Ever have a crappy, horrible, why did I get out of bed kinda day? Tuesday was mine. It started with lower back spasms and muscle relaxers. Then it turned into this:
“Mom, I have a headache.”
“Do you need me to come get you?”
“No, it’s okay. We’re on lockdown anyway.”
“Apparently there are kids with guns on campus.”
Meanwhile, my phone rings. It’s about the middle child in middle school:
“Your child is suspended from riding the bus for three days… “
And then when I picked up the youngest from Private Christian School, the teacher told me this:
“He can be such a good, loving child, but if I could’ve paddled him today I would have.”
So how’s that whole Parenting According to Amos thing going for me? I won’t even ask you, because most likely your children are close to perfection and you’ve just humored me in reading what I think God is saying to parents through the prophet Amos. Most likely your children get all greens or smiley faces on their agendas. Most likely your children live up to every single responsibility you ask of them. Most likely your children get all A’s on their report card (not even one ‘F’, not even one). Most likely you just pity me, looking down on me with a pierced mouthed smile, trying to let me know through your eyes that someday, I will be a better mother and everything will be okay.
But in the meantime I take this to heart–like God is telling me to straighten it up, to tighten the reins on my little family:
“Hear this word that the LORD has spoken against you…against the whole family…”Amos 3:1
Oh and it doesn’t stop there either, because verse 11 says this:
“An Adversary shall be all around the land; He shall sap your strength from you, and your palaces shall be plundered.”
God was speaking of the Assyrians at the time, but now, I consider my adversary Satan himself. And yes, he is sapping my strength and yes, he is plundering my palace. My child was held in a classroom for 2 hours yesterday so the 10 police cars full of officers could search students class by class. (There were kids peeing in bottles in the corners of rooms–no kidding. I have photographic evidence, but I’ll spare you.) My boys are forgetting their manners, and what obedience is, and how important honesty is to our family, and to God.
But I am reminded that the Adversary is the real enemy, from the beginning of my life to the end of my children’s. I must discipline my kids, I must teach them a better way of life. I must teach them to fight from a place of Victory in Christ, because if I don’t stop the disobedience now–if we don’t teach our kids honesty, responsibility, respect–then one of our kids could be the one at school with a gun.
When God speaks of disciplining his chosen people of Israel in the book of Amos it’s because he knows the possibility of the outcome if he didn’t. We can’t ignore the possible outcomes in our own kids lives.
What are some ways you need to stand firm against the ADVERSARY and not allow him to sap your strength?
What is your worst day ever with your kids?
Share with me!
This is what the Lord says:
“The people of Judah have sinned again and again,
and I will not let them go unpunished!
They have rejected the instruction of the Lord,
refusing to obey his decrees.
They have been led astray by the same lies
that deceived their ancestors. Amos 2:4
Through the prophet Amos, Judah was in clear violation of following God’s laws. We have instructions given to us by God as well, and we must be willing to examine what standards we currently live by . The Israelites had a standard from God. The Ten Commandments, as were other laws, were set forth during the exile of the Israelites from the Egyptians and Moses set the bar high as he led God’s people:
And now, Israel, what does the Lord your God require of you, but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in all His ways and to love Him, to serve the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your souls and to keep the commandments of the Lord and His statutes which I command you today for your good? Deuteronomy 10: 12-13
Know then in your heart that as a man disciplines his son, so the Lord your God disciplines you. Deuteronomy 8:5
I am, on all levels, an every day ordinary girl. My nails always crack and my polish is always chipped. I love hitting the snooze button but hate bedtime. I leave drawers and cabinet doors ajar because I hate the sound of them closing, and it drives my very military husband insane. Sometimes I yell at my kids, and hide in the bathroom. I’m always late. Always.
I am ordinary. And so was Amos. Amos bred sheep–I breed sheep or kids, either one. Amos tended to the fruit of the sycamore tree. I tend to my little fruit loops and often am sick-of-more and more of their antics (ha ha, see what I did there). Amos was not from any priestly or noble decent. Even though at times I think I am some sort of princess, I’m just a girl from Texas. Amos was an everyday ordinary guy, and God used him. I like to think that God uses me.
During the time that God gave Amos a message to share, The Northern Kingdom of Israel was rockin’. They were in a place of economic prosperity. There was a sense of security and peace among the people and the nations. Times were good yet the people were smug about God’s favor. However, God was not happy because a midst their seemingly perfect world was a people dedicated to “moral decay and spiritual corruption.”
We all look at our families like that sometimes. Read More
A few months ago I was hanging outside in the back, stealing my neighbors lounge chair as the morning was settling in. It was one of those mornings where I was going to start my day off right, soaking in Jesus a midst nature. “Filling my cup” so I could be like one of those mom’s that write blogs and puts makeup on and does dishes, and picks up kids from school on time. So I figured God was on my side and I wanted a really great “quiet time” story. You know what I’m talking about, right? When you are talking to your friends and they are sharing how hard something is, or a marital struggle, and you can so nonchalantly interject, “In my quiet time this morning, Jesus brought me to this passage…” and your friends can then all stand in awe of your amazing self-discipline to be “In the Word” everyday, and not only strive to be like you, but are secretly jealous of your strong character. I have those days when I feel like I can be that mom, but they only happen once every six months or so.
I was absolutely irritated when God brought me to the book of…WAIT FOR IT…Amos. I mean who needs the book of Amos, unless you’re a Pastor. But obediently I read it [insert your jealousy]. I ended up being amazed at why God brought me to it, and now I want to bring you through it. But the way I want to teach you about Amos is in regards to how we discipline our children. I know I can get lots of hate mail and death threats from this, but I think it’s worth a look. And you will soon see why.
You see I have this rub with lots of ways people parent these days. Most parents want to negotiate, and logical-ize with their children. They want their kids to always feel heard and loved and accepted and secure. They are willing to overlook serious sin (from God’s perspective) because they don’t want their kids to “feeeeel” bad or ” feeeeeel” rejected. Parents often parent out of fear…fear of the future….fear of lost relationship….fear of responsibility of how their kids turn out. I talk to lots of moms who don’t know how to handle their child’s direct disobedience, or temper tantrums. They are baffled at a child’s lack of respect and regard for them as an authority. They just don’t know what to do. And often times, when I suggest discipline, I get a deer in the headlights look. Or worse, “that just won’t work on my kid.”
More often than not, when I have parenting conversations with my husband, most of my parenting follies come down to my own mommy/daddy unresolved issues. I over compensate for what I didn’t get when I was a child or I fear my children won’t understand the depth of my love for them. Granted, you may parent that way as well. You and I have also bought into a bunch of psycho-babble hype on how to “raise” your kids. Don’t get me wrong, I promote some psychological ways to bring kids to a place of safety in hopes of changing their behavior. But as Christian parents we are all missing the Ark if we aren’t willing to look to the Bible for true parenting instruction.
God called us his children, and he called Israel his Children. He dealt with them as a father would his child. With strict measures, clear cut laws and boundaries, but with a willingness to extend grace. We want to see the loving and mercy-filled God in our lives, and want to mimic that for our children. Often times we skip over the justice parts, like the people in the book of Amos, because it’s just too hard and today’s society just wouldn’t accept it.
If you are brave enough to enter into God’s presence and are willing enough to allow me to navigate you, I think you might be surprised that discipline in the Bible goes beyond spare the rod and spoil the child. Our relationship with God as a just Father can pour into our parenting our children, if only we let it.
Starting MONDAY you can read
The last few days I’ve spent ample time with Zac. He’s been home from school with pulmonary junk. So between the million breathing treatments, we’ve watched the Karate Kid at least as many times. Zac loves to punch and kick and flip. So after the millionth time of me asking him to sit down and stop putting himself on the brink of respiratory failure, he settled in with my iPad.
“Mom, how do you spell karate?”
Before I knew it, Zac was on Karate Depot investigating how much black belts cost.
“Mom, can I buy a black belt?”
So being the fantastic, insightful mom I am, I replied with, “A black belt can’t be bought. It must be earned.”
Quickly, Zac was just as insightful, “I am going to earn it–well, I’m going to pretend I did.”
Isn’t that the American way? We want to pretend, or live as if, we have earned something. We want a fantastic marriage, but we don’t want to fight our way through it. We want kids who are well-adjusted and able to handle no matter what comes their way, but we don’t want to impose the boundaries. We want that deep faith in God, but shrug our shoulders at the thought of daily prayer and Bible reading.
All of us on some level want to pretend we’ve earned all the benefits of maturity. We shop at a Karate Depot, or Marriage Depot, or Parenting Depot, hoping to find something that will give us an outward badge of honor–to show the world our amazing-ness. We are willing to pay the $29.95 and even the inflated shipping fees if only it will give us the shortcut.
I wish I could purchase a black belt in writing, and in teenage dating issues, and in church planting, and in marriage. But even if I did, when it came down to the time to battle the enemy, I would lose.
I finished the conversation with my determined child forehead to forehead. I looked him in the eyes and said, “We can’t cheat our way through things. We have to work hard, train, do whatever it takes to get our black belt. Even if it takes 15 years to get it. And that’s not just with Kung Fu. We have to work hard to be whatever it is we dream about. We can’t buy our dreams on the internet.”
He flipped and kicked his way upstairs and came down with his Judo uniform and proudly tied his white belt. The kicking and flipping never stopped, but hopefully he learned–hopefully we have learned–that whatever it is we want to be best in, whatever we want to wear a black belt for, will take doing the hard work!
Happy Friday. You are loved!