What you do in your house is worth as much as if you did it up in heaven for our Lord God. We should accustom ourselves to think of our position and work as sacred and well-pleasing to God, not on account of the position and work, but on account of the word and faith from which the obedience and the work flow. ~ Martin Luther

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Raising Abel, part 8

A word about Forgiveness (Okay, lots of words) :

When someone sins, the Bible says we need to reconcile. When one is wronged, they deserve an apology. I don’t mean a hasty, mumbled “sorry” but one coming from a broken and contrite spirit, one that MEANS something. An apology in our house is looking the person in the eyes and saying “I am sorry that I_______________”. It is a much more painful experience to actually admit you are wrong and MEAN it than to shrug and mutter something under your breath. The person wronged then needs to affirm forgiveness. In so doing, the wronged person is learning not to harbor bitterness and the one who wronged is no longer harboring guilt. It is done, it is over and relationships are reconciled.

This exchange must take place from child to child and child to adult. We need to forgive our children when they make mistakes. But then there is the *little* matter of adult to child. Is there ever a time that adults need to apologize to CHILDREN?

So often, we think we as parents, are somehow exempt from admitting our sin to our children and asking them for forgiveness; that we shouldn’t have to degrade ourselves in that way or that we might lose their respect if we do so. Neither Matt or I can recall a single time our parents ever apologized to us. This is not because they were sin-less, but because as parents, this is an easy thing to overlook.

I would say, as emphatically as I can muster, that it is INCREDIBLY important to ask forgiveness of our children when we fall short. We are not perfect. None of us are perfectly righteous, no not one. Asking forgiveness from your children, while painful, can be an incredibly liberating act~for both parent and child. More importantly, parents model humility, forgiveness and repentance by seeking it themselves. In doing so, we admit that we are under God’s authority as well, and held accountable by Him, which can be heartening to a child. The honesty which we portray in admitting our shortcomings stands only to point the way TOWARD what is good. It serves to strengthen our office, not degrade it. Be assured we will not be losing our childrens’ respect by doing so, but rather, their respect for us will be greatly multiplied.

If you are struggling with bad relationships between yourself and your children, if your children are rebelling against your authority and Gods, the very first step in reconciliation ought to be this: Ask for forgiveness.

Repent unto God for failing at His task. Ask God for wisdom and a renewed dedication to godly child-training. Then, apologize to the wronged parties~ the victims of your sin, your children. Apologize for dropping the ball and not disciplining them as you ought to have. Tell them that now you will be doing better and that you are going to try very hard to handle these indiscretions in a godly way. Tell them what you expect of them and what they ought to expect for disobedience. And then-consistently do so.

Your children will be grateful, too, for the explanation of your sudden change of heart. This will help them to understand where you are coming from, which will deter them from becoming confused by you disciplining them for one thing now but having always let it slide before. They will not think you are unfair, hypocritical, or confusing--all things they might feel if when all of a sudden, one morning you woke up and approached discipline in a different way.



WHY do we discipline our children? Why bother with all this hard W.O.R.K?!?

It is the love that we have for our children that true discipline comes out of.

My son, despise not the chastening of the Lord; neither be weary of His correction:For whom the Lord loveth he correcteth; even as a father, the son in whom he delighteth.
Proverbs 3:11,12

He that spareth his rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes. Proverbs 13:24

It must be said, that if we discipline well, we must LOVE well.

We are to bring up our children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. (Ephesians 6:4)

Nurture and admonition. Not just admonition. Not just reproof.

We do not worship a Sledgehammer, nor should we model one. We worship a loving and tender Father, who does not give us what we deserve but heaps upon us mercies upon mercies.

The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love. He will not always accuse, nor will he harbor his anger forever; he does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; (Psalm 103:8-11)

So, too, it must be with us.

Our discipline ought to be nurturing. With it, there ought to be tenderness, admiration and LOVE.

James Dobson said,

"I am recommending a simple principle: When you are defiantly challenged, win decisively. When the child asks, "Who's in charge?" tell him. When he mutters, "Who loves me?" take him in your arms and surround him with affection. Treat him with respect and dignity, and expect the same in return. Then begin to enjoy the sweet benefits of competent parenthood."


Is any one of you in trouble? He should pray. Is anyone happy? Let him sing songs of praise. Is any one of you sick? He should call the elders of the church to pray over him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise him up. If he has sinned, he will be forgiven. Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective. James 5:13-16

As parents, we must constantly be in prayer for our children. I heard it once said that we ought to “bathe one another in prayer.” I love that.

We ought to pray fervently on behalf of our greatest loves, and without ceasing. (1 Thessalonians 5:17) We ought to do so in the quiet of our hearts but also loudly, for them to hear. Praying for them with them listening, will show your children in no more powerful a way, that you love them. They will be invited into your heart and into your soul and will revel in the deepness of your love for them and your trust in God.

Trust in the Lord with all thine heart and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge Him and he shall direct thy paths. Proverbs 3:5,6

Pray also for yourself, not just in the quiet of your heart but also within earshot of them. Teach them through prayer that you are weak, but made strong through God. Teach them that you fall short, but are forgiven. Teach them to seek first the kingdom of God.

The ideal time to get much of the brunt-work of child-disciplining done is when your children are young. In doing so, you are establishing a foundation for life. But if you have failed, for whatever reason, and you are left with older children who are struggling, the task is not impossible.

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. Phillipians 4:6

Ask God to help you. Praise God for his mercy. Ask your children for forgiveness and then insist upon their respect and obedience. Be content with small gains. Praise them at every possible turn, especially in regard to some of their own weaknesses. If they struggle with lying, PRAISE them for being truthful. If they struggle with defiance, CELEBRATE with them their happy obedience. Build them up as often as you can. God will bless your efforts and your childrens’ respect for you will grow.


If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all men without finding fault, and it will be given to him. (James 1:5)

~ ~ ~

Phew!!! This has been my most exhausting soapbox yet, and that is NO understatement.

After finally tackling such a huge endeavor as this, I realize why authors take so long to write books. Inevitably, the moment I hit the “publish” button on each post, I immediately thought of something I had forgotten to mention or didn’t express clearly enough.

If anyone is still checking this blog (highly unlikely), and if anyone has followed this series through to the end (equally unlikely) I feel I must share how inadequate this series is. I have been ineloquent, I have missed crucial points, and I have likely overstated the obvious. I have tried to answer all the questions, both general principles and "what we do in specific incidences", that have been asked of me privately, but I may have overlooked something somewhere. (If you have a question that wasn't addressed in one of the (MANY) parts of this series, leave them in this comment box and, if necessary, I will follow up with a question and answer post.)

These are the written words of a sinful woman, a fallen wife and an imperfect mother. I have hopped on this soapbox, not as a woman who has perfectly mastered the art of mothering but as a woman who, throughout this whole process has been often brought to my knees, seeing clearly my own failings and need for reform.

I must reiterate that any shortcomings you see in this series of posts has everything to do with my own fallibility and nothing to do with the infallible God. You may disagree with what I have to say. I may be entirely wrong. But I am not asking you to believe me. I am asking you to seek out knowledge for yourself in this ever-important issue of Christian child-rearing.

Go to scripture to see what it is we are to mirror. The subject of discipline is one subject that Jesus did not put into parables but expressed rather plainly. There are 41 references to “training up” your sons (children) in Proverbs alone!! God’s word is timeless and inerrant, even in this modern world. We need only to approach it with a palate void of preconceived notions.

So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.
For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.

Luke 11:9,10


Some other books that I heartily recommend on the subject; books that played an integral part in shaping our thoughts on discipline are and which I am constantly re-reading are:

Christian Living in the Home by Jay E. Adams
Withhold Not Correction by Bruce A. Ray
Building Her House by Nancy Wilson (not just about discipline.)
Proverbs for Parenting by Barbara Decker

For the Childrens' Sake by Susan Schaeffer Macauley (I have *JUST* started reading this book but by chapter three, I can already say it is a worthwhile read!)

Also, this reputable lady has some excellent recommendations that I have not yet read but look forward to reading in the near future.

Perhaps you will be as blessed by her list as I.

And of course, feel free to leave any resources YOU have found helpful in the comments section of this post.

There. Done. No more soapboxing for a good, LOooooooooong while. ;-)


Psalms w guitar said...

Rebecca, Praise God for your hard work on a subject that is not an easy one and all your praying and leaning on the Lord for his wisdom in this. May the Lord continue to richly Bless you and your family!


Bonnie said...

Rebecca, you underestimate yourself.
I can take all of this wisdom far easier because I *know* you. You're not some name on a book I picked up, but a real person, whom I have much in common with and I can relate to, and that goes a long way (for me), when it comes to touchy subjects. you don't have an intimidating degree that claims you're an expert on some subject. You're a mom who loves her children, and wants to see them grow and thrive in your family, but most importantly, in the Lord.
You have neatly covered this topic from start to finish with BIblical foundations, a humble heart, and you own experiences.
I plan on printing this whole series up, as it has been on my mind *constantly* this week, and I want to be able to reference it quickly.
Very well said.

Catie said...

This series has been wonderful! :) And you ARE very well spoken, despite what you may think! :) Thanks so much for your thoughts on the subject!!

Speaking from experience here I can say that the apology thing is HUGE!!!! It's SO important for us, as parents to apologize to our children!! How else will THEY learn it? :)


Jaya P said...

lovely series. bless you. cant write more because of babe in arms.

Unknown said...

Great series! I DID print this up already (ditto Bonnie) and dh and I are planning on going through it together with prayer. There are some things we both admit we need MAJOR help on!

Thanks again!!!


Michelle H said...

Hi Rebecca

I have been reading your blog for some time now (say 2 years?!) and this is the first time I dare to post a comment. It feels funny because I don't know you and you don't know me, however we share a common bond, an important one and that is our christian values and beliefs. Despite living in different countries, we both belong to the same Family, where Christ is our Head. For that reason I feel brave enough to leave a comment. I really enjoy your creativity in your writing and photos. I've also really enjoyed this soapbox on godly discipline. From the first one, I started copying and pasting it into Microsoft Word so I would have it for reference. I am so thankful that you tackle this with the Bible open. That is the key. Hebrews 12 is so full of insight to discipline as well. I just want to add two more books for you, as I have found them to be very useful; maybe you've heard/read them already but they are great books! "Shepherding a Child's Heart" by Tedd Tripp and "Instructing a Child's Heart" by Tedd & Margy Tripp. You and these authors have very similar ways in raising children.
Anyway, thanks again for your boldness and humbleness. May God continue to bless you and Matt in your task of parenting His treasures.

From your sister in Christ up in Canada,
Michelle H

(now that I've dared to comment once, maybe I'll dare to more often :o)