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The Language Of Love

I have been very sad within myself over my spiritual condition as of late. As I watch my daughter grow, I see the different trends she goes through. She is a very mild mannered child, and she and her three cousins are well advanced for their years in things most adults can not grasp; genuine concern, love, compassion, consideration, respect, and most importantly, obedience. But the thing that really strikes me, that cuts me to the quick, is just how much my little 2 year olds life mimics my walk with Christ. When I am being rebellious before God (Proverbs 3:11), I see a change come over my daughter. The amount of times she is disciplined increases and her general attitude becomes very sullen. Most would blame this on the "terrible twos". Well, I say not so. I see the way my Father in heaven disciplines me and my reactions are not that different from hers at times. Sometimes I cry, sometimes I take what's coming to me in stride and get on with what I'm supposed to be doing. Sometimes she cries, but most of the time she gets back to what is important to her; playing with her cousins.

Please read Hebrews 12:4-11. I measure the love Christ has for me by how much He disciplines me (Deuteronomy 8:5, Psalm 94:12, Proverbs 3:12, John 15:2, Revelation 3:19). If left to my own devices I would most likely be dead by now. Without the tempering of Christ's refining fire and the changes wrought within me through His shed blood and His continual hounding and encouraging guidance, (always trying to help me make the cut, to aspire to his goals and His commandment of holiness: 1Peter 1:13-21; 1 Peter 2:9-12; Ephesians 4:17-32, 5:1-11; 2 Corinthians 6:14-18, 7:1; Hebrews 12:14-16; 2 Peter 3:11-15), I'm sure I would be dead. Someone would have killed me with sheer pleasure, because without Christ I am an annoying know-it-all. I used to join conversations with people I didn't even know just to give them my opinion on something I really knew nothing about! I was a blue blood all the way, a royal pain!

But back to my daughter: I count myself blessed to have the child that God gave to us, and that she is surrounded by other children who love and are loved in return. I have never in all my years seen four children under the age of three (my baby is 3 in December) show such real love for one another. They share more times than not, and if one falls down and is hurt, they give comfort, they hug each other and say "I love you" more times than they fight. Even when they fight, they hug and make up without us mothers having to step in and force them to; it is completely natural to them. It has been a pure joy to raise our children together in an environment wholly dedicated to Christ. Make no mistake, there have been times where we have had snags and bumps in the road and been told to 'mind our own business', or had to tell others that 'this is what the Lord has shown me that my child needs'.

Even though all of us mothers are sisters, we have our own ways of doings thing. Some were right and others not and depending on our relationship with each other, the relationships between our children altered in accordance. If I was not in harmony of spirit with my sister, then our cildren would not get along either, and the same with myself and my other sister, but as we reconciled ourselves things were sorted out among the children too. The same principle applies to relationship between my daughter, God, and myself. When I am rebellious before God, building up walls and being unresponsive to his call and discipline (for the Lord disciplines and corrects those He loves), my daughter responded to me in the same way; rebellious. Just as Christ will do everything in his power to get my attention, to smash down the walls that separate me from my jealous God, so I had to take steps in the area of discipline with my daughter in order to get her attention, I need to let her know that having a tantrum, or talking back, or pushing her cousins, that these things were going to fly about as well as an anvil, they won't.

I want my daughter to grow and flourish in an environment where love and discipline coincide, and were she is secure in the knowledge that because of the love that we, her parents have for her, when we see her even start to think of experimenting in the different areas of the flesh like sex, drugs, alcohol, being rude, using foul language, being disrespectful to those in Christ and to Christ himself, lying etc; she will know that we will do our best to prevent her from falling away from Christ (Proverbs 22:15). She will be prepared for the time when we as parents release her back into Christ's care. As she is ready to walk on her own before Him, she will be ready to receive his correction, and his love, knowing fully that He will have a willing recipient to be molded into all that He has called her to be, changing her from glory to glory to fulfill her calling and bring even more glory to her God. If she is unable to receive correction from her parents she will NEVER be able to receive it from God, it would be going against all she has known and it would be almost impossible for her to ever relent and let Him do His work within her.

But if I fail her, if I fail to do all that is commanded in the word of God as a parent professing to walk in the ways of the Lord and I do not train her up in His ways and instill in her a willing heart of love and obedience, it would better for her if she had never been born. To not have ever existed would be more of a comfort to me than to know that because I was a weak and lazy, unloving mother before God (Proverbs 13:24), she would spend an eternity in hell at my own hand, and the fact that my hand didn't come in contact with her behind on a regular basis, had sent her on the smooth and wide path to the lake of eternal fire. Discipline your son, for in that there is hope; do not be a willing party to his death (Ephesians 6:4).

Things that make my blood boil:

Having a time- out, or being sent to their room doesn't cut it. It's demoralizing to a child to sit them in a corner and make them think about what they've done wrong. Don't make them think; tell them. Even worse is being sent to their room, for it makes them think that what they have done is so bad, mommy and daddy don't want to be around them.

A good swat on the behind and an explanation as to what they've done wrong is much faster. It's over quicker than a band-aid being ripped off and they understand (Proverbs 22:15, 23:13-14). They begin to relate that action to discipline, and after a few attempts to see if they can get away with it, will usually avoid it. Sometimes it's hard if they are really testy. They keep trying to push the limit in a battle of the wills, where if you give in they've got you and will walk over you every time. Sometimes it takes more than one smack. Sometimes several in a row and it breaks your heart, it hurts you more than it hurts them, and sometimes you have to let your wife or husband step in for a bit, because it's easy for anger and annoyance to slip in and for you to go too far. You want to teach them, not hurt them. Never hurt them! That's why we all came with a little padding in the rear.

Golden Rules to follow:

NEVER discipline out of anger or annoyance!
ALWAYS give an explanation!
ALWAYS reaffirm your love for them!
ALWAYS ensure they understand what is going on!
NEVER have two people discipline or verbally rebuke a child at the same time! This will frighten them and make them feel insecure, especially if it is both parents.

Mom, Dad, if you see the others discipline or rebuke your child, unless you know without a doubt it is out of anger or annoyance, stay out of it. You are doing more harm than good.

Talk about how you both feel about discipline when you are alone and your children are not present. Try to work it out before you have children. You will be very surprised at just how different your views on it are. Find a common ground and set out different measures of discipline for different offenses, and STICK TO IT! It becomes confusing if one of you tells the child off for something and the other smacks them for it. Keep a clear level field, and it will be much easier on all of you. Discipline your son, and he will give you peace; he will bring delight to your soul (Proverbs 29:17).

The Lord really placed this on my heart today when he was showing me an area in my life where I had built a wall up and fell into sin out of fear. My husband will be going out into a very dangerous country for ministry work where there is a very real possibility that he may die or be imprisoned for the glory of God, and even though I see how awesome it is to suffer persecution for the glory of God, to honor His name (Acts 5:41), or the highest of all privileges, to be martyred for the sake of Christ (2 Timothy 2:11-12, 1 Peter 2:21, 4:12-16), fear still crept in unlooked for.

I almost made the dangerous mistake of trying to take my husband and my daughter out of the hands of God where they belong; out of His safe harbor. It literally took the Lord himself to smash through that wall and cause me to see His perfect will revealed for me. He wanted me to know that in all things He is God. I can never protect them like He can. If He thinks their ultimate protection is residing with Him in heaven, so be it. I know how wonderful these two are. I can understand why He would want to have them by His side, but He wanted me to know that the same love I have for them, He has for me; so much so my cup overflows. He opened my eyes to the changes in my daughter to give me a better understanding of His love, showing me how I sometimes respond to His discipline; with rebellion, and how holding my husband and daughter hostage from God was condemning me. He showed me that I did not fully trust in Him or His ways.

He has bridged the gap that stood between Him and I and has brought me through, but it was not without correction. This time it was gentle and caring, but there has been many a time where God has literally taken everything away from me; cars, family, friends, homes, television, every kind of escapism I may try to use. He took everything and anything that I might hide behind to shield myself from His wrath. Many a time have my ears been red and ringing, because of the voice of God in a fury of love trying to get my attention, trying to get me to change my wicked ways and to replace them with His ways.

This is just a letter of encouragement for you to love your children with the very fullness of God's word. Extend them the same mercy Christ has given you. You can't save them or get them into heaven, but you can certainly pave the way. You can train them up in the way that they should go and when they grow old, they will not depart from it (Proverbs 22:6). This is also a letter of encouragement to respond to the love of God in its various forms, whether it be in blessing or discipline or correction and rebuke in such a way that brings glory to His name. With all your heart receive it and give Him thanks. Hold onto His correction with all that you've got because it is those changes wrought in you through His refining that makes you useable, and that makes it possible for Him to say, "Well done good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share in your Master's happiness!" (Matthew 25:23) Don't allow a lack of discipline in your life and that of your child to result in these words "I never knew you. Away from me, you evil doers." (Matthew 7:23) "Outside are the dogs, those who practice magic arts, the sexually immoral, the murderers, the idolaters and everyone who loves and practices falsehood." Revelation 22:15.

The Lord truly does love you this day. Heed His correction and live.

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