Michelangelo--God at creation
Starting with the right foundations
If there was one legacy I wish I could leave to other women, it would be to help them think more Biblically. When a woman knows scripture--the whole counsel of scripture, not just verses here and there taken out of context. But gaining a Biblical understanding from Genesis to Revelation, then she has more confidence and ease in her walk with God. (It is also why I hope to give a good bit of my life in the next years to our leadership intensives where women will learn a little of Biblical instruction, foundations, prayer, Bible study--to follow God in our lives as we serve and love Him. More on that later this month.)
God makes it clear throughout scripture that his priority for us is to know Him and love Him with our whole heart and mind.
"Let not a wise man boast of his wisdom, let not a rich man boast of his riches, let not a mighty man boast of his might, but let him who boasts, boast of this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the God who exercises lovingkindness and righteousness on the earth for I delight in these things." Jeremiah 9: 23-24
And, "Unless the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain who build it." Psalm 127
And so the starting point for any arena in our lives must be God--our worship of Him and knowledge of Him and obedience--a heart that wants to please God.
So, let me begin by praying for all who read this today. "Lord, I pray that each one who reads these blog articles will be led by you. I pray you will provide them with insight, skill, love, wisdom and the understanding of what it means to be filled with your Spirit and to walk by faith in this journey of motherhood. And bless them with strength, joy and a sense of affirmation in their great calling as parents. I come to you in the precious name of Jesus. Amen"
I do not pretend to have all of the answers to all of the questions that people may have. I feel even reticent to become any kind of an authority, and pray only that I may shed a little insight on what I have learned through the years, by walking this journey with God. I also do not want to place any unnecessary burden upon moms who are doing their best, seeking to find wisdom and can feel like failures, as though "It is too late. I have already messed up my children." "I am scarred by the decisions I have made." "I can't even imagine how God can redeem my life right now, or my circumstances."
God is the God of second chances and His whole nature is to love and redeem. So, know that He is in your home, He loves those who seek Him and obey Him and He is a God of compassion and will work in and through your life.
(Even as a Father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear Him. Psalm 103: 13)
And, of course, I am not anxious to attract lots of comments from women who want to tell me why I am wrong or why I do not understand scripture.
It all starts with your view of God
Ultimately, so much of what I lived and what I know to be true, I learned by reading scripture, pondering it, studying it, seeking to really know God and walking with Him. Pondering Christ, who is the perfect reflection of God, according to Hebrews 1.
Women will go the way of their church culture, media culture, family culture, peer culture--they will follow whoever is leading, unless they have developed their own convictions. We will listen to other voices if we have not learned to discern the voice of God.
The problem with this kind of approach is that it leads to whims, to whatever way the cultural wind is blowing.
And so, when it comes to child training, if people have not had the opportunity to think Biblically or to study the word of God, and about what God is like, they will look to others for "truth." Most people desire specifics--just give me the rule, the formula, the law, as we want this process to be easy and predictable.
Please know that I am not trying to offend anyone. I want to be of encouragement and help. Yet, I have noticed, too, that sometimes, those who are most emphatic and confident about formulas and rules and laws about child training are those who have young children, who have not lived a whole life-time of raising children to maturity. It was interesting to me how many comments I had from older women (under my article first time obedience, really) who said that they wish they had known the ways of grace based parenting because of the negative effects it had on their children and how much it incurred anger and rebellion in their children.
Then often times, good hearted parents, will just take the opinion of a writer or speaker or authority, who says some emphatic things about a subject and uses a few proof texts to add support. What this speaker says, becomes law and rules and a formula to follow. Period.
And then, sweet, devoted women live by the rules and feel guilty if they do not follow the rules to a t, as though they are failing their children if they do not conform to the sound bites and laws of the speaker they are following--the speaker's voice is in their head.
However, in the Christian life, even in parenting, God gave us a brain to think, a conscience to nudge our hearts, the Holy Spirit who lives inside of us to guide us. All He asks is that we live by faith in him dependence on Him. And yes, I think through this process, God has given a mom intuition and a mom's instinct for what is best for her child. God always loves to lead us and work through us by faith in relationship to Him and what He is impressing us to do, within the beautiful design of our femininity and womanhood. That is why it is crucial that we are spending time in His presence and seeking to build a foundation of conviction on scripture and knowledge of God.
And so begins a series of articles addressing some of the issues about child discipline that many have asked me to write.
Your parenting philosophy all begins with your view of God.
I know I will frustrate many of you by taking so long to explain the foundations of our philosophy, as you would rather me tell you the specifics of how I did it and why, by God's grace, I was able to raise 4 children who are obedient and respectful to us and who love God and are seeking to serve Him in and through their lives. But, my own parenting of my four very different children was a process of seeking wisdom, studying scripture, listening to God, following other wise people. It was a process of relationship and love with Him, not following the formulas that it seemed most of my peers were following. We went against the grain of the culture we were surrounded by, and yet found the wonderful presence of God in our home as we sought Him.
But, I feel that one of the most foundational starting points, is that all of us see our children through a grid. A grid is the lens through wich you see life. And if we can define that grid, then it will determine how we behave in relationship to our children.
Do you see your children through a grid of them being a blessing from God? (psalm 127)
Do you see the fruit of the womb as a reward? (psalm 127)
How does one treat blessings and gifts?
We read in Mark 10: 16 that Jesus took the little children into His arms and blessed them. Do you bless your children and see that as a part of being Jesus to them? He said of little children, "of such is the kingdom of God."
Jesus also said, "Woe to the one who causes the leasts of these little ones to stumble." What would cause a little one to stumble?
So today, I leave you with this question?
How do you see your children? What informs your mind when you look upon their sweet faces? Do you see them through the eyes of Jesus? Do you focus on them as someone to police or correct--or someone to love and serve, understand, protect, love and instruct?
As in all great work, it requires so very much time, effort, work, fortitude, faith and patience. But raising Godly children is of the most important work in eternity.