At All Times-Psalm 34:1

December 8, 2012

The War to Love: Three Spiritual Battle fronts for the Disciplining Mom

Filed under: Uncategorized — by Whitney Standlea @ 8:34 am
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Sisters, friends. I have been reminded of these things during the past week and share them in hopes that it will etch them deeper in my own mind and remind you of the weightiness of the task you have at hand. I have faced several rather difficult hours this week of back-and-forth disobedience between my two boys. Serious heart talks back and forth in the bedroom between the them did little to deter their behavior. When I returned to the kitchen (while food was long delayed in its journey to the oven and stove) I would immediately find the other one doing something foolish or disobedient.  These difficult moments this week reminded me of something that I loose sight of very quickly in frenzied hours like this: EVERY TIME I DISCIPLINE MY CHILD THERE IS  A SERIOUS SPIRITUAL BATTLE.

 

Let me briefly remind you of three areas of spiritual battle when you discipline:

Spiritual battle in your child’s heart
If you are disciplining a child it is because of the presence of sin: disobedience, rebellion, lying, anger, lack of self-control. Where there is sin, there is warfare. There is a battle in his flesh and in that moment flesh is winning over righteosness. The sin that controls that little child’s heart has a grasp on him that has “blinded his eyes to the Gospel of truth.” The sin being fought in that moment is part of the great war for his heart! Pray that the Holy Spirit would triumph over the darkness in your child. This is not just a battle for compliant behavior or righteous living. This is a war that your child would recognize his sin and trust in Jesus Christ for forgiveness of it and freedom from it.

Spiritual battle in your own heart
Let’s face it. A huge war of temptation is present in us as we discipline. A war against impatience, frustration, pride, anger, lack of self-control, bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, malice. Its the fight to be tenderhearted and forgiving. A fight to talk and walk in humility.  I think my theme verse for parenting has become:

    [31] Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. [32] Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.
(Ephesians 4:31-32 ESV)

Pray for yourself! Don’t let sin creep into your heart and out through your actions and words (and tone of voice) when you are trying to fight this battle!

Spiritual battle in the parent child relationship
Sin destroys relationships. As your child walks in sin, and you (potentially) respond in sin, there is a battle. The Enemy would love to attack the relationship between you and your son. He would love to build a barricade of bitterness, anger, falsehood, and pride between you and your child. He would love to tear away the trust the two of you stand on. Fight the battle against your sin when you deal with your child’s sin because sin can destroy the relationship you share with him.

Ultimately, It is a Battle for Love!

    Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.(Ephesians 5:1-2 ESV)

This is a battle for love! It is a battle for the love of God in the glory of the Gospel of Jesus Christ to triumph over the sin in your child’s heart. It is a battle for you to walk in the love of God that He has demonstrated to you in sending His own son to die for your sins. It is a battle for love to triumph in your family as you fight sin with humility and foster love, respect, and trust between you and your child. What does this require of us, moms? It requires clinging to the beauty of the Gospel, walking in the forgiveness that God has showered us with, and patiently extending that love out to our children who are  sinners just like us.

June 26, 2011

Just like the rest of ’em!

One thing that is special about being a mother is that I am absolutely convinced that there is no child in the world as wonderful or special as my own. Carson’s eyes must be the most beautiful eyes of any child anywhere. Justus’ passion for construction trucks and hot dogs must rival any boy’s or man’s. And of course, that flowered dress wouldn’t look near as pretty on any other little girl but Joy. When my children smile, it lights up my whole world.

What I find fascinating about this is that I know other parents feel the same way about their children. And it doesn’t bother me. In fact, I want them to think that way about their children. While it can be taken to unhealthy extremes, I think this is a good gift to give our children. Many benefits come from having a high view of the individuality, beauty and talent of our children. One of the most important in my mind is a unique foretaste of the great blessedness of being a child of God. When parents lovingly express the specialness and uniqueness of a child, I believe it can lay a foundation for being able to believe that God would uniquely and specially love us as His own child. But I digress…

The real reason I bring this up is to draw parents to an offensive little phrase I noticed in Scripture. It is this: “Like the rest of mankind.” I think I would be either appalled or offended if anyone walked up to me and said, “Your daughter is just like the rest of ’em. Smiles like them. Looks like them.” So is your son or daughter just like the rest of ’em? Let’s walk through Ephesians 2 and see what is so important about this annoying little phrase.

In chapter 2 of Ephsians, Paul graciously reminds us that our salvation is so great because of who we once were. He tells us we were dead, disobedient, separated from Christ, and children of wrath! The point of the passage is to remind us that God is rich in mercy because He still chose to save us even though we were just like the rest of the world walking in all the lusts of our flesh. There was absolutely nothing different about us. But something struck me as I was studying this text. As much as I hate to admit it, Paul gave only two categories for mankind: children of wrath and children of God. I can admit that I used to be a “child of wrath” but I preferred there be a third category: “Children of Whitney Standlea.” But there isn’t. I had to place my children in the context of one or the other. At this time my children are “children of wrath like the rest of mankind.” Being honest, once I thought about it I didn’t really like that idea.

This is very sobering. My little sons that struggle to obey my voice are in the same general category as the rapist on the news last night. My daughter in all her beauty is really no different than the promiscuous teen that I would never allow to babysit her. These little children that I care for, tend to, get frustrated with, adore, and love everyday are children of wrath at their very nature. They are separated from Christ, pursuing anything their hearts and minds desire.

Of what help is this unpleasant truth? If we can move past the splendid uniqueness of the gift God has given us, what good does it do us as parents to recognize that our children are really just like the rest of ’em? I think this unpleasant realization is of eternal significance. It is perhaps the most propelling part of the particular love a parent has for her own child. The more we can understand and grasp at this truth, the more eager I believe we will be to share the great love of God with our children. As we see that their lives, their gifts and talents, their eternities (that we value so much) are of little worth unless surrendered to the Savior, we can refocus on the most important calling we have as parents: to constantly call on our heavenly Father and avail ourselves of every means God has given us to make our children become His children. In reality, if they only remain our children, they merely remain “children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.”

So let us strive with all diligence to bring them before our Father in prayer and turn their hearts to the love of the Savior. Let us remember that their eyes are always watching and their ears always listening. May our tongues speak constantly of His love and our hearts overflow with tenderness and patience toward them just as God has demonstrated great kindness and patience with us. May we be eager to seize the moment by moment opportunities we have to live and speak the Gospel to our children with as great an eagerness as we would with any other lost soul we have the opportunity to encounter. And as our hearts become impatient and hardened toward our children, which they do, let us run back to the great manner of love that God has bestowed on us-that we the former children of wrath should now be called the children of God!

December 30, 2009

Review & Reflections: Treasuring God in our Traditions by Noel Piper (PART I)

I recently finished reading Treasuring God in our Traditions by Noel Piper. I would like to take the time to do a brief overview of the book and then follow it up with some reflections and discussion. This will probably be broken into four or five different posts.  To download the book for free (or order it), click here.

The Piper family has been very influential in my life and countless others. This book was most delightful to me because it provided a very intimate glimpse into the daily life of the Piper family over the years. It was enjoyable, helpful, and encouraging to see what traditions and practices they built their family on.

The first section of the book Noel begins by setting up for us what traditions are, what makes them important, and how they work. From some passages in Deuteronomy she defines tradition, in essence, as a “planned habit with significance” that hands down information, beliefs, and worldview. More importantly, tradition for the Christian family involves “laying up God’s words in our own hearts and passing his words to the next generation.”

My desire as a parent has been to establish traditions for my family that will give my children a passion for God and a deep knowledge of Him. I’ll admit I’ve been overwhelmed in trying to think through all of this. However, reading Noel’s book has been immensely helpful in focusing my thoughts. Her underlying philosophy and her practical overflow, made me feel so equipped to supply meaningful traditions to my family. In fact, I found it encouraging to see that some of the “little” things we’ve been doing as a family are valuable and meaningful as well. Here are three key questions she asks that are the overflow of her book:

  • What is my greatest treasure? What is most precious to me?
  • How do I reflect and express that treasure in my life?
  • How can I pass that treasure on to my children and others within my circle?

The first set of questions has to do with our heart. Do we love and treasure Christ the most? Is He are supreme treasure and joy? If so, then we have something of infinite value to pass on to others. If not, our traditions will reflect whatever it is our hearts cling to.

It is the final question that I would like to explore through the remaining posts.  Noel divides the passing on of tradition into the “everyday” and the “especially.” I hope to share with you my own reflections and practices on these areas in the remaining posts. Please stay tuned!

December 10, 2009

To Do or Not to Do: That’s not the Question

Filed under: Personal Reflections — by Whitney Standlea @ 2:35 pm
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After reading Tacky the Penguin for the sixth time to my toddler, I can’t believe its still another forty minutes until nap time.  I keep asking, “Do you want to go to nighty-night?” An emphatic head shake tells me “NO!” for the second time. What toddler would want to take a nap early anyway? I don’t want to play ball, peek-a-boo, or read another book because the to-do list over on the computer desk is consuming me! If these little boys will just go to sleep then I can finally get something done around here.

I don’t know if anyone else can identify with this common scenario in my world. It seems like my drive to run that pencil through another item on my list is so over-powering that there are many mornings (that’s the time it hits the worst) that I can’t enjoy playtime or anytime with my kids. [After all, cultivating language, developing worldviews, disciplining young hearts, and satisfying curiosity through exploration aren’t really things you can check off a list. ]

If I’m suppose to be enjoying and knowing God, but I’m going crazy till nap time then something isn’t right in my heart. During a week (not too long ago) that I was struggling especially hard with this, something from a Desiring God Blog post caught my eye: “What is the most important principle for productivity?” My heart leap, What is it! Oh to be more productive! Although the post was related to productivity in the organizational setting, I still consider my home to be a “business” that I “manage.” The Desiring God Directory of Strategy, David Mathis responds with an answer that was so helpful to me:

“I would actually say: realize that you don’t have to be productive. By this I mean: your significance does not come from your productivity. It comes from Christ, who obeyed God perfectly on our behalf such that our significance and standing before God comes from him, not anything we do. Then, on that basis, we pursue good works (which is what productivity is) and do so eagerly, as it says in Titus 2:14.” (read whole interview)

I can’t do anything to merit God’s favor. I knew that already, right? But I take a lot of pride in being efficient and hardworking. When I haven’t gotten anything done at the end of the day (or at least anything on my list), I feel like I wasted the day. If I wasted a day, I must be a failure before God. I spend most of my days measuring my success by my productivity. It looks like this:

Greater Productivity (More chores done, more calls made, more bills paid)=Greater success

Feeling successful makes me feel happy. I feel right with God and right with the world. I think this is pushing the line with that great heresy of replacing the righteousness of Christ with that of good works. Dare I really think I can add to my standing before God by my own merit?

The fact of the matter is that my definitions are all messed up. I should measure my “success” for the day in whether or not I was able to enjoy God and seek Him through each and everything I did (planned or unplanned). That means the extra mess from a massive diaper explosion is just one more opportunity to serve my children (and know the God who came to serve), the five dozen times of reading The Three Little Pigs is just one more opportunity to spill out love on my children (and enjoy the God who gave them to me). At the end of the day, I should hope to have spent it abiding in Christ. If that was my focus for the day, then I know where I stand before God-even if (UHG!) my to-do list is longer than it was at 7:00 AM.

So, I do believe that if enjoying God is the great battle of the Christian life, a key part of that must be getting rid of “productivity” as  a measure of success for the day. That would (as I have found this week) free me to enjoy doing “nothing” with the kids, and bid away the cloud of stress and despair when the unexpected comes my way. It would also serve as a hedge against meritocracy.

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