An aching cry to any Christian parent who will read this.

There was a huge paradigm in my thinking when I came to Christ about four years ago.  It is something that God has been quietly sculpting inside me since this time.  But now I feel like I have to speak out about it.  Now is the time for me to give voice to the bold cry inside me that I long for every Christian parent to hear.

I’m going to make some people angry here.  But I want you to think and ask yourself if what I’m saying is not true.  If it’s not, don’t listen to it.  If it is, change how you treat your children.

Here it is.

I’m speaking out.

.                .                .                .                .                .

When you realize that your child is not yours but belongs to God, an infinite difference should take place in your parenting.

But there are Christians who treat their children with less value for the Gospel than nonbelievers.

There are Christians who I wouldn’t dare to be a child in their home because of how they speak of their child and how they treat their child.

.                .                .                .                .                .

Any harm we do to anyone in this life is ultimately harm done against Christ.  Christ experienced harm of every sort: natural (the general consequence of sin in our world) and deliberate (the specific consequence of sin of others in our lives) at the cross.

That means any time you harm your child, you’re actually harming Christ.  And whatever you’re doing to your child in that moment of harming him, you’re actually doing to Christ.

I never use to believe that, but I do now.

There are many people, many Christians, who look at the Bible and they see discipline, but then how they enact that discipline is how Satan would.

Many Christians don’t think about other Scriptures that balance the discipline passages.

The Bible says that if you prevent any of these little ones from coming into the Kingdom of God–if you block their way–better for you for a large millstone to be tied around your neck and for you to be drowned in the sea (Matthew 18:6, Mark 9:42, Luke 17:2).

This is at least as serious in nature as the passages about discipline and we should take the warning soberly.

If your discipline drives your child away from you and towards sin rather than towards you and away from sin, you’re not emulating your Heavenly Father (see Ezekiel 18:32, Ezekiel 33:11, 2 Peter 3:9 for what God is like and 2 Timothy 2:24 for an example of our calling).

That’s not to say that all children will receive good discipline the right way at all times–we’re all sinners.  But if there’s a pattern of you exacerbating your child as Paul warns against–provoking your child–actually, you’re driving your child away from the Kingdom of God (see Ephesians 6:4 and Colossians 3:21).

The way that Satan would have you discipline is a power play.  But that doesn’t reflect God.  Think of how God treats us with all the many mistakes we make (see Lamentations 3:23).

I’ve seen or heard of people doing things such as delay punishment for hours, and it becomes a power play of manipulation and fear and while your child is frightened in a sinful way, waiting for you to do something that’s calculated and cruel, it is exactly the same as if Jesus was sitting there waiting for you to do something to Him (Matthew 25:40 and 25:45; also see Matthew 18:7 and Luke 17:1).

In the Old Testament system, even physical correction by the Law for adults was something that was to happen immediately–not with delay (see Deuteronomy 25:2).

Your child in his worst moment was worth the blood of value (see John 3:16, John 10:11, Romans 5:10, 1 John 3:16).  Your child in his worst moment is made in the image of God (see Genesis 1:26-27).  Your child in his worst moment is a gift from God (see Genesis 1:28, Psalm 127:3-5).

The value God has placed on your child is His blood and when you treat your child as worthy of less than His blood, you are not following the Gospel which you say you believe.

I have heard and seen the excuses of people talking about God’s means of physical correction in the Law and Proverbs and then extrapolating that into things that would please only Satan.

For example, parents chasing their child around the house with a belt or something else to hit them with.

God does not chase us around Heaven with a belt.

If you are so out of control that you are chasing your child around the house, you are treating your child as prey and you are the predator,

and you are treating Jesus Christ as prey, and you are the predator.

Yes, that was a weighty thing to dare to say.  Pray for the church right now as you read this, that we do not treat Jesus Christ in such an unworthy manner.

If your child’s said something smart-aleck or mean or uncalled for to you, and you arrogantly slap him across the face, you are showing a scorn for who he is as a human being.  You are showing a scorn for someone who Christ died for.

If you surprise your child with sudden movements and unexpected consequences, you’re showing him a thoughtless and capricious representation of God.

If you treat your child in a manner that you lord your power over him, you are acting as the Gentile rulers, and you are not emulating your Heavenly Father (see Matthew 20:25-28).

You are to be a servant of your child.  That means first and foremost, you are serving her.  And if your discipline is not a service to your child, but it’s a gratification of your own needs for punishment, or if it’s a perverse enjoyment from within you–which we all have–to harm others, or to lord it over others, then you are sinning against the Christ who died and changed that system for eternity.

If you scar your child so that she is wounded to receive the Kingdom of God, woe to us.

We need to repent in sackcloth and ashes on the floor.

The fruits of the Spirit include self-control (see Galatians 5:22-23).  It doesn’t matter how much your child is not showing self-control.  In the worst of cases, it doesn’t matter if she’s kicking you, spitting on you, destroying your things, wrecking your car, or spray painting your house, you are called to have self-control.

You have the Spirit of God living in you, and when your child is a little child, she does not.  And even when she comes to know God, she is still learning and developing.  You are the wise one about the ways of God, and it is up to you for how you treat your child (see Proverbs 22:6).

Your child looks to you for the standard of righteousness, and the constructs you build about law and grace will guide your child in understanding the Old Testament and the New Testament.

It is possible to treat your child in such an unholy manner that God spends years working through your child’s life to give her a right understanding of who He is and His Law and grace.

Too many children have been driven away from the church by their parents–especially fathers.  Too many children in the church have been treated only as a sinner and not with the perspective that they are weak, and therefore we protect them (see Psalm 82:3) . . that they are a representation of Christ on earth (remember Matthew 25:40 and 25:45), and therefore we treat them as we would treat Christ.

Never, ever forget: your child was important enough for God to send His own Son to personally rescue.

I fear that in trying to keep our children from being corrupted by self-esteem and unholy living, we have driven them to exalt the self-esteem in their life, because they feel no one else esteems them, and to live unholy lives with reckless abandon, because they know they will never measure up to God’s standards (or ours).

Don’t ever forget, this is the very reason Jesus came as our Sacrifice.  He gives us not self-esteem and not self-worth, but God worth and God value.

He gives us not an excuse for unholy living, nor the impossible demand that we must be perfect in our own self-wretchedness, but the gift of Him living out holiness for us, so that, through Him, we can be saved in total holiness, and we can be clothed with Him and live in more and more of His holiness day by day (see 2 Corinthians 5:21, Romans 13:14, 1 John 3:23).

I’m not calling for some kind of wishy-washy there’s no consequences, your sins don’t matteryou’re not a wretch, or we don’t follow what the Bible says about physical correction attitude towards children.

I’m calling people to treat their child by the holiness that God dictates.  You cannot pull out one Scripture and ignore others.  We are called to holiness (see 1 Peter 1:16).  We are called to recognize our children are holy (see the mystery of 1 Corinthians 7:14); our children are precious to God (see Matthew 19:14 and Luke 18:16); and our children are valuable beyond measure to God, because He died for them.

James tells us we all sin in many ways (from James 3:2).  But we need to break out of habitual, wicked patterns of saying we represent God and then representing Satan or demons to our children.  When we do that, Satan is waiting with open arms to greet our children with the false masquerade that he has the qualities that God, and only God, represents (see 1 John 1:5).

But when we represent God to our children as Satan, then they will look at Satan and they will see the qualities they long to see in God but believe He doesn’t have because of us.

This is eternally serious, church.

We need to get this right.

How we treat children matters for eternity.  How we treat children shows what we would do if Jesus were on earth beside us.

Every mean-spirited, calculated, manipulative, and viceful thing you have ever done towards your child . . every time you have tormented him in your anger or self-gratification . . you have presented to him your representation of who God is.

Yet, there is this deep well of hope for all of us who have ever sinned against children–this deep well of hope and yet, at the same time, this unimaginable grief we must come to realize:

Your child hasn’t born the full weight of this sin you have done.  I know this with all of my heart.  I believe it with every fiber of my being.  Jesus, Jesus felt the full impact of your blow.

I beg you and I beg myself: let’s use every grain of strength God has placed in us to never again allow this to happen.

Let us, church, never again treat a child in a way that only Christ can, and only Christ must (by His never-ending absolutely awe-striking, utterly enrapturing love)

choose to bear.

I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. (Ephesians 4:1b, NIV)

I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. (Matthew 18:4, NIV)

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Climbs & Slides & More to Life than This

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. (Galatians 5:1, NIV)

Have you ever seen the battery operated toys that have stairs and slide and little figures that climb the stairs, roll down the slide, and then do it all over again?

Penguin Race

I have one of these toys.  Mine has little pirates and a parrot, and the principle is the same: they climb, climb, climb, and then slide, slide, slide, and then climb, climb, climb again, and then slide, slide, slide again.

The little characters have special rollers for “feet”, designed for their endless journey.  Climb, climb, climb . . slide, slide, slide.  Climb, climb, climb . . slide, slide, slide.

Sound familiar?

It is the near exact habit of most of our lives.  It might look different in different people and at different times, but the climbing and sliding are always there.

For you, the latest might be a climb, climb, climb . . or it might be a slide, slide, slide  . . but the same two principles are there.  You’re climbing.  Or you’re sliding.

The same for me.

Up, up, up the stairs.  Down, down, down the slide.

There is nothing–not one thing–I can do to get off the never-ending cycle.

Some call it “good luck” and “bad luck”.  Others call it “karma”.  And others call it “fate”.  It’s what goes our way versus what doesn’t.

It is a prison of ups and downs.

A familiar prison, a mindless prison, and maybe even a comforting prison.  But a prison nonetheless.  It’s a cycle I can’t break free from.

Outside my realm is a mighty war going on between Good and evil, Life and death, Grace and consequence.

Inside my realm, I am prisoner of the effects of the sin I can’t escape and the mercy I don’t understand.

Slide, slide, slide.  Climb, climb, climb.

I am passive to my responsibility in this war because I either see myself as acted upon, carried along by what I cannot control . . or I delude myself into believing I’m on my own exciting journey that I control, and not the endless cycle of climbs and slides I find myself bound to abide by.

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. (Galatians 5:1, NIV)

Apart from Christ, all I can look forward to in this life is to be carried along day to day by the chutes of frightening sin I’ve had my own hand in constructing, and to be lifted up by the extravagances of baffling grace I can’t possibly understand.

I get a great evaluation at work–climb, climb, climb.

I puncture my tire on a curb when I don’t have the money to spare on it–slide, slide.

I have a boyfriend–climb, climb, climb, climb.

I lose my retainers and worry my front teeth are getting pushed out of alignment–slide, slide.

Cheerios are on sale–climb.

My friends don’t respond to my facebook post–slide.

But it’s not just the small climbs and slides.  It’s the sky-scraping climbs and breakneck slides, too.

All of my life and everything in it, it’s all just a climb or a slide; it’s all just a dance or a dirge; it‘s all an equally meaningless cycle without

Christ.

Some people mistakenly think the point of Christianity is to get more climbs-per-slide ratio.  That isn’t it at all.

It’s to be free from the cycle.

It’s to get off the track.

And it’s to get feet–real feet–instead of rollers.

Whatever climbs or slides come my way in this life, Christ enables me to turn them into eternally-mattering landscapes in His Kingdom.

What was once a climb only enacted upon me, scooting my rollers up one step at a time . . becomes an opportunity for me to scale a snowy-topped mountain of Hallelujahs for God.  Each mountain becomes a reminder of my delight in who He is.  Each mountain becomes a glimpse of what my joy in Him will be like one day.

And what was once a slide being rushed upon me, forcing my rollers to spin wildly . . becomes an opportunity for me to claim a shadowy valley for God.  I learn to have faith in who God is regardless of what sin has done to His world.  And so each valley becomes a reminder of my grief over the effects of sin and my eagerness for my King.  Each valley becomes a glimpse of what my existence would be like without Him.

I choose for Christ to set me free from the endless track of stairs and slides of this life.  I choose to journey the mountains and valleys between me and my King.  I choose to live a life that matters–not just so long as the switch to this world is turned on, but for all eternity.

I choose Christ.

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. (Galatians 5:1, NIV)

Published in: on September 22, 2013 at 11:14 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Lesson from the Fly

From Ben’s Pen:

The other day, Teej found a dead fly in the refrigerator and asked me to remove it. It’s not too surprising that a fly would end up in the fridge. After all, flies are famous for their love of food. They tend to frequent picnics and cookouts, and when one does get inside the house, it can usually be found in the kitchen or dining room. This particular fly must have thought he’d found the jackpot! So much food, just sitting there! Not a swatter or newspaper in sight! No hand to shoo it away! Not even fly paper! A veritable feast! And so it entered the refrigerator. When the door closed behind it, it probably didn’t notice, and wouldn’t have cared if it had. So much wonderful food for the taking, with no one to intervene. But in the end, the fly’s greed led to its demise. It chased after the jackpot, and lost everything.

King Solomon (inspired by God) wrote,

“There is a path before each person that seems right, but it ends in death.” (Proverbs 14:12)

Jesus said,

“Don’t store up treasures here on earth, where moths eat them and rust destroys them, and where thieves break in and steal. Store your treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal. Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.” (Matthew 6:19-21)

Chasing that wonderful treasure looked like a great idea to the fly, but it ended in death. It makes me think about the things we treasure. What am I chasing after? What are you? Is it a treasure that will ultimately pass away? Or one that will last for eternity?

In the same speech, Jesus said,

“You can enter God’s Kingdom only through the narrow gate. The road to destruction is broad, and its gate is wide for the many who choose that way. But the gateway to life is very narrow and the road is difficult, and only a few ever find it.” (Matthew 7:13-14)

God is working in one of two ways in your life:

1.  To bring you to salvation.

Or

2. To convince you to share with others how they can be saved, too.

Which way is He working in your life?

He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent. (2 Peter 3:9b, NLT)

Satan is working in one of two ways in your life:

1.  To try to keep you from being saved.

Or

2.  To try to keep you from sharing with others how they can be saved, too.

Which way is he working in your life?

The great dragon was hurled down–that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray. He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him. (Revelation 12:9, NIV)

Published in: on September 14, 2013 at 10:21 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Is it love?

“Our love for others is not just an emotional feeling.  It is a concern which lead us to action.”

–Billy Graham

“All who confess that Jesus is the Son of God have God living in them, and they live in God. We know how much God loves us, and we have put our trust in his love.God is love, and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them. And as we live in God, our love grows more perfect. So we will not be afraid on the day of judgment, but we can face him with confidence because we live like Jesus here in this world.” (1 John 4:15-17, NLT)

Published in: on September 14, 2013 at 9:17 pm  Leave a Comment  
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droplet

I want to be Your love in a droplet to the world, though the size of even a droplet is far more lofty than I shall ever attain.  Yet if by Your grace I have attained even the most microscopic atom of Your love possible, the world will be forever changed.

Droplets on a Leaf Creative Commons

This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus. (1 John 4:17, NIV)

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Photograph by Edward Townend, profile on http://www.flickr.com/photos/townendphotography/

Creative Commons License.

Published in: on September 14, 2013 at 7:09 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Wings that don’t melt

Unlike Daedalus & Icarus, the wings of Your grace do not melt under the hot sun of legalism.

{And Your wings, oh God, are no one’s mythology.}

And if by grace, then it cannot be based on works; if it were, grace would no longer be grace. (Romans 11:6, NIV)

Published in: on September 4, 2013 at 7:43 pm  Leave a Comment  
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