“For three sins…even four, I will not turn back my wrath.”
My husband can be quite the funny guy. Sometimes, when the kids come home from school he will tell one of them that he got a call from the teacher and wants to know what happened. Whichever child he chooses to pick on gets a deer-in-the-headlight- look, obviously combing every memory of the day gone by to see if there is anything they possibly could have done to warrant a phone call. After a few moments the poor victim of the practical joke finally realize they’ve done nothing and everyone starts laughing. Except this one time, when my middle child was in second grade, he confessed to pushing a girl at recess. Even now, six years later, we all laugh about how what was intended for a joke turned out to be a time of confession.
We always have those moments with our kids when we really have to call them out on their behavior. To me, it’s the most dreaded time of parenting. In the first chapters of Amos we see God calling out the Nations of Israel sin by sin. Their sins boiled down to absence of worship of God and absence of justice. But the sins were many: violence, sending friends into exile, broken promises, lack of mercy, extensive anger, greed, disrespect, disobedience, stealing, mistreatment of the poor and sexual immorality. My guess if you really looked at this list, your family struggles with much of the same. Siblings hitting each other, friends being mistreated, anger issues among the youngest, disrespect toward parents and flat out disobedience of what you’ve asked to be done.
Most parents make excuses for their kids: they’re tired, they’ve had a rough day, they didn’t really mean it. We don’t want to see our kids suffer and most of the time it takes a commitment from us to follow through with discipline. Anyone who has ever grounded a child knows that it’s more punishment for ourselves than it is for the child. Who wants to deal with that?
But God dealt very seriously with his people when it came to their behavior. Time and again we see God deliver his message through Amos:
“I will not turn away its punishment”
God called them out on their sin, and explained specifically how he was going to handle it: I will send fire, I will cut off, I shall devour palaces, the strong shall not strengthen his power. God says, “I will punish you for all your iniquities.”
The word punishment has become taboo in the last decade. We should never punish a child, only discipline. Punishment has become a dirty word meaning violence and harshness. Discipline or punishment, whatever you want to call it, God was making himself very clear. He would not tolerate the Israelites behavior any longer. And it would require drastic actions to put his children back in their place.
Same is true for us. There are times we must be drastic in the way we discipline our children so that they really get the message and understand who is the authority. So many families, maybe even yours, are living out of balance because your children have too much power. What they want, what they say is what goes. This is what the Israelites thought, too.
God is clear with us, his children, that He is the authority and that he sets that standard. There is no grey area. And although God deals with us gently, he also deals with us with tremendous justice. We should desire to parent our children by His example to us.
Share with me:
Is God your authority and standard?
Where did you learn your parenting skills from?
Do your kids have too much say-so in your home?
What does the word discipline or punishment mean to you?
Once upon a time, manny manny years ago. Like in the 90's, 13 was the unspoken official age to stop trick or treating. Usually by 7th grade, and that was pushing it, we put away our vampire teeth and traded it for the all important job of candy-passer-outer.
But as you walk the streets it is not uncoming to see almost grown men shamelessly begging for candy, and young girls dressed liked street walkers holding their pillowcase in search of a snickers. From age 8 weeks to 18, kids and kid-aged-parents are costumed up and trick or treating.
At one time I would have been crazy aggrevated with this new philosophy of the “Y”ldGeneration, but now, It's whatever. Maybe I don't get as offended because I have an understanding of these kids, praise Him that I do. And maybe this year, you worried about more important things than a 16 year old wanting a smartee.
The reality of it is, these kids aren't ready to grow up. My guess: most of them have been dealing with really grown up stuff for too much of their childhod and there is no appeal in being an adult. How can you blame them?
As most of you know, I have dedicated my life to showing the love of Jesus to kids of all ages. I love Jesus and, wow, do I love kids. Every child in my life or who crosses my path gets my benefit of the doubt. I have this crazy ability to see the hurt and suffering and vulnerability of every child. And with that grows my love for them.
But my love, and my willingness to show Jesus’ love to these kids is just not enough. And here is why.
We are raising a generation who idolize people with mediocre talent or who have gotten famous for doing absolutely nothing. This laziness to stardom is morphing into the New American Dream. The Real, honest and true American dream is slowly flushing down the toilet. The one that prides itself on hard work and reaching goals.
Unfortunately, my small blog post won’t do anything to change how apathetic our kids are. In fact, I could sky write it and have it published in every respectable newspaper in America, and everyone will simply shake their heads in agreement and go about their business.
I know I’m right, and it saddens me. Because I know that a change of heart in today’s kids, and to challenge them to reach their full potential, will require something from you, and honestly, you aren’t willing to give it.
Changing and shaping our future would require you to lay your judgement down of that foul mouthed teenager and actually talk to him with the same respect you demand. It would beg you to maybe give a kid a hug. And the thing is, it would require you to do all of these things more than once, in fact more than twice. It would require an invested commitment on your part to pour into the next generation instead of expecting them to fend for themselves.
All of these years you have thought that putting your blinders on and forcing the outside world to disappear is what is best for YOUR family. But you see, the entire world affects your child, so why wouldn’t you want to take some ownership for your neighbor’s child, your friend’s child, or even the unknown child? All of those kids will have tremendous influence on your own kid, the future of our world and all upcoming generations.
But instead we judge the child, criticize the parent, homeschool our own kids so they don’t have to interact with society and then ask, “what is this world coming to?”.
And the answer is You . You are what this world is coming to. Stop living so selfishly. It’s not about you. It never was, and it never will be. This life is about giving generously of your life because Jesus gave generously to you of His.
I have all these kids that come to my house on Wednesdays. We call it Uth. I feed them, we play games, and sit around my living room (usually piled on top of each other) and talk about life, and what the Bible says and why it’s true.
So many of them don’t think it’s true. So many of them think anything can be true. They think whatever works for you is ok. They don’t think. I’m certain that’s the problem.
There is this constant state of confusion. So many of them don’t see anything wrong with their lives, their choices. They don’t see their need for Jesus. So last week when half of them raised their hands that they didn’t really believe that Jesus was the only way I became nauseous. I told my testimony of why Jesus is MY only way and how I KNOW that no other self-proclaimed god would rescue me, transform me, love me.
I went to bed that night convinced that what I am doing is not enough. My heart was in a frenzy, my head spinning, I had to do more, be more convincing, persuade them. For a week I contemplated, pondered, even considered everything I’m doing as completely meaningless.
This morning I said, “Jesus, what should I do. How can I convince them?”
He said, “That is not your job. Your job is to give them truth. My job is to show them that it is true.”
I want every child who walks out of my door on Wednesday to understand the tremendous love and grace and justice of Jesus. But if they don’t, it’s not my problem. In fact, I’m certain Jesus doesn’t see it as a problem he sees it as just another seed planted that he will water and nurture and grow to His perfection.
So tonight, I will pull up my overalls, throw on my rain boots and trek into the garden of precious kids, some sprouting, some blooming. But I will nourish them with the truth, give them a few hugs and wait for Jesus’ love to overwhelm them so they can no longer be contained in their seed.
Pray for us, would you?