Monday, January 31, 2011

Restore a Child in the Way You Want to be Restored

Last night one of our children made a mistake. They had lost a privilege -- for a long time -- then worked hard to regain it. Maintaining it for a week, they lost it again last night by indulging significantly and with deceit beyond our stated limits.

This otherwise seemingly minor loss was a big deal to the child, and it is a big deal in their spiritual growth, because the violation was sin. They 'missed the mark' (the definition of sin) by violating the guidelines of their parents.

Once this was found out by Judy and I, the challenge was to deal with the child in a redemptive manner, both last night and today as they awoke dejected. We have not always handled these things well. Anger has ruled, frustration has boiled over. In short, we have at times taken the offenses personally, when in fact it is as simple as 'the child wants what the child wants, and will sometimes do anything to get it.'

That sounds familiar for children and adults, doesn't it?

So how do we handle such things? A few sequential guidelines come to mind.
  • Give a consequence. That's obviously necessary so that the child sees a clear boundary.
  • Make the consequence related to the offense if at all possible.
  • This one is where some parents -- read: US many times -- make a mistake: Make the lost privilege sometime that can be retained in a reasonable length of time so as not to exasperate the child.
  • Encourage the child to repent before the Lord first.
  • Build up the child. You might say something like, "You made a mistake. I'm disappointed that happened and sorry for you. I've made mistakes many times, as you know. God is merciful and forgiving. If you have repented, and if you trust God to give you strength, you can behave according to the guidelines we've given you and get the privilege back. More importantly, that will please God, and us. I believe you can do it and look forward to seeing it happen!"
When we handle these matters well, Judy and I are pleasantly surprised that we often see a genuinely repentant attitude. This morning the child seemed very 'bummed out.' I asked if they were angry because of the consequence. "No, I'm mad because I was stupid enough to do that."

I followed with, "you sinned, you repented, you've learned from it. You  can earn back the privilege. Now move on and have a good day."

These simple situations make up the crux of our parenting. When we miss these opportunities to be Biblical redemptive, we must repent, re-focus and wait for the next opportunity.

It will come soon.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Beware the Babel You Hear at Home

After the flood, Noah's people repopulated the earth, and they all were of one language. They were one big family and they went about the earth looking for a place to settle. They decided on a plain in the land of Shinar (in what is now Iraq).

Despite all that the people had heard from their forefathers about the work of the Lord --  the direct instruction about building the ark;  the exhibit of His great power via the flood; the observation of His profoundly creative creation from living with all the animals -- these descendants of Noah hardened their hearts and became self-assured. Genesis 11: 4 records, "Come, let us build ourselves a city, and a tower whose top is in the heavens; let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be scattered abroad over the face of the whole earth."

And thus they were scattered, because to make a name for ourselves instead of for our Lord is to encounter His displeasure. That tower was the tower of Babel, and God said, "Indeed the people are one and they all lhave one langauge, and this is what they begin to do . . . come, let Us go down and there confuse their language, that they may not understand one another's speech." So the Lord scattered them abroad . . .

One big family. Searching to find its way. Self-centered instead of God centered. Confused and scattered. When I survey American Christian culture, that description looks painfully familiar.

Do the members of your family sometimes feel as if they just aren't communicating? At times, mine does. I know they are not literally speaking a different language, but doesn't it seem like it sometimes?

 Is everybody building their own little world, scattering themselves too thin and too far apart? We need to all check ourselves and ask, 'What towers are we building (figuratively)? Are we reaching toward heaven in man-made ability? Are we trying to lift ourselves high?

If so, He may let us live in confusion. The key is building what He wants to build, His way, to His glory. Let's set our families on that path, then speak clearly His Word, according to His Will, and live in His power!

PS -- If you want to help your family get on track or stay on track, go and plan to join us for a one-day training that could change your life.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

You Can Make a Difference Personally & Powerfully in 2011


What does this picture say? Not about the man in it -- that's me, in case you don't recognize me in sleep pants and in sleep -- but about the boy?

The child is Bogdan, 12, from Ukraine. When Judy snapped the photo, he had arrived at our home an hour earlier for his third visit in a cultural exchange. We hope to adopt him in May or June. (Please pray, as nothing is settled until it is settled, so to speak).  He came home, showered and changed into the Kobe Bryant jersey he had to have when Judy took him shopping hours earlier, before they even got to the house. (She had to right away; he arrived with the clothes on his back, and had been wearing them for three days.)

He wandered downstairs to find me resting on the sofa-recliner, sat down next to me (I woke briefly as he did) and slipped over onto my shoulder. Curtis-the-poodle couldn't resist making it a group snuggle and crawled over Bogdan.

This is a very personal picture, to me, and I run the risk of appearing self-promoting in this blog, but I judge both worth it to communicate again a vital truth that many of you can embrace in a constructive way: There are 163 million homeless children in the world. YOU may be who they need.

Like Bogdan, most of them are a sponge for nurture, love, appropriate affection, coaching, leadership, a Mom and Dad. Or even a Mom or Dad. (Single adults, one good parent is much better than no parent). Like Bogdan, who lives in an orphanage, most have never had someone to hug them, much less care for them the way a loving parent does.

This is not intended as a guilt trip, though it could be a conviction trip, if the Holy Spirit does takes you on it (but I don't think I'm Him!) I'm just a man -- an impatient one who is amazed God ever asked us to take homeless children -- stating these truths and hoping more people respond:
  • The Word of God says, in many places, to care for the orphan and the 'solitary.'
  • American, middle-class-and-higher Christians have vast, wasted resources (big houses, money, time). The use of those resources should be reconsidered to be purposeful rather than just pleasurable.
  • We are called to live on mission.
  • The need is great and obvious.
  • Two plus two frequently equals four.
No, this isn't for everyone. I don't suggest it is. I do suggest that all families and many single adults should at least ask the Lord if this is something they should consider. I hear people say, "I'm not called to that." I just hope they make sure by seeking Him diligently.

And does He have to 'call' you in some special way? Isaiah said, 'Here am I, send me,' apart from a personal call and prior to specific instruction, in simple observance of the need and willingness to meet it.

The picture tells the story. They need love. They'll embrace it. They need Christ. They'll receive Him (Bogdan did a year ago, on his first visit. He gladly reads the Word and related books now, and will pray aloud in Russian when we pray).

Will your family make a difference in 2011? There are many, many ways. This is just one. Let me know how I can help you to help them.