June 11, 2016

GOD'S GUIDANCE FOR RAISING CHILDREN


  GOD’S GUIDANCE FOR RAISING CHILDREN
   
     Never has there been more instruction materials for raising children than in our present generation. There are books, pamphlets, handy guides, videos, series upon series of study helps, all of which are geared to hopefully instill practical know-how in parents’ minds. And this to ensure they are doing all they can to guarantee their kids’ success. Some of this is very useful; but, some proves to be just humanistic modern permissiveness turning out brats rather than respectable adults.

One newly retired grandfather, after chasing his grandkids around for an hour, complained to his wife, as he exhaustively returned home, “I’m pretty sure I left the rat race for the brat race.”

     Surprisingly, many Christian parents fill their minds with volumes of man’s writings neglecting entirely God’s mind on the subject as found in the Bible. It’s not that there isn’t good to be found in some of these extra-Biblical materials, but one would think a believer in Jesus Christ would make sure he or she really looked into the Bible first to gain wisdom from God for the task at hand. After all, God designed the human creature and breathes the breath of life into every conceived fetus (Genesis 2:7). Isn’t He the master-psychologist? Doesn’t He know everything about everyone? “O Lord, You have searched me and known me. You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you understand my thought from afar. You scrutinize my path and my lying down, and are intimately acquainted with all my ways” (Psalms 139:1-3). Surely this God knows what makes any child tick and will give just the right wisdom to any parent who asks. Parents must keep on asking, seeking and knocking for this. It comes by prayer but also with an open Bible.

The Old Testament book of Proverbs says some very valuable things about parenting. It defines for us at least FOUR BASICS that every parent should know. These are verses worthy of memorization by every dad and mom.

Acting day by day in accordance with them may make a world of difference in the child raised.

1.  THE REAL PROBLEM WITH EVERY NEWBORN

Pointedly, Proverbs 22:15 tells us about this:
 “Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child; the rod of discipline will remove it far from him.”

Notice, foolishness is “bound,” not merely “found” in the very soul of a little one. Every baby is born a sinner. The Old Testament David reflected, "Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin my mother conceived me" (Psalms 51:5). Sin is part and parcel of the very fabric of a human's being - body, soul and spirit.

In other words, that gurgling, giggling, grinning Gerber baby isn’t everything he appears to be! If we’re honest, he can at times be a mess with dirty diapers (too many times?), food all over his face, baby acne, sad birth defects and astonishingly early displays of orneriness, rebellion and seemingly intentional interruptions.

I well remember when one of my daughters was in her high chair. I told her not to touch her milk. She needed to prioritize the food rather than hastily swill the milk. But instead, she defiantly and with deliberation placed her little hand right next to the milk and glared at me. She quickly discovered that that was unacceptable behavior.

But, why? Why take child discipline seriously? Because “foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child.” It’s called inherent sin! The child is born with it. As stated above, David the king knew this. He said, when agonizing later in life over his terrible sins of murder and adultery, “Behold, I was brought forth in [a state of] iniquity; my mother was sinful who conceived me [and I too am sinful]” (Psalms 51:5). Romans 5:12 informs us of this all-pervasiveness of sin with these words: “Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned…” When we read “all sinned” we need to be informed that in the Greek language this verb is an aorist tense, signifying once for all action. When Adam sinned we all sinned, he being the federal head of the human race. And so, in God's eyes we are both reckoned sinners way back when, and, by procreation, we are constituted as such when born. Talk  about a double whammy! But, this is the way it is!

This explains why beautiful little ones can be so problematic and so difficult to raise. Really, guiding a child from birth to adulthood constitutes one of the greatest challenges of life. Once a speaker conducted a successful seminar entitled “Rules for Raising Children.” After he got some children of his own, he changed the tile to “Suggestions for Raising Children.” And then, when his children reached their teen-age years, he decided to discontinue the seminar altogether. It is always eye-brow raising, somewhat amusingly so, when the yet-to-be-tried young adult boldly attempts to give instruction on how to best handle that rascally child in the room.  

It’s a tough challenging job being a parent. Most of us don’t really know what we’re undertaking when we have babies. It is thrilling, fulfilling, and rewarding but also requires a long term commitment to rigorous, daily effort. I’ve always said that a good and successful mother and father must be loving drill-sergeants. Is there a military boot camp to train expectant parents? Such a course of preparation would encourage lots of love but also much readiness to put sergeant stripes on the sleeves (of both soon-to-be moms and dads), mustering up the determination to teach the newly arrived recruits, above all else, OBEDIENCE. Obedience to authority is the ‘sine qua non’ of parenting. It is absolutely essential because thereby we prepare a child to not only respect the parent, but later in life to give humble deference to teachers, employers, policemen, government itself and, ultimately, reverence to God Himself. These authorities, accept for God, aren’t always right but should be respected. When there exists disagreement, it should be a respectful disagreement, even though at times necessarily straight-forward. A well-trained child will not smart-mouth a policeman. Also, he will not easily deny God. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. A heart that rightly regards all authorities and, ultimately, God Himself, is instilled within the little ones when parents insist on immediate compliance with all the propositions of parenthood.

The new-born soul does not possess humility, patience or thoughtfulness. No baby lies in his crib in the middle of the night pondering whether it would be a nice gesture to wait until seven in the morning to cry for some milk. After all, mom and dad worked hard yesterday, need their sleep, and I can hungrily wait until morning. No, no, no! The baby wants what it wants when it wants it!

At heart a new-born is essentially evil. Just as sourness is germane to a lemon and bitterness to quinine, even so sin is part and parcel of that little bundle of loveliness. It is so difficult to accept this fact when looking down at that lovely specimen of baby-hood, so cuddly and sleeping so peacefully. This is when the authority of God's Word must supersede the adoring feelings of a new mommy and daddy.

This basic understanding makes a huge difference in learning the ins and outs of parenting. If my car’s battery is bad, and I know it, I don’t leave on a long trip seemingly oblivious to the fact. No, first of all, the root problem must be addressed. When I do so the trip is enjoyed and the mind relieved. Matthew Henry remarked, “Holy joy is the oil to the wheels of our obedience.” Even so, the joys of family life are greatly enhanced when from the first we lovingly but military-like insist upon a child’s obedience. In this way the little one’s will is taught to respect the authorities of life, let alone that of the parents and let alone God Himself.

2.  THE ARDUOUS PROCESS OF RAISING CHILDREN

“Do not hold back discipline from the child,
Although you strike him with the rod, he will not die” (Proverbs 23:13).

In his paraphrase, THE MESSAGE, Eugene Peterson puts it this way: “Don't be afraid to correct your young ones; a spanking won't kill them.”

The Bible, God’s Book, approves and even includes spanking as an essential part of any process of child discipline. But, many parents hesitate to do so because too frequently modern voices disparage it. WIKIPEDIA, after a fair assessment of what spanking is, proceeds to raise doubts as to its ‘rightness.’ It says: “The main reasons parents give for spanking children are to make children more compliant, and to promote better behavior, especially to put a stop to children's aggressive behaviors. Research shows, however, that spanking, or indeed any form of corporal punishment, tends to have the opposite effect. Children who are physically punished more often tend to obey parents less with time, and to develop more aggressive behaviors, including toward other children. There are also a number of documented adverse physical, mental, and emotional effects of spanking and other forms of corporal punishment, including various physical injuries, increased anxiety, depression and antisocial behavior.”

The expression “research shows” always raises red flags in my mind. Likewise the words “a number of documented” this or that. Too frequently the sources of such research or documented evidence are missing or the studies dubious. Irresponsible authors will sometimes recklessly throw in such phrases to add credibility to what they are saying. On the other hand, even if the credited source is authentic, one may rather easily point to other research, and sometimes from surprising places, to support an opposite viewpoint.

For instance, Elizabeth Owens from the Institute of Human Development at the University of California at Berkeley, once said, “A lot of people out there advocate that any spanking at all is detrimental, and that’s not what we found.” She said this after a released study reported that “occasional, mild spankings of young children are OK and do not cause any lasting harm that carries into adolescence.” She went on to say, “We’re not advocating that this is a strategy that should be used with kids, but we object to people wanting to ban it when we see no evidence that it’s harmful.”

But, again, the real choice comes down to this: Will I believe God’s Word or man’s? God is truth and since He made us and always knows what is best for us, we must always bow to His directives first. He is our heavenly Father (parent). He wears the title of Master Parent. In His authoritative Book called the Bible, He instructs us: “Don't be afraid to correct your young ones; a spanking won't kill them.”

Let me cast a little humor on this somber subject: Johnny Hart, in the B.C. cartoon, humorously put the inclusion of spanking in any program of discipline with this corny piece of poetry: “His mother’s hand so strong and warm with tender, healing touch/ would oft reach out to still the storms which troubled him too much/ His mother’s hand, that same sweet hand, although it seemed uncanny/ could also reach out lovingly and spank his little fanny.” If the Bible is not an adequate authority on the subject, now we have Johnny Hart. I smile.

But let this important point be established: There is so much more to child discipline than spanking. Often putting a child over a knee is the last resort. Some children may need it often, others not at all. It may entail just a slap on the hand or at times some hard wallops on the behind. But discipline, in a broader sense, is a long lasting, challenging and difficult process, interestingly likened to what God, the Master parent, patiently goes through when training us.

Quoting and adapting from the Book of Proverbs, the writer of Hebrews shares this:

“My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor faint when you are reproved by Him; For those whom the Lord loves He disciplines, and He scourges every son whom He receives" (Proverbs 3:11,12).

He then adds:


"It is for discipline that you endure; God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom his father does not discipline? But if you are without discipline, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. Furthermore, we had earthly fathers to discipline us, and we respected them; shall we not much rather be subject to the Father of spirits, and live? For they disciplined us for a short time as seemed best to them, but He disciplines us for our good, so that we may share His holiness. All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness" (Hebrews 12:5-11).

"It is for discipline that you endure?" What does this signify? THE MESSAGE paraphrases this way: "God is educating you; that's why you must never drop out." I would add, we won't drop out because God is an in-control parent. He won't let us run out of the room or run to some other god for mercy. Furthermore, in the phrase I see HOPE. Discipline gives us endurance for life and contributes to one's overall achievement level in life.

Concerning His obstinate Old Testament people He said, “So the word of the Lord to them will be, ‘Order on order, order on order, line on line, line on line, a little here, a little there…’” (Isaiah 28:13). This is God’s process of training His people. The word “discipline” is an Anglo-French word meaning instruction and is closely related to “discipleship.” It pertains to bringing someone to your point of view to the end he may follow what you believe. And so, a sincere parent will soon learn that repetition is very much a part of the discipline of any child. How commonplace are phrases like: “If I said it once, I said it a hundred times.” “I have told you a million times.” “How many times do I have to tell you to….” And on and on it goes on the lips of every diligent parent. Lazy parents often lack the stamina to keep on keeping on. But endurance in tending to our children is absolutely imperative.

Why? Because we are defective, stubborn, dense creatures. (Thank the Lord for those fine-spirited little ones who seem to catch on fast.) And, it is true, is it not, that God possesses much patience in getting through to us? He has degrees of chastening, from gentle to severe. The writer of Hebrews declares, “For those whom the Lord loves He disciplines, and He scourges every son whom He receives” (Hebrews 12:6). If lesser forms of discipline prove ineffective, He can employ harsher means such as scourging. 

An oft repeated word in the Bible is “listen.” This is probably why well-known Atlanta preacher, Charles Stanley, keeps interspersing it throughout his messages. It’s always difficult getting an audience to carefully consider God’s truths. The Apostle said “a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised” (1 Corinthians 2:14). And so God gives us His Spirit and ever tries to obtain our listening ears. At times He will take our chins and make us look right into His eyes to make sure He has our attention.

And again, Psalm 27:14 finds God repeating Himself, trying to teach us the foundational lesson of listening and then trusting Him. He says, “Wait for the Lord; Be strong and let your heart take courage; Yes, wait for the Lord.” Why does He say “wait for the Lord” twice? Because we are so hard to reach. But, our heavenly Father will get through to us because, as the Apostle puts it, “He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus” (Philippians 1:6). Thank His holy Name, He never gives up. And at moments of greatest gloom, parents must grab a nap and go at it again.

So, it is with raising children. Parents must not abscond their duty by assigning it to others. Even though at times we must delegate some tasks to other responsible persons, God clearly expects dads and mothers to primarily assume the task. He says: “These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand and they shall be as frontals on your forehead. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates” (Deuteronomy 6:6-9).

Again, “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4). Here he addresses "fathers." They are to be involved to a good degree too. In fact, their leadership is paramount. They should communicate to their wives the basic principles for the disciplining process. They should study God's Word with their spouses. They should take the lead in family devotions and prayer. Yes, dads need to step up to the plate and hit home runs in this ball park of raising kids.

 Of course, and wisely, good parents may place their children under the tutelage of others more expert than they in certain fields of knowledge, but really, the great preponderance of hours allotted belongs to the parents themselves. It’s the home.

Parental influence is immeasurable. Day by day, word by word, look by look, attitude by attitude, correction by correction, comment by comment and, very importantly, example by example, builds a volume of irreplaceable instruction even though a thousand tutors are hired.

And, of course, a big part of this is talking about the Lord and telling of all His wonderful works. James Dobson wisely remarks, “In other words, it takes more than a brief, two-minute bedtime prayer, or even formalized training sessions. We must live these attitudes from morning to night. Keep in mind that this teaching task – after introducing our children to Jesus – is one of the most important assignments God has given parents.”

And the rewards are two-fold – to the children, yes, but also to the diligent parent. Marianne Neifert, MD, puts it so well: “If I hadn’t had children, I probably would have had more money and material things. I probably would have gone more places, gotten more sleep, pampered myself more. My life would have been much more boring and predictable. As a result of being a parent, I have laughed harder, cried more often, I have worried more and hurried more. I’ve had less sleep, but somehow I’ve had more fun. I’ve learned more, grown more. My heart has ached harder, and I’ve loved to a capacity beyond my imagination. I’ve given more of myself, but I’ve derived more meaning from life.” This is such a good and encouraging perspective!

And, here’s another important point: In insisting on OBEDIENCE (number one goal), the parent must expect an immediate response. No delay! Paul M. Landis puts it this way, “An animal trainer is careful never to fool his subject or to play a trick on it. This would confuse the animal he is trying to train. This is also true of children. We should never say things to our children we do not mean. If we say, ‘If you do that, I will punish you,’ then when the child does it again (perhaps right after we finished saying it), say, ‘Did you hear me?’ this only brings confusion and teaches the child we do not mean what we say. The child need not be punished often if it is punished severely enough and consistently.”

An illustration of this is found in the hot stove. It teaches the child to mind with one application or at the most, two. And the child respects the stove from then on. Now if the little child has the intelligence to learn thus from a stove and to respect it from that day on, would he not also have the intelligence to respect father and mother if they are consistent in their requirements of the child’s conduct and as severe in their punishment if the child disobeys? Is it not as simple as that? Sadly, mere sentimental love often blinds us.

Thanksgiving Day was approaching and the family had received a card picturing a Pilgrim family on their way to church. Grandma showed the card to her young grandchildren and remarked, “The Pilgrim children like going to church with their parents.” “Oh, yeah?” her grandson replied, “Then, why is the dad carrying that rifle?”
Yes, be a loving but tough-minded Pilgrim dad when raising your little ones.

3.  THE PRODUCT OF FAITHFUL PARENTING MAY BE DELIGHTSOME

“The father of the righteous will greatly rejoice, and he who sires a wise son will be glad in him. Let your father and your mother be glad, and let her rejoice who gave birth to you” (Proverbs 23:24-25).

The word “sire” means to beget, bring forth or to bear. Scripture has already taught us that a baby is born with a sin nature. Therefore, we conclude that he or she is not born “good.” At this point, God delegates to mothers and fathers (and yes, sometimes grandmothers and grandfathers?) the task of taking such a little one and raising him in the fear and admonishment of the Lord. And, when done so, haven’t we noticed the hugely pleased look on any parent’s face when he or she informs us that their child or children are doing well? Or, when someone else glowingly commends their little one? Of course, such reports articulate one of the great achievements of life. High principles and ceaseless effort has brought it to pass.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow said this: “If you would hit the mark, you must aim a little above it; every arrow that flies feels the attraction of earth.” How true! Because of inherent sin, in both parent and child, so much exists to drag parenting down to the depths of discouragement. Within the child himself, it just happens to be easier to do wrong than to do right. That is axiomatic. And, parents too are often well-meaning but utterly fall short.

Therefore, by God’s grace, a Christian parent takes hold of what God says by way of guiding children, does it, prays over it, keeps at it and aims high, drawing upon all that the Lord will give in order to bring up a child in the way he or she should go.

It is no easy endeavor. Like a successful athlete, dads and moms keep unceasingly at it, brushing up, learning more, doing it day after day, enduring the hardness involved, but then, like the fastest runner crossing the finish line, rejoices at each and every little triumph, let alone the big win of the grown son or daughter living responsibly and in the fear of the Lord.

We must, however, underscore this point: A parent can be a very good parent and have a child who gravely disappoints. Why? At such times we may well ask, don’t God’s principles work? Has God let us down? Or, am I really an inept person who thought I was doing right, but miserably failed? At such moments of despair, I must reason this way: God’s first children, Adam and Eve, went against their all-wise Heavenly Father. The human will can stubbornly resist even the wisest of instruction and the best of environments. “A man convinced against his will is of the same opinion still.”

Disobedience, but deeper still, rebellion or utter disregard in a youngster’s heart can doom such a one. “Even a child is known by his acts, whether [or not] what he does is pure and right” (Proverbs 20:11). He or she may well lash out at a perfectly well meaning parent and refuse to obediently respond. Hopefully, the parent hasn’t provoked such a one to anger. “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord”  (Ephesians 6:4). We do this by over-stringency and unnecessary strictness or insecure helicopter parenting. But, if not, even so the human heart has all the capacity of an Adam and Eve to ego-centrically and stubbornly reject even perfect parenting. Think of the fallen angels, all of whom in  disobedience were cast from the presence of God, ending up in utter failure as evil demons, miserable themselves and causing untold agony to others. And they had enjoyed all the bliss and perfection of heaven.

Notice in the text above the appeal to the offspring’s will. “Let your father and your mother be glad, and let her rejoice who gave birth to you.” In other words, your parents are trying their hardest, now do your best to comply and “let” them be glad and rejoice. Many an excellent parent suffers untold anguish of heart because an offspring rebels. And, as the Bible points out, rebellion is worse than witchcraft.
There are far too many adults who were brought up in Christian homes and fine churches, who early on rejected the ways of the Lord and then spend a lifetime living apart from God missing out on all He intended for them. Certainly in all Christian homes and churches there are imperfections and shortcomings. Yes there are, but a favorite ploy of the rebellious one is to use such failures as excuses to stubbornly do his own thing. God is wise to such machinations of the soul and we must be too. Too many sincere parents unnecessarily carry a burden of guilt when their children turn against or ignore God.

4. FINALLY, PARENTING ENTAILS PROFOUND ETERNAL IMPLICATIONS

God says that by the wise discipline of a child you will “rescue his soul from Sheol” (Proverbs 23:14).

Today’s parents are rightly concerned about their childrens’ eventual success in life. Of course. We all want our kids to grow up and do well. And, knowing the numerous and dangerous pitfalls in life, we, as Christian mothers and dads, pour our hearts out to God in their behalf. Often, however, our pleas God-ward merely pertain to the necessities of this life. We give scant attention to the spiritual let alone the 'forever' existence of any human.

But, in the final analysis this life is a passing shadow. Or, as the song writer puts it: “Life at best is very brief, like the falling of a leaf.” We should enjoy the colorful wafting downwards of a leaf in autumn time, but must also remember that a day comes when all leaves are gathered up and tossed away. And so, beholding a child, we must ask, "when this life is over, what then?" Child instruction necessarily instructs them how to live this life but must also inform them how to be prepared for the endless hereafter. We ought to be very burdened as to whether they will go to heaven or hell when they die. The Bible clearly spells out these two destinations and these two only.

Unless we have experienced it firsthandedly, we sometimes subconsciously conclude that children and young people are immune to death. Oh, it's in the back of our minds, but, could it ever happen to us?

Yes, it most assuredly can, and so we must  keep before us that death is no respecter of persons. My child's earthly sojourn may be cut short. And if so, he or she will end up either in a place of endless torment or the promised paradise of interminable delight. The Bible says so! At a certain point an age of accountability kicks in, differing in different children, and it may be sooner than we realize. 

Young children get wiped out in automobile accidents and are ever subject to severe illnesses. This all adds up to the imperative conclusion that God’s overseers of the young must share the Gospel with them, early in life.

Listen to Holy Scripture: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever (put your child's name here) believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him” (John 3:16-17).

The promise is marvelous! Christ died for all! He paid the for our sins. Because He did, we don't have to and couldn't if we wanted to. Our children need to have this explained to them in the simplest of terms.

When I was a young father and also dealing with youngsters through more than a half century of pastoring, I often put it this way: Supposing you did something real naughty. In fact, it was downright terrible. Your dad or mother had warned that if you did so, you'd get walloped good and hard. Now, you've been caught and it's payday. Just as you are being put over the knee, your big brother steps up and says, "I'll take his spanking for him." At this point the child usually says, "My brother? He'd never do that for me. He'd probably stand there smiling all the while I'm screaming." So, I say, uh, we're pretending here. And to continue, your brother actually does take you place and timidly you look on and see his hurt and hear his whimpering. Well, it's something like that when Jesus died on the cross, taking your punishment for you. He suffered in an indescribable way, just for you! He paid the price you owe for your sin. His death and resurrection satisfied the Heavenly Father who cannot tolerate sin of any sort. He sent Jesus for you! Now, do you appreciate what your brother did for you? And what about what Jesus did for you?

Now, here is what it means to believe in Jesus Christ as your own personal Savior from sin. At this point the parent should repeat John 3:16 explaining in easy-to-understand language how marvelous is God's love to see your need, to send His only Son to pay for your sin. God had to do this to satisfy His own sense of justice. Sin had to be dealt with. Jesus did that for you! And believing in Jesus isn't the same as just believing about Him. It is to trust fully in Him thereby committing the saving of your soul to Him. It is like crossing a bridge. You can know all about the bridge but refuse to cross it because you don't think it'll hold you up. I can tell you all about the bridge, explaining all the engineering techniques and expertise that goes into building a bridge, but until you believe in it, you'll not commit yourself to it and actually go across. So, believing in Jesus is to believe in Him committing yourself to His Lordship in your life. He is both Lord and Savior. The Bible declares, "that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved" (Romans 10:9).

Being saved is obeying the Gospel appeal (2 Thessalonians 1:8). God tells us how to be saved from our sin; we must respond obediently by calling on the Name of the Lord. "Whosoever will call on the Name of the Lord will be saved (Romans 10:13). Instruct the youngster how to pray, make sure he means it and isn't just doing so because his friend or friends are, and let himl pray. He may be able to do so on his own, or repeat what you say. Tell him to tell someone what he did. 

Therefore, the gist of what we are saying is this: Obedience is key. It produces a delightful offspring, and is key to my child becoming a child of God. And so, God fearing parents insist that a child obeys, because, it prepares him for the necessary submission to the authorities of life, and, ultimately, to the supremacy of God Himself.

Too many parents underrate the essentiality of obedience. Children early on must know that immediate obedience is required. One exasperated father asked his son if he understood the meaning of the word “obey.”  The boy said, “Yeah, it’s a place to go shopping on the internet.” Hmmmm!

A well-disciplined and obedient child is a happier child. We sing at church, “Trust and obey for there’s no other way, to be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.” And that is so true! And what is applicable to the spiritual life is true of all of life.

In speaking of the need for criminals to comply with the law, Donald G. Smith in the FREEMAN remarked: “The professional criminal is a volunteer. All that society asks of him is that he stop doing what he is doing, and this doesn’t seem to be an unreasonable request. It isn’t a great exaggeration to say that every man, woman and child in the United States is capable of not stripping a car, not selling drugs, not vandalizing property and not robbing a store. No one is asking the lawbreaker to run a four-minute mile, to translate the Dead Sea Scrolls, or to play a fugue on the harpsichord. Obeying the law requires no talent and no training. Anyone can do it.”

But, given the weakened and sinful human nature, it DOES require much arduous training. And, that’s where God’s words of wisdom in Proverbs are so applicable. Dear parent, meditate on these four principle verses.  Memorize them. Jot them on 3X5 cards and carry them with you. Go over them again and again lodging them in the heart and mind. Put them into daily action when teaching children to live lives pleasing to God and to society as well.

Martha Snell Nicholson penned this delightful poem:
     The older I grow, the more I find
          That the happiest children are those
           Who mind,
     Who know that someone cares for their
           Good
      Enough to make them do as they should.

      And we, the adopted children of God,
           Can rejoice if the Lord spares not the
           Rod,
      But leads with a firm directive hand
           The way that He in His wisdom planned.

Matthew Henry said, “Love is the root, obedience is the fruit.” In parenting, tough love is the primary root of all forms of child discipline; and obedience, the primary fruit for which we look in our growing children.

-       Dick D. Christen