselings cause the maligning of the truth (987 maligning – blasphēmeō – to blaspheme, insult, slander, curse). So why do people insult, slander, and curse that which corresponds to reality? I have heard much slander of the church, even of Christians, and to be honest, some of it is justified. But to slander the truth?! Isn’t that insanity at it’s finest? Unfortunately, slander, curses and insults are not confined to one group or another. People inside and outside the church engage this type of speech. Stop it.
      • inˈsān/adjective (a Google definition)
      1. in a state of mind that prevents normal perception, behavior, or social interaction; seriously mentally ill.

        “certifying patients as clinically insane”

  • They are greedy and that greed causes them to exploit people with their false words. Listen to the King James rendering: “And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you.” This is foul and it ruins people. Who do you know who LIKES to be thought of as merchandise…or treated as though that’s all they are…or their value is subject to market demand? This is a huge red flag announcing the presence of a falseling.
  • The verdict The last thing I learn here is both comforting and cause for concern. Their judgment is not idle – God’s got this, they will be punished for their crimes. Their destruction does not sleep – falselings are always plotting , always planning how they might undermine the way of truth. Once set in motion, their fakery invades like a  mold into the hidden nooks and crannies of our solid ground light source.

Where there is truth, there falsehood wants to go. Forces that pummel the lighthouse cannot be stopped but their damaging results can be repaired.

Friend, may you and I be diligent to speak truth, to live truth and to love truth. May counterfeit truth never be allowed access into our hearts and homes. If you have been hurt by false teachers, may you be brought about in Jesus Name to places of peace, healing and protection. May  the true light of Jesus shine upon you. Amen.

 

Truth vs. Fiction

Thinking truth through is valuable. Truth can be harsh and unwanted or a dearly held life-saver. Fiction can be enticingly sweet and thrilling yet deceptive and dangerous. Sorting these things is a learned skill.

There is a growing desire within me to protect my heart from fiction and its empty promises of victory and satisfaction…its deceptive and dangerous nature. My heart can’t take trusting in falsehoods anymore no matter how lovely they appear. If I’m going to stand, I’d like my feet to be on something solid. A ship with holes is not very good transportation. So again I go the Scriptures for an answer.  (The definitions of “truth” have been added and colored blue for emphasis and sorting purposes.)

3:13 But evil men and impostors will proceed from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived.  …

4:For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, and will turn away their ears from the truth [that which conforms to reality] and will turn aside to myths. 2 Timothy 3:13; 4:3-4  (NASB)

If you read this passage and think that Grimm’s tales are the stories we are talking about, think again. Jews had plenty of embellished fables. Unfortunately these ‘fables’ are not relegated solely to Europe, the Jews, the mythologies of Egypt and Greece we learned at school, nor any literature, speech or belief. Indeed every culture has a myth or two and the US has a tendency to borrow and combine its fiction entertainment. Myths are everywhere and thriving.

So what will people be turning to in the last days?

[3454] Mythos – Myth, story, fable – from 3888 paramytheomai – to comfort, encourage, console,3889 paramythia comfort, consolation,3890 paramythion- comfort, consolation, encouragement (from 3844 from with before, among, in the sight of, alongside,+ 3454 Fable)

Is God against comfort fiction?

Those appointed as church elders were evaluated as being “sound” in the faith if they turned their backs on comfort fiction rather than turning their backs on the truth.

14 [And may show their soundness by] ceasing to give attention to Jewish myths and fables or to rules [laid down] by [mere] men who reject and turn their backs on the Truth [that which conforms to reality]. Titus 1:14 Amplified Bible (AMP)

God is certainly not against comfort – Isaiah 61:2; 2 Corinthians 1:. He comforts those who mourn. He is the “God of all comfort”.

What God has an issue with is distorting the truth in order to make someone feel comforted.

There’s a lot of that stuff in church, at school, on the internet, and in face-to-face relationships. Ever lie to make someone feel better? …or just to be polite? …or save face?

Myth-busters for the win. The “feel-good-gospel” is not welcome in Christ honoring relationships. It can be tough but it is the better way.

Speaking the truth [that which conforms to reality] demonstrates love. Only by speaking the truth can one love sincerely (Romans 12:9). Speaking the truth brings joy to loving.

Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffereddoes not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth[that which conforms to reality]; 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 New American Standard Bible (NASB)

Relationships with real conversations whose members are prompted to speak truthfully without fear makes for happy-dance results. Love believes others are being truthful until they prove otherwise. Then Love is sad…does not rejoice. (If you are sad in a relationship, follow the truth in, around, and through it. Things will change with each new discovery and everyone’s actions based on those discoveries. share your truth discoveries with those around you and see what happens.)

Despite all the trouble telling the truth brought to Paul, living by the truth was the creed he stuck to. It was an uncomfortable life blessed by God and for God. Through it all Paul lived. 

We have renounced disgraceful ways (secret thoughts, feelings, desires and underhandedness, the methods and arts that men hide through shame); we refuse to deal craftily (to practice trickery and cunning) or to adulterate or handle dishonestly the Word of God, but we state the truth [that which conforms to reality] openly (clearly and candidly). And so we commend ourselves in the sight and presence of God to every man’s conscience. 2 Corinthians 4:2 Amplified Bible (AMP)

If words of comfort do not align with reality, there is no satisfying comfort in them. Attention getting flags should be waving wildly. Turn the wheel. Hoist the “Papa”. Set out to open waters. Your mind and heart will find comfort elsewhere. 

21 if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught in Him, just as truth [that which conforms to reality] is in Jesus, 22 that, in reference to your former manner of life, you lay aside the old[a]self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit, 23 and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind, 24 and put on the new [b]self, which [c]in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth [that which conforms to reality].

25 Therefore, laying aside falsehood, speak truth [that which conforms to reality]each one of you with his neighbor, for we are members of one another. Ephesians 4:21-25 New American Standard Bible (NASB)

Wordpress banner compassI know now that comfort is a love indicator. What causes me to feel comfortable should be evaluated. If it does not match reality, I’m altering course. Or at least, I should be.

Father, God, make us bold and strengthen us to believe that truth is really good, to tell the truth, to align with reality. Please help us to seek out real sources of comfort and not to be taken in by false comfort. Comfort us through our trials and enable us to love sincerely. Amen

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?