Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Raising Children as the Lord Raises Us

There is something that is truly an important topic for me: discipline. With the way I was disciplined growing up (the way many of you might have been as well), I wanted to make clear how my wife and I not only will raise our children, but do so for the children in the school we manage—applying this to all children in our lives.

Although Kelly and now have a child to raise of our own, the Lord has also placed us in an environment where we have figuratively “adopted” children of our own. This is how we feel having the responsibility of 140+ children at the school we oversee: Crosspoint Academy. And what we are learning is how to “raise” children of differing ages through life—and for me, this really is a demonstration and learning experience of how God our Father raises us as His children. How He raises me (all of us) is truly how Kelly and I need to be raising these children as well.

One of these ways in the school is the approach adopted by many schools called: Positive Behavior Intervention and Support. In brief, what this entails is encouraging good behaviour through a focus on rewarding positive behavior in lieu of a punishment system of bad behaviour—in a sense, focusing attention on the positive, not the negative. Oftentimes, the reason a child acts out is just for attention. If they are punished (being hit or spanked or demeaned) for what they have done, in the child’s eye, they have been rewarded with what they seek: attention. However, that same “attention reward” the child seeks can be achieved though the positive behaviours the child does or can be guided into doing.

What struck me about this scientific & psychological approach is how this mimics how God our Father guides and treats us (all people) as children. But this is not what I had been taught in life. I had been taught and raised up in life through the approach of: “spare the rod, spoil the child”—likened to this biblical passage:

Proverbs 13:24
He who spares his rod, hates his son; but he who loves him, disciplines him promptly.

In my life, this often meant more than one spanking—whether by hand, a belt, a wooden spoon, hair brush, slipper, or by a cane at school. But is God’s punishing hand of discipline how he truly disciplines me & us? No!

Two things to note about that verse is that the rod being discussed is a shepherd’s staff. As this video shows, the staff is used to gently reach out and guide or direct a sheep that may be stepping away from the group as they travel. It is not used to hit or hurt the sheep, but just as a gentle boundary to keep the sheep with the group and where the shepherd is trying to lead them to—often “greener pastures” (Psalms 23:1-2). Exactly as the Lord does.

Secondly, the word “promptly” means early—early in the child’s life. But it also means diligently; for as a parent, we must be diligent, having or showing care and conscientiousness. It is important to make sure we guide and direct our children early in life. In doing so, it just saves us and them from having to correct behaviours later in life (including the removal of mis-taught / mis-learned strongholds) that may get rooted, making it more difficult to remove or correct.

But even if we do pass down to our children unintentional (or intentional) iniquities, God’s Grace is there for them as well. We know He never holds our faults or the faults of our parents against us. He watches over and takes care of those handed-down iniquities of the children and of the parents.

Unfortunately, we can hold true for ourselves the way the Lord had to deal with His chosen people in the Old Testament through strife, sickness, and death. But we do not live in the Old Testament—nor were we ever under the Law! None of us are under the Law. The Law was given to a specific group of people’s during a specific season (time-frame) that has since ended and never applied to us. His Grace has remained in existence from the beginning, even to those outside the Law during the time of the Law.

God is Agape Love and Grace. And what Jesus demonstrated while on this earth is the true Nature and Heart of the Father: a healer, a forgiver, and one who does not judge us. Everything Jesus did is what He saw His Father do; and none of it was putting sickness on anyone, stoning or physically punishing anyone, killing anyone, or judging anyone. This is His True self and how He treats us. These are the guidelines that the Lord follows with us.

God our Father cannot punish us, because His Wrath was poured out on Jesus Christ and all the sins of our flesh were forgiven. Since we exist in perpetual forgiveness of our sins, how is He justified in punishing us…for He cannot break His Word and Covenant through Christ Jesus with us. He is no respecter of persons (Acts 10:34, Romans 2:11, Ephesians 6:9)—in that He cannot treat anyone differently than anyone else. All are Righteous in Christ and therefore He cannot treat us differently. The only way He can treat us and does treat us is in His Agape Love.

So then, how does the Lord discipline us? Through His Word. This is the ONLY way.

2 Timothy 3:16-17
All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for teaching and instruction, for proof, for restoration and correction, with regard to training by righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.

Colossians 3:14-16
And above all these things put on [Agape Love], which is the bond of perfectness. And let [God's peace towards you] rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful. Let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; [letting it] teach and admonish yourself with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs; singing with Grace in your hearts to the Lord.

Ephesians 5:18-20
...but be filled with the Spirit; Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord; Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Ephesians 6:9
And, ye masters, do the same things unto them, forbearing threatening: knowing that your Master also is [forbearing threatening] in heaven; neither is there respect of persons with him.

On a side note for what is said in Hebrews 12:1-12 regarding the Lord “chastening” us as children. The words chastening used in those passages are the Greek words: paideia, paideutēs, and paideuō. These words are defined as training & educating (cultivating the mind), instructing, teaching, and to train & correct with words. In the context of God’s Agape Love and demonstrations of what Jesus did to others, “chastening” has nothing to do with physical punishment or scourging.

Hebrews 12:1-11
Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds. Ye have not yet resisted unto blood, striving against sin. And ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaks unto you as unto children, My son, despise not thou the chastening TEACHING of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked GENTLY CORRECTED of him: For whom the Lord loves he chastens TEACHES, and scourges [even as a father the son in whom he delights] (Proverbs 3:12). If ye endure chastening TRAINING / EDUCATION, God deals with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chastens TEACHES not? But if ye be without chastisement TEACHING, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons. Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected TAUGHT / INSTRUCTED us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live? For they verily for a few days chastened TAUGHT us after their own pleasure; but he for our profit, that we might be partakers of his holiness. Now no chastening TEACHING for the present seems to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby.

He does not hurt us! He teaches and instructs us through His goodness and kindness, not wrath. There is no fear in, of, from, and to the Lord.

Romans 2:4
…[do you not know] that the goodness and kindness of God leads [a person] to repentance?

1 Corinthians 2:12-13
Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. Which things also we speak, not in the words which man's wisdom teaches, but which the Holy Ghost teaches; comparing spiritual (worldly) with spiritual (Godly).

So we are left with God leading us, training us, and educating us in and by His Word and the Holy Ghost in Goodness and Kindness. This is the most powerful tool He has for us, because the Word and the Holy Ghost delve into every aspect of our life physically & spiritually:

Hebrews 4:12
For the Word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and [will] of the heart.

Because of what Jesus Christ accomplished for us, we have His ability to change our heart and change our life. We can achieve all He made us to be as New Creations in Him. But we can only achieve this when we don’t have a fear of God’s wrath, but live knowing He is Love and He is not angry with us. If we fear God (not talking about respecting Him, but a terror / fear of Him), we refrain from coming close to Him and creating a true, trusting, and open relationship with Him. He has adopted us as His children, never forsaking us into abandonment again!

Romans 5:1
Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Romans 8:15
For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but we have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.

This is the same kind of adoption we must have with our own children and any children in our lives. How we treat children affects them (positive or negative) for the rest of their lives. This happened to me, to you, and to everyone on his earth.

When we physically or verbally punish our children, we create misunderstanding in the child’s soul, and inevitably, fear. This fear, though it may temporarily disrupt a behavioural pattern, creates a sense of abandonment, not closeness associated with God’s adoption. And moreso, fear never is an absolute deterrent.

We can plainly see this in our everyday life: neither jail time, death sentences, warning labels on alcohol / cigarette packages, or pictures of rotted teeth at the dentist has nullified all the behavioural problems associated with crime, abuse, addiction, and poor hygiene (self-care). We must never use fear as this only provokes others towards wrath (their anger towards others or back to the source). It creates division, not unity.

Ephesians 6:4
And, you fathers (parents), provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the training and exhortation of the Lord.

We must always use Love. And if there has been fear created, we eliminate that fear through Love through His Spirit in us (God’s Agape Love):

1 John 4:18
There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear: because fear hath torment. He that fears is not made perfect in love.

So I take all this now and apply it to my life as a parent and “parent” over the children at the school and in my everyday. And this often takes much Spiritual Patience—just as the Lord does with me. And how this understanding started for me, is Him revealing to me the correlation between me as a parent and Him as a parent.

When I see the children at school behaving inappropriately, or carelessly, I can foresee the consequences to their actions because I have either experienced it myself, or just have more knowledge and experience in understanding than they have. And this was the revelation to me! Because I, as a child of God my Father, He knows more than me for me and my situation. Yet, even though I mess up or don’t hear Him clearly, He never is angry with me, nor is out to punish me. I am like a child who does not always understand the how’s or why’s of life; but my Father does! And it is not my duty to know all the why’s or how’s; my duty is to believe Him and just do what He asks. Obedience.

And the only way I am willing to be obedient is if I trust Him. And the only way I can trust Him is knowing He is not angry with me. This is His True Agape Love for me: for God IS Love (1 John 4:16).

Fear also leads a child to self-condemnation. It creates an expectancy towards perfection; that when not achieved (to avoid punishment), then the child developed self-doubt, shame, and a sense of failure. They then condemn themselves as being not good enough. Yet, we need to establish a trust through Love that brings the child close even when they make a mistake. That they feel they can approach me without feeling they are going to get punished. This is the same approach the Lord takes.

1 John 3:21
When we are confident towards God, we won't condemn ourself in our heart.

If I fear Him, how can I be confident towards Him. And if I can’t be confident that He is not going to punish me, I fear Him and believe I am not good enough for Him. I condemn myself in my heart.

And if I fear Him, why would I obey Him? If my child, or any child fears me, why would they want to obey me as a parent? When I eliminate fear and establish trust, then all that is needed are words of guidance and insight to steer and guide the child.

The Lord gently stretches out His guiding hand to gently keep me (as His sheep) in the correct direction. And we, as sheep, also hear and understand our shepherd’s voice to know where we need to be and the safe direction He is leading us. Now that is the gentle and kind Father I have come to know! And this is the kind and gentle parent I want to be—at home, at school, and anywhere!


God Bless (as He does),

Chris Badenhorst

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