Little One 3

Here is another “Daddy Dialogue” to a little child. Parents may wish to offer something like this to their children.

“Sweetheart, you are such a precious gift into this home. God loves us SO much that He has given YOU to us, to make us so very happy. You are special and precious and mummy and I thank God for giving you to us as our little child.

You know that we love you and that God wants us to train you so you will be everything He wants you to be. But there’s something else I want to tell you about too.

There is a naughty angel who ran away from God. That bad angel wants to help people do the wrong thing, so that God’s heart will be sad. And one of the things that bad angel does is tell God that good people are bad.

That bad angel has already been talking to God about you. He says that you really aren’t a nice person at all. He says that you will do bad things and disobey your mummy and daddy. He says you will be greedy and selfish and that you will try to get your way when you can.

God laughs at the devil’s lies. God knows that He created you to be a wonderful person who loves God and does what is right.

So that’s why I am telling you about this now. Every time you do something wrong the devil will jump up and down and clap his hands. He will laugh at God and say, “See, I told you so!” And God will be sad.

But God knows that even when you do wrong things you can always ask Him to forgive you. He is always happy to forgive you if you are sad about what you have done. When God forgives you it is as if you never ever did the wrong thing at all.

God knows that you will do some wrong things so He is not worried about what the devil says. God wants you to learn how to be strong and He also wants mummy and me to train you.

Mummy and daddy have to train you by punishing you when you do something wrong. We do that because we love you and want to take any foolish ideas out of your heart, so it will be easier and easier for you to make God happy.

Let’s pray together now and tell God that we are not going to do the bad things the devil wants us to do.

“Lord God, thank You that You love us. We know that the devil doesn’t like us and he wants us to do bad things. But we make up our mind that we will only do right things. If we fail and do something that we should not do we will ask You to forgive us. We will ask for Your strength so we can resist all those evil things.

Thank You for loving us and helping us be good people who are happy and free. We ask this prayer in Jesus’ name. Amen.”

Yesterday is Gone

The Beatles made a huge hit singing “Yesterday all my troubles seemed so far away”. And others waxed poetic about how “Yesterday’s gone” and how they remember “Yesterday when I was young” and so on.

Yesterday’s Hold

The reason “yesterday” has such a hold on people’s lives is that we all carry the past into the present and beyond that into the future. Yesterday is the time we sowed certain things into our lives and today we reap the harvest. So yesterday is a powerful component of ‘today’ and it will still be making its presence felt when we get to tomorrow.

The Catholic Church teaches people to go to confession to deal with the sins of yesterday. Someone sneered at the habit of some who sin during the week and look for forgiveness in the confessional on the weekend. They said it was like sowing wild oats all week and then praying for a crop failure.

The Hindu faith respects the baggage of yesterday as karma, which we carry not only through this life, but into future lives which Hindus believe they will face. Gautama Buddha, who rejected the Hindu teaching of reincarnation, went so far as to say that we cannot remove our Karma even in a thousand lifetimes.

Yesterday’s Debris

Here are just a few of the things we bring with from yesterday, even though yesterday is gone.

We bring our disappointments from yesterday. We face disappointments with others, such as our parents and family. But we also face disappointments with ourselves.

We bring our broken relationships from yesterday. Once we have offended someone else or they have offended us that damage remains, often throughout life. Family reunions and community life become tinged with the hurt and offence that we feel toward others and they feel toward us.

We bring our compromises from yesterday. Once we have compromised our values and character that becomes a weak spot for us from that time on.

We bring our slaveries from yesterday. When we give in to sin, such as anger, pride, jealousy or lust, that thing enslaves us and it controls us throughout our lives.

Today’s Harvest

It is also true, as the Bible teaches, that our actions and choices involve us sowing seeds in our lives. A seed not only remains, but it germinates and produces a whole crop. So when we sow something into our life, we are setting up a harvest in the future.

Today’s harvest is filled with the fruit of the things we planted yesterday. If we planted selfishness, pride, anger, greed, violence, self-pity, wilfulness, addiction, lies or other evil things, we will have an evil harvest today.

If we planted forgiveness, faith, love, trust, humility and the fear of God then we will have a much better harvest today than others might have.

Yesterday is not ‘Gone’

While the songs might say, “yesterday’s gone” it isn’t true. Yesterday has passed, but it has not ‘gone’. Yesterday lives with you today.

Just as yesterday’s piano lessons undergird today’s musicianship and yesterday’s studies undergird today’s understanding, yesterday’s moral choices undergird today’s character.

Transforming Yesterday

“You can’t go back in time” is one way to look at it. “What’s done is done!” might be your way of dismissing the past. But there are powerful ways of unlocking the past and transforming yesterday. Let me briefly outline two of them.

Confession of Sin is a powerful way to unlock and transform yesterday. When you repent of the choices you made in the past God is able to set you free from the debris and consequences of those choices in the present. You can actually get a crop failure, even though you sowed lots of wild oats.

God can go back in time. While you are stuck in the time-space continuum, God exists outside of time. So He is able to go back to your past and make Himself present, bringing healing to things that are part of your yesterday that has ‘gone’ from you.

A Testimony

A friend of mine named Malcolm visited a lady who had chronic problems. When he prayed for her she had a vision of a baby crying in a cot. She realised that she was seeing herself as a tiny baby. She sensed the extreme distress of the baby and it connected with the pain that kept surfacing in her life.

A spirit of intercession came on Mal and he began to weep for her. As he did she saw in her vision that the door to the baby’s room opened and Jesus walked in. Jesus lifted the baby into His arms and as He did the woman felt all her pain and torment drain from her life.

It was as if Jesus was able to go back in time to the entry point of the woman’s troubles and resolve them, even though that was now many years past.

Saying Good-bye to Yesterday

If yesterday has brought its bad baggage with it into your today then be encouraged to say “Good-bye” to that stuff. You can remove it forever by confession and by asking the Lord to unlock and heal your past.

The Steps to Release, which I have written about in my books and in other posts, will be helpful in this process.

I want you to live in the freedom with which Christ has made you free. I want you to be able to say, in all reality, that Yesterday is Gone! Keep all that is good from yesterday and unlock and remove all that is bad. Once you’ve said “Good-bye” to yesterday’s rubbish you will have an even better future to look forward to.

Disappointed Children

What do you do when children are disappointed? How do you solve their upset if you have let them down in some way? Should parents placate an upset child? Or is this a place for tough discipline? What is your solution?

Children Face Disappointments

Every child faces disappointments along the way. They may want you to be excited about something and you are unimpressed. Maybe you’ve seen or head it before. Maybe it just doesn’t seem important to you. Maybe you think it’s a bad thing altogether.

At other times your child may have special expectations of you which you fail to meet. You might forget a promise you made them or forget their birthday or something special to them. They might catch you out showing favouritism to someone else or being more interested in something else than them.

You may not buy them the present they have asked you for or you just may not have the finances, talent or skill to meet the needs they believe you should meet.

After all, parents are only human, aren’t they? So parents are going to disappoint people, including their spouse and children. So parents bring disappointments into the life of their children through the years.

What Disappointment Does

The Bible teaches us that disappointment has emotional impact. When an expectation exists and it is not met the experience is called “hope deferred”. That is to say that the thing being hoped for has to be put on hold, either temporarily or permanently. The Bible tells us that facing that kind of disappointment makes our heart sick.

Hope deferred makes the heart sick: but when the desire comes it is a tree of life.” Proverbs 13:12

Being ‘sick’ in heart involves the emotions being pained. And since all the issues of a person’s life come out of their heart, having a sick heart can be quite serious. Let me show you how central the heart is in life’s journey.

“Keep your heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.” Proverbs 4:23

So, to make the point clear, disappointment challenges our emotions and that is dangerous, because if we respond wrongly our whole life can be affected. That’s why it is important for parents to take the issue of disappointment very seriously.

Mind you, husbands and wives, friends and associates all need to be attentive to the issue of disappointment. What I am applying here to children works the same in us all, young and old, in and out of the family.

Wise Responses

The first wise response from parents is to see the disappointment. The worse thing you can do in a case of disappointment is to ignore it or fail to see that it is there. If you allow disappointment to go unchecked and unaddressed then you leave the child with a ‘sick heart’ and vulnerable to unwise responses which create ‘issues’ in their life.

Most people are carrying ‘issues’ around with them that have come out of wrong heart reactions to things they experienced in the past. If you help your child deal with disappointment you will not only save them from developing a life issue from the case in point, but you will help them learn skills for resolving other issues that come up along the way.

The next wise response is to nurture the child’s heart. Remember that it is ‘sick’. The child who is feeling ‘hope deferred’ is not trying to be difficult, but is struggling to deal with internal responses that they may not want. They will be contending with hurt feelings, frustration, anger, resentment or other dangerous reactions which spring up within them due to what they have been through.

If you act in anger, using your authority to punish them for struggling with pain, you will only compound the problem.

Nurturing the Child’s Heart

If a person is feeling hurt, rejected, unloved or disappointed they will most likely be helped by a healthy dose of loving care and affection. They will benefit from any reassurance that they are loved and valued.

An apology is a good start. This shows the child that the parent did not intend to hurt their feelings. It teaches the child that we can all take responsibility for our actions, which is something you will want your child to do too.

As mentioned earlier, nurture is not achieved by being angry or reacting negatively to the child’s hurt feelings. You are going to be their parent for the rest of your life, so why in the world would you want to make a difficult situation worse? Surely you will want to build quality bridges into your child’s heart, forging a strong, life-long bond of affection and care.

So go ahead and nurture that relationship. Take care to build those bridges. While your child is feeling a little raw and sore their feelings are more easily able to be spoken into. Cold, unfeeling children are harder to build close relationship with than those who allow you to see their emotions. So capitalise on the soreness that they are feeling to touch their emotions and link their heart with yours.

Hold Your Ground

Another important thing for you to do, that will greatly benefit your child in the long run, is to hold your ground. Some parents feel they have failed if they upset their child. Those parents may go out of their way to placate the child by giving in to the child’s demands. This is not healthy for the child.

If you give in to your child’s upset feelings you teach your child that they can get their way by expressing emotion. You are training them to sulk, cry, complain, exploit and give in to hurt, and so on. Such processes do not work in the real world. So don’t lead your child into lifestyle habits which set them up for failure and further pain.

Responding properly to life’s disappointments is a skill we all need, for we will continue to face our share of unhappy moments. Anything can turn out to be worse or less than we wanted, from the weather to our health, or the performance level of others, or ourself. A mature person handles those disappointments with purpose and wisdom. You want your child to be a mature person, so help them face the disappointment and come to terms with it.

Don’t crumple in the face of your child’s disappointment, but show them how to embrace their situation, even though it is less than they want.

Coming to Terms With Disappointment

In order to resolve disappointment a person needs to work through the various feelings which erupt from their chest. So coming to terms with disappointment is a tailor-made process, customised for the child’s individual emotional responses.

Some children readily become resentful. Others embrace despair. Some feel worthless and rejected, while others retreat into their own world of self-reliance. There are many possibilities.

A wise parent will seek to understand the issues emerging within the child and then escort the child through the appropriate steps to resolve whatever that is. I suggest that my Steps to Release, which I discuss in other posts, will help.

Certainly forgiveness toward those who let the child down will be important. Accepting their lot, even though it is less than they wanted is also important. Repenting of wrong reactions is also very valuable. So too is expressing faith in God, recognising that God knows the end from the beginning and can be trusted to sort things out, even if they are disappointing.

Deal with Disappointment

The bottom line is that parents must be ready and willing to deal with the disappointment which they create in their children. But remember not to respond with intolerance, anger or frustration at your child’s hurt feelings. Instead, help the child deal with their personal struggles so they grow strong in facing this reality of life effectively. God bless you as you do.

God is the Substance

A world without God is an oxymoron. It is God who gives substance to all things. This is especially so in reference to things we readily recognise as moral in character.

Imagine a World Without God

John Lennon tried to conceive of a world without God. I suspect that he really wanted a world without consequences, such as heaven and hell. That was the focus of his Imagine song. So let’s take Johnny’s suggestion and do what he asks. Let’s ‘imagine’ a world where God does not exist. Then let’s see what happens to everything else.

Imagine Truth Without God

Let’s assume there is no God. Someone comes along and tells you something that they assert is the ‘truth’. What do they mean? Are they telling you the truth or not? By what empirical reference point can you test the validity and veracity of what they say?

They assert something to be true. Is it true in a universal sense, or only true in their perception? Is it a fact that has been tested or is it only assumed to be true? Are they lying?

To address those questions we need to answer the question, “Where does truth come from?” Is truth a matter of human perception? “I saw something so I know it to be true.” But did you see clearly? Many a witness has been shown to be unreliable in their assertion that “I saw it with my own eyes!”

If God does not exist then we only have human perception to rely on, and that’s unreliable! Human resourced truth can only be relative to the perceptions of the humans involved. It has not more reliable anchor point. Truth then ceases to be truth and becomes opinion or belief.

Imagine Justice Without God

In a world without God what is the measure of justice? Is it “the common good”? That could be terribly unjust to those who sit outside the social mean. Is it what some leader thinks is good? That is so open to abuse that it is frightening. Tyrants love to determine justice on that basis.

And just what is ‘justice’ in a world where there is no external reference point? If you believe you have been treated unjustly how do you appeal against it? You are reduced to popular public opinion. If you have more money or talent or skill than others they just might turn against you and decide it is ‘just’ for you to work, achieve and earn on behalf of all of them. But that would seem quite unjust, wouldn’t it?

If someone is seeking revenge for their loss are they likely to stop when exact justice has been achieved, or are they likely to act in spite, bitterness, retaliation or the like?

Justice falls apart unless there is an external moral reference point. And that’s what God provides for us, quite apart from His reality and power and love made available to us.

Imagine Morality Without God

If there is no God then who or what determines what is moral or not. There are millions of people ready to justify their immoral behaviour, even in a world where God and His Word are clearly presented. Imagine what a free-for-all it would be if God was not there at all!

What makes something moral? Is it because it doesn’t hurt someone? God tells us of secret attitudes and thoughts which He deems to be immoral (such as lust), even though no-one gets hurt. Is it because all those who participate do so of their own will? God shows that many actions are evil, even if the whole nation votes in favour of them. The inhabitants of Sodom all agreed on their behaviour, but God did not.

If God’s moral reference was removed people would do evil, justify their actions, promote evil among others and even aim to subvert the morals of others. There are many tools already in use today to subvert people’s morals, offending their sensibilities and arousing their lusts, so they will succumb to immoral behaviour. God is the only hope we have for maintaining morality.

My Old Mate (‘Buddy’ in US speak)

I once had connection to a chap who turned out to be a talented rip-off merchant. He often bragged about his various exploits and the way he took advantage of other people. True to character he did the same to me.

After several appeals for proper recompense my old mate was quite clearly intent on taking advantage of me and many others. Taking him to court would have been a vexing issue, as he was well acquainted with the courts and had many connections to assist him to use the courts to his advantage. The matter was not of sufficient consequence to warrant the dubious process of legal action. That’s what he hoped would be the case with each of his victims.

My wife, Susan, found herself quite aroused by this man’s actions. She made it a matter of prayer and then told me that she was concerned for the man. She wondered whether we should even call on him to warn him. She came to realise just how severe God’s judgement, justice and moral standards would be when applied to this clever rogue. His ability to play human instrumentalities would do him no good at all when God decided to look into his case.

Existence Without God

Many people, like my old mate, imagine a world without God. They make up their own truth, twist justice to suit themselves and work by their own morality. But God is not amused, nor is He required to sit back and watch.

Existence without God is a misnomer. There is no existence outside of God. And there is no morality apart from His. There is no truth outside of Jesus Christ, because He is truth. There is no justice outside of God’s judgements. We will all eventually face the judgement seat of Christ.

It is better to be judged in the here and now, so we can repent and attain God’s forgiveness, than to live this life as if God did not exist. Once we pass from this life without repenting we face an existence without God. That’s not some clever place of human freedom. It is an eternal torment of physical pain and mental regret.

I Wish You Judgement

Those who hate you may wish you every success in life, so you will pass into eternity with unresolved judgement resting on your head. Those who love you will warn you and pray that you face God’s dealings in this life, to alert you to what is to come. Once forewarned you are empowered to do something about it, through repentance and God’s forgiveness.

In the spirit of that observation, let me tell you that I wish you judgement. May it be the blessing of your eternal existence.

Marriage Counselling

When I give Marriage Counselling advice to couples or Marriage Counsellors there are a few basics which I always cover. Let me share them with you.

Marriage brings two different people together to establish a working relationship. When the marriage relationship breaks down, people feel hurt, betrayed, unloved, insecure, fearful, angry, bitter, or a range of other emotions. Those emotions not only challenge the marriage but they also tap issues from the background of the couple. Having a sense for this interplay empowers marriage counseling to be more effective.

The Individual

Marriage brings two individuals together for a mutually rewarding relationship. Who they each are, as individuals, affects what they can achieve as a couple. An unstable person will hardly be able to build a stable relationship. A fearful person will not be able to build a trusting relationship. An angry person will not be able to build a loving relationship.

So, before a marriage counselor becomes too distracted with the relationship issues they are wise to consider the individual qualities of the husband and wife. The weaknesses, attitudes, past experience and personal skills of each spouse will impede or assist the building of a strong relationship.

Individual Complexity

People are complex, so the range of personal issues they carry could be quite extensive. A wise counsellor seeks to uncover those things which are most relevant to the person’s ability to enter into and maintain a strong marriage relationship. Issues of trust, forgiveness, correct view of marriage and relationship, willingness to change, flexibility, selfishness and fear might be among the relevant matters to uncover.

People’s behaviour is often crafted by their reactions to past experience. For example, a person who has suffered injustice will tend to be very sensitive about justice issues. A person who has been denied loving acceptance may idolise the input of their spouse and feel let down when the spouse does not meet their idealised expectations. A person who has been spoiled may find it hard to give up their will to fit in with their spouse. I refer to this individual complexity as the “baggage” which the couple brings along on their honeymoon and into their marriage. Most often the person does not know their own baggage, since it seems normal to them. Their spouse is most likely completely oblivious to this baggage.

In time this baggage will trip up the marriage relationship. These hidden things will become obvious, over time, and they will prompt a new set of problems as each spouse reacts to the issues for better or for worse. The joke goes, “Love is blind, but Marriage is an Eye-Opener!” And that’s true. Relationship brings to light the hidden things. How skilled the couple are in dealing with those revelations will impact where their marriage goes.

Relationship Skills

Because marriage is a relationship it is vital that each person has good relationship skills. If one has good skills they can save the marriage from much trouble, but it is better if both work together than that one exploit the strengths of the other.

Relationship skills are not so much ‘skills’ as attitudes. Selfish attitudes are contrary to the spirit of relationship. Inflexibility makes demands on the other party in a relationship. Unforgiveness is a cruelty which violates relationship. Independence is contrary to relationship. Stubbornness is a road-block to relationship. Self assertiveness violates others. Pride is an offence to others. Self-determination is contrary to the spirit of cooperation.

People with the wrong attitudes have the wrong skills. Yet some people need to be trained in the practical expression of good relationship skills. Listening, caring, cooperating, sharing, committing time for each other, fitting in with the other’s plans, negotiating equitably, repenting, forgiving, adapting, standing firm on moral principles and being consistent are practices which may have to be learned and practiced by today’s dysfunctional society.

Proper Modelling

When a couple does not know what they are trying to build they will have less success than they could otherwise have. A clear understanding of the godly model for marriage, as I present in my books, Marriage Horizons and Mending Marriages, empowers a couple to build the most stable and effective kind of relationship. A good counsellor is attentive to the concept of marriage the couple are working with. If it is flawed then the couple needs to be instructed and directed toward the model of marriage that actually works and works most effectively.

God’s Grace

Humans are limited creatures and they don’t have the ability to save themselves. Even the best possible help from the most skilled Marriage Counsellor is not enough. Each person and each couple needs to have the grace of God released into their lives and relationships.

Good Marriage Counseling releases God’s grace into each individual spouse. That’s why Christian Marriage Counselling is so very important in the lives of couples who need help. Secular assistance can give good advice and sound wisdom, but it cannot release God’s divine touch into the lives of the couple.

If a couple cannot access Christian Marriage Counselling then they should find a Bible-believing church where they can get prayer and ministry to release God’s grace into their personal lives and into their marriage relationship.