THE BENEFITS OF GOD’S WORD – PSALM 19:7-9

“The law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul; the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple; the precepts of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes; the fear of the LORD is clean, enduring forever; the rules of the LORD are true, and righteous altogether.”  Psalm 19:7-9

The Bible is a big book.  It can be overwhelming to think about reading every page.  This is the reason why so many don’t take the time to read and study God’s Word.  They allow themselves to be overwhelmed by the size of it.  When we approach the reading of the Word, we have to remember that it’s not about how much we read but what we learn when we read.  Our verses in Psalm 19 give us some benefits of studying the Word of God.  Let’s take a look at these benefits and consider them for our lives.

  1. God’s Word is complete. 

There is nothing lacking in the Word of God.  It is perfect referring not only to its completeness but also to the lack of error within it.  There is nothing left out that we need to know about following Jesus.  We will find all we need to understand the gospel of Jesus Christ within the pages.

  1. God’s Word revives us.

The words we read in the Scriptures can change us.  We learn how to change by study of the Word. As followers of Christ we don’t want to stay the same, at least I hope we don’t.  Our goal should be to look more like Jesus every day.  God is the same yesterday, today and forever.  We have to remember that we aren’t God, and we need to make changes in our life in order to look more like him.

  1. God’s Word can make us wise. 

The study of God’s Word can result in gaining wisdom.  Wisdom is something we should want to have so that we respond well to situations in our lives.  As we learn more about God and our identity in Christ, we gain wisdom– God’s wisdom.  Wisdom is knowledge of God in action, everyday life. Our knowledge and wisdom will grow as we study God’s Word.

  1. God’s Word is right.

The Bible is truth.  It’s not speculations or fantasy.  It’s the real deal, and we are to trust it.  We are to believe it.  The belief in God’s Word being right and true will help us to fight against doubt because it becomes the standard, not our own thinking.

  1. God’s Word will guide us.

As we study and read the word, our eyes will be opened to the truth of sin, the world, and God’s way.  We will learn that our sin requires us to repent, and that we can trust God to forgive us.  The world’s system is revealed to us as false, contrary to God’s way.  We will be guided into God’s way of doing life together as followers of Christ as we study the Word.

  1. God’s Word will last forever.

God’s Word, like himself, will never end and never change.  We can trust the Word that God has given us to be without fault, to be powerful, to never change, and to last forever.  There’s comfort in this firm foundation.

These truths about God’s Word come from only three verses.  There’s so much more about God’s Word and its benefits to be found in the Scriptures.  These benefits encourage us to not be overwhelmed but to take the time to read. As we study the Word, we will grow in spiritual maturity.  Hopefully as followers of Christ, we don’t want to remain as babies on milk but should want to progress to solid food, to maturity.  How do we do this without being overwhelmed with the size of the book?  Does my reading of the Bible become a checklist I need to follow?  Can I really learn and apply rather than just read words?  Here are two suggestions to help you receive the benefits God’s Word offers.

  1. Start by reading a paragraph in a book of the Bible rather than a whole chapter.  This will give you a context without feeling like you are reading more than you can grasp.
  2. Journal about what you read in the paragraph by answering these three questions. What did I learn about God?  What did I learn about man? How can I apply this knowledge to my life?

By keeping the process of reading simple, you will learn rather than be overwhelmed.  There are many benefits of God’s Word.  Don’t miss them because you are fearful to begin.  Let’s get in touch with our Father so that he can teach us, guide us, and love us through his Word.

“NEW” IS HARD…LIFE WITH DAD

Many of us are at the point in our lives when we are helping our aging parents.  It seems like many more people are living into their 90s now, but maybe that’s not true.  I may notice it more now because I’m dealing with my dad who’s 93 years old.  What I’m discovering is that anything “new” is hard for my dad to grasp.  This is not said in a derogatory fashion but as a simple fact.  We all change as we get older and our ability to handle “new” things becomes harder.  For me this discovery came in the form of an upper partial denture plate made just for my dad.

A few weeks ago dad lost his front tooth–totally lost it.  There was a cap on it which fell out and took the whole tooth with it.  The dentist pulled the root and then said that a partial plate would do the trick.  The partial plate would include the front tooth as well as a molar on the side.  This would make it fit better and be easier to put in and take out each day.  All of that sounds great in theory but in real life, not so great!  I took him back to the dentist to be fitted.  The appliance went right in his mouth and fit very well.  We were told to leave it in overnight the first night.  So far, so good…but then came the next afternoon.

I prepared the container for the appliance and then told him where to grab it in order to take it out.  He grabbed everywhere else but where he was supposed to grab.  So I put on gloves and took it out.  The next morning I came in to help him put it in.  He couldn’t see where to put it and I explained how to feel where to put it but my gloves had to come on again.  He couldn’t understand how to do it.  The whole process is “new” to him.  The result is that I have a “new” process.  I go by every morning and put it in, then every night to take it out.

“New” is hard for people in their 90s, but “new” is also hard for me in my 60s.  This is not what I wanted to be doing.  I have a hard time working in other people’s mouths.  It brings a nauseous feeling to me.  Even as I write this my stomach gets a little queasy.  What am I to do with this “new” in my life?  I’ve struggled with it, but I do understand it.  I’ve struggled with it, but I can do it.  I’ve struggled with it, but God is doing a work in me.

  1. God is changing my natural reaction to other people’s mouths.  I’m surprised at how God has given me grace to do something that causes me to be sick.  The feelings are not as prevalent now.  This is can only be God who is doing this for me.  It’s certainly not my own will, because it screams against doing this for my dad.  “The Lord is good to all, and his mercy is over all that he has made.”  Psalm 145:9  God knows my frailty.  He gives me mercy and grace in my frailty.
  2. God is giving me strength in my weakness. The truth is I get tired.  Sometimes I just want to stop doing what I’m doing but God has other plans for me.  He wants me to depend on him and not on myself.  I don’t have the strength to persevere in this tooth insertion process.  “The LORD is my strength and my shield; in him my heart trusts, and I am helped;…” Psalm 28:7a  God always helps me, on that I can rely.
  3. God is giving me an opportunity to serve my dad. It’s great to serve others when it’s something we enjoy doing.  I love to cook.  So if I get the chance to cook for someone, I’m there!  Is my cooking serving?  Yes but it is a serving opportunity that I enjoy as much as the recipients.  “…but through love serve one another.” Galatians 5:13b  All service is to be done in love for others.  I may not like this service, but it is a time in which I can love dad well.

“New” can be hard for us at any age but as we persevere in the “new” we will begin to see that it becomes “old”.  God created us so wonderfully in that we can adjust to the “new” situations we face in life.  The goal for followers of Christ is that the adjustments we make will result in us looking more like Jesus.

“Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.” 1 John 3:18

 

 

WOMEN AND EXPERIENCE

Have you ever noticed how much women value experience?  This can lead to wrong ideas such as:

“You don’t understand me because you haven’t experienced my pain.”

            “I don’t want your help because your life is easy compared to mine.”

            “Walk in my shoes, and then you’ll understand.”

            “Don’t talk to me about my children!  What do you know?”

These ideas flow from the idea that experience is the most valuable asset we can have as women.  Experience can be very beneficial but it isn’t the standard by which we are to live.

What happens to our theology when experience rules?

  1. We become man-centered rather than God-centered.  Life becomes about what I experience rather than the truth of God’s Word.  God becomes a tool in our hands rather than the creator of the universe.  We see him as our servant rather than one to be served.  Our prayers become extremely self-centered so that we ask and ask of God what we desire.  Then when we don’t receive those things, God is not for us but against us in some way.  To allow experience to rule our lives is to create an idol of worship.       “Those who make them (idols) become like them, so do all who trust in them.” Psalm 135:18

 

  1. We force the Word of God to say what our experience is saying. In other words, we don’t use the context in which the Word was written, but instead use our context of experience.  This is done quite often in Bible studies for women, which is really sad.  The reason it keeps being done is because women gobble up the experience driven study.  It feels good to know that God was really talking about them when he had Moses write Exodus.  How sad for us that we don’t have enough discernment to see this as wrongly dividing the Word of truth.  To allow experience to be the context of God’s Word is to erase the real story of the Word which is Jesus Christ.    “And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.(Jesus)” Luke 24:27

 

  1. We miss valuable input from our brothers and sisters in Christ when we dismiss them because of their lack of experience. Every believer should be seeking knowledge of the Lord.  It’s the knowledge of the Lord that helps us  live this life well.  Just because someone hasn’t experienced our circumstances doesn’t mean they can’t point us to the one who can give hope and comfort.   To allow experience to be our standard in relationships is to miss how the Lord can use someone in our lives to point us to him.  “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction so that, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.”      2 Corinthians 1:3-4

Is there value in experience?

Yes, there is value in our experiences.  The value is not that we experienced something in our lives, but that we’ve experienced God’s work in our lives.  We place more value on the actual experience then we do on what God has done in that experience.  Paul talks about his experiences in 2 Corinthians 11-12.  He lays out for the Corinthian Church all he has gone through for the sake of the gospel.  Even when he does that he says, “I am speaking as a fool”. (Verse 21)  In the end, it’s not his experiences that are the most important.  After all he has gone through for the gospel, he still has a weakness which he cries out for God to take away.  He experiences this daily.  It’s hard for him, but he doesn’t look for someone else who’s experiencing it for help; he looks to God.  Paul gives us God’s answer; it’s about him and not about experience.

“…My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”  2 Corinthians 12:9a

Our experience isn’t the answer; the grace of God is the answer.  The truth of his Word is the answer.  God’s character is the answer.  We will go much farther if we begin to trust in the right thing.  We all go through experiences differently, but God never changes.

Let’s change our idea of experience from being man-centered to being God-centered.                     How?  Experience God at work in your experience rather than putting value on the experience itself!

 

LIFE…A PAINTBALL WAR

 

Have you ever been in a paintball war?  “Paintball is a competitive team shooting sport in which players eliminate opponents from play by hitting them with round, breakable dye-filled oil and gelatin pellets (“paintballs”), usually shot from a compressed air (nitrogen) or carbon dioxide-powered low-energy air weapon called paintball marker.” (according to Google)  You should wear layers of clothing which consists of long sleeves and long pants, headgear with a face shield, boots, and take ibuprofen for muscle pain.  It’s all about being prepared to feel the splat of the paintball.  The only thing you can’t be prepared for is where the paintball will come from or where it may hit you. Whether you are an amateur or a professional, the game will come to an end.  It’s then that you can laugh at the paint you and others are wearing as you do a recap of the game together.  Our daily life is similar in some ways but very different in others from a paintball war.  Let’s look at life using a paintball lens.

We compete with people in life.

Unfortunately, this is very true of us.  We have a tendency to want to be better than someone else.  That’s our sinful selfish nature rearing its ugly head.  Is it the “Miss America” syndrome which tells us we are special or just the love of ourselves?  There is such a desire to compare ourselves to others.  It makes us feel better about ourselves because there’s always someone sinning more or worse off than we are.  Jesus warns us about this when he told the parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector.  The Pharisee prays, “…God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector.  I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.” Luke 18:11-12  Even as we read this, we may have the temptation to say in our hearts, “I’m not that bad.  I don’t pray that way about myself.”  Be careful because we don’t really have to say it to be guilty of the competition with others.  Just as those who fight in a paintball war must prepare themselves for the battle, we must be ready to fight our competitive spirit.  Jesus reminds us how, “…the one who humbles himself will be exalted.” Luke 18:14b  We need to put on humility and see ourselves as God sees us, as needy sheep.

We shoot people in life.

You may be shaking your head thinking, “I’ve never shot anyone”.  The truth is we all have with our words, actions, or thoughts.  We spit paintballs at others splattering them with our garbage.  We don’t think before we speak or act, not considering how it will affect the one with which we are engaging.  Sometimes we strategize how we can best get to someone, other times we just react without any forethought.   “…those who have believed in God may be careful to devote themselves to good works.  These things are excellent and profitable for people.” Titus 3:8b  We are to be careful to devote ourselves to good works for the benefit of others.  This is a reminder to not shoot people but to do good to people.  On the paintball field of life, we should be helping them, not contributing to their pain.

We get shot in life.

We will all be on the receiving end of the splat of another hard circumstance in life.  Those who are going to fight a paintball war prepare by layering their clothing and wearing gear for protection.  This is not always possible in life.  The hard circumstances come at us when we least expect them.  How do we prepare for that?  Perhaps you can relate to being in a hard circumstance, trying to manage it when another one hits you in the back of the head.  You never even saw it coming.  This circumstance adds to the other one so, now, the pain starts to increase but ibuprofen will not relieve it.  Just about that time another circumstance hits you from another angle, then another, and another.  This can be overwhelming to the point of making us feel defeated.  Extra clothes or head gear will not help us.  There is only one help, God.  The problem is that it’s hard to see God in the midst of so many paintball splats.  We become blinded to how He is working or if He is working at all.  What do we do?

 

We remember.

When it’s hard to see beyond our feelings of defeat, we must remember God.  We remember the difficult times from our past and how he rescued us.  We reflect on His Word and the help it can give us.  “I am severely afflicted; give me life, O Lord, according to your word!” Psalm 119:107  This is a great reminder of how God’s Word will help us when we are afflicted.  These circumstances that continue to splat us may be the handiwork of evil men.  We have been given Psalm 37 to meditate on and put into practice.  From this Psalm we need to remember,

“Fret not yourself because of evil doers; be not envious of wrongdoers!” vs. 1

“Trust in the Lord and do good;” vs. 3

“Delight yourself in the Lord” vs.4

“Commit your way to the Lord” vs. 5

“Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him;” vs. 7

We need to remember these words and put them into practice as we are hit by hard circumstances. We may not be able to control the incoming splat, or even prepare for it, but we can remember how to respond after the splat.

God holds us.

“The steps of a man are established by the Lord, when he delights in his way; though he fall, he shall not be cast headlong, for the Lord upholds his hand.” Psalm 37:23-24

In eternity we will enjoy times of remembering the great deeds of God together as we recap how the gospel saved us and sustained us.

PARENTING: THE VALUE OF FAMILY

Originally Published:  1-16-2018

Family is designed by God.  Before the world began God was a family within Himself as the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  God was the perfect family all by himself.  After man was created and sin entered the world, families came into existence among men, but they were sinful.  We are all born with our own personal sin into a sinful family.  So how do we parent in such a way that our children learn to value family in the midst of sin.

Make family about God

“Hear, O Israel:  The Lord our God, the Lord is one.  You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.  And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart.  You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down and when you rise.”  Deuteronomy 6:4-7

God needs to be made known to your family.  He is made known when we begin to love him with our whole being as we are commanded.  Children will notice if we love God and put him first in our lives.  Children will watch but they will also listen.  We need to be talking about God during our day so that it is evident he is the center of our family.  When we talk about him, we should be giving him credit for the blessings in our family or for the comfort he gives in times of need.  Are you hesitant to bring up God in a conversation?  Do you seek to give him credit for your family?  Are you aware of the blessings God is providing to you?  The warning is that sometimes we get so focused on correcting our children, we forget they belong to God.  Our family is about God.

Make family about others

“Now concerning brotherly love you have no need for anyone to write to you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love one another,”  1 Thessalonians 4:9

God calls us to love one another.   That includes sister, brother, father, mother, grandpa, grandma, etc.  The people in our families are not the ones we always choose to love.  We take them for granted or argue over silly things.  We buy into the idea that it’s all right for children to fight in a family.  We need to take the time to teach our children to love their family well.  It’s beneficial to take the time to talk about how love shows itself in kindness. We should be training our children to be kind.  One example of how to do that is to have love surprises. Make something for someone else or let them go first in a game or watch their favorite television shows.  In other words, we teach our children to prefer another member of the family over themselves.

“First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people,” 1 Timothy 2:1

God also calls us to pray for one another.  We need to teach our children about prayer but it needs to go beyond food, God bless, and please give me.  We need to teach children to pray for others especially within their family.  Children can make their prayer list which should include thanks to God, concerns for others, and then a need for themselves. When we begin to pray for others we will begin to value them more.

Make family a unit

“And Jesus increased in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and man.” Luke 2:52

Jesus willingly came to earth to be born as a baby into an earthly family.  He was submissive to his parents as he grew from a baby to a man.  Jesus was part of his family as he ate, drank, and worked with them.  This was before the internet and electronics, which can bring about many distractions from a family as a unit.  Children disperse into different rooms with a different game system or computer having their meals alone.  They spend time typing texts to friends they never met when their family is in the same house with them.  We need to begin to be serious about our family unit.  If we, as parents, don’t value the family enough to be together then how do we expect our children to value family?  The family has to engage with one another in order to love one another, learn from one another, pray for one another, and speak to one another about God.  Too many families today are divided except when they pass in the hallway on the way to the bathroom or kitchen.  Are you encouraging your family to be a unit?  Do you seek to spend time with your children?

Family is God’s idea!  We’re called to cultivate our family into a unit that values God and each other.

PARENTING: DEVELOPING GRATEFUL CHILDREN

Originally Published:  1-23-2018

As we look at the subject of developing grateful children, we can’t forget the heart of our children.  We can seek to help to model gratefulness and teach them to give but that won’t necessarily change their hearts.  However, it’s what we have been called to do as parents.   Our job as God’s ambassadors is to teach and train our children in his ways.  It’s not an easy job, but God gives us grace to do the job to which he has called us. We can depend on him to lead us and strengthen us in this task.  Let’s look at some of the reasons we are all so ungrateful and then look to the Word of God for direction. We’ll end with some practical steps we can take to help develop gratitude in our children.

Reasons for being ungrateful

There are many words used to describe someone who is ungrateful.  The most obvious one is selfishness; which applies to all of us.  We get the idea that what we have is ours and only ours.  If we want it, we go after it.  This is because we want what we want.  This selfishness leads to entitlement.  A person who is entitled feels they deserve honor or title or things based on who they are.  In our families, entitlement can take place because it has been fueled by overabundance.  It’s easier to just give in to the demands of a child than to stand your ground.  This flows out of having the wrong goal; which is to make the child happy at any cost.  Our goal as Christian parents should never be about the child’s happiness.  We need to have the goal of pointing our children to Christ and exposing their need of a Savior.

Good Gifts

“…which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone?  Or if he asks for a fish, will you give him a serpent?  If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!”  Matthew 7:9-11

God, our Father, gives us good gifts.  A good gift is one that will be in our best interest.  The same is true for a child.  We may not respond with what children want.  The wants of your children can be a never ending list, just like our list of wants.  Sometimes the good gift is no gift.  Expectations of getting everything we desire and more doesn’t lend itself to thankfulness.  It tends more toward selfishness.  We have to be aware of over saturation in our child.  To pile gift on top of gift on top of gift presents the problem of not really being a gift anymore.  It is all too much.  In the scene from the movie, “The Christmas Story”, around the tree on Christmas morning, we see gifts flying, paper being thrown everywhere, gifts opened and then tossed over the shoulder in order to reach for the next one.  There is a point of saturation.  Look for it!  Be aware of it!  Giving too much doesn’t promote thankfulness.

Thankfulness, a command

“And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body.  And be thankful.”  Colossians 3:15

As followers of Christ, we are commanded to be thankful.  There is a connection with peace and being thankful here.  When we aren’t grateful we are unsettled and can be agitated because we aren’t satisfied.  Satisfaction brings peace and thankfulness breeds satisfaction.  If we are commanded to be thankful then it only makes sense that this is a characteristic we should to seek to teach our children.

Practical thoughts

  1. Model thankfulness – Does your child see you being thankful for the things in your life?  Do your children hear more grumbling from you than thankfulness?  A simple thank you to them will go a long way in showing them to be grateful.  Evaluate your own heart to see if you are being thankful.
  2. Thank you – These words should be taught to your children at a very young age. There are those who teach the sign for thank you to their babies.  Then after a while move along to the verbal.  This takes time but the habit of it begins to instill the need to be thankful.
  3. Life is not about you – This is something we have to constantly remind ourselves of as parents. What my child does or says is not about us!  We need to teach our children that life is not about them either. We are born thinking it’s about us!  Children need to be taught that life is about God.
  4. Verbal Vertical Gratitude – We need to take the time to rehearse the gifts God has given our families. The attention needs to be drawn to him as the provider of all we have.
  5. People are Gifts – Things are so important to us that we can forget people. It’s a good practice to make sure we are teaching children that others are more important than their toys.  Practice this among siblings by serving one another.

There is no guarantee in this life that our children will be grateful for anything we do for them or give them.  The only guarantee we have is that God gives us grace to train our children in his ways.  This job is hard so our dependence on God is a must.  Are you depending on him?  It’s the only way to go forward in this job called parenting.

PARENTING: BEHAVIOR OR HEART

Originally Published:  11-3-2017

A child’s behavior can be so important to parents that it overshadows what the real target is in raising a child, his heart.  The heart is the core of our being where our emotions and desires dwell.  Behavior is how we conduct ourselves in this life.  The outward behavior can appear to be obedience but the heart may be totally disobedient.  As parents, we need to seek to understand and guide the heart of the child.  We can pick up some tips by looking at Matthew 23 which is the account of Jesus speaking about the scribes and Pharisees.  Jesus gives examples of how these men were more concerned about their outward behavior than their hearts.  How can these examples help us?

“The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses’ seat, so practice and observe whatever they tell you—but not what they do.  For they preach, but do not practice. They tie up heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on people’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to move them with their finger.  They do all their deeds to be seen by others.”  Matthew 23:2-5a

These verses contain some warnings we can apply to our parenting.

  1. Practice what you preach.  We can’t help our children to see the motives of their own hearts if we don’t practice obedience ourselves.  We can’t live one way and expect them to live another.  A parent’s heart is on display with every choice we make.  We’ve heard it said, “Do what I say not what I do!”  This is a big plank in a parent’s eye that needs to be removed.  The truth is, but for the grace of Christ, they will do exactly as we do.
  2. Don’t load down children with too many rules. We need to be aware of how many expectations we put on children.  Too many rules will only make them angry.  The truth is children are just like us in that they don’t want to be told what to do.  We must remember that we are to train them and keep them safe so there should be some rules. Remember to make it simple.  If we train with a general rule of obedience and honor based on Ephesians 6:1-2 then it will be less cumbersome for children to follow.
  3. Your children’s behavior is not about you. A parent loves to be proud of her children.  But this pride becomes a problem when our desire is for a perfect child.  It causes parents to take everything a child does personally; which will result in an angry response to their behavior.  Our anger can be the result of embarrassment.  All this teaches a child is that if they’re not perfect then anger is the result.  There is no training in that.  Pride and embarrassment are about the parent, not a loving response to help a child respond well in similar circumstances.

“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!  For you tithe mint and dill and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law:  justice and mercy and faithfulness.  These you ought to have done, without neglecting the others.”  Matthew 23:23

As parents we need to look deeper than behavior.  Our focus often can be on our children’s actions rather than on the reasons behind the actions.  Our children need us to not be so focused on correcting their behavior that we miss who they are.  We need to learn to interact with children so that we can begin to understand them and train them.  We often neglect simply playing with our children and miss the opportunities to discover their motives, their understanding, and the joy of laughing with them.

“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!  For you clean the outside of the cup and the plate, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence.  You blind Pharisee!  First clean the inside of the cup and the plate, that the outside also may be clean.”  Matthew 23:25-26

Good behavior is not a true sign of obedience.  We know as adults we can do the right thing for the wrong reason and so can children.  They may want a reward, attention, praise, to look good, or to be better than someone else.  These are all wrong motives.  Manipulation is a huge motivation for doing the right thing in order to get their way.  An example is that of your child taking out the garbage and grumbling all the way.  This is not obedience.  There is a heart attitude that needs to be addressed.  This is not a time for praise but one for questions.  Asking questions to understand what is going on in the heart of the grumbler will be helpful in the training process.

The gospel is the answer.  In the end, raising children is not about producing good children but about the gospel.  We have to continually bring Christ into the picture when we discipline our children.  It is important to remind them of sin against God but also remind them of Christ’s sacrifice and God’s grace.  We need to be humble enough to admit to our children that we too are sinners and struggle but God’s grace, through Christ’s sacrifice, is sufficient.  As you parent, remember that you are not perfect; actually you are weak but God gives grace and His grace is sufficient.