When the Past Collides with the Present and Little Hearts are Broken

 

I was at my wits end. Throughout the day I had told my child to do one thing or another, and over and over again she flat—out—refused! Now, my daughter is typically described (by teachers and babysitters) as a well-behaved, well mannered, obedient child. And normally I would agree. Disrespect, lying, and especially disobedience are not tolerated in this household. Having an only child and not being able to have more, it’s sometimes difficult to be consistent with discipline, but overall my husband and I agree about most things in that area and stick with our bottom lines.

And now I had come to that moment of extreme frustration. Baffled by my child’s blatant disobedience I knew she needed a punishment that would get her attention to the seriousness of the situation. “There will be NO Easter basket tomorrow,” I told her, “And NO restaurant.” The only thing Samantha had wanted for Easter was to visit her favorite restaurant and of course, get an Easter basket like nearly every other young child on the planet. But it wasn’t happening this year. With only hours to go until Easter, I phoned my husband, who was still working out of town, and relayed the message. He was disappointed because, like me, he enjoys giving things to our daughter. But he agreed with me (and despite our “faith” differences, one thing we agreed on from the beginning was to raise a calm, well-behaved, obedient, and respectful child because they are quite hard to find these days).

In an instant, as the sentence was laid down, my little girl’s heart broke. She cried for several hours repeatedly recounting her sorrow for her disobedience. With her sorrow came the request, “Can I get an Easter basket now? And go to the restaurant tomorrow?” And each time my reply was, “No.” And I would be met with a fresh wave of tears.

In that moment, holding my daughter’s sobbing body in my arms, I knew it was time. It was time to tell her what Mommy had done so very long ago. It was time to tell her, though she was still young, how serious sin is and why sometimes the consequences of our choices are not removed.

“You know, Samantha, when I was young I made a very bad choice. I not only disobeyed my parents, but even worse, I disobeyed God. My sin was very serious.”

“What did you do, Mommy?” Her eyes were wide with curiosity. She was realizing her Mommy wasn’t perfect after all.

“Well, I can’t tell you what I did just yet. It was very bad. Maybe when you’re older I will tell you exactly what happened. But for now, all you need to know is that I disobeyed God’s commands as well as the instruction of my parents. I wanted my own way, but what I got instead was a very serious consequence.”

(And, after a few moments of explaining what a “consequence” was, our conversation continued.)

“So, after your Mommy sinned, I received a bad consequence for my choice. I became sick with a disease, something that will never go away.”

Samantha began to cry again, “Are you going to die?!”

“No, no, no. I’m not that sick. It’s just something that will stay with me for the rest of my life, and it causes me a great deal of pain at times. Even though I told God how sorry I was, and even though I asked Him to take away the sickness, He chose not to remove it. Now the sickness reminds me of how important it is to follow God’s word and how God gives me ‘rules’ in order to protect me. ‘Rules’ like obeying my parents even when I don’t like what they’re telling me to do.”

“Ohhh…” She nodded in understanding.

“So, tomorrow, you will not get an Easter basket and we will not go to the restaurant. I know you’re sorry and God knows you’re sorry. I forgive you and God has forgiven you. But that doesn’t take away the consequence of your choice to disobey. Sometimes God doesn’t take away the consequences. And you know what? If I didn’t discipline you for your disobedience, then I would be disobeying God’s instructions. And I will not do that. So, unfortunately, we will not be doing the things you want to do tomorrow.”

We proceeded to discuss examples of people in the Bible who sinned, and whose consequence was not taken away (Adam and Eve, Lot’s wife…etc.). But we didn’t stop there, we also discussed the concept of mercy, and how when Jesus died for us, He showed us mercy in not giving us what we deserved. So now, because we believe in Him, we get to live with Him forever, even though we don’t deserve it. Sometimes we get mercy, and sometimes we need to experience the consequences of our choices to help us remember to listen to God.

We also talked about how our sin not only affects us, but others as well. Her daddy and I were both disappointed that we couldn’t give her the things we wanted. Not only does sin hurt us, it hurts others.

It was a great opportunity not only for Samantha, but for me as her parent. I admit, I was struggling with the idea of not getting her something for Easter, because I knew she would likely be met with a class full of children in Sunday School excitedly talking about all the neat things they received. I didn’t want her to feel left out. But I knew this life lesson was far more important than a few pieces of candy and some plastic eggs.

And you know what? Easter came, and she and I went to church with joy. In Sunday School she received a pencil and a single plastic egg filled with candy. She was so ecstatic at this gift! She practically skipped to the car as we left the church exclaiming, “God showed me mercy and I got something for Easter!”

As a Jesus-loving parent, I cannot tell you how much those words warmed my heart. It wasn’t easy to stick to my guns, as a parent, and enforce this punishment. After all, Easter only comes once a year. But in the end, God was faithful as I was faithful to obey Him (in disciplining my child and actually enforcing it). We both learned that obeying God is better. For her, she realized that the consequence is so not worth the temporary choice to have her own way (and now she’d have to wait another whole year to receive an Easter basket!). And for me, I learned that good discipline goes beyond making sure my child “fits in” or gets what all the other kids are getting. What’s more important than her measuring up to other kids is that she knows Jesus, loves Him, worships Him, and obeys Him even when it goes against what everyone else is doing. These are the life-lessons that will benefit her for an eternity, and that she will remember for years to come. Compared to a candy-filled plastic egg, that’s a pretty nice reward, wouldn’t you say?

I hope you all had a blessed Easter (Resurrection Sunday). In the Aarup household, it was the best we have ever shared together.

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profilepic3Rebecca Aarup is a redeemed prodigal, set free from over a decade of mental illness, eating disorders, addiction, and more. She now enjoys sharing her story of freedom and transformation with a lost and hurting world, as well as teaching about spiritual warfare and the importance of understanding our identity in Christ.

Rebecca is also an author and freelance writer, having written devotionals and teaching articles for a variety of publications including The Secret Place (Judson press), Evangel (Light and Life Communications), and Mustard Seed Ministries. Beyond writing, Rebecca is a wife, home-schooling mom, and Bible student at Liberty University. She lives in Glendale, Az with her husband Chris and daughter, Samantha.  You can read more from Rebecca by following her on twitter and facebook.

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Teaching Our Children to Fight

Last night my daughter, once again, cried as she walked past my darkened office. Once again I asked her why she was crying. Once again she told me she was terrified of the darkness. I’ve been struggling with this for weeks now, my daughter crying when we walk outside at night, or when we’re turning off the lights to go to bed. Perhaps most parents would shrug this off as “normal” child behavior, but I knew it was more.

 

 
I asked her why she was afraid. In between sobs, she replied, “I think something bad will happen to me.” Ironically (not really) this extreme fear took hold of my daughter around the time I started teaching a new class about spiritual warfare. A lot of strange things have been happening since our life group met for the first time. In fact, a few of the ladies have had a hard time even getting to the church to meet for our study. Seems *something* is blocking the way—or at least sending a lot of distractions.

 

 
It’s been no different in my life. In a conversation with my Pastor this week I shared, “If you’re feeling comfortable, if you want to throw a monkey wrench in your cozy life, just start teaching a series on spiritual warfare. That’ll shake things up.” It’s true. When the opposition is ignored, we don’t notice its effect in our lives. But when we start perking up and paying attention, we see how much of a hand the devil really has in the details. This includes our children.

 

 
Recently, a Pastor and Author whom I have grown to respect and admire (his teaching has helped me a great deal) advised me to reconsider a portion of my book manuscript where I mention Satan’s activity in the lives of children, because too many people could have a problem with that, and might not like it or agree with it.

 

 
I thought about it for a few days, until this situation with my daughter came to the fore-front. No, I can’t ignore what I know is the truth. Satan seeks to kill, steal, and destroy, and there is no age limit on his schemes! It is true that God cares for and looks after children, and there is even some evidence in God’s word to suggest that special angels are given charge over children. Yet, that doesn’t make them exempt from the tricks and manipulations of demonic activity, any more than being a Christ follower makes us, as adults, exempt from temptation, testing, and trials (see the book of Job).

 

 
So last night, as my precious five-year-old laid on my bed weeping in fear, I knew it was time to share more with her about her Enemy. My daughter has a wonderful prayer life, and has memorized a great deal of Scripture (the truth—God’s word—is the most important thing we can fill our children’s minds with!), so I knew she would understand and be able to apply the truths we were about to discuss.

 

 
“Where do you think fear comes from?” I asked her.

 
“I don’t know,” she whispered.

 
“Well, you know how God has angels watching over us? Satan has his own angels too, and they are called demons. These demons try to trick us, make us fear, and get us to think about things that go against God’s word, but Jesus is in us, and He is wayyyy more powerful than those demons.”

 
“Ohhhhh,”her eyes were widening.

 
“Because we have Jesus in us, protecting us and watching over us, we also have Jesus’ power over these evil spirits. Whenever we feel afraid we need to pray. We need to thank God for helping us and watching over us, and then tell Satan and his demons to GO AWAY!”

 
“How do I do that?”

 
“First, we thank God for beating Satan the day he died on the cross and came back to life. Jesus beat Satan already, so we always need to thank Him for that. Next we need to say, ‘In the name of Jesus, I command the evil spirit of fear to leave me alone!’ And you know what? That evil spirit has to leave; he has no choice, because Jesus has already beaten him. Sometimes, though, those spirits need a reminder. Because you have Jesus living in you, you are able to tell those spirits to leave in the name of Jesus, because they hate that name and it causes them to run away.”

 
“Can we pray now?”

 
And we did. Samantha prayed first, she even said, “In the name of the Lord Jesus, you evil spirits have to leave!”

 

 
We proceeded to talk for nearly two hours about God, the Bible, and Satan. She kept asking, “Mom, can you tell me another story?” So we talked about all the stories of angels that Mommy could remember, and we talked about Jesus’s life, John the Baptist, and Balaam and his angel-seeing donkey. After a while Samantha, relieved, said, “Mommy, these stories are really helping me feel better!”

 

 
Before closing her eyes to sleep, she asked God to replace her bad dreams (another problem she’d been having) with good dreams of Jesus and angels. And for the first night in weeks she slept soundly—with the lights off.

 

 
This morning she woke up and the first thing she wanted to do was tell me about her dream. She recounted the angels, the pink grass, and Jesus coming to our house for lunch. At the end of her dream, Jesus told her He had to leave, but would be back soon.

 

 
I sat on the couch with my coffee, smiling from ear to ear. “Thank you, Jesus, for giving that gift to my daughter. Thank you for setting her little heart free with your truth.”

 

 
My daughter is only five years old, but she is already well-equipped to continue fighting this battle. She knows Philippians 2:5 and 2 Corinthians 10:5, and she knows how to pray and how to use Scripture to fight her enemy. Most importantly, she has learned not to fear her accuser. Because as big of a bully he is, Jesus is bigger.

 

 

 

This fight is real, friends, and it’s real for our kids too. What are we teaching them? We don’t need to freak them out, but we do need to teach them the truth—all of it, not just the parts we think they can handle. You see, if we try to wait until they’re “old enough” it’ll already be too late. By the time they are teenagers, they may well have succumbed to a variety of destructive thinking patterns if they have not learned how to deal with those thoughts and emotions in a biblical way. Instead of leaving them defenseless, we need to start teaching our children to fight back.

 

(See also Discerning the Devil: In Childhood)

 

 
Instead of singing this with our kids:

 
“I may never march in the infantry,
ride in the calvary,
shoot the artillery,
I may never fly o’er the enemy
but I’m in the Lord’s army yes sir!”

 
(What exactly is the Lord’s army doing, if not fighting? Should we scratch out Ephesians 6:10-18 too?)

 

 
We need to be singing this:

 
“There is power, power, wonder working power,
in the blood, of the Lamb!
There is power, power, wonder working power
in the precious blood of the Lamb!”

 

 

And this:

 

 

“I know Who goes before me,

I know Who stands behind.

The God of Angel Armies,

is always by my side!”

 

 

(This happens to be one of mine and my daughter’s favorites!)

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profilepic3Rebecca Aarup is a redeemed prodigal, set free from over a decade of mental illness, eating disorders, addiction, and more. She now enjoys sharing her story of freedom and transformation with a lost and hurting world, as well as teaching about spiritual warfare and the importance of understanding our identity in Christ.

Rebecca is also an author and freelance writer, having written devotionals and teaching articles for a variety of publications including The Secret Place (Judson press), Evangel (Light and Life Communications), and Mustard Seed Ministries. Beyond writing, Rebecca is a wife, home-schooling mom, and Bible student at Liberty University. She lives in Glendale, Az with her husband Chris and daughter, Samantha.  You can read more from Rebecca by following her on twitter and facebook.

_______________________________________

You can support Rebecca’s ministry with one click! If you enjoyed this post and others, please take a second to click the FOLLOW button on the space provided on the right hand side of the computer screen (or scroll to the bottom of your screen if using a smartphone) and you will receive new posts in your email inbox. This is absolutely free and your information is never shared!

Discerning the Devil: In Childhood

We’ve already discussed how to discern the voice of the flesh, now it’s time to talk about the voice of the devil. This is a loaded topic, so we may discuss this for several posts to come. Let’s review what we’ve discovered about Satan’s voice so far.

Satan’s voice: Incomplete truths, deceptions, schemes, tricks, lies, temptations, partial Scripture quotes taken out of context to support a view that is opposed to God (see Matthew 4:1-11).

It sounds so simple, but that is part of the great deception of our Enemy. If Satan was holding a play by play book of strategies in his hand, probably one of the first things he’d have written down would be, “Get them to think I am nothing to be concerned with. Get them to focus on every Scripture passage except the one’s that talk about me and my work. As long as they don’t care about me, fight me, or acknowledge me, my task will be much easier.”

And if you happen to be one of the minority, that is, one of the few Christians who actively fight the spiritual war (by active, I mean daily), you’ve probably been labeled by other believers as a fanatic. I wish it were true, I wish I was just an over-zealous spiritual warfare junky-fanatic. But that’s simply not the case. I believe the Bible is truth, and when it talks about the Enemy, that is just as true and important as what it says about developing the fruits of the Spirit or any number of other spiritual growth subjects. I don’t know this is true by experience only (for we can never trust our experiences alone as truth), but I know this to be true because of what the word of God says AND my experiences with that truth.

In my book, Like a Lost Sheep: Life through the Eyes of a Prodigal, I talk extensively about the voice of the devil and how it played a role in my childhood and the way I interpreted events. It’s important to note that Satan doesn’t wait until we are “all grown up” to attack us. His lies often begin to infiltrate our thinking when we’re children, before we’ve probably ever been taught anything about fighting a spiritual war.

“Jesus told the Jewish men of his time, who thought they were children of God simply because they were Abraham’s descendants, “You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.” The Bible is clear about Satan; he is a liar and he is actively fighting against the Church (see 1 Peter 5:8-9, Ephesians 6:10-18, 2 Corinthians 2:10-11). Do you think he has enough manners to wait until we are adults to take aim and fire his weapons at us? Not a chance. From the moment we are born, the greatest Enemy of God has sought to destroy His most prized creation: man. If Satan can’t have our soul, he will at least try to ruin our testimony and affect in Christ’s kingdom. And he doesn’t sit back and wait until we recognize what he is doing, or we are old enough to understand. Satan is merciless, and he wants to destroy us.”

     So, in what ways might we have heard Satan’s voice when we were children? (This is important to think about and uncover, because often the lies we’ve believed as children affect the choices we make as adults.)

Think back to a painful childhood event, what were some of the things you “thought” at the time? I’ll give an example from my life. As an overweight child plagued with severe acne, I was teased quite a bit, not just from peer groups, but from my own family members. Every time I experienced the shame of teasing, I thought, “I am not good enough. I am ugly. No one loves me. I am alone. I am worthless.” Do you see how these thoughts differ a great deal from the voice of the flesh, which is rooted in pride?

Satan is merciless, he doesn’t care how old we are, and he takes every opportunity to hammer his lies into our psyche. Because if we believe, for instance, that we are worthless, we will probably make choices in our lives that reflect that belief.  In order to gain an upper hand in this Great War we fight as believers, the first step we need to take is to discover the lies we believed about ourselves as children and renounce them. It could look something like this.

“Lord, you know the experiences I had as a child and how they made me feel _________ (worthless, unloved, lonely…etc.). Today I choose to believe the truth that in Christ I am __________ (loved, accepted, never alone…etc.).  Thank you, Jesus, for your truth that sets me free. Open my spiritual ears so I might be better able to discern your truth from Satan’s lies. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.”

     What lies did you believe about yourself as a child? Have you been able to see how Satan was at work in your thoughts, even at a young age? Does this knowledge make you think about your own child may be experiencing and how you can help them combat it? In our home, my daughter (at five years old) has memorized and often quotes verses like the ones below to help her focus on truth and recognize thoughts that are opposed to the truth:

“Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 2:5

“We take captive every thought and make it obedient to Christ.” 2 Corinthians 10:5

memory verse

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If you enjoyed this post, please take a moment to enter your email in the space provided on the right hand side of the screen (if using a computer) or scroll to the bottom (if using a smartphone). Your email is private and will not be shared. By signing up you will receive new posts directly in your inbox.

Other related posts:

Spiritual Warfare 101: Is it Real?

The Voices in My Head: The Flesh

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profilepic3Rebecca Aarup is an author and freelance writer. She is a health columnist for The Christian Online Magazine, creater of S.E.R.V.A.N.T. Sisters online women’s ministry, and has written devotionals/studies/articles for a variety of publications including The Secret Place (Judson Press) and Mustard Seed Ministries. She just released a new Bible Study The Word: Six Lessons from Psalm 119 which is available as a free download on her website or in print form from Amazon. Beyond writing, Rebecca is a wife, home-schooling mom, and Bible student at Liberty University. She lives in Glendale, Az with her husband Chris and 5 year old, Samantha.  You can read more from Rebecca by subscribing to her blog (it’s free) and following her on twitter and facebook.

 

3 Sentences to Good Parenting

“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up.” Deut 6:5-8

This shows me how to be a good parent in a few short sentences.

Parents are often led to believe that their success is measured in their child’s abilities, accomplishments, and academia, but the Bible says a parent’s success is measured by their choice to love, serve, and obey God with all their hearts and teach that to their kids. Society chooses to fill the minds of children with useless garbage, yet all parents have a choice what to teach their kids and what they are allowed to spend time with or participate in. All of these things will affect their eternity and it falls on the parents to teach them the right path.

We will all answer for our choices- to teach our children-or not teach them the only thing that truly matters.

Life is not a joke, and I am responsible for equipping my child with appropriate tools to deal with life in a godly, wise way. But, I can’t expect her to do this unless I am doing it. After all, I am an imitator of Christ, and this is what I want my daughter to emulate in me. (Kids will replicate what they see, and if you’re a parent you already know this.)

But, some may argue, my child needs to learn how to work with a team, how to physically train their body and how to have responsibility. There is nothing wrong with sports, classes, lessons, or other activities for children but there is something wrong with placing those things above their relationship with God.

If they know, understand, and love the Bible they will automatically know how to play on a team, share, treat their bodies well, and be responsible because they’ll  know and respect what God’s word says about those things.

It’s easy to quote Proverbs, “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it”, however, that training involves a lifestyle, not just filling my child’s minds with knowledge or sending her to Sunday School once a week. The passage from Deuteronomy is perfect; I am told to walk it, talk it, and live it every morning noon and night. It is a way of life. It starts with me as a parent.

 Do I love the Lord my God with all my hearts, soul, strength, and mind? If I start there I won’t need to worry so much about what happens with my child later in life.

Prayer: “Lord, change ME, teach ME, and let my child see YOU in me; let her grow to love YOU as she sees me loving you!”

Rippling Effect

Suggested Reading: John 15:1-11

“I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.” John 15:11

I was thinking about that day, as it often returns to my thoughts. He appeared to me in such a clear way it was undeniable. His voice spoke soft yet firm, “Your independence from Me has shattered his dreams.”

God opened my heart with surgical precision. I had gotten caught up in, “It’s my life; it’s my body; it’s my choice!” All those “my my mys” destroyed my husband’s heart, and mine as well. Did God reveal this to cause shame? Never. He revealed this to cause repentance.

“If only I had remained in His love, attached to His vine of wisdom; if only…”

As the ramifications of what I did spilled into my psyche, I was overwhelmed with grief. It took at least two weeks before I could confront my husband and share with him my regret.

“I should never have done it, I was wrong, I am so sorry! Can you ever find a way to forgive me?”

It was a nice sentiment, but he had long lived with the pain of my decision and bitterness had set in. It was several more weeks before he could talk about my change of heart. Healing has been a long process for us. In His love, God has allowed me to experience the consequences of my decision. I don’t find this to be cruel, however. I embrace the discipline. Everytime I feel the stinging pain I am reminded of how vital it is for me to remain in Him. Stay in His word, and for crying out loud, ASK HIM FIRST before making decisions.

You’re probably itching to know what awful thing I had done. I had many Christian women advising me to do it. Funny how in hindsight no one was telling me to see what God thought about it. It’s not their fault, of course. It was my responsibility to look for His will, and listen for His voice. Truth be told, I didn’t care at the time what He wanted. It was “my choice” and I made it.

Against my husbands wishes I walked into the hospital and signed the consent. I assured my OBGYN I was never going to have children again. My husband (who does not have a relationship with Jesus) and I had been having a lot of difficulties and I concluded I could not bear any more of his children.

Since then Chris has watched his sisters bear children, boys, which is what he always wanted and hoped to try for. I remember snapping a picture of him with his nephew,

and God began working on my heart. I destroyed that man’s dreams because I couldn’t be bothered to listen to the God I claim to serve.; no wonder my husband doesn’t care for “religion”.

I was certain I never wanted more children, but I underestimated the power of God. He has placed within me a strong desire to have another baby. Poetic justice? I mean, why would God place a desire that couldn’t be fulfilled? Actually, I know God didn’t place that desire in my heart to torture me. In a sense He has branded my heart with the hot iron of His love. Every time I hold my friends baby or see someone else holding their newborn I feel the ache deep within and I thank God for it.

Reminders that my choices aren’t my choices.

They effect others like a stone dropped in a pond. The ripples go out far and wide in ways I couldn’t begin to understand.

I’m a firm believer that God doesn’t waste our pain, and he brought me on my knees that day to bring about a glorious new birth. Is it a physical brith? Maybe not, but a spiritual one; definitely.

He told me all of this so my joy could be complete. Thank you, Jesus, for loving me enough to teach me how essential it is to follow You.

 

Why…why…why?

Why….why…why?

As a mother of a toddler I couldn’t possibly recount all the times I have heard this question, “Why, mommy?”

“Because I said so,” I have caught myself replying.

However, the Holy Spirit began to convict me that my curt reply was not good enough. He brought to mind my own childhood, and how I felt about such responses. I know my parents did the best they could with what they had, and I certainly don’t blame them for my own choices, but I do wish I had been given better answers to the “whys”.

As I stood outside this morning I felt the Spirit prompting me to make a list of my purposes. He asked me, “What is your purpose?” I would think, as God, He would know! Of course he knew, but I am the one that didn’t really know, and my lack of effectiveness showed that I didn’t know. I needed to unpack my purpose and define it. I needed an answer to the “why”.

Immediately He began speaking to me, and I couldn’t write fast enough. Not just another list of dos and don’ts that I will never be able to live up to, rather a list of purposes, and why they are my purposes.  I’ll share some of them….

My first purpose was easy, “To love the Lord with all my heart, mind and strength.”

Why?

Because:

“You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and all your strength; and you must commit yourselves wholeheartedly to these commands.” Deut. 6:5-6

Next I wrote under my purpose and verse:

What have I done to accomplish my purpose today? And then I left myself several lines to record what I am doing today (and every day for a week) to reach this life goal.

Having goals is good, but knowing why you have these goals is better, and pursuing God’s goals for your life is the absolute best.

Why did God command me to love Him with all my heart? Because He created me, He knows me better than any human could ever know me, and He knows what is best for me. He also knows the only way I will ever be truly happy is to walk in His will (Psalm 1:1-2), and I need to pursue him with all that I am in order to uncover his will. Notice I didn’t settle with, “because God said so,” (Even though that statement is perfectly valid.)

This isn’t just my purpose; this is the purpose God has given to all His creation. Every human being on this planet has been given this command. It’s universal and personal.

My next purpose is another universal purpose, but also very specific for me.

“Honor my husband through becoming a true woman and wife of God, as He has commanded.”

It was challenging for me to put this next on the list. I was tempted to put a host of other things there, like loving my daughter or getting healthy (which are elsewhere on my list), but God has said in his word He is to be first, and our spouse second before the children. Ok, I need to trust God has a reason for this. (Maybe that reason is that honoring our spouses happens to be one of the hardest things to do naturally.) My “why”:

“You wives must accept the authority of your husbands…you should clothe yourselves with the beauty that comes from within, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is so precious to God.” 1 Peter 3:1, 4

Next one:

“Serve my daughter as a good mother, defined by God’s Word.”

Why?

“That they may learn to fear me all the days that they live upon earth, and they may teach their children.” Deu.t 4:10

“Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.” Prov. 22:6

Why wouldn’t any parent want what is best for their children? The key to teaching our children comes with our primary purpose, loving God with all our hearts. Out of that first purpose will flow the rest; our children will witness us living our God-given purposes, see the blessings and reward (Psalm 37:4), and want that for themselves.

My list has nine purposes, all with a verse to answer my “why” and space to write how I am living out my purposes every day. This process has really helped me break down the questions and work to find the answers in God’s Word, rather than in man’s philosophies. Being positive and motivational is great, but it takes on a whole new meaning when we find from God’s Word why He wants us to be that way (encouraging rather than discouraging). There is a reason for the commands we are given, and it isn’t simply “Because God said so”. It is so much deeper than that. I believe this is why I have failed at so many attempts to “do” certain things. I never really unpacked my purpose and discovered why I am doing those things or how they will benefit me. It is important to find out the “why” of obedience and share that with our children, spouses, friends, neighbors, and coworkers.

Why do I have my daughter help me clean at such a young age? Because God has commanded that we be good stewards of our earthly possessions, and I not only want to show my thankfulness for Gods provision by taking care of it, I also want to teach that to my daughter.

Why do I want to eat healthy and exercise? Why do I encourage my daughter to do this? Is it so I can be liked and admired? What’s my motive? It’s because God has told me my body is a temple, and I am to honor that temple as the dwelling place of the Holy Spirit. That purpose should motivate my daily decisions regarding food, activity, and what I allow my child to eat and do. When she asks me “why”, I want to give her a good reason, the best reason. This is what God says and this is why; he loves us and wants us to be fulfilled in the purposes he gave us.

When I was growing up, I really got tired of hearing, “because I said so.” Once I became a teenager that reasoning no longer held any weight with me. I wish I had fully understood how much God loved me and why he wanted me to stay abstinent, be pure, love him, and remain in church fellowship. Unfortunately I never understood those “whys” and decided my own reasoning’s were better. For several years I made many poor choices due to my misunderstanding of God’s love for me, and my lack of trust in him. These choices had many terrible consequences, some of which will remain with me until I am made perfect in the presence of Jesus.

As I teach my daughter what it means to give to others, share, love, show compassion, and serve, I want to be able to tell her why these things are important. I want her to grow up with more than a, “because I said so” response. But really, the ultimate teacher is the one who practices first what they preach. Being a doer and not just a talker, this is the greatest example we can give to those around us.

The next time someone asks you “why,” be ready to give a good Godly answer.

I challenge you to make your own list of purposes, then search the Scriptures to make sure they are in line with God’s Word as well as the “why” of that purpose.

Perhaps you could share one or two of them with me, so we can stand together in accountability. I look forward to hearing your responses!

“Good” Parenting Starts in My Heart

“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up.” Deut 6:5-8

How to be a good parent in one sentence.

Society chooses to fill the minds of children with useless garbage, yet we as parents have a choice as what to teach our kids. What we allow them to spend time with, what we allow them to read, watch, and DO. All of these things truly effect their eternity, and it falls on US to teach them the right path. It is our responsibility as parents, and indeed, we will answer for our choices to teach our children-or not teach them the only thing that truly matters. Sounds serious? This is serious! Life is not a joke, and we are responsible with equipping our children with the appropriate tools to deal with life in a godly, wise way. We can’t expect them to do this unless we ourselves are living it. After all, we are immitators of Christ, and this is what we want our children to immulate in us.

We are quick to quote Proverbs “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it”, however, that training involves a lifestyle, not just filling our children’s minds with knowledge or sending them to Sunday School once a week. This passage from Deuteronomy is perfect; we are told to walk it, talk it, live it every morning noon and night. It is a way of life. It starts with us as parents. Do WE love the Lord our God with all OUR hearts, soul, strength, and mind? Let’s start there, and we won’t need to worry so much about what happens with our kids…

“Lord, change ME, teach ME, and let my child see YOU in me, and grow to love YOU as they see me loving You!”