Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Securing Their Hearts #4

What About Discipline? 

by Betty Jackson


In the mind of some, discipline is simply about punishment. A simple study of how the word is used in scripture will show it is much more. Limiting discipline to punishment is to miss its purpose.

The Greek word (paideĆ­a) translated discipline in Hebrews 12 and 2 Timothy 3:16 in some versions, is also translated as instruction or training.The purpose of discipline, whether it is by some kind of punishment, verbal reproof or instruction, is not to be characterized as revenge.

The Lord expects us to train our children. Ephesians 6:4. Paul prefaces his instruction about discipline with the word “nourish” or “bring up” This word is also used in Ephesians 5:29. There is a warmness or gentleness in the word. In contrast to the brutality common in the then ruling Roman Empire, fathers are to wisely train their children in the Lord. 

How important is discipline? Scripture explains, “All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness” (Heb. 12:11). The purpose and the fruit of discipline is clear: training and righteousness. 

Failure to properly discipline our offspring, jeopardizes the “peaceable fruit of righteousness.” (cf. Prov. 29:15.) Self control is as important as an honest heart wherein truth has been deeply planted. It is only by training and teaching the scriptures will our children learn to be the master of themselves.

Every child needs to be trained, in harmony with his age, understanding and temperament. As we rear our children, we may question others about how to discipline our children. It may be daunting when we realize that Baby has his own personality and will. As he grows older, we learn he isn’t as easy to mold as we may have thought. And especially is this true of a stronger-willed child. Respect for authority is paramount. There will be a battle of wills. But deep affection with a dedication to loving chastisement will instruct our kids about authority, love, and self-mastery.

The scriptures have a lot to say about training children. However, one cannot lead where one will not go! Effective discipline begins with parents who are self-disciplined. Personal and honest evaluation of oneself may include asking: Do my spouse and I constantly bicker and hatefully disagree, even on unimportant things? Do I lose my temper and “throw a fit” when I need to hold my child accountable? Do I constantly criticize or “harp” at my youngster when correcting him? Do I try to say yes to my child’s requests, when I can; or do I usually say no? How do I go about my work? Am I haphazard, always leaving things to be done at the last minute, or always late! Am I always tardy for worship? What about the state of your home. None of us can have a perfectly kept home all the time. Life happens! But if it is always slovenly, it is a shame ( cf. Prov. 10:3-5; 12:23-24; 13:4). Are we inclined to be like the world in our habits, dress, and recreational pursuits?

Taking an honest inventory of our lives will be be a good indicator of how well we are training our children. 

Youngsters will be exposed to all kinds of temptations. When they are little the temptation to lie will be common. Their little hearts must learn honesty, by gently, firmly teaching that lying is wrong. The very young have little idea of what all this means. They will respond to a sharp word with a lie, not even realizing that they were caught in wrong doing. It is important not to set a child up for a lie. if you saw her take the cookie, don’t ask if she did! As they get older, when they understand what lying is, they must face more significant consequences for not telling the truth.

“For whom the Lord loves He reproves. Even as father corrects the son in whom he delights”(Prov. 3:12). If the Lord loves us enough to reprove us, surely if we delight in our children, we will do all we can to train them in God’s way. When we are weak parents, we create an environment for our children to become self-centered and rebellious. Correction must be followed through. Promising discipline, whether it is a spanking or loss of privileges, then forgetting or unwilling to carry out the necessary measures is simply wrong. Under some circumstances, mercy might be extended, but not every day!

Peer pressure will become more real as children get older. They will be prompted to dress in a way that is provocative. Going to the beach is popular in many parts of the country. Is it alright to wear a bikini at the beach, but at a ball game or the grocery store it would be considered immodest? Why is it alright to wear a strapless wedding dress, yet immodest to wear a similar garment to worship or a party (or is it!)?

There are so many issues that will face our children. If they have not developed confidence in their parents to lead in righteousness; if their hearts have not learned honesty, and self mastery, they will yearn to be like their friends and the world. They will dress (or undress) like the rest, behave like unbelievers. Without honest hearts that are under control because of love for the Lord, they will sink into sin that is ever knocking at the door.

What have you done to help your children be pure and holy? Have you a laissez+faire attitude? Do you take the position that all will end well, no matter what you do? Have you encouraged your children to dress in a way that is provocative? Do you dress in clothes that leave little unrevealed? I do not understand mothers who wear those low necklines before their sons and daughters. In spite of the your own immodesty, would you be insulted if someone made a lewd comment to your nearly naked daughter or son?

Mom’s need to set the right example in dress and behavior. Shorts are a problem these days. Even if they are knee length, gaping big-legged shorts reveal more than anyone needs (or wants) to see. Fathers, need to dress modestly too! They need to have the moral courage to correct their wives and children concerning the way they dress.

Do you watch movies that are filled with excess violence, sexual innuendos, and foul language? Do your children?It should be no surprise when our children become involved in bad behavior with sad consequences, when we fail to teach them honest, pure, and self disciplined living.

When Nathan approached David for his sin with Bathsheba, he said, “Thou art the man!” As good as David was, he let his eyes fill with lust. He lapsed in self-mastery and sinned, bringing grave consequences into his own life and that of others.

Concerning Joseph, Reuben said, “Spake I not unto you, saying, Do not sin against the child; and ye would not hear? …” (Gen. 42:22). Have you sinned against your child by failing to train him in the Lord. I hope not. The church is filled with broken-hearted parents whose children have lost their way. May we not hear words such as “Thou art the man, woman!” for our lack of self-discipline. If we fail our children, we fail the Lord and the church. Some churches have dwindled in part because many parents have failed.

“‘Contrary to popular misguided cultural stereotypes and frequent parental misconceptions, the evidence clearly shows the the single most important social influence on the religious and spiritual lives of adolescents is their parents.’” “Parents are the most important determinants of their children’s spiritual life—or lack thereof.” (Sax, p. 183).

 Researchers have learned exactly what Scripture has taught from the days of Moses. We can lead them in the Lord’s way. The general principle is “Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it” (Prov. 22:6). Let us live right, and love them right by setting examples and giving instructions from the Holy Bible.

Recommended Reading
(Some works are not recommended nor approved of in entirety. Certain writers do not make logical conclusions or their books may contain doctrinal errors. They are used for the research contained therein.)


Sax, Leonard, M.D.; Ph.D.Girls on the Edge. 2010. New York, NY. Basic Books. p.283 (Sax quoted: Christian Smith and Melinda Lundquist Denton, Soul Searching. 2005. New York: Oxford University Press. p. 261)

Vaughn, David and Diane, The Beauty of Modesty, 2005. Nashville, TN: Cumberland House Publishing.


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A Personal Note

The past year has been filled with changes. Life is that way, is it not? 

For us, those changes involved some decisions about our future. In September of 2016, Wayne underwent surgery to remove a small malignant tumor from his neck. This was a reoccurrence of thyroid cancer. He recovered from that circumstance. He still has times of not feeling well. The multiple surgeries he has endured have taken their toll on him.

About the same time, we came to the full realization that we needed to think about our remaining years. Wayne had retired from public teaching (though he continues to write.) So we considered our options. California is an expensive place to live. With our son, Jared and his family in Tennessee, with our daughter,  Joy and her husband, George, only a few hours from them and Wayne’s sisters also residing in Tennessee, we decided that we would leave California.

This decision was not easy. We love the church family we had been a part of in Stockton for over five decades. We did not want to leave our youngest son and his family. That was heart rending. But we knew it was the best. As most preacher’s families know, congregations are usually unable to contribute to a retirement plan. Wisdom dictates that ministers of the gospel figure out how to take care of themselves in old age. Therefore, living in a less expensive area is the careful thing to do; living closer to more family to encourage us in our challenges of age is paramount.

So we began making plans, purchased a house in Jackson Tennessee just behind Jared and Sandy. Packing seemed endless for weeks. Before that paper was sorted and files cleaned out. With the help of our kids and friends we loaded up the truck, and George and Joy drove our car to Jackson. On March 17 we flew out of Sacramento, for likely the last time. 

Now we are here trying to get settled. More paintings, pictures to hang; cleaning, and organizing goes on. It will be a couple of months before everything is done. Then, I can get back to writing and keeping up with proof reading for Wayne. I have hopes of getting on a regular schedule for my Facebook page We Believe Because, and the blog Women of Hope. I had a final article written in the series, Securing their Hearts. However, there was so much I wanted to include. I couldn’t settle into “re-writing” while packing hours and hours at a time.

It has been a blessing to be here near Jared, Sandy, and Matthew, and Nicholas when he is home from college. George and Joy were here a few days to help us. We were blessed to be able to attend our eldest grandson’s wedding nearby the last of March.

We are anxious for a visit from Jason, Jill, Natalie, Kara, and Allie. Natalie plans to begin her first semester at Freed-Hardeman University. We expect to see her as often as her school schedule allows. My sister and her husband have plans to see us this summer.

I will be posting the last article in the series “Securing Their Hearts.”

While some events of the past years have challenged our hearts and our energy, we are confident in the Lord’s love and the hope we have in Him. May we all be diligent in our service in the kingdom.

And may God bless each of you.
Betty








Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Securing Their Hearts #3

The Love Doctor

by Betty Jackson                 


There is a frequent commercial advertising the efforts of a non-profit hospital to help disabled children. In one of those ads the question is asked of children, “What is love?” One little boy responds, “Call the love doctor!” There is a love doctor! He is the Great Physician who tells us by his example of self sacrifice and in his wonderful words about love.

It is a sad reality that some children grow up angry, self hating, or without a godly self-esteem. Worse yet is what is described as a reactive emotional detachment disorder. What is the cause of such emotional suffering?

We must wonder at the reports that between 1989 and 1999 there was an increase by 400% in the use of mental health services for female children and teenagers, and 70% for male children/teens. And more than one in eight females use antidepressants. (Note: this is not a condemnation of using mental health helps.) The question is, why are children/teens needing such help. Why the rise in anxiety and depression among the young, especially girls. (Sax, p. 5).

Jean Twenge, a professor of psychology at the San Diego University, has researched this matter, comparing today’s statistics to 50 years ago. In her opinion there has been a decrease in “social connectedness.” She states that “Anxiety increases as social bonds weaken” (Sax, p. 5).

How can we help our children grow up without the emotional turmoil of unbelief, low self-esteem and self-hate? 

Though liberal in his theology, sociologist Anthony Campolo in his book, Growing Up In America, makes the valid observation that human beings are social beings, with needs for a “primary group.” We were designed that way. Each person feels the need to “belong.” The most important primary group in the healthy development of a young person is her family. When that relationship is poor, youngsters will seek out others with whom to bond. It is natural for all of us to develop close relationships with people outside our families. But youngsters whose family bonds are weak, will be more at risk for bonding with the wrong people, resulting in sinful behaviors.

The importance of a healthy love bond between parents and children cannot be overstated. The emotional attachment is natural. But there is a reason why so many of the young people, even among Christians, are involved in immorality. Development of a stable, moral, happy young person is complex, we know. But it must begin when a child is newborn.

Older women are instructed to train younger women to love their children. I was surprised that the word is not agape, the highest type of love. Instead it is the word phileo.(tender affection). In that ancient culture, and in ours, there is the reality of being without “natural affection.” To have the “agape type of love” for your children, you must have tender affection as well.

Our children need to be touched. Babies need to be held and rocked. Youngsters need comfort and love expressed by listening, in precious bedtime routines of prayer, story time, hugs, and tucking in. Teenagers may begin to recoil a bit, but they still need to be hugged often. They may not want a bedtime routine anymore, or they may. More likely it is that parents get busy and don’t realize their older kids could use more attention/affection. 

Teen years are not easy. But they do not need to be the time when Christian values are lost. Paul explained “Be not deceived, evil companionships corrupt good morals” (1 Cor. 15:33). Parents whose bond with their children is strong will be better able to help steer their offspring to developing friendships that are healthy.

Remember, Christ developed a primary group in the apostolic band. They were his closest friends and chosen men to preach the first gospel sermons. They were special to him and each other. (See John 15:12-16.)

While it may seem simplistic, the type of love-bond we have with our children will greatly influence whether they will grow into balanced, moral and loving workers for the Lord.

There is more than having love for your kids to raise them in the Lord. We will explore those themes in future articles. One of the great sorrows is that many young people are growing up without a connection not only with family, but with God and his church. In many cases, their faith is already compromised by the time they are in middle school, due to the influence of a godless society creating doubt in the integrity of the Scriptures (Ham, p. 111). 

As we attempt to answer questions of how to train our beloved children, let us be reminded that there is ample evidence for the existence of a loving Father. The apostle Paul declared there is no excuse for rejecting him (Rom.1:18-21).

If you are not aware that there is a battle for the souls of your offspring, you need to be. Humanism is an aggressive movement around the world. (Use your search engine to find such associations in most countries.) Continuing from the early years of the American Humanist Society, the influence of atheists/humanists like John Dewey and John Dunphy has permeated our educational system. Note this quote: 

I am convinced that the battle for humankind's future must be waged and won in the public school classroom by teachers that correctly perceive their role as proselytizers of a new faith: a religion of humanity that recognizes and respects the spark of what theologians call divinity in every human being...The classroom must and will become an arena of conflict between the old and new — the rotting corpse of Christianity…”— excerpt from an article by John Dunphy titled Religion for a New Age,” appearing in the January/February 1983 issue of The Humanist Magazine. (emphasize mine).

Moses gave instructions to the generation of Jews who had survived the wilderness wanderings. He emphasized diligent teaching of their children, talking to them when they sit in the house, when they are walking in the way, when you lay down and when you get up (Dt. 6:4-9). One clear point is this: It takes time, over time! The common excuse that it takes quality time and not quantity time is misguided. We cannot spend every minute in a Bible class, but how much time we spend with our children matters. Going about daily activities can be teachable moments. Talking with our children bonds us together.

You cannot afford to leave your children’s minds in the hands of liberal religious teachers or the humanistically controlled public school. You must be an active teacher of your children, regardless of where they are schooled. Keeping that love-bond strong is the first line of defense for influencing our children.

C.S. Lewis is quoted as saying, “There is always hope if we keep an unsolved problem fairly in view; there is none, if we pretend it is not there” (Letters to Malcolm - quoted by A.E. Wilder Smith). What is the problem before us? It is the fact that Satan is out to steal your children. His ways are subtle and sneaky.  We must do all we can to protect them. Love them fervently enough to keep him on the run.

For you to love your children the right way, you must love God, the right way: “with all your heart, your soul, your mind and your strength” (Mt. 22:37, Lk. 10:27). If you do not love Jesus enough to obey him (Jon. 14:15), you will not be the eternally successful parent you need to be. 


Recommended Reading

Jackson, Wayne. Penetrating Questions From the Book of Job. https://www.christiancourier.com/articles/726-penetrating-questions-from-the-book-of-job

Atheistic Religiion In The Classroom.




Study Questions
1.  Read Titus 2:3-4
Define the Greek word “agape” translated love.
Define the Greek word “phileo” translated love.
What is the difference between between the two?

2.  Read 1 Corinthians 13.
Choose one of the words that you think you could grow in to be a better parent.

3.  Have you given thought to each of your child’s specific needs? Pray for them individually, rather than collectively. 

4.  Make a plan for teaching your children at home. Regardless of how they are receiving their secular education you still need to teach them. But don’t expect them to be happy about a typical school room sit down study. Try to make learning interesting. Memory verses are good. If you feel inapt about teaching your own children the Bible, ask for some help from a trusted Bible class teacher.

5. Memorize: Matthew 22:37-39


Sources:
Ham, Ken/Britt Beemer. (2009). Already Gone. Green Forest, AR: Master Books.
Sax, Leonard,M.D. Ph.D. (2010). Girls on The Edge. New York:Basic Books.
A.E. Wilder Smith.(1968). Man's Origin, Man's Destiny. Wheaton, IL: Harold Shaw Publishers.
Note:
A good online study site is http://www.studylight.org. There you will find Bible dictionaries, commentaries, original language tools, etc.

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Friday, October 14, 2016

Securing Their Hearts #2

The Good and Honest Heart
by Betty Jackson

In the Parable of the Sower, the Lord taught about different kinds of hearts (Matt. 13:1-23; Mk. 4:1-20; Lk. 8:1-15). The good soil represents the “good and honest heart” (Lk. 8:15). This kind of heart responds to the word of God by clinging to it and obeying it. If heaven is to be ours and our children’s, we must have honest hearts.
Gardeners can enrich poor soil, so that it will bear fruit. While we do not compare a child to poor soil, work must be done to develop the good and honest heart. Soil may be too alkaline or acidic. Amendments will change the soil so that it can support a particular kind of plant. Different plants require different soil composition. One interpretation of Proverbs 22:6 is “train up a child in the way of his goings,” implying the difference in the make up of children. Some children are mild in temperament, others are eager to keep things alive from the time they hit the floor in the morning!
There are, however, basic truths that apply to every child. Parents are key for the development of honesty within the hearts of our children.
Considering Luke’s use of the word honest as it is translated in most versions is interesting (Lk. 8:15). It has several possible meanings. (Barclay, 151). Some translate it noble, a word that embraces every desirable sense of being honorable. Treating God’s word in an honorable way demands a good, honest, obedient attitude. 
The Bereans were described as being noble, because they “received the word with all readiness of mind.” Here “noble” is a different Greek word, but it carries with it what honesty and goodness mean in accepting the will of God. (Acts 17:11).
In the future, we will consider the love-bond between parents and children and how important that is for the development of one’s offspring. For now we will focus on the good and honest heart. Once I heard a non-Christian exclaim her love for her little daughter, “I would give my life for her.” She had so much love and passion in her voice, I knew she meant that. Sadly, she wasn’t giving her life for her baby in every-day living, by seeking God and his will. 
As Christian parents, we love our children too. But we must be the kind of servants of God that will be productive (Matt. 13:23). Let us pray that first fruits of our labors are good and honest children who love the Lord with all their hearts.
How? What a complex task it is to train children in all areas. Young mothers need to be humble enough to seek the advice of kind and faithful older women (Titus 2:3-4), who have successfully brought up children for the Lord. Those ladies have made mistakes, and now understand better. They have had some wonderful successes, and can share wisdom from the Scriptures.
Our examples speak volumes to our children. Are you honest? Most of us believe we are. Upon some serious self-evaluation, perhaps we find that we have room for improvement.
Honesty demands that we guard our own hearts. The conscience is a fragile part of our being. It is easily misled, if we do not protect it (cf. Prov. 4:23). We are instructed to, “Buy the truth, and sell it not; also wisdom, and instruction, and understanding” (Prov. 23:23). How important is truth to us? Will we expend every expense, every tireless effort to obtain or know it? Christ said, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, For they shall be filled.” (Matt. 5:6).
Do we accept truth, even when it is difficult, or upsetting to our lives? Are we willing to repent for teaching our children error? Truth is demanding, but it will set us free from the burdens of guilt. (John 8:32).
How can we communicate the value of truth and honesty to our children? Consider a few suggestions.
Some would argue that it is wrong to punish a child, especially by corporal punishment. The Bible is clear (Prov. 13:24, Heb. 12:5-11). Ephesians 6:4 instructs parents to bring up (nurture) children in “the admonishment or discipline of the Lord,” which includes physical restraint, correction, and verbal reproof. How honest is it to withhold just and measured discipline? (Mercy is a different topic.) How honest is it to unfairly punish a child? How honest is it to expect a 2 year old to behave like a 12 year old, or a 12 year old to act like a 19 year old, with the same understanding? A woman I knew said, “I wasn’t raised, I was just jerked up by the hair of my head!” To provoke a child to wrath by unfair, overly harsh methods is the easiest way to disturb the development of an honest heart (Eph. 6:4).
“Little white lies” don’t seem so bad to some. Someone may ask her youngster to lie by telling the salesman that she is not home. Perhaps the cashier gave you too much change, and you exclaim how much you needed that money. Would you return it? What about the little lies someone may tell about how she is serving the Lord, her husband, or the church to impress others with how much she serves in the kingdom? Lying parents will not produce honest children. (See: Eph. 4:25).
Haven’t some of us set our child up to lie? A scenario such as this: Mother tells three year old junior not to bother or get a cookie from a plate you plan to deliver to someone. But junior disobeys and you catch him with melted chocolate chips on his face and crumbs on the floor. And you ask, “Did you get a cookie?” By your voice and stern appearance, he panics and says, “No.” So you spank him for lying. It would be better to make it easy for him to tell the truth, when possible. But he should not have been asked that question. Rather, he needs a lesson in obedience. Perhaps time out, perhaps a couple of swats on the backside or both. He doesn’t need 20 lashes! That would be an over reaction.
Manipulation is also a form of lying. Some women are really good at this device to get their way. Some even manipulate their children. Most children know how to do this very early in life. They will cry (or put on a good act!) until they get their way. Giving in isn’t a good idea. Now we aren’t talking about a little child whose parents have kept him out without a nap or past bedtime who has melt downs! If you have a child that habitually cries or pouts to get his/her way, train them to quit that behavior. Older children may use anger as manipulation. That kind of manipulation will lead a child into a grave life-style as he gets older.
Parents need to set the very best example. To ignore the Scriptures about anything will not influence our children for good. To manipulate or lie to our mates, to lie to others about our service in the Lord, to fail to attend as we ought (Heb. 12:25), or give as we ought (1 Cor. 16:2), will teach our children that the Lord’s commands are arbitrary. How sad that is!
Have you ever apologized to your child? Perhaps you punished the wrong child! Or failed to communicate as to why you did not keep a promise. For good communication in the home, noble parents will apologize, and do their best to correct their mistakes. Arrogant parents will not be the best communicators of honesty.
Regardless of how emotionally we’re attached to our children, we must love them with the highest form of love (agape) so that they will develop honest and good hearts. Your example of integrity will help your children trust you, not only for comfort, but in your efforts to teach them God’s word.
This article is too short to deal with this topic fully. However, the paramount importance of training our children to be honest has been stressed. May we strive for nobility in serving our Father so that we will help our children to walk with us in that narrow way that leads to eternal life.

Recommended Reading
Barclay, William. New Testament Words. 1974. Philadelphia, PA: The Westminster Press.**
White, Jerry. Honesty, Morality and Conscience. 1986. Colorado Springs:CO:NavPress.**
** The sources above are recommended with the caviat that we do not endorse all the writings of these authors because of some doctrinal error. However, principles of the Bible are still true even when recognized by those whose teachings are imperfect.
Jackson, Wayne.What is Truth—A Question For the Ages. https://www.christiancourier.com/articles/890-what-is-truth-a-question-for-the-ages

Study Questions
1. Define the word noble.
2. Why do you think the virtue of honesty is so crucial to one learning God’s truth?
3. What does “Buy the truth and sell it not” mean?
4. Why is it important to guard the heart of conscience?
5. Explain why manipulation is a form of lying.

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Friday, September 30, 2016

Securing Their Hearts #1

Train Up A Child     

by Betty Jackson


This is the first article in a series intended to encourage parents in the most important work they will ever do: Securing the hearts of their children. 
Where do we begin? Perhaps with the word “HELP”! Only an arrogant parent would say that she did not need some advice during a crisis with her child. Often the crisis is not as earth shattering as one may think at the time. Yet none should be oblivious to the teachings of the Bible concerning parenthood.
Surely Christian parents concede they have the responsibility to train their children. However, we must be reminded that this is a serious responsibility put upon us by our Father in heaven (Eph. 6:4; Prov. 22:6). Raising children to love and serve the Lord is not accidental. How, then, do we train them to become dedicated Christians?
Puzzled parents exclaim that they took their children to all the services of the church, only to have them fall away as young adults. The periods of worship are commanded and vital to each of us in our maturing in the faith. However, three, two, or only one hour a week will not be enough to offset the many more hours doing a myriad of other things. Nor will it likely stem the tide of the influence of secular culture.
One father said to the Bible class teacher about his youngster not doing the Bible class work, “But he is a busy boy.” No wonder that boy grew up to be worldly!
With the hours whittled away each day, time will fly by without our spending the time necessary to truly train our children. Securing the hearts of our children, begins with securing our own. How secure are our souls in the Lord? Is he distant from our hearts and minds? If we rarely think about him, rarely pray, rarely study his word, how can our children learn to love and serve God?
Let’s humbly look to the Helping Lord for divine guidance from his handbook on childrearing. Beg Him in prayer for the hearts and souls of your children to be secured. Then let us rivet our attention on the most important task of nourishing our children in the Lord.
Recommended Reading
Jackson, Jason. Will Our Children Trust In The Lord? 

Questions to Ponder
1. Read Deuteronomy 6:4-9.
How frequently did Moses declare that the Jews were to teach their children about the commands of God?
2. Read Ephesians 6:4. 
Define what the words “bring up” (NASB) or “nurture them” means. 
3. Circle or underline these words in Philippians 1:3-4 (NKJV):
every, always, every, joy.
“I thank my God upon every remembrance of you,   always in every prayer of mine making request for you all with joy.” 
The apostle Paul loved the Philippians. Though he was in hardship (prison), he prayed for these Christians with joy. 

Think on this verse and these underlined words as you pray for your children.

Suggested Memory Verse
Proverbs 22:6

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Thursday, August 25, 2016

Making A Christian Marriage #6

What About Divorce?

by Betty Jackson

Statistics do not fully reveal all there is about the divorce rate. Some religious sources suggest that one out of two marriages will end in divorce. Others say that is not a correct way of working out the statistics. Another source says 31% of people ages 35-54 who are married, engaged, or illicitly living with someone have been married before. Whatever the correct numbers are, from our own evaluations we can logically conclude that divorce is common place in our society.

There are some who claim the percentages of divorces is declining. We would love to know that is true for the right reasons. But there are more people living together without marriage than ever before. Some even question the need for marriage. They have accepted the sad idea that it is unrealistic for two people to expect to stay together throughout life. 

Divorce is a problem among Christians. The pain that brings people to the point of divorce is real. In the world, and the church, the scriptural regulations for divorce are often ignored. If one even thinks about divorce, there is work to be done! Granted some marriages cannot be saved because of a mate’s adultery and refusal to repent. (cf. Matthew 19:1-9.)

What is God’s design for marriage? Human beings are created social creatures. Marriage provides intimate companionship and the only God-approved sexual relationship. It is the best environment for the rearing of children. But there is another purpose: to promote the spreading of the gospel of Christ. 

One of the problems for most of us is we are a bit self-centered. Unfortunately, many are adept at manipulation, which is damaging to any relationship. We generally see things through “our” eyes, and not those of God. If we kept our hearts and minds focused on marriage as an institution for serving God and his cause of redemption, many issues would simply dissolve. Marriage is truly an opportunity to grow up, to mature spiritually, and help another person get to heaven.

This six article series has not been able to address the whole of making marriage work. Perhaps there have been some tidbits of advice that can help each of us work harder at the goal of making our spousal relationships special.Those of us who seek to serve the Lord know that we can grow and mature as long as we live. So with this final article, I would like to focus upon some words found in Philippians 4:8. The inspired apostle Paul instructs us to dwell upon things that are “worthy of praise” (NASV).

It is sad to witness couples who are in a verbal war. They are the antithesis of the old western song originally written by Brewster M. Higley, Home on the Range, with the chorus wherein are these words, “...where seldom is heard a discouraging word...” How life would be made pleasant if instead of the many discouraging, demanding put-downs and criticisms, words of praise were given.

Our times are so void of social graces. Saying “thank you” is foreign vocabulary, as well as asking “please.” Some treat strangers with more courtesy than their spouses! Children will run over elderly people, and brush by without a care if they knock them down, stuff their pockets with food, eat with poor manners, etc. Pardon me, I stray! My point is, we need to return to a time of some etiquette. not only with people we do not know, but in the home.

We can find something in our mates, and they in us, that is displeasing or thoughtless. We are all sinners. We don’t always do the right thing. If we want to be treated with tolerance and respect, we must give it. Peter encourages wives to live such godly and pure lives that husbands will take notice. Even Christian men can grow because of their chaste wives. (1 Peter 3:1-4)

If we dwell on the negative, we will behave in a negative way. If we do our best to meditate upon the virtuous and praiseworthy, our hearts will be encouraged and more peaceful. Solomon said, “As a man thinks in his heart, so is he...” (Proverbs 23:7). In context, it has to do with a person who is stingy in his thoughts, then begrudges the hospitality that he has given. The principle is we are what we think! If we think virtuous, peaceful, loving and praising thoughts, our actions will come to match the thoughts. Does that mean we always feel like acting sweet? No. Yet, Paul said to “think about these things.” We can choose to bring our thoughts under control, then, and only then, will we be able to act the way we should.

Paul considered giving up all that prestige and honor he had with the Jews before his conversion as loss, as waste. (cf. Philippians 3:7-11). Why not consider letting go of the negatives as giving up holding on to bitterness because we don’t get all we want from a spouse as loss for Christ, and positively live to influence our mates for his spiritual good. It is difficult to give up our “feelings” but feelings are fleeting in eternal terms. Live for the eternal.

How wonderful it is to have the Lord’s description of the woman he wants us to be. Let us strive to become the “rare” woman, with the help of God. 

“An excellent wife who can find?
She is far more precious than jewels.
The heart of her husband trusts in her,
and he will have no lack of gain.
She does him good, and not harm,
all the days of her life.” (Proverbs 31:10-12, ESV).

“Strength and dignity are her clothing,
and she laughs at the time to come.
She opens her mouth with wisdom,
and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue” (vss. 25-26).


Try This:

Read Philippians 4:7-9 twice a week for one month. Read 1 Peter 3:1-4 once a week for one month.

Make a mental note of the things your mate does that are praiseworthy. Do this with a good attitude. There must be something, unless he is an abusive man. In that case, you need some professional help. Remember thoughtlessness is not necessarily equal to abusiveness!

Do This:

Use good manners!  If you have not been taught, find a book or article on line. Set your table at least part of the time with something nice, a flower from your yard, or a candle. Set the mood for good manners. Teach your children how to act at the table, greeting older people, and how to sit still during worship, according to their age. Be an example.
(See: http://education.qld.gov.au/library/docs/edhistory/goodmanners)

Thank your husband, sincerely, not in order to manipulate him into doing things you want him to do. Many times we may fail to thank our mates for things they do for us. How often do we fail to use good manners when we make requests? It is easy to become too comfortable and take our spouses for granted. It is easier to grumble about his failing to take out the garbage, than to pleasantly ask with a “please.” Is it easier to complain than to praise?

Read this article:



Memorize this:

Philippians 4:8 “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honorable, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.”

Questions

1. Ask self: Am I really willing to do the hard work to make my     marriage better?
2.  Ask self: Am I a negative thinker?
3. Do I pray for the Lord’s providence to help me have wisdom?
4. Have I thought about how to improve manners in our home. Teach children by example. Good manners and courtesy is consideration.

Recommended Reading

Articles
Jackson, Wayne. Christian Courier:
Examine Yourselves. 
https://www.christiancourier.com/articles/1445-examine-yourselves

Some Questions About Divorce and Remarriage.

Books
Jackson, Wayne. Divorce & Remarriage, as Study Discussion. Stockton, CA. Christian Courier Publications. 1983.

Ladd, Karol. Power of A Positive Wife. West Monroe, LA. Howard Publishing Co. 2003. 
(Note: Some of the contents of this book are not biblical. Yet Bible principles about marriage are true regardless of who says them.)

Loden, Patsy. Loving Your Husband —How to Transform Your Marriage and Honor Your Covenant. Huntsville, AL. Publishing Designs, Inc. 2010. (Mrs. Loden is a member of the church of Christ.)