Thursday, May 5, 2011

Training Tender Hearts

"M" and I have had a particularly challenging week in the arena of obedience.  It seems that every day lately has been a constant battle of wills.  She's tired.  I'm tired.  We're out of our routine.  She does not seem to ever listen.  I am losing patience. We both need to be filled... filled with Living Water... filled with LOVE.  This writing is by no means any expert advice, as I am still learning and seeking God daily in area of motherhood.  It is more of a snapshot of our journey; a rambling of a mother's struggle to train her children in the way of the Lord. 

The other day we were driving in the car when "M" acted out in disobedience in such a way that required me to pull over to discipline her at once and take care of the situation.  She knew what she did what not right.  Looking up at me with fearful eyes she asked, "A big fish eat me?"  (In tot school we have been doing a unit on fish and had recently learned about Jonah and how he spent 3 days and 3 nights in the belly of a big fish because he disobeyed God.  Maybe she listens to me more than I think!).  I told her that "God sent a fish to discipline Jonah for disobeying and that God gave you parents to discipline you for disobeying".  Since then I have reflected more on the truth of that statement.  God has entrusted to us as parents the training of our children in the way that they should go.  That is a pretty hefty assignment!  It's a good thing our Heavenly Father provided us with an instruction manual.  I've been studying this manual and here are some things I've learned: (this is far from a complete list - highly recommend you pick up the bible daily, after all how can we train our children in the ways of the Lord if we are not first seeking instruction ourselves).

1.  It's a matter of the heart.
"Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life." ~Proverbs 4:23
"The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks." ~Luke 6:45

2.  Teach my children FIRST to fear the LORD!
"The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, but fools despise wisdom and discipline.  Listen, my sons, to your father's instruction and do not forsake your mother's teaching." ~Proverbs 1:7-8

3.  Discipline because you love your children. 
 It may not always be convenient or easy, but the risks of not disciplining are far too great.
"because the LORD disciplines those he loves, as a father the son he delights in." ~Proverbs 3:12
"He will die for lack of discipline, led astray by his own great folly." ~Proverbs 5:23
"He who spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is careful to discipline him." ~Proverbs 13:24
"Discipline your son, for in that there is hope; do not be a willing party to his death." ~Proverbs 19:18
"Do not withhold discipline from a child; if you punish him with the rod, he will not die." ~Proverbs 23:13

4.  Discipline with love, not anger. 
Honestly, this is the hardest for me, and it requires daily (even hourly and minute-by-minute) dependence on the Holy Spirit.
"Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the instruction and training of the LORD." ~Ephesians 6:4
"A fool gives full vent to his anger, but a wise man keeps himself under control." ~Proverbs 19:11
"Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth." ~1 Corinthians 13:4-6

5.  Trust in the ways of the LORD. 
I believe that the Bible is clear on how we should discipline.  There are hundreds of books written on disciplining children and many different schools of thought.  I have even read some of these books and found them to be very creative.  However, as hard as it is to discipline my children according to the Bible, I need to believe that Gods ways really are higher than my ways and trust that His way is the best and only real way.  I need to remember that the rod does not bring death, but blessing.
"He who spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is careful to discipline him." ~Proverbs 13:24
"Folly is bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of discipline will drive it far from him." ~Proverbs 22:15
"Do not withhold discipline from a child; if you punish him with the rod, he will not die." ~Proverbs 23:13

6.  Be patient.  Do not get discouraged.
"Discipline your son, and he will give you peace; he will bring delight to your soul." ~Proverbs 19:17
"Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it." ~Proverbs 22:6

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