Grounded in Christ, Your Children – Part 2

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Last month we were investigating a statement made by the pastor of a church when a family had decided to take their children out of the youth group because of negative influences in their lives from that youth group. The pastor told the parents concerning the rock music being played during the youth group, “If your children are firmly grounded in Christ it will not affect them.” Here is a link to Part 1 of this series.

A youth who is “firmly grounded in Christ” may be aware of things he believes to be wrong at youth group. However, there are also many fun things that will pull his heart to wanting to continue attending. “But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof” (Romans 13:14). Those lusts of the flesh may have a stronger pull on his heart than his grounding in Christ. He may also be concerned that if he discusses problems with the youth group with his dad and mom, he might be asked to stop going to the youth group.

While on the subject of the youth group leader there is something very important to consider although not directly related to the e-mail. There is a problem that surfaces when we place our children under someone else’s leadership to spiritually guide them. “No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon” (Matthew 6:24). Jesus is telling us that authority and leadership needs to be clearly defined. There can be only one leader. Aren’t you glad there is only one pilot on airplanes? The pilot is the one in command, and he is responsible for whatever happens with that aircraft. This is similar to Dad being responsible to the Lord for his decisions.

Just imagine for a moment that the cabin crew is being given conflicting directions by the pilot and copilot. The crew would become resentful and possibly even have feelings against one of the two giving orders. Jesus is saying that if our children are being given different direction by their dad versus a youth group leader, they will hate the one and love the other. In fact, considering that youth groups are often fun and games, and Dad may at times be exhorting or even rebuking the child, it should not be too difficult to tell who the child will give their heart to.

I find that most parents are highly sensitive to peer pressure themselves. Why would they expect their children to stay strong and not be influenced by the youth with whom they are associating? I remember a conversation with one dad where we were discussing the merits of ditching the “beast” (TV). He was in full agreement with the negatives of the “beast” when all of a sudden it was as if a red light came on in his mind, and he exclaimed, “But what will others think of us if we don’t have a TV?” Here was an example of a group of people with whom this man associated whose influence was so strong in his life that he was mentally passing a decision by them and realizing that they would not approve of it. Even though it was just going on in his mind, it was causing him second thoughts about doing something that he had acknowledged would be good for his family. If parents can’t resist peer pressure, why do we think our children will be stronger than we are? “Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said, We ought to obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29).

I’m convinced that most parents forget the pressure and temptations they experienced during their teen and young adult years. The power of the flesh is so strong! Crimes have been committed and countless marriages destroyed because men and women couldn’t contain themselves. Adults are supposed to be mature and have self-control over the desires of the flesh, yet one doesn’t need to go far for examples of failure. I’m thinking of a very godly pastor who was loved and respected by those who knew him. His church was devastated and friends greatly saddened by news of his moral failure. Here was a mature man who understood Scripture and preached against sin, yet he had embraced sin for a season. With so many examples similar to this, why is it that parents don’t understand the incredible temptations their children will encounter in youth groups? Why would we think our children will be strong enough to resist?

I also wonder if parents living within the bonds of marriage forget what it is like to live apart. They forget what it is like to be a youth entering puberty with hormones raging and the resulting temptations and desires. Solomon knew the power of attraction and love and warned about stirring it up too early. “I charge you, O ye daughters of Jerusalem, by the roes, and by the hinds of the field, that ye stir not up, nor awake my love, till he please” (Song of Solomon 3:5). Putting youth in youth groups or sitting them in front of the TV is going to stir “love.” Wise parents will encourage their children to avoid relationships until they are emotionally, spiritually, and financially ready for marriage. Then, they look to God to show who He has to be their spouse. Why would we think our children will be strong?

I believe one dad’s recent comments sums up the needed commitment for each of us. “I have served five combat tours to Iraq. I was ready to die for my country, but I will give my life to get my children’s hearts back. Jesus already owns my soul.” When I read the passion in that dad’s statements, it was like driving a hot poker through my heart. Amen and amen. This man lost his children’s hearts while away serving our country, but he was determined to get them back. Most dads are home every night. What excuse will God accept for not having our children’s hearts and raising them in the nurture and admonition of the Lord?

From Lazy to Self-Disciplined – Part 6

The purpose of this series of articles has been to encourage moms who want to become more self-disciplined in their lives. We began with this e-mail:

I was wondering if you had any advice (or possibly you could address this in a Mom’s Corner) on how someone can improve her work ethic. I am terribly embarrassed to admit this, but I really feel like at times I can be lazy. I know there are things that need to be done, but I just don’t feel like doing them! I realize that this is a sinful attitude, and I want to change. Do other moms struggle with this? Would you have any tips on how I can improve or Bible verses that could encourage me in this area? Self-discipline is a character quality I would very much like to see flourish in my life, and I would like to pass it on to my children!

As we wrap up our series, we are continuing to look at ways other moms move themselves from a lazy lifestyle to the disciplined heart they greatly desire. Amber shares this with us:

I really love your Mom’s Corners. They seem to help me out, and they are food for thought. I wanted to let you know lazy to self-disciplined really hit home to me for it seemed to be something that I struggle with daily.

Second I remind myself that it does not ALL have to be done TODAY! As women, we seem to think of a million things that must be done. However, the reality is just one thing at a time. There are some days where I can only do it five minutes at a time. I have five darling children, the oldest is six and the youngest is a month old. There are days when hubby comes home and asks what I did all day. I tell him two things—I nursed the baby and made dinner with one hand. Sometimes that is all I can do, but as long as I have a relationship with my Heavenly Father and am actively pursuing it, I know He will bless me with the strength and knowledge that I need.

This verse encourages me, If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed (James 1:5-6).” Amber

Amber directs us to the ultimate source of our self-discipline—the Lord Jesus. Making self-discipline a focus by praying and studying the Word, she is allowing the Lord to the transform her life, give her the energy she needs, and help her make choices away from laziness.

When Amber tells her husband all she did was to nurse the baby and make dinner with one hand, we know she did much more than that. She spent time with the Lord in the Word early in the morning, got the children up and dressed, fed them breakfast, cleaned up the kitchen, brushed the little ones’ teeth, made beds, picked up toys, directed the children in their play, washed laundry, fed the children lunch, put them down for their naps, homeschooled her five and six-year-old, and who knows what other tasks she accomplished in addition to nursing the baby and making dinner. She just doesn’t feel like she has anything to show for her time, but her investment in her family has been invaluable and most necessary. She has not been lazy but self-disciplined.

The next self-discipline idea gives us a hint at how we can prepare our environment to either help or hinder laziness.

Hi Teri,
Just wanted to say that one way I fight my being lazy is to put on a apron in the morning; it just gives me the feeling that I’m dressed for work and sets me apart as the homemaker, and keeps my skirts from getting too dirty from the daily work of cooking, cleaning, and caring for young children.

Not only will putting on an apron give one an attitude that is conducive to working, but also getting dressed in the morning and making the bed upon rising can do the same. An unmade bed and walking through the house in a robe seems to facilitate the lazy choices more than the self-disciplined ones.

Here is a suggestion you might be interested in from Kathy.

You asked for tips on being more self-disciplined. One thing I do is to picture a room or piece of furniture as it would look if it were clean. This is motivating to me. When I picture it, I feel so good inside!  Having a taste of that feeling keeps me going to finish cleaning and straightening it. Kathy

This might be something you would want to try. When you feel like you want to avoid doing a task in front of you, picture in your mind what it will be like to have it completed, and then let that motivate you to tackle it.

This is the final suggestion I received to pass on to you.

This hits my heart directly. I was not taught to be a hard worker and now having a family of my own, I have to make decisions on whether I will allow my upbringing to destroy my family and my children’s as they grow or if I will work to better it now for the future. I get bogged down and feel overwhelmed, like I’m drowning with all that needs to be done. However, I’ve helped to create that feeling. I find that I’m really good at wasting time self-indulging, rather than working on what needs to get done thus making the tasks harder because the mess grows.

So for me, I’ve had to do much what you do with writing your column. I set a timer to do a task ten minutes (give or take a few) at a time. If the dishes need to be done, that is something I can accomplish in that amount of time and what a rewarding feeling it is. If it’s straightening up the living room, by the time ten minutes go by, I’m amazed with what I got done and how quickly ten minutes passed! Sometimes (and only sometimes since I AM a work in progress) I continue on after the timer goes off.

Reading is one of my favorite pastimes, so periodically if I would really rather read than work, I tell myself I can sit and read for a certain number of minutes IF I switch the laundry, fold and put it away, as a kind of reward. Sometimes I feel like I’m being silly, but not being raised to just do it, it takes these kinds of ‘silly’ rewards.

Thank you for addressing this issue of laziness to self-discipline.

As we wrap up our discussion of laziness and self-discipline, I want to direct you to the Word. Remember the Scripture verses we began this series with that showed how the Lord desires us to be self-disciplined.

Cry out to the Lord to help you if this is an area in which you are struggling. Consider the example you will be to your children when you model self-discipline to them. Don’t we want to help them overcome obstacles that they will likely face in their futures?

Being self-disciplined will enable us to be good stewards of the time God has placed into our hands. I encourage you to use a schedule so that you can be productive with your time and manage it well. If you would like some help with a schedule, we would suggest Managers of Their Homes. Here’s what Jamie wrote:

Thank you so much for this book! It has been extremely helpful. Not only do I have three children of my own, but I also watch two children. So I have five children four and under. My oldest has begun kindergarten this year. Using the schedule has made the days run smoothly. Everything is getting done (even the laundry!). I am not a schedule person. But it doesn’t seem like a schedule as much when I am the one planning the day!

As additional motivation, look toward the rewards you and your family will experience when you are accomplishing the tasks that will be part of your self-disciplined choices. January is a time of new beginnings. Will you make the move from lazy to self-disciplined?