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Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Godly Discipline.

Godly Discipline.

  After I started writing this blog, and while I researching, I flip flopped on this issue in some huge ways. I had the entire thing written, but after doing some reading up, I believe I have completely changed my heart on this issue.

  Let me start off asking you a question.  Do you want your children to obey you out of love, or out of fear?  Do you want them to do right because they are wise, or just because they fear punishment?   Choose one, and it will greatly impact how you discipline your child.

   Discipline absolutely must be present in the life of a child, and it must be present in the life of believer.  The Bible says in Hebrews 12:6, Deuteronomy 8:5,  Psalm 94:12, Psalm 3:11, Proverbs 3:12, and Revelation 3:19 that God does discipline.  It is very clear, and I put so many verses up so that if you are like me, and value the voice of Scripture above all, you do not have any room for debate.   All of these verses also say more than just that God disciplines. They all say clearly that it’s a good thing that He does, and also they say He does it out of love.  Always.  

  I’ve talked so many times about the love of God, and about how He is love 100% of the time.   Even in His discipline, the above Bible verses leave no room for any other fact than God disciplines those that He loves, and that His “wrath” is not separate from His love.  If I go into more of the details here, we’ll get distracted, but this is something I’ve blogged about before, so please go and read my past blogs if you want more understanding of what I’m saying.

   But since we can conclude and read that God only disciplines from the deeper motivation of love, than we should align ourselves the same way.   Our discipline should look like the Fathers and should only be done from a place of love.   I have said before, and offended people, but I’ll say it again.  Any form of discipline done out of anger is child abuse, and it’s the lack of self-control manifesting itself in your life.    No one has power over your emotions except for you.   Only you have the power to allow yourself to become angry, your children have no power over your mind or emotions.   You might blame your lack of self-control on them, but it’s not their fault you got mad and “lost it”.  You allowed yourself to get angry.    When I say any discipline, I mean it.  If you are doing anything out of a fit of rage, you’re not thinking clearly.   If you’re not able to think clearly than you need to exercise self-control.  I’m not just talking about hitting your children out of anger, but spanking them on their butts, locking them in their room, yelling at them and anything done out of anger is wrong because you’re doing it from the wrong motivation.  It's not wrong because of the action, it might be the appropriate action, but if it's the wrong motivation, you are in the wrong.   Your discipline, which your child does need, must come from a place of love.  They must understand that even in their discipline, your love for them is not conditional. You’re the first picture of God that they paint in their heads, and discipline is a biggie.  

  People have told me that they just get so angry, they HAVE to send them to their room for a few hours to cool down and then, after they have cooled down, they discipline the child.   They say it’s better than just hitting them in anger.   Yes, it’s better than just hitting them, but you should still be working on your self- control.   Remember, self-control is a fruit of the Spirit, and anyone who is a Christian and has the Holy Spirit living inside of them has immediate access to self-control.   Controlling your temper is your job, not the child’s.  This is something we should all be working on in other areas of our life anyways for reasons like lust, addictions, distractions, or other emotional problems.  Self-control is needed in every area of life, but it is crucial in raising and discipline children.

If you choose to discipline your children out of anger and a lack of self-control, than you have opted for fear based obedience instead of loved based.   Let’s remember Jesus said “If you love me, you’ll obey me.”  He was intentional with His wording here and could have included fear, but He made it clear the obedience He is looking for is love based.   If that’s what God wants from me, than that’s what I want from my future children.  People always want to cling to Proverbs 9:10 here where “fear is the beginning of wisdom.”   I don’t think most people who've read it and quoted it actually read it as it is written.  It says fear is the BEGINNING. It’s not the end result.  It’s a decent starting place for wisdom.  It is chapter one. We need the fear of the Lord or realize our own sin, to repent, but we don’t stay here. Fear is the beginning of wisdom.   I cannot stress the wording enough here.   BEGINNING. Not the end result.  We go on to read in 1 John  4:16-18 that  “…God is love.  Whoever lives in love lives in God and God in them.  This is how love is made complete in us so that we will be confident on the day of judgment.   In this we are like Jesus.  There is no fear in love, because fear has do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. “

I posted as much of the context that would fit in this post without distracting from the main point.   John was clearly talking about the fear of God, even talking about the day of judgment, saying that we would not fear on that day because of the love of God. It says that love completes us.   While fear is a good starting point, if you read through 1 John, you see clearly that love is the ending point. We have arrived to completion when we live in love.  When we walk in love, and are wrapped in His love.

    Now that we've established the need for discipline, and established love as the only motivation that constitutes proper discipline, and also that self-control is a crucial ingredient, let’s talk about patience.
Patience is also a fruit of the spirit, so again, it’s something every Spirit-filled believer has access to.
Let me ask you another question.   Do you want to discipline your children the easy way, or the effective way?  The effective way being the one that produces a love based relationship.  Sometimes that might be the easy way, but many times the easiest thing to do is just spank them.  Now this is where it gets controversial, at least for me.   I really want to challenge the current national mood on discipline here.
  Now scripture does say “spare the rod spoil the child.”, but let’s look at the context of this verse.   Proverbs 13:23-25   The uncultivated field of the poor yields abundant food, but without justice, it is swept away.  The one who will not use the rod hates his son, but the one who loves him disciplines him diligently.  A righteous man eats until he is satisfied, but the stomach of the wicked is empty.
So let me ask you, is the stomach of every wicked man empty on this planet? Is the stomach of every righteous man full? Does every property owned by all poor people produce an abundance of food?   No.  Righteous men starve to death, and there are wicked men having feast right now.   Does that mean this section of scripture is not true? Without a doubt they are 100% true.  But it means that it they are not a literal truth.  It’s a metaphor. A poetic way of writing a 100% truth. We can agree that the first sentence is a metaphor, and we can all agree that the last line was one as well, so does it make sense that there would be a literal truth sandwiched between to metaphors?  Not logically.
  The truth that permeates from this passage is clear  “It is an injustice for the poor to go without basic necessities, discipline is crucial if you love your children, and righteous man lives a life  of satisfaction while the wicked man always wants more and more. “

When a friend of mine and a mother of one, Nichole Furr read this verse today, this was her response which I found very eye opening and insightful.
"The first line says The uncultivated field of the poor yields abundant food, but without justice, it is swept away. - he is talking about the POTENTIAL the field has being wasted if the right amount of work is not put into it
the next line says - The one who will not use the rod hates his son, but the one who loves him disciplines him diligently.
this is him defining 'who' the field in the previous sentence represents - if you love your child you discipline them to help them reach their potential otherwise all of it is wasted
the best part is the meaning of the word discipline here - it means to teach, instruct, to make a disciple it has nothing to do with punishment
it has to do with training up your child and helping them reach their god given potential and then the last line sums up what happens as a result
a righteous man who has trained up his child "field" gets to enjoy the fruits of his labor where as the wicked man who doesn't is left always struggling and hungry for their child's potential that was left unmet"

  Everything in this scripture is true, but not literal.  And these are metaphors which are chock full of real and relevant truth.  But we can all agree that taking a literal rod and beating your children is out of the question. However, this verse makes it clear that if you do not discipline in some form, you actually HATE your child.

  My point in that is this. There is not scripture that literally says “hit your child”.  Spanking is something we do in the south, and we take the above verse out of context to excuse it.  Let’s look at some facts about spanking.  Now, let's look at the facts below with an open mind.

  Over 90% of American families report having used spanking as a means of discipline. 
  I don’t know anyone who was never spanked.  At least that I know of. Spanking your children is not unusually cruel, and it’s not necessarily going to scar them for life, but let’s continue looking the facts.

68% of American parents think spanking is essential to child rearing.

90% of parents spank their toddlers at least three times a week; two-thirds spank them once a day.

One in for parents begun to spank when their child is 6 months old, and 50% percent when their child is 12 months old.
   *at this age, the child has not developed reasoning skills, and cannot discern cause and effect.  In other words, all they know is that they are being hit by you.  They cannot, at this age, discern why.  Therefore, at this age, it is not an effective disciplinary tool. Again, patience, love, and self-control are the tools you, as a Christian, should want to use. Spanking at this age might be the easiest thing, but it cannot possibly be effective if the child does not understand why.   

Studies show that parents are more likely to spank when they are irritable, depressed, fatigued, and stressed. 

  In 44% of those surveyed, spanking was used as punishment because the parent at “lost it”

About 98% of parents expressed moderate to high anger, remorse and agitation while punishing their children. 

Although 93% of parent justify spanking, 85% say they would rather not if they had an acceptable alternative.

One study found that 54% of mothers said that spanking was the wrong thing to have done in at least half the times they used it. 

There is a 93% agreement in scientific studies that spanking is harmful to children.

Children who are spanked are twice as likely to develop alcohol addiction and other drug abuse problems.

Multiple studies show that children who are spanked are more depressed, have more drug problems, more alcohol problems, than children who were not spanked.

According to researchers at the University of New Hampshire, spanking by parents can significantly damage a child’s mental abilities and results in a lower IQ later in life.

And kids were physically punished had up to a five-point lower IQ score than kids who were not, and the more the children were spanked, the lower their IQ’s.

Also, every serial killer and murderer in America was spanked as a child.  When analyzing criminal minds, rather or not the suspect was spanked as a child is considered a factor. 

What does this all mean?  Does it mean that everyone who was spanked falls into these statistics? No.  But they are not just pulled out of air.  They are factual and relevant.  Just because you were not affected negatively in the long run does not mean that these statistics are not true.  After looking at all this information, there is no way I could endorse spanking.  I believe the only way you could is because “Hey, my parents did it, and I’m fine” or just because it’s a convenient form of punishment.   But convenient is not always best.   There are alternatives to spanking.  They just require more self-control and more patience.   I really believe communication and repetition are more relevant to a child. 

If you are a parent who spanks, I want you to understand, I did not post all of these factors to say “YOU’RE WRONG”.  I do not believe I have authority to tell you spanking is wrong, but I can say it is wrong if you are doing out of anger or just because it’s easier than communicating with the child.   I can also ask, why you feel it is ok to spank your child?  Why do you WANT to?   Just because our culture agree that it's a good thing is not a valid reason.   Do you feel it's the best way to discipline your children?  Do you feel it's the most productive?  Is it because you can't find valid alternatives?   Is it because of your anger?   I don't have the answers to those questions, they were only intended to really make your look what the action of spanking actually is and does.  But I will add this, I posted this and was actually intending to right in 100% defence of spanking.   AFTER doing research, talking with a number of parent, and praying, I have have not come to any logical reason to spank. Again, I'm not the ultimate source on the matter and I'm trying to tell you that it's 100% wrong, but I'm asking you to really think about the productiveness of it, and to watch the video at the end in the comment box which has a lot more information about spanking than I wanted to get into here.   The main point of this post was not to talk about spanking, but to talk about disciplining out of love.

 Keep in mind, 100% of the time, spanking produces fear in the child, and it a violent act by definition.. Also by definition, I have to add, it does not cause permanent physical harm and is intended to hurt the child without lasting physical harm.   If spanked on the butt, there is actually extra padding there.

 By taking the time to communicate with children at young ages about why they are being punished, you are building their reasoning skills.  There is whole generation that has a lack of reasoning skills. I believe personally that this has a lot to do with parents reaching for the more convenient belt over a logical conversation about right and wrong. If you say, "I spank because they don't comprehend the conversation about right and wrong"  than you don't need to spank because if the child can not comprehend right and wrong, he will not comprehend why he is being hit.    So if you are to spank, there must be clear communication as to why this is going to happen when the parent is calm. It’s ok to tell the child that punishment is coming after you cool down, but you need to remove yourself from the child.  Today, most parents who know they should not react out of anger still will send their child to their room until the parent cools down.   However, this is still an anger based reaction.  It’s not the child’s fault you have poor self-control.   You need to be the one to day “This punishment is coming, but I have to leave the room and cool down because I love you too much to react to anything you do with anger. “

 Now what about yelling?  Yelling is a signal of danger. It is a warning that something bad is about to happen. Hearing someone yell at you has an immediate effect on the chemicals in your body, telling you danger is coming, and causing you to immediately get defensive. In nature, yelling is warning that a predator or some danger is coming, and the animals react in the same way we react when we are yelled at.  When we scream at a child, it automatically releases adrenaline and makes the child afraid.  The child might manifest that fear  that your pushed on him as anger, being defensive, or just crying, but yelling at them as punishment as no logical benefits.  When I worked around children, we were told to only yell when there was danger.  This was so that if the child heard me yell, they knew they needed to pay attention because something bad was going down.   I never yelled at a child except for when a dog entered the playground.  When they heard my voice yelling, they knew something was wrong and they immediately paid close attention to everything I said.   The dog turned out to be super friendly and I ended up taking “Sugar” home with me, but still, the children were able to get out of potential danger quickly.

 Yelling can be very damaging to a child’s mind and developmental skills. 

These are both the most common punishments in the South, if not America as a whole, but how logical are they?  And how often are you able to spank your child or yell at them with a motivation of love, peace, joy, kindness, gentleness, self-control,  goodness, and self-control, as  Galatians 5:22-23 states are the fruit of the Spirit of God living inside of you? 

 Every action directed towards your child, if you are a Christian and believe the Word, needs to be saturated in these fruit.   I would be only thinking rationally and logically to say that any action that is outside of these parameters is outside the will of God for your life in any area, and the includes child rearing.  

 I believe that God knew what He was doing when He made it clear that obedience out of love is better than fear, so why change that?  Why not apply that to your own child rearing?  I think it will make a happier home, a more productive way of punishment, and more enjoyable and meaningful relationship.

You do need to be creative in your discipline. Every child is different, and you will need to raise each one different.  Grounding, taking away toys, etc, will all have different effects on different children.  Not all children will care if you take their toys away, but that will get the point across to others.

In closing, I would ask a few more probing questions.  Why would you want to spank out of anger?  Why would you want to perform any discipline out of anger?   I once was at a church event where the pastor’s wife began spanking one of her children on the back hard. She smiled as she did it. She was extremely angry at the child, and wanted to punish him.  It reflected the current mood of punishment in our nation.  We view punishment as the end result, but really a better person should be the end result.  Our prisons would be a lot more empty if we were more concerned about rehabilitation than punishment. Most parents, according to studies, view punishment as the end result, and do not plan in advance whether it will advance the child's perception of right and wrong or not.   You should never have a desire to harm to a child, there is no reason, and it’s just demonic to actually desire harming your child.  Your punishment cannot come from a place of anger or agitation; it must be a clear logical and rational choice.  It must reflect the Love of God,  however the looks to you.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Signs of the times.

  Being a lover of Jesus means being a lover of truth.   It means desiring truth to be shouted from the rooftops. It means that you despise deception.  It's not just limited to any focus or area of the life of a mature believer, but in every area a mature follower of Christ looks, truth is evident and truth is a major focus.  Straight facts.  The bible says this over and over and over and over.   Throughout the New Testament, Paul urged and applauded the early church to search out the truth in all matters.

In the life of a mature believer, it can not be contained at all.   The love for truth over spills into everything that we do say or hear.  When we speak something, we speak the facts that we know.  When we hear something, we want to get to the facts.  We desire truth in the circumstance and will dig to get to it.   From conflict resolution to just reading up on current events, the need for truth is needed and craved in the life of the believer.   We desire for true justice to be shown.  We can not settle for one side of a story.  

 I'm obviously not talking about every little issue here.  I'm not saying we need to look at every item in our home that says "made in china" and question it.   I'm not saying that mature Christians would looks it up and only be satisfied when they knew the exact town, time, and date when the item was made.   I'm talking about major deals here.   I'm talking about major events that are happening and I'm talking about the scriptures.   I'm talking about just accepting what a pastor says over the bible, and I'm also venting about how our nation accepts lies from the media on a daily basis.

In the circles that I am in, many Christians do not want to be "political" and I want to confront this mindset head on right now.   You may not be called to be a politician, but you ARE called to intercede for your nation, and you are called to intercede for the leaders of your nation.  You are called to pray for, and sometimes against certain things.  You have to be informed in what you pray about.   I'm not going into the whole theology of why you can't just say "God take it all" and that be that. You can't do that for a few reasons, but one is that God gave human kind dominion over the earth and told us to subdue and labor over it.   Not striving or growing weary, but work was part of the garden. It's not the kind of work that we have today, it's a whole different mind set.   Weariness, striving, and those kinds of things are a result of the fall.  But effort is not.  Effort is not a starting place, but it is a result.   The Bible says that Faith without works is DEATH.   DEATH.   That means you can not just have FAITH and pray "God take it all"   Some things you've got to labor over.   You've got to put effort into them to get the breakthrough.  And that goes for us on a personal and national level.

The disciples even  asked Jesus one day "why did these demons not go out for us as they did for you?"
Jesus replied " Because some can only go out with prayer and fasting"  

This means to me that there are times where more effort is needed or required to get to the point.  I am not works based at all, but effort it just part of the kingdom.  I know a lot of people who would like me to just talk about how we don't need effort at all, but all birthing requires a painful push or two.

Now, as I mentioned before, many of us are not political at all and are not called to be, AT ALL.  God did not create us to be, and that's just who we are.  Others ARE created to be like that and love is that's just who they are.  However, all of us are called to pray.  That's not an option, and praying for a nation and it's leaders is a scriptural mandate. So even if you are not called into politics in any ways, who are still called to pray for them.    Since "works"  is the fruit, lets look at two things that would water or enable the fruit of intercession in our lives.

A passion for Jesus.   That would cause any of us to prayer and intercede.  Our love for the Father and becoming one with that love causes us to pour that love back out to other through prayer.

Knowledge.   Sometimes knowing something allows us to pray for something that we would not be aware of otherwise. If a friend of yours has a sick relative that you have no clue even exist, it's doubtful you would spend any time praying over that sick relative.  However, if your friend shares this need with you, the knowledge of the sick relative brings you to prayer.

 This is crucial to understand our times and events.  It does not mean that you have to be political and posting about your opinions.  It does not even mean that you have to have too many opinions, but it does mean you and I need a basic knowledge of true events in our nation so we can point our prayers.   I have turned on the news and began praying for something right then and there because I was just made aware of something.
  However, the need for truth is needed there also.   I will dig for the truth so I can point my prayers more accurately.  There are controversial issues that I wouldn't post on facebook, but I did research and approach because it was a major event in our nation.  If I had just taken the word of the media, my prayers would have been pointed in the wrong direction, but once my the truth was discovered, I was able to pray more accurately and effectively.

 Some of these issues are things like Obamacare, the recent Zimmerman trials, and a whole slew of nonsense coming out of the White House these days.   I agree with the christians out there who do not want to offend anyone with politics, and I do not plan on posting my opinions on some of these issues because it would OFFEND.  My prayers are the only requirement scripture makes as far as the political side of things.   On a personal level, God may lay it on your heart to post or share about things, and you might offend people.  That's ok!  Not everyone is called to get on a soap box about everything, but everyone is called to pray.

With the recent Zimmerman trials, I want to share this.   Our nation accepted everything the media spit out. Twisted manipulated half truths were vomited out on us, and we just thought what we were told to think.   Prayers were and are needed because this has a lot of tension in the air around the black community, at least where I live.  Also the need for truth.  I could not settle for just hearing the media's side of things, I had to dig deeper in the issue, just like I do with everything else, and my prayers were more pointed as a result.  

  There is a lot of darkness in the White House, and as Christians, it's our job to pray the light back in. It's our job to know the signs of the times we live in Jesus rebuke the pharisees, calling them wicked because they did not know the signs of the age they were living in.  In out times, we have to know the signs of the times. We need to be aware of things, and we need to know the truth.   It's a sign of the times that our generation will embrace  deception the way they do, but it's a sign of revival that we, as Christians don't.

Friday, July 5, 2013

The thought of Jesus.

This post is going to have two points.  When I took public speaking, they told me over and over have ONE point and ONE point only or you will fail to make either.  In ministry school when they teach how to write sermons they also stress the need for one focused point that every sentence used points at.  I was even told that any sentence that does not point towards the focus of the message is a waste of time and should be cut out of the message.  I'm breaking those rules because this is a blog and it's my blog and I might one day make a post with fifty points.

  The main point is about thinking of Jesus.   I always have the most stressful jobs.  I don't know why, but I do.   I always end up in a fast paced job that requires a lot of energy and emotions being poured out.  Yet at these jobs, just the thought of Jesus brings a wave of refreshment.  From the time when I was 16 at Burger King, I learned the key to a happy work day was Jesus.  I was on break today, and just looked out the window and went to my happy place with Jesus.  It was nice.   I had never really realized the fullness of just thinking about Jesus and what it does to you.

 We all have people in our lives that we think of and when we think of them, we allow certain emotions to be stirred up. Sometimes positive and sometimes negative. We think of what the person has done to us and what they are doing in life and we allow our emotions to be stirred up.  But that's the main thing.  We ALLOW our emotions to be stirred up.  It's a choice.  No one has the power to affect our emotions.  We say that someone made us angry, but really someone does not have power over our emotions.  We do. We allow ourselves to become angry or happy or sad or glad.  It's our choice.  Someone can not force depression on us. They can not force guilt.  They can not even force happiness. I know some people who would not be happy even if I bought them a brand new house.  They are just not happy being happy.  I could never force them to be happy.

  We talk about people who make us feel guilty or sad, but in truth we allow that to happen and we can stop it.  Sometimes that does mean cutting people off.  I've had to do it. Not just for bad emotions, but sometimes we need to walk away from people because they become our source of happiness and by allowing that to happen we put them in a position of an idol.  Sometimes God want's to use people to make us happy, but He wants us to know that He is the source of that happiness, even if He is using someone else to bring it to us.  So that's point number two.  Other people can't control our emotions.  Even in extreme cases where rape and murder are involved, I've seen people choose not to allow the attackers to have the power over them to live in fear or anger.

   The first point was that Jesus does have the power to change our emotions.  Immediately.  Just by thinking of Him, I can not help but be happy and overtaken by love sickness. My love for Him gets stirred up beyond my control or what I could conjure up alone.  It's all Him awakening a love from inside of me.  So the secret to stress relief to to think of Jesus. And would you know the Bible even says so!!!  Col 3:2 talking about putting your mind on things above and not on things of this world.  The world is a trap.   My pastor, Rick Joyner, had a message and part of that message he quoted a study on athletes.  The study was written about how athletes get in "the zone".   They had a lot of information about the body and the chemicals that was really intriguing, but what was most interesting was how athletes come out of it.  They can come out of "the zone" in one moment if fear or anger hits them.   The study said that one moment of fear or anger takes up the same amount of energy as 8 hours of labor extensive work.  I know this to be true in my life.   Just by thinking of things of this world, I allow myself to get fearful and worn out and even sick.

  The secret to good health and energy?   PUT YOUR MINDS ON THINGS ABOVE.  Stress has to leave in the presence of the provider.  Fear must leave from the presence of the protector.  And Anger must leave the presence of Love.