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.

Training or Spite

Parents are instructed by God to “train” their children. The whole process of child discipline is the same process as child training. Discipline and training are so intertwined that you cannot have one without the other.

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

Getting in Your Own Way

Some parental discipline is hardly training, but much more like anger, frustration and even spite toward the child. What is happening is that parents are getting in their own way. Instead of training their child the parent’s feelings and frustrations become more important than the good of the child. That’s when parents move from Training their child to Penalising the child for annoying the parent.

Here are some tell-tale statements from parents that let you know the parent is not thinking about “training” the child, but venting their own frustrations…….

“Get out of here. You make me sick.” “I’m sick of hearing your whining voice.” “I’ve had just about enough of you for one day.” “One more noise out of you and I’ll let you have it.” “Make yourself scarce!” “You just SO annoy me!” “Get to your room. I don’t want to see you.” “Get out of my way.” “I ought to give you a whipping.” “I’m going to feel so much better when I’ve given you a thrashing.” “You’ve pushed me too far this time!”

Train the Child

Godly discipline is for the good of the child. It is not to make the parent feel better. When parents deal with their child based on what will placate the parent’s upset state, those parents are not training their child, but taking out their frustrations on the child.

So let’s remind ourselves that Biblical discipline has the good of the child in mind at all times. The Rod and Reproof give wisdom. The Rod of Correction drives foolishness from the child’s heart. That’s why godly discipline, including smacking a child with a rod, is an expression of love to the child. Those who will not smack their child with a rod are described in the Bible as hating their child.

Godly discipline gives wisdom, removes foolishness and affirms the parent’s love to the child. It is all for the good of the child.

Correction not Anger

The Rod of Correction is not the Rod of Anger. The two are completely opposed. The rod of Correction drives foolishness from the child, but the rod of Anger simply does not work.

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

“He that sows iniquity will reap vanity: and the rod of his anger will fail.” Proverbs 22:8

The Rod of Correction is for the Good of the Child, which trains the child’s heart and directs the child’s life. The Rod of Anger is used by parents for the good of the parent, venting anger, frustration, resentment and spite.

Spite

I have seen parents act in cruel spite toward their children. Such parents usually choose to banish their child, rather than smack the child. They also speak horrible words of rejection and cursing over the child. They make threats, lash out, bring fear into the heart of the child and leave emotional scars.

A planned discipline regime, using the rod of correction, where you smack the child, give explanation and give plenty of affirmation, is much better than the banishment which some parents think is more humane. Children feel secure when they know the parents will not lash out or respond in anger. They also feel loved when they are not rejected and sent away.

I encourage all parents to look to the Biblical pattern of child training and to clear their own hearts of things that lead to anger and spite.

Missing Ingredients

Effective Parenting requires that you use the right ingredients. If something is missing then the recipe will not turn out right. Many parents lament they have not been as effective as they hoped and wanted to be. If you are in that category I trust this look at the Missing Ingredients proves helpful.

No Water

Some years ago we bought a bread-maker and made many successful loaves. We finally gave up, probably because the yummy bread was eaten in no time and bread making became a bit of a burden.

One memorable loaf which we baked overnight really disappointed us in the morning. The aroma of the hot grain could be smelled as usual, but when we opened the machine and looked inside there was simply a pile of dry ingredients in the base of the tin.

We forgot to add water. So the machine went through the whole process of mixing and heating and so on, but to no avail. A vital ingredient was missing and the machine just could not produce the usual delicious loaf.

We never forgot the water again.

Incomplete Recipe

temper-tantrum

In the same way parents can leave out something very important to the life of their child. If they do then some or all of the effort they put in will be wasted. If the recipe is incomplete then what is created won’t be what is expected.

That’s how many parents find it. What they get from their child is different to what they expected. So this lesson points you to two Biblical ingredients which every parent needs to put into the life of their child.

Rod and Reproof

People have different opinions about discipline and child training. Some are brainwashed to be negative about any form of punishment. Others believe if you spare the rod you spoil the child. Some believe that by being kind and patient the youngster will turn out right in the end.

Whatever your preferred ideas I want you to be Biblical first of all. Man’s ideas seem right but lead to destruction. We must put our own ideas aside and pay close attention to what the Bible teaches, since it is God’s Word to us.

So notice the Bible’s joint emphasis on two key ingredients: rod and reproof.

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

Give Attention

discipline

Before we look at “rod and reproof” please notice that they both represent giving special attention to the child. The opposite of those things is to have a child who is “left to himself”.

So it is important for parents, both dad and mum, to share life with the child and to give the child attention. If the child is left to himself or herself and allowed to do as he or she pleases without guidance and correction, the result will be shameful.

Children are not designed to find their own way and to determine what is right or best for them. They are designed to be guided, corrected, brought to account, instructed and led into the right things. That’s the role of parents.

So please give good, Biblical attention to your child, and especially give them both the rod and reproof.

The Rod

The Bible teaches that children are blessed when they are punished for their wrong behaviour. Godly punishment involves physical pain, such as a smack on the bottom. It teaches the child but it also enables the child to feel whole and resolved on the inside.

By being punished when they know they have done wrong a child achieves the lovely sense of being made right. They feel absolved and don’t live with unresolved guilt or fear of being found out.

Parents know that effective physical punishment administered appropriately leaves children happy and feeling clean on the inside.

Therefore the use of physical punishment is for the good of the child. If a parent smacks their child out of anger or to vent the parent’s frustration then the action ceases to be godly discipline and becomes self-serving and abusive.

Reproof

The Rod does not work so well on its own. The Bible tells us that the Rod and Reproof work in tandem to create wisdom in a child.

Reproof involves speaking to the child and speaking into the child’s life. It involves explanation, instruction, correction, godly counsel, affirmation and direction for future behaviour.

When reproof is employed along with use of the rod the results are far better than if either one is used on its own.

Words of Reproof

To help those who may not find the right words easily, here is an example of a reproof that could be given to a naughty child.

“You know what you did is wrong, don’t you? You disobeyed mummy and that’s a bad thing to do. God wants you to always do what mummy tells you to do. Now, you are a very special good boy that God gave to us so we can train you to be a mighty man for God. That’s why it is so important that we smack you when you do wrong things, so you will learn to do what God wants and you’ll become the man that God wants you to be.”

“Now I’m going to give you one smack for saying ‘No’ to mummy. Then you are going to ask mummy to forgive you and I’ll lead you in a prayer to ask God to forgive you too. And if you say ‘No’ to mummy again, I’ll have to give you two smacks, because one wasn’t enough to help you learn to do the right thing. Do you want me to give you two smacks? I didn’t think so. So, all you have to do is make sure you don’t say ‘No’ to mummy again and do just what she tells you do.”

Ingredients

spoiled-girl

Effective parents know that they have to deal with things as they come up. They can’t neglect the child’s training. They also know the child needs their love and affirmation and that firm discipline is an expression of love to the child. They also know a child is unsettled and agitated if they cannot resolve wrongs in their heart. Godly discipline clears away the messy feelings they carry around with them when they have done wrong.

Clear explanation, loving affirmation and practical engagement in the right behaviours, such as saying “Sorry”, lead the child to put godly character and good behaviour into their lives.

Being clear about the punishment, why it is given and how it will be increased in the future if correct behaviour is not evident, helps the child feel secure and clear about what to expect.

I hope that helps you refine something of what you do to bless your children.

Speaking With Authority

I saw something sweetly tantalising in a familiar Bible text on Sunday. It has to do with Authority which is a bit of a thing with me over the past year or so, linked in to such things as Jurisdiction, personal sovereignty and such like.

What I saw is that authority is directly linked to speaking authoritatively, so that things happen as a result.

Now, guess where I found that in the Bible. It is in a passage that is often quoted in reference to authority – the comments by the Roman Centurion to explain why he was confident that Jesus could heal the centurion’s servant simply by speaking the word.

ClayDetailCenturian

“And when Jesus entered Capernaum, a centurion came to him, begging him, And saying, Lord, my servant lies at home paralysed, grievously tormented. And Jesus said to him, I will come and heal him. The centurion answered and said, Lord, I am not worthy that you should come under my roof: but speak the word only, and my servant will be healed. For I am a man under authority, having soldiers under me: and I say to this man, Go, and he goes; and to another, Come, and he comes; and to my servant, Do this, and he does it. When Jesus heard it, he marveled, and said to those that followed, Truly I tell you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel.” Matthew 8:5-10

Now, in case you missed the salient point let me remind you that this dialogue is about Authority. The centurion is absolutely confident that Jesus has the Authority to heal the sick servant. And that confidence about authority is directly linked in the Centurion’s mind to speaking.

The Centurion is saying, “I know how authority works. When you have authority all you have to do is give a command and it is obeyed. Jesus, I know you have authority so all you really have to do is give the command and the healing will be done.”

As you explore your own authority remember that it is directly linked to your words. When dad gives an instruction to his children or says “No” to their request there is great power in that expression of his authority. When a person who has authority speaks up in a meeting, to raise a question or press a point, the words have effect.

People who don’t have authority are ignored, shouted down, disregarded and silenced. If that is you, then you need to talk with God about what you have to do to recover your personal authority, or the authority of your place (as parent, husband, leader or whatever).

Another key from that passage about the Centurion is that a person has authority not inherently of themself, but because they are “under authority”. The Centurion said “I am a man under authority, and so I am able to tell others what to do.” If you have lost your authority it may be that you need to repent of having rejected the authorities which God has placed over you (your parents, husband, boss, leaders, etc).

I encourage you to discover the authority God has given you, reclaim and heal it if it has been damaged or lost in some way, and then Speak Up! Speak as one with authority, so you can release that authority into those you are responsible for.

The image of Jesus with the Centurion, above is “A Centurion’s Plea” from Clay Illustrations by Georgia Cawley

The Big Stick is not the Big Stick

I love it when I see something in a completely new light. Mostly we don’t need to see “new” things, but to see the old things the way they really are. When our brains are told to interpret things one way or another we can be effectively brain-washed by that instruction. Somehow we overlook the evidence and keep interpreting it according to the definition or label we were told to apply to that thing.

Many of the things we “know” are only things we “believe”. We “believe” them to be true, and thus think we “know” them. But, alas, we are deluded, and are even blind to an accurate interpretation because of the pre-programmed beliefs.

Praise God, He sets us free from deception, because Jesus Christ is the “Truth”! Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth and the life!”

“Jesus said to him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man comes to the Father, but by me.” John 14:6

Deceptive Labels

Education involves learning to put labels on things. The bigger our set of labels the better educated we are. We are able to discern between things when we have a large enough set of labels to enable us to put different things into different categories. Hoorah for labels!

But, if we are given the wrong label for something, then we have not been truly educated at all. In fact, we have been brain-washed, indoctrinated, deceived and denied insight into the truth.

Notice that socialist economists have influenced much of modern academia on economic themes. I expect that the labels a socialist mind conceived for economic processes put those processes in a different light to a Biblical economist, or a capitalist economist.

The label “prehistoric” is a philosophical statement in itself. Biblically speaking nothing is pre-historic, since the Bible record accounts for human history all the way back to day one. But the label “prehistoric” is deceptive and brainwashes the hearer into thinking that there must have been existence before the historical account began. Thus the term “prehistoric” embodies an attack on the Biblical record. It is a deceptive label.

Carrot and Stick

carrot and stick

Let me get toward my point. We have all heard mention of the two forms of motivation, the carrot and the stick. Carrots are positive inducements that prompt people to action. The stick represents negative inducements to action. A carrot might be a bonus for completing a task on time. A stick might be a punitive outcome if the task in not completed on time.

Management theory has addressed the competing tools of the carrot and the stick. And these labels have had a “reductionist” effect on human thinking.

Most people’s first thoughts about motivating themselves or others will orient toward either or both of the carrot and stick. These two categories tend to dominate and thus obliterate perception of alternative possibilities.

Other Possibilities

Many people do what they are asked to do and perform well, simply because that is their choice. They are not motivated by the carrot or the stick, but are simply doing what they have been programmed or trained to do.

Some people make a greater effort out of concern for others who they see under pressure. They pitch in out of social motivation, based on their sense of shared responsibility and their desire to see their friend aided in a difficult situation.

Some people simply love a challenge. They are motivated by realisation of a need and the definition of a clear challenge to overcome that need. The feeling of “We did it!” is all the reward they need.

The Big Stick

Biblical Parenting involves use of the “stick”. King Solomon instructed humanity thousands of years ago to train children by using words and physical discipline. The old English translation, the King James Bible, uses the word “rod of correction” to describe the stick that is used by parents to train their children.

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

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

He that spares his rod hates his son: but he that loves him chastens him as required.” Proverbs 13:24

Punitive or Therapeutic?

Influenced by the “carrot and stick” labels, how should we interpret the use of the “rod of correction” by parents? It is seen as a punitive, negative reward. It is seen as the opposite of the more positive encouragement inducement or positive reward option.

In a “carrot and stick” world, use of the “rod of correction” is seen as the ugly choice. Caring, sensitive, compassionate, New Age parents think they can discard the cruel ancient wisdom of Solomon and embrace more advanced and enlightened methods of training their children. Such parents aim to use rewards, coaxing, mature negotiation and other alternatives to the offensive “hit the kid with a stick” option.

The “carrot” triumphs over the “stick” in today’s modern homes.

Back to the Book

The Bible was written long before the more modern discussions about the carrot and the stick. And Solomon’s wisdom needs to be seen for what it is, not what the labels have brainwashed us to think it says.

So, let’s go back to the book and see what is really being said about the “rod of correction”. Let me repeat a verse I quoted earlier…

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

The use of the “rod of correction” is not punitive in this instruction. It is therapeutic! The rod of correction has a specific and vitally important function, and it has nothing to do with motivating a person to do what mummy tells him to do.

The “rod of correction” has a transformational impact on a child’s heart. It drives “foolishness” far from the child. If that foolishness is not driven away, by the use of the “rod of correction”, then the child will carry foolishness in his heart right through his adult life.

The Good of the Child

The “rod of correction” is for the good of the child. A parent who refuses to do this good to their child is described as hating their child.

He that spares his rod hates his son: but he that loves him chastens him as required.” Proverbs 13:24

The punitive “big stick” is for the good of the manager or the person who wants to get their project done or their will obeyed. The Big Stick is an aid to the teacher, boss, prison warden or similar role where a person in charge demands compliance.

That kind of big stick can lead to abuse and dominance of those under punishment. The “rod of correction” applied for the good of the child cannot be a tool of abuse. It is not an indulgence for the parent, but a blessing to the child.

Quoting Myself

In a recent article on Leadership, titled Leading With Authority, I made an aside about the use of force. I quote myself here….

“Note here that Biblical use of the “rod of correction” is not coercive. Parents are not told to use the rod to get action or obedience. They use the rod of correction only temporarily, in order to create a heart change in their child. Once “foolishness” has been driven from the child’s heart by the “rod of correction” (not the rod of abuse or anger) then the rod becomes redundant. So adult leaders who think they have a Biblical clearance for the use of force and threats are misguided.”

carrot-and-stickBack to the Stick

Parents need to go back to the stick. But the Big Stick is not the Big Stick! The “rod of correction” which godly parents use to train their child is not a “Big Stick” of threat and intimidation to coerce appropriate behaviour. If the stick is used as a “threat” then it is not being properly used.

The “rod of correction” is not of value because of its intimidation and the fear of its use, but by its application and its measured and appropriate use. Godly parents who wisely use the “rod of correction” to remove foolishness from their child can then get on with parenting their child without recourse to the Big Stick. They don’t need to threaten the child, or intimidate the child with the stick waved over the child’s head.

Those two concepts are foreign to each other and have created the kind of confusion that leads some authorities to seek to ban godly discipline. The Rod of Correction is not the Big Stick. It never was and was never meant to be.

It’s time for parents to go back to the “rod of correction”, for the sake of their children. Its application will only be temporary. It is not a punitive and intimidating “negative reinforcement” mechanism. It is a means of delivering the child from foolishness. Once that is done, the rod is put away and your effective parenting continues with those other Biblical training processes you have already been using as well.

Go to it!