Training Boys

It seems that schools and parents find it difficult to train boys these days and plenty of thought is going into finding effective means to achieve the needed outcomes. I have to smile, or maybe despair, when I hear these discussions, because methinks the real issue is too easily overlooked. But I’ll keep my thoughts on the real issue to later.

For now, let me examine what the experts are saying and what I think lies behind the current predicament confronting those engaged in training boys. Note, too, that much of what is relevant to training boys is also important in training girls as well, so all parents can gain value from reviewing the following notes.

Teaching Boys To Control Themselves

The issue that takes focus for tempering bad boy behaviour is put under the heading of “regulating or controlling one’s emotions”. When a child yells, screams or throws a tantrum they are seen as having a problem regulating or controlling their emotions.

I know that many parents who have seen their children yell, scream and throw a tantrum would not identify the ‘emotions’ as the central issue, but the will. Many children resort to those behaviours in order to get their way, frustrate their parents’ wishes and assert their control over situations. However the psychologists, school administrators and others who confront these behaviours are likely to label the problem as a lack of skills in regulating and controlling emotions.

Professionals not only attribute this lack of emotional control to poor training, but to slow development of the “prefrontal cortex”, so the child “can’t sufficiently moderate the emotional signals of the brain’s limbic system”.

Note that the professional solution to this biological problem is still a matter of learning how to control behaviour. Skilled clinicians are being trained to teach children “how to access rational problem-solving skills”.

Dr Adam Cox

Australia was recently visited by Dr Adam Cox, a USA psychologist who teaches boys how to use what he terms “Executive Thinking”. This type of thinking helps boys in particular, enabling them to better cope with life’s challenges.

Dr Cox’s work comes with high commendation and it is always good to see something that assists in problem areas. And he is very positive about the role of parents in providing discipline to their children. He sees that some parents may give in too much to rowdy behaviour of their children. He also recognises that single-parent homes are handicapped in providing the input needed. Some parents don’t seem to know how and when to discipline.

The Ideal Outcome

The desired result of teaching children “Executive Thinking” is that they gain a level of self-control which regulates their behaviour. Dr Cox points out that children who are without such self-control are in an unhappy situation.

“When children learn these skills, they are noticeably more confident, and generally feel safer. It is a terrible burden to go through life fearing that your emotions may dictate your behavior at any moment.”

Personal confidence and security are the outcomes which Dr Cox recognises in children who do not have behaviour problems. What he is identifying is what every good parent expects and sees in their own children. Well trained and well disciplined children are happy, secure, confident and well-adjusted. Children who must yell, scream and throw tantrums are poorly-adjusted, unhappy, insecure and a misery to deal with.

Good Parenting

I have mentioned that Dr Cox is positive about parenting. The following quote affirms his positive approach to quality parenting.

“I am always inclined to give parents the benefit of the doubt. If parents know how to intervene effectively – they generally will. I just wish that, as a society, we didn’t assume that parenting comes naturally. For most people, it requires lots of patience and practice. Great parenting has much more to do with endurance than engineering!”

My book, “Parenting Horizons – Empowering Parents to Build Generations”, is designed as a clear overview of the challenges with practical guidelines for parents. It is based on clear Biblical principles in an up-to-date language and with analogies and descriptions which clarify the key issues.

Parenting Horizons is available from Family Horizons, at www.familyhorizons.net.

The Real Issue for Boys

Boys are created to become men and to take on leadership in their marriage, home and the broader community. They are created to answer to God for themselves and those they are responsible for. So, boys are specially suited to proper discipline based on just and moral processes, applied by those who have authority over them.

When boys are not subject to clear guidelines, strong discipline and loving authority which calls them to account they become frustrated. At a deep personal level they do not enjoy being morally irrelevant. They want to rise to their created purpose, even if other parts of them wish to indulge rebellion, selfishness or evil.

The real issue for boys is their need for clear and strong discipline. This is consistent with who God made them to be and it prepares them for the responsibilities and authority which they are destined to carry.

Biblical Wisdom

The Bible teaches that boys need clear and attentive direction from their parents. Consider the following verses from the wisdom of Solomon and look for the importance of instruction, discipline and authority in the life of children, and especially boys.

“The rod and reproof give wisdom: but a child left to himself brings his mother to shame.” Proverbs 29:15

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

“Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child; but the rod of correction shall drive it far from him.” Proverbs 22:15

A Critique on the Psychological Approach

Children need discipline provided by their parents. When this fails and the child does no behave correctly this is a major problem for the child’s future, as well as those who must struggle to control and assist the child through life.

While physiological issues such as the “prefrontal cortex” and “the brain’s limbic system” may have a part to play the only real solution is not biological, but involves further efforts to train the child.

The real issue for children, and boys in particular, is Training. Biblical training involves physical punishment as more than a motivator, but also as a therapy which removes foolishness from the child.

When parents employ Biblical training, involving the “rod of correction” they will raise happy, secure, confident and well-adjusted children who will not be a problem to those around them.

Hester Ann Rogers Inspires Women to Holiness

Hester Ann Rogers was born on January 31, 1756, in Cheshire, England.

Her father was a Church of England clergyman who died when she was nine years of age.

Confirmed – but not converted – four years later, young Hester continued in spiritual rebellion until Mr Simpson, the new curate, appeared at their local church. He was – horrors! – a ‘Methodist’! And when he preached on John 6:44 Hester “wept aloud … ran home … went upstairs” and there, upon her knees, commenced her pilgrimage to the cross. She attended Methodist meetings – much to her mother’s disgust – and was soon truly converted.

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On 19 August, 1784, she married James Rogers – a Methodist preacher – and became a class-leader and personal worker herself. James was Wesley’s resident assistant and Hester was Wesley’s housekeeper toward the end of his life.

Her Memoirs and Letters became ‘best sellers’ in early Methodist circles. Her emphasis on ‘entire sanctification’ did much to popularise that particular doctrine. The Methodist notion of holiness involved an experience, subsequent to conversion, where a person’s commitment to holy living is accentuated by a touch from God. Hester claimed this experience and called it the “Baptism in the Holy Spirit”. The term did not have any of the Pentecostal connotations which would become prevalent a century later, but spoke of a cleansing of thought and deed, leading to ‘full salvation’.

Because of the influence of her writings, Hester is counted as one of the leading women of the early Methodist movement.

When John Wesley died, Hester and James were at his bedside. “We have come to rejoice with you,” she – or her husband – said, “you are going to receive your crown.”

Three years later – on 10 October, 1794, aged 39 – shortly after giving birth to a son, she too, went to receive her Heavenly reward.

Hester’s testimony was widely circulated and impacted many women in the following century, who were inspired by her devotion to the Lord and depth of personal encounter with Him.

Find hundreds of succinct Church History posts at: http://chrisfieldblog.com/topics/ministry/church-history

This post is based on notes by my late friend Donald Prout. I have updated these historical posts with information gleaned from other sources. I am indebted to Don for awakening in me an interest in Church History. Don’s notes can be found at: www.donaldprout.com

Menno Simmons Reforms the Annabaptists

Menno Simmons publicly renounced his Roman Catholic faith from his pulpit on January 30, 1536.

The Anabaptists were in a mess. Thomas Munzer had led the movement into fanatical extremes. His so-called visions led to excesses in behaviour and doctrine.

This was one branch of the Protestant Reformation surely destined to sink into oblivion, so it seemed. And the sooner the better!

But, as usual, God had a man - a man courageous enough to renounce the “ease and security of his priestly post” (History of Christianity, by K. Latourette, page 784). His name was Menno Simmons, and persecution came his way … with a vengeance!

Born in 1496 to dairy farmers in Witmarsum, Holland, young Menno proved to be an excellent Latin scholar. He was ordained to the Roman Catholic priesthood in 1524, at the age of 28. However his life was unregenerate, including drinking and card playing.

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He was prompted to question church doctrines following reading a book about believers’ baptism being the only baptism found in the New Testament. The execution of a Dutch tailor who had been re-baptised as an adult further motivated his enquiries. He came to the conclusion that baptism as a believer was the lynch-pin of a person’s faith and discipleship.

These new beliefs caused him to quit the Roman church in 1536, become re-baptised and re-ordained. Thus he lived for the next quarter century with a price on his head. His stand not only offended the Catholic faith but the Reformed churches as well. This form of Radical Reformation was devoid of the political protection which earlier reformers could establish.

The term Anabaptist comes from the Greek prefix ‘ana’, meaning ‘again’. Their core beliefs were that each person must achieve a personal, self-conscious salvation, which is attested to by a transformed life that displays holiness. They rejected the Reformed concept of predestination, putting emphasis instead on man’s free-will choice.

Simmons fled from place to place seeking refuge, preaching and writing as he went.

His followers became known as Mennonites (the most numerous of the various Anabaptist groups), and in Canada and America today a substantial number are still to be found. In time they were chased out of Holland, Switzerland and Germany, finding temporary refuge in Russia. From there they fled to the New World where their presence is retained.

Menno Simmons “deserves a higher rank among the reformers than is often accorded him by writers of Church History,” says Elgin Moyer (Great Leaders, Moody Press, page 360).

It was this man who conserved all that was good in the Anabaptist movement and organised it into a group of believers still with us to this day.

He died in his own home, of natural causes, on 31 January, 1561, aged 66.

Find hundreds of succinct Church History posts at: http://chrisfieldblog.com/topics/ministry/church-history

This post is based on notes by my late friend Donald Prout. I have updated these historical posts with information gleaned from other sources. I am indebted to Don for awakening in me an interest in Church History. Don’s notes can be found at: www.donaldprout.com

How Bible Truth Gets Abducted

One reason we need the work of the Holy Spirit in our life is to protect us from the distortions of Biblical truth. The Holy Spirit is the “Spirit of truth” and He leads us into all truth. And it is the Spirit that breathes life into the Bible.

“Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will show you things to come.” John 16:13

“Who also has made us able ministers of the new testament; not of the letter, but of the spirit: for the letter kills, but the spirit gives life.” 2Corinthians 3:6

We are shown by the comments of the Apostle Paul that it is possible to distort the Bible and use it deceitfully.

“For we are not as many, which corrupt the word of God: but as of sincerity, but as of God, in the sight of God speak we in Christ.” 2Corinthians 2:17

“But have renounced the hidden things of dishonesty, not walking in craftiness, nor handling the word of God deceitfully; but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God.” 2Corinthians 4:2

Missing the Truth

We can miss the truth of God’s Word because we are deceived by preachers who are deceitful and who corrupt the message of the Bible.

We can also miss the truth because we interpret the Bible through the filter of our own culture and perspective. We may inadvertently suppose something to be true, because that makes sense in our own cultural setting, but it may not be what the Bible is teaching. For example, the natives of Papua New Guinea brought their cultural concept of the “payback system” into their Christianity. Instead of catching the Bible truth about total transformation and the worthlessness of human effort, some natives felt they owed God a payment for salvation. They followed Christ for years, then came to the conclusion that they had paid God back for their salvation. At that point they went back to their old life. The Bible teaching was subordinated to their cultural understanding.

We can also miss the truth in the process of translation from the original languages. Many concepts in the Bible are not easily conveyed into another language. As an example, the word “you” in English can refer to a single person, “you are my friend”, or a group of people, “you are all my friends”. In the King James Bible the translators used “thee, thou, ye and you” to help English readers know when one or more people was being referred to. In modern translations that distinction has now been lost.

Church traditions also blind us to the fuller truth of God’s Word. People raised in a traditional, hierarchical church system tend to read the Bible in support of that system. People in non-traditional, loosely-knit fellowships read the same Bible but find in it support for their system. Those who believe in baptism of believers readily find it in the New Testament. Those who embrace infant baptism do not notice the texts which describe believers’ baptism. And so it goes.

Popular cultural ideas also distort our reading of the Bible. In the past half century much emphasis has been given to removing gender references in the Bible. He is taken to mean ‘he or she’. Brothers is taken to mean ‘brothers and sisters’. Yet in some Bible passages it is clear that the term ‘brothers’ only means the men. So how do we now confidently recognise teachings that are directed at men, when we have generalised the term to mean ‘men and women’?

The Great Commission Has Been Abducted

Jesus’ Great Commission is one of those Bible truths that has been abducted along the way. English readers have lost some of the import of the Great Commission by the process of translation, and the church’s development of dedicated mission ministries has also stolen truth from us.

So, let’s take a look at the Great Commission given at the end of the Book of Matthew.

“Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.” Matthew 28:19,20.

Interpreting the Great Commission

What is the key impetus of this command of Jesus? For many it has been on the word ‘Go’! They have seen this as a missionary mandate, commanding Christians to be ready and willing to traverse continents, cross oceans, learn foreign languages and commit to a lifetime of ex-patriot ministry.

Some have seen the importance of baptising converts. Taking the rite of baptism to foreign lands has been an important issue in the minds of some missionaries and churches.

Various teaching ministries have been set up in pursuit of the command to teach all nations.

How do we get to the grist of the passage?

Back to the Greek

The Greek language offers us a level of meaning that is not readily transferred into an English translation. That is in the ranking of verbs.

In English we do not have a mechanism for giving weight to verbs in a sentence. So “Go and buy me a coffee” has two verbs of equal weight in English. However, the real intent may have little to do with coffee and much to do with telling someone to get lost! “GO and buy me a coffee”. But then it could be that you are desperate for a caffeine fix and so the key word is BUY, not go. In that case the going is an incidental part of the process of you getting your coffee. “Go and BUY me a coffee!”

In Greek it is possible and usual to give weight to verbs in a sentence, so the reader will immediately know which verb has priority and which is subordinate to it. That gives Greek students an advantage over those who can only read the English version.

My son, Stephen, took a look at the Great Commission in the original Greek and came up with an interesting discovery. There are several verbs in that commission and they do not have equal weight.

Greek Verbs in the Great Commission

In the Great Commission the key verb is the instruction to “make disciples”. This has been translated as “teach” in the King James Version (KJV). The going and the baptising are ancillary, though appropriate supportive actions.

The command is not focussed on going. It is not a missionary command in the classic sense of sending people to the nations. It is about making disciples. That will likely necessitate going to the people, but the going is not imperative.

Similarly, baptism is an outworking of the process of making disciples, but making disciples is the key.

Stephen’s notes on the Greek verbs has been posted on the Chris Field Blog Forum at: http://chrisfieldblog.com/forum/index.php?topic=20.msg39#msg39

Church Tradition Has Abducted the Great Commission

Following my son’s explanation of what he found in the Greek verbs, I realised that the Great Commission has also been abducted by church tradition over the past century.

The advent of the global missionary societies in the late 1800’s has caused a perception to be built in the minds of most Christians, contrary to the command of Christ. We now take it for granted that there are people who are called to be missionaries. Those people will have a missionary call. They will go to missionary training. They will work with a missionary association. They will raise missionary funding. They will go to an approved missionary field. They will work as missionaries. They will come back home on furlough to raise further funding for the missionary work. They will send out missionary reports to their supporters. And so on.

As a consequence the rest of the church members and Christians feel relieved of the missionary burden. Going and preaching to the nations is now a profession, like plumbing or accountancy. Only those who have engaged in that profession need give it any thought. The others have other things to think about.

And therein is the abduction of the Great Commission.

Jesus’ Great Commission

Jesus commanded His followers to “make disciples”. This is a command given to us all. Every Christian is to be a disciple maker, especially good at teaching people how to follow Christ’s instructions.

But now most Christians have abdicated that responsibility to the clergy and missionary forces. The idea that ordinary church members should be engaged in discipling people is foreign to most church attenders.

So, here again the Great Commission has been stolen from our consciousness. It has been distorted and relegated to special missionary services, as only relevant to those who are going overseas.

Both the English translation and church practice are keeping us from the truth.

Led by the Spirit

This is just an example. There must be other key Bible truths which are being lost to us because of similar, non-sinister developments. Then there will be some truths that are deliberately misrepresented as well. To counter these influences we need to have the quickening work of the Holy Spirit involved in our daily Bible study.

As the Holy Spirit leads us into all truth we may at first be resistant, since it may challenge our surface reading of the text or our church traditions. Be open to the instruction of God.

However, this is not to say that you should reject the clear teaching of the Bible or the truths embraced by the church because you have some whacky private interpretation. If your interpretations put you at variance with other Christians you need to be careful of deception and self-serving ideas. Submit yourself to godly and learned people.

But, having said that, I encourage you to read the Bible daily and to seek the Holy Spirit’s illumination of His Word. As you discover inspired insights you will find that Bible believing people will support them and be built up by them, even as you are built up by what the Lord is showing them.

Katherine Von Bora the Model Wife

“There is a lot to get used to in the first year of marriage,” wrote Martin Luther. “One wakes up in the morning and finds a pair of pigtails on the pillow that were not there before…” Those pigtails belonged to ex-nun, Katherine Von Bora.

Katherine Von Bora was born, in Lippendorf, Germany on January 29, 1499. Her mother died when she was only three so her father placed her in the convent school in Brehna where she was raised to become a nun.

When she was 19 Martin Luther’s 95 theses were expounded at Wittenberg. At that time she would have had no expectation of ever becoming his wife. But she and eleven other nuns believed in the principles which he taught. When Luther heard of this some four years later he arranged for a merchant friend to help them escape from the Nimbschen Convent, hidden in empty fish barrels, on April 4, 1522.

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Some of the nuns returned to their homes and Luther helped find homes, husbands or placements for the rest, over a two year period.

When Katherine was the only nun not successfully placed Luther was encouraged by his father and friends to marry her himself. Thus on June 13, 1525, 41 year-old Luther became engaged to 26 year-old Katherine Von Bora and married her 12 days later!

She has been called the “Patron saint of Ministers’ Wives”!

Luther’s love for “Kitty, my rib”, as he affectionately called her, continued to grow. “When he spoke of Paul’s epistle to the Galatians, he called it, ‘My Katherine Von Bora’. It was the epistle that was closest to his heart” (Martin Luther Had a Wife, by W. Peterson, page 35).

After just a year of marriage the former celibate monk said of marriage, “There is no bond on earth so sweet, nor any separation so bitter, as that which occurs in a good marriage”.

Six children were born, four of which survived to adulthood. And the couple also adopted four extra children. Katie brought order to Luther’s life, managed his finances and freed him to concentrate on his important work. She also managed the domestic operation of the former Augustinian monastery at Wittenberg, which had been given to Luther. She managed the gardens, orchard, fishery and barnyard, and she purchased a farm property to expand their animal holdings. She even butchered animals herself.

Luther referred to Katie as “the morning star of Wittenberg”, since she rose each day at 4am to start her many tasks.

What is remarkable about Katherine and the marriage which she achieved with Luther is how unqualified they both were to be the role-models they became. For several centuries this family became a model for German families, yet Katherine had not been raised in a family. She had been prepared for a life of celibacy and service to the church. Luther had been a celibate monk until he was 41. Yet this couple demonstrated the joy of marriage and the importance of family.

Luther, from his own experience, was able to recognise marriage as a school of character, where the relationships prompted the development of Christian virtues such as fortitude, patience, charity, and humility.

Katie outlived her controversial husband by six years – her dying words being, “I will stick to Christ as a burr to a top coat”.

She died on 20 December, 1552.

Find hundreds of succinct Church History posts at: http://chrisfieldblog.com/topics/ministry/church-history

This post is based on notes by my late friend Donald Prout. I have updated these historical posts with information gleaned from other sources. I am indebted to Don for awakening in me an interest in Church History. Don’s notes can be found at: www.donaldprout.com