Creating a Lifestyle for Your Child

Parenting is a great joy. It brings many wonderful blessings to both mum and dad.  So let me help those who are not so confident, with some Biblical insights.

A command given to parents is to train your child.  The Bible also gives advice about what we train into the child.  We train the child in the “way he should go”.  That means we create in our child a lifestyle they will follow.

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

Way to Go

We might better understand the phrase “way he should go” by thinking of it as the “lifestyle” the child will follow.  The way is not just a couple of key things we want the child to value, such as good manners or going to church.  The idea here is of a whole life orientation, not just a select few things.

In past generations Christian parents insisted on certain behaviours from their child, but let the world sow its lifestyle values as well.  The child then followed the lifestyle of the world, and may or may not have kept the particular few things the parents taught.

So give some thought to the “lifestyle” you want to create in your child, not just the few token behaviours that are important to you.

Course of Life

The Hebrew word translated as “way” in Proverbs 22:6 is ‘derek’, which refers to a road we tread (a ‘walk’ rather than a highway we drive along), and has the figurative meanings of a course of life or a mode of action.  The word is at times translated in the King James Bible as “conversation”, which does not mean talking, but “lifestyle”.

You, as the parent, train your child in the course of life and mode of action.  You determine the path they tread and cultivate the lifestyle they will live.  You are commanded to do so.

Do Not Abandon Your Child

If you are not training your child you are leaving him to himself.  You are warned in the Bible not to do that, because a child left to himself will bring his mother to shame.

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

Children need training.  You are to correct their wrong behaviour and direct their actions into the way you want them to live.  If you do not do that, maybe because you think their naughty actions are cute, or that you are supposed to let them discover their own way, you have failed the child and failed God.

A key aspect in training a child is to discipline them for their wrong choices, wrong actions and foolishness.  This basic Biblical training method is so essential it led to the saying, “If you Spare the Rod you Spoil the Child”.  To ‘spoil’ means to ruin, like food that has gone rotten. It is spoiled.  Do not abandon and spoil your child.

Core Lifestyle Values

To train a child in the right lifestyle you need to know what that lifestyle is.  Simply stated it is a ‘godly’ lifestyle.  It is a lifestyle centred on desire to glorify God and to live as God wants us to.  We know this from the prophet Malachi who explained that the reason God created marriage is to produce “godly seed”.

“And did not he make one? Yet had he the residue of the spirit. And wherefore one? That he might seek a godly seed. Therefore take heed to your spirit, and let none deal treacherously against the wife of his youth.” Malachi 2:15

Note that being godly is not something we add on to our lifestyle, but is the core lifestyle value.  Some people who live for self, money, success, fame or other things are able to go to church, do good deeds and look quite godly.

But someone who is godly at heart has the desire to glorify God and to be blessed by God as their primary goal, not self, money, success, pleasure or those many other things.  While on the outside the behaviours may seem similar, at heart they are very different.

Training the Heart

God looks at the heart of your child.  God knows when your child loves self, the world, pleasure or other things.  It is vitally important for you to train the heart of your child.

“But the LORD said to Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the LORD sees not as man sees; for man looks on the outward appearance, but the LORD looks on the heart.” 1Samuel 16:7

Since God sees the heart of your child and will reward your child accordingly, you also must look into the heart of your child and train their tender heart to love and respect God.

One way to do this is to have a close, heart to heart bond with your child, so they open their heart to you and you can speak into their life at the deepest level.

King Solomon expressed the father’s desire to have his son open his heart to his dad.

My son, give me your heart, and let your eyes observe my ways.” Proverbs 23:26

Both Parents Training the Child

Another key point is that training the child is done by both parents.  It is not the mother’s job or the father’s job.  Both mum and dad have a part to play and they work together to create the best outcome.

The Bible calls children to obey both mother and father, so obviously both parents are training them in the right lifestyle.

Children, obey your parents in all things: for this is well pleasing unto the Lord.” Colossians 3:20

King Solomon reveals that the mother and father have complimentary roles.  He refers to the father’s actions and the mother’s contribution as different, yet obviously working together.

“My son, keep your father’s commandment, and forsake not the law of your mother” Proverbs 6:20

A Godly Lifestyle

To train your child to a godly lifestyle you need to know what that lifestyle looks like.  It looks quite different to the values and actions of typical children and youth.  Western culture has moved far away from godliness and is based mostly on selfishness and worldliness.

If you allow your child to learn the values of their peers and what is found in everyday music, movies, advertising and role models then they have no hope of being godly.  You will not have trained them in the correct way.

Remember that you are training their heart to be tender toward God.  You want to develop in them a love for God and confidence that serving God and keeping God’s requirements brings them the greatest blessings, because it does.

Your Own Lifestyle

If your own lifestyle is full of addictions to this world, selfish interest, keeping up with the trends, gobbling down the latest and greatest that the world has to offer, and so on, then you will not really know the godly way to create in your child’s heart.  And you will also automatically train your child to be like you.

An important starting point is to humble yourself before God and ask Him to create a clean heart in you and to lead you to love and worship Him fully.  As you learn to do that you can then bring your child along in the same experience.

It is not wrong to have things that are in the world, but the extreme danger is when we love those things.  We know we love them when we refuse to give them up.  Rather than giving up or shutting down those things that could contaminate your child, you will be tempted to find reasons to keep them in your life.

I challenge you to love your child enough to seek God until you love Him enough to clean out your lifestyle of all things that tempt your child to love something other than God.

Parenting is Joy

It is a joyful thing to have godly children you have trained who fill your life with good things.

“Correct your son and he will give you rest; yes, he will give delight to your soul.” Proverbs 29:17

You do not need to be ashamed, pained, disturbed or anxious about your children.  The benefits of good parenting are not only enjoyed in your child, but they come back to you as lovely and delightful rewards as well.

The Lord bless you as you give Him your heart and lead your children to love Him too.

Legalistic Dad

How do you help a legalistic dad?  You know the kind.  He demands his family do as he wants, the way he wants, on the basis that he has GOD on his side.

I have had to deal with several dads over the years that have dug themselves into a hole but refuse to change because they are the DAD and the Bible tells the kids to obey them.  The children become hurt and rebellious and that only affirms to the dad that he is on the high ground and they are wrong.

Call For Help

I was asked recently by a Christian counsellor for some suggestions to help a legalistic dad face the mess he has created and the pain he and his family are living in.  The dad appeals to the Biblical command that children obey their mother and father as his trump card to justify his stern stand.

As I considered the question, my thoughts about sad situations I have seen over the years led me to a new suggestion to help a legalistic dad.

The problem is getting the dad to listen and to be prepared to review his own actions, when he has a strong sense of being “right” and others being wrong.

Test the Fruit

Jesus told us we can know the truth about people by the “fruit” of their life.  A father’s life is not measured by the legal ground he claims as his authority, but by the fruit of his actions.  “By their fruits you will know them” is a basic litmus test we can apply quite widely.

You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?” Matthew 7:16

“So by their fruits you will know them.” Matthew 7:20

I suggest we can apply this to test those legalistic dads who think they are right and others are wrong.

Fruit in the Family

A child starts out as a blank page.  And children are very resilient and forgiving.  They have the ability to cope with disappointments and the distractions of their parents.  And children learn much of their concept of life by watching their parents at close quarters.

So, at least in general terms, the way the kids turn out can be regarded as the “fruit” of the family.  If a family produces selfish, proud, loud, disobedient kids, you know that the home has some serious problems.  If a home produces quiet, obedient, loving, thoughtful children, the quality of the home is attested to by those kids.

So let’s use that fruit factor as a searchlight on the legalistic dad.

Stubborn Kid from a Stubborn Dad

When a legalistic dad digs in his toes and will not budge from his conflict with a child, and the child digs in his or her toes and will not budge either, we can see that the child is the “fruit” of the father.  The stubborn father has produced that stubborn child.

So, if the dad thinks he has the ‘moral high ground’, standing in the place of being right while the kids are wrong, he had better re-think things.  The “fruit” of what he has produced is a public testimony to his failure.  Instead of standing on moral high ground, he is standing in the place he accuses his kids of standing on.

Humility in the Home

If the dad is looking for a spirit of humility in his children, then we need to see that same fruit in him.  If he doggedly defends his opinions and the rightness of who and what he is he can only expect his children to be as stubborn in their stand for their own rightness too.

First let’s see the dad humble himself before God and admit that he needs God’s wisdom.  Let’s hear the dad admit that he has failed in his role as dad.  When we see that kind of humility we know there is hope for the family.
If dad defies the evidence then he has invalidated his stand before God.  God gives grace to the humble, not to the defiant and arrogantly proud.

Heart Issues

Another important truth for a legalistic dad is that the issue is not rebellious kids, but the condition of the dad’s heart.  Yes, rebellion in the family is wrong and the rebellious children need to have that resolved.  But the dad is the head of the home and it is vital to get him sorted out as a key to healing the whole family.  And getting dad sorted out means dealing with dad’s heart.

The Bible points out that the real “issues” of our life are not the things that come against us but the things that come “out of us”.

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

When we seek to heal a home, the real “issues” are not the rebellion of a son or daughter, but those things that come out of the heart of the dad and mum.  In the case of a legalistic dad in conflict with his children, it is what is coming out of the heart of that dad.

Out of the Heart

Listen to what Jesus said about the significance of what comes out of us.

“And he said, That which comes out of the man defiles the man. For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, Thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness: All these evil things come from within, and defile the man.” Mark 7:20-23

The issue that is defiling the father and likely bringing real problems into the home is whatever is coming OUT of the father’s heart.

And we know what is coming out of the heart by what people say.

“A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings out that which is good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings out that which is evil: for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.” Luke 6:45

Legalistic Speak

A legalistic dad will speak judgment of his children, rejection, condemnation, fault finding, pride in his own standards, negativity, contention, and so on.  And those words of his mouth reveal that he is not standing on moral high ground, but is polluted.

A heart that produces evil speaking reveals an “evil heart”.  The legalistic dad has deep troubles in his heart that lead him to produce toxic speech and bad fruit.

The more a legalistic dad is challenged about his stand the more virulent he may become in attacking others, asserting that he is right, feeling rejected and intimidated and so on.

All of this reveals that the dad is not walking and living in God’s grace.

Fruit and Heart

The dual matters of the “fruit” of the dad’s fathering in the home and the “issues” in the dad’s heart expressed in his legalistic stance and speech, show that the dad needs help.  The home is what it is because the dad has internal issues that need to be resolved.  He will never be able to lead his family into joy and wholeness while he is beset with personal problems that have produced bad fruit in the home and which reveal bad issues pouring out of his heart.

Legalism as a Cover

If a dad has produced bad fruit in his home and his heart pumps out evil things he has issues.  And legalism may just be a way to cope with life and excuse his situation.  Legalism may be a cover.  By being legalistic he can point at others, rather than get free on the inside himself.

Just about anything could cause a person to become legalistic, but since legalism prompts a person to reject others it is reasonable to assume that rejection has a part to play in the legalistic dad’s heart.

Certainly there is a lack of the grace of God.  And the writer of Hebrews warns that failing to receive and give out God’s grace leads us to having a root of bitterness which causes us to defile others.

“Be diligently attentive lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled” Hebrews 12:15

Legalism and the attendant accusation and rejection certainly defile and offend people so an important need in the life of a legalistic dad is to experience the grace of God and to give God’s grace to others.

Give Grace to Dad

If you suffer under a legalistic dad you will find it easy to become hurt, offended, resentful, judgmental, angry and so on.  And by so doing you will be tempted to let a root of bitterness spring up in your life.  If that happens then the problem has been passed down to a new generation, instead of being dealt with and rooted out of the family.

So if you have a legalistic dad press in to God for sufficient grace so you can give grace to your dad, even though he does not deserve it.  If you can give grace to those who have no grace, you will not come under the power of their failures and weakness but have triumphed into liberty for yourself and your children.

If your dad is legalistic and refuses to see that there is anything wrong in his life, you are in a very vulnerable place.  Determine with God’s help to give abundant grace to that graceless dad.

Justice For Dummies 2 Perfection

We saw in the first lesson on Justice for Dummies that justice has to do with finding what is right (or “just), not what is fair or what seems best at the time.

To help you better understand justice and what you should expect from an effective justice system, this lesson explores a foundational anchor for justice, being “perfection”.

True justice is measured against an unchanging benchmark, which is perfection.

In the Beginning God…

The first statement of law in our world is found in the first sentence of a holy book written by an eighty year old prophet who had met face to face with God.  His five books, known as the Pentateuch (Five Volumes) and as the Torah (Teaching/Law), present the basis of all English Law.  After meeting with God on Mount Sinai in Arabia almost three thousand five hundred years ago, Moses wrote the law of God in five books which form the basis of Jewish scriptures and which are the first five books of the Old Testament section of the Holy Bible which Christians rely on.

So Moses’ first sentence is the foundational truth upon which Jewish religion and Christianity stand.  The Moslem world reveres Moses (whom they call Musa) and venerates the Bible while also challenging its accuracy when the Koran differs from it.  But the Moslem world has no challenge to Moses’ first sentence.

“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” Genesis 1:1

Perfection

The Holy Bible repeatedly describes the character of God as perfect.  Terms used to convey this truth include holy, holiness, righteousness, perfect, upright and just.

“For I am the LORD that brings you up out of the land of Egypt, to be your God: you will therefore be holy, for I am holy.” Leviticus 11:45

“Speak unto all the congregation of the children of Israel, and say to them, You will be holy: for I the LORD your God am holy.” Leviticus 19:2

“Be you therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.” Matthew 5:48

“Judge me, O LORD my God, according to your righteousness; and let them not rejoice over me.” Psalm 35:24

Your righteousness also, O God, is very high, who has done great things: O God, who is like you!” Psalm 71:19

“God reigns over the heathen: God sits on the throne of his holiness.” Psalm 47:8

Good and upright is the LORD: therefore will he teach sinners in the way.” Psalm 25:8

Defining Perfection

Perfection is a moral description of personal character.  I like the way Pastor Jack Hayford, of Church on the Way, California explained it to me back in the early 1970’s.  He said that God is “perfect” and “holy” because there is no imbalance in Him.

Pastor Jack pointed out that if an arrow or frisbee, rocket or other projectile was out of balance in the slightest degree then it would veer off course.  Only a “perfect” arrow could fly for thousands or millions of miles and not creep a degree to the left of right.

The more imperfect an arrow, frisbee or projectile is the more quickly it flies off course and crashes into something.  A wobbly arrow will not hit the mark.

So, imagine God’s perfection that He can start on a course of action and stick with it, despite all that might distract Him, for millennia after millennia.

Imperfect Man

Contrast the perfect holiness of God with how people behave.  How often do people get distracted, drop their New Year resolutions, break their vows, or get drawn away by their laziness, lust, ego, inquisitiveness or the like?

Man is challenged to rise in character above the foibles of “self” focus, to live by higher and holier standards.  God is the ultimate example of the perfection we are called to, because God is absolutely perfect and will never veer off course.

Man can be intimidated, dissuaded, distracted, overwhelmed, burned out or defeated, but God is perfect.  You can’t intimidate God, discourage Him, distract Him, overwhelm Him or defeat Him.  And God calls all men and women to be holy, just as He is holy.

No Turning

To amplify Pastor Jack Hayford’s description of holiness as the kind of perfection that does not take something off course, consider these other Bible verses that describe God.

“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.” James 1:17

“For I am the LORD, I change not; therefore you sons of Jacob are not consumed.” Malachi 3:6

And the ultimate indictment or charge against man is that everyone has gone off course, missed the mark and not reached the standard of God’s glory.

“For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” Romans 3:23

Perfect Justice

To bring this discussion back to “justice” let me point out that justice is measured by God.  Justice can be perfect when it comes from a perfect being.

Justice is not fairness, or the best compromise under the circumstances.  True justice is anchored in the character of God, Himself.  True Justice is based on perfection of motive, perfection of character and perfection of judgement that does not change over time or from one case to another.

Human justice systems are a poor reflection of God’s justice and judgement.  But their inability to be as high and holy as God is, does not excuse them from being unjust, abusive, deceptive, prejudicial, or any such thing.

Injustice

When a judge is biased, or has been paid a bribe, or uses different standards under different circumstances there is injustice.

God rebuked the Israelites for having a bag full of different weights.  If they were selling to one customer they might use a lighter weight on the scale than when selling to another customer.  The customer would assume they had the correct weight, but the actual metal weight put on the scale was unjust.

“You are not to have in your house diverse measures, a great and a small.” Deuteronomy 25:14

“Diverse weights, and diverse measures, both of them are equally an abomination to the LORD.” Proverbs 20:10

A Heart Matter

True holiness is seen in our actions but it starts in our heart.  So to be truly just and holy we must have pure motives.  When we have ulterior motives we are not perfect and holy and our judgement will be distorted by that.

Just this morning a friend brought to me the transcript of a court case in which a judge clearly stated that he was glad he had past a sentence against people who drive in a particular fashion because he personally can’t stand such drivers.

The judge betrayed clear personal bias, and that affected his judgement.  The matter was not as the judge assumed it, but the judge was blinded by his own “unjust” prejudices.

God is pure in His heart.  God has no impure motives.  Men who engage in delivering justice must maintain the highest standards of holiness internally.  If they don’t, they will err in judgment because they will give in to the imperfect attitudes in their heart.

These impure attitudes are based on “self”.  Our preferences, prejudices, likes and dislikes are “ours”!  They spring from “self”.  When we are completely impartial we are not given to personal bias.

This is what is supposed to be symbolised by the image of justice as a blindfolded person holding scales.  They are meant to be impartial toward the people being judged, rather than allowing personal bias to interfere with the judgment.

Holy Judgement

Let me summarise by reminding you that the ultimate foundation of justice is perfection.  It is not man’s perfection, but God’s perfection that undergirds all justice.

God is holy and just.  God demands that mankind be holy and just.

Man’s justice must be based on God’s holiness, or it will not be justice at all.

Issues of Life

I spoke with a mum recently about how tough her hubby is on the kids. The dad sets a high standard that tests the hearts of the children.

I pointed out to her that this is a very good thing for her son and daughter, even if it is not pleasant. I drew her attention to some wisdom from Solomon.

Heart Issues

Proverbs 4:23 warns us to carefully guard our heart because the “issues of life” come from it.

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

There is a powerful truth packed into that short verse. I didn’t discover it, but someone pointed it out to me years ago. Simply put, what comes out of our heart determines what is a real “issue” in our life. It doesn’t just reveal the issue, it IS the issue. Our issues are not our external circumstances or what we go through, but what comes out of us in response.

Issues are internal not external.

She Has Issues

We recognise that people have “issues” in their life and we even say so. We say: “He has real issues with his job!” “Does anyone have issues with that?”

And that’s Biblical. The issue is not the challenge, but the reaction from within. All of our issues are actually “heart issues”. To repeat myself, “issues are internal not external”.

So, for example, consider a family where the father is a drunk. Each of the three kids has a drunken dad, but maybe only one of them will have an “issue” with that.

Two of the kids may live normal lives, unaffected by the dad’s drinking. But the other child ends up with a chip on his shoulder, angry at the world because he had a lousy dad.

Do you see then, that it is the REACTION that creates the issue? The drunken dad is not an issue or all three kids would have had the same issue. The drunken dad is a problem and a challenge, but doesn’t have to become an “issue”.

Uncovering Issues

If we blame others for our wrong attitudes we do not uncover the real “issues” of our life. Most people shift the blame onto the circumstances, like blaming a drunken father for their problems.

But pressure and challenges bring our own junk to the surface, so we can get rid of our own issues. Challenges uncover our issues so we can resolve them.

If we have fear we can deal with fear. If we have anger, resentment, unforgiveness, guilt or other issues inside us, then pressure brings them to the surface so we can recognise them and then find God’s grace to resolve them.

Mum and Kids

Using the wisdom of Solomon, I was able to encourage the mum that her son and daughter will be much stronger and more reliable people in years to come, because their dad puts challenges on them that will make them strong.

If she is a wise mum she will guide each child to deal with the “issues” that come up in their heart, so they work through things in readiness for the bigger challenges of the years ahead.

Oh, and note that many adults today have missed out on that kind of constructive parenting. The idea of leaving a child to himself, to make his own choices and work through things his own way was the popular idea of parenting for the parents of Baby Boomers. So, many of today’s adults and youth are weakened by not having worked through their “issues” with the help of wise parenting skills.

Fraud and Treason

As I take my stand against Fraud and Treason it is interesting to see the “issues” people have with that. While most people are overwhelmingly supportive there are people who have responded irrationally and with venom. They are aroused and offended.

Whatever it is that agitates them it is not what I am doing. Others applaud and support my stand against evil. So those who mutter, criticise or similarly react are revealing that they have “issues”. As they recognise and deal with those issues they will be better people for it.

And, of course, as I do something I’ve never done before and face challenges I have never faced before that surfaces my issues as well. I have been able to pray through and resolve things that have come to the surface under the pressure of taking on evil.

Someone said “Life wasn’t meant to be easy”, but it is meant to get better and better, if only we will find God’s grace for the “issues” in our life – which are in reality the issues of our own hearts.

Heart of a Child Video

The most important part of a child that parents need to give focus to is the child’s heart.

This is not just a sentimental idea, but a Biblical truth. We can have a child’s obedience, but not their heart. We can have a child’s compliance, but not their heart.

Parenting is about achieving a relationship at “heart” level that is precious and powerful.

So that’s the topic of Ps Chris Field’s video “Parenting – The Heart of a Child”.

Other Videos by Pastor Chris Field include ….

SEXUALITY VIDEO“Sacred Nakedness” http://chrisfieldblog.com/marriage/sacred-nakedness-video

MARRIAGE VIDEO“What is Marriage?” http://chrisfieldblog.com/marriage/what-is-marriage-video

MARRIAGE VIDEO“50-50 Marriage?” http://chrisfieldblog.com/marriage/50-50-marriage-video

MANHOOD VIDEO“The Manhood Call” http://chrisfieldblog.com/manhood/manhood-call-video

MANHOOD VIDEO“Sacrificial Purpose of Men” http://chrisfieldblog.com/manhood/sacrificial-man-video

TRUTH VIDEO“Where Does Your Truth Come From?” http://chrisfieldblog.com/ministry/truth-video

PARENTING VIDEO“Godly Seed” http://chrisfieldblog.com/parent/godly-seed-video

PARENTING VIDEO“Child Discipline” http://chrisfieldblog.com/parent/child-discipline-video