Obedience is an important, yet difficult concept that all children have to learn. While it may seem to come easier to some children than to others, at some point or another all children will have issues with disobedience. Proverbs 22:6 says to “train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.” Our goal in parenting, in raising children, is ultimately to raise godly people who desire to love and serve the Lord with all their heart. So how do we do that?
First, we need to know why we require obedience at all. We have rules because we were created in the image of God and He is a God of order and not chaos. God has a set of rules that we, His creation, must follow.
“Hear, O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord is one! You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. 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. Deuteronomy 6:4-7
Christ showed us obedience as He submitted Himself to the cross (Philippians 2:8). God has set a natural order to creation by placing the parents as head over the children. As image-bearers, we give our children rules that they must obey as part of the family unit. It is through learning to obey their parents, that children, in turn, learn to obey God.
How do we decide what the rules, or standards, should be? There is a bombardment of different views on the subject. Just a quick google search on discipline methods will produce hundreds of differing ideas on how best to raise your children. How do you decide what is optimum? Well, I’m here to tell you the decision is actually very easy.
The world is always wavering back and forth between the newest and greatest opinion on how to do just about anything. For example, anyone in their 30’s has seen a dozen different diets rise and fall in cultural craze over their lifetime. A dozen different ways that experts swore were the best way to lose weight. One year it was fat grams, just a couple years later it was carbs. It’s the same way with child raising theories, wavering back and forth in the sea of humanistic philosophies.
But, unlike the sinking sand of worldly thinking, we have a solid rock to build our lives upon (Matthew 7:24-27). The standard of the Word of God is unchanging and reliable (Psalm 119:89). Most importantly, it is the ultimate test of truth (John 17:17 and Psalm 119:160). Read through Psalm 119 and see how often the psalmist attributes his ability to make wise choices to the scriptures. When we raise our children based on the standards of the bible, it will have an effect.
A major way I used the scriptures as my children were in their formative years was through bible memory. There were certain verses in scripture that spoke to the specific behavior issues they were having. I used a family devotional called Sword Fighting, and made scripture cards to go with it. This book was based on Ephesians 6:13-17 which says, “Therefore, take up the full armor of God so that you will be able to resist in the evil day … and the sword of the spirit which is the word of God.” Jesus exemplifies this concept in Mathew 4 by fighting temptation with the Word of God. The idea is to memorize scripture that we can then use when we are tempted to sin. We memorized these key verses and, through the cards I had hung on the wall, I would remind them of these precepts when they would inevitably forget and thus disobey.
Through the prophet Isaiah, God says, “My word… will not return to me empty, without accomplishing what I desire, and without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it.” (Isaiah 55:11) It is our responsibility to teach our children scripture as it relates to who God is, who we are, and how we should respond. It is God’s responsibility to change their hearts.
I am not going to go too deep into all the details of raising our children on the standard of the word of God, wiser people than me have already done that. I will, however, recommend a few of the books that made a big impact in my household. Shepherding a Child’s Heart, by Tedd Tripp, The Heart of Anger by Lou Prilio, and, more recently, Reset for Parents: How to Keep Your Kids from Backsliding, by Todd Friel. The key point I want to make is that by raising our children by the standard of the Word of God, and living by that standard, we can bring up young people who know right from wrong.
I have created a set of 16 scripture memory cards with some of my go-to verses that you can use with your children to “sword fight”. They are illustrated to make them easily understandable by all children regardless of reading level. I would love for you to have a set! Just click this link and I will send it straight to your inbox.
Send me some scripture memory cards!
I have been asking myself how I am spending my time. Am I being a good steward of the time God has given me? Psalm 37:5 says, “Commit your way to the Lord” and Psalm 5:3 encourages,”In the morning, O LORD, You will hear my voice; In the morning I will order my prayer to You and eagerly watch.” Therefore, before I begin my day I need to spend time with the Lord, as well as meditate on His word throughout the day. This is an important routine to fill up my tank for the day allowing me to go into my tasks with the right attitude and providing the words to use in spreading the gospel. In my last post I discussed how I am spending the time and abilities God has given me and whether I am using them to the best of my ability. I wanted to devote more time to the topic of daily Bible study as that is essential to all other things.
Daily Devotional Habit
First and foremost comes my time with God. Over the years, I have developed a habit of pulling out my Bible first thing in the morning. I get up with my husband and help him out the door at 6am. Then I sit with my bible, my reading plan, and a cup of coffee. (Also earbuds because I focus sooooo much better when I listen and read it!) For a long time I have felt that I was doing good in this area and I checked it off my list, so to speak, of disciplines that I have got a handle on. But, Paul exhorts us to excel still more (1 Thessalonians 4:1). My typical Bible devotion is usually to read either the M’Cheyne One Year Plan or a chronological plan (this year I am doing Solid Life Whole Bible Reading Plan). These plans have me reading the Bible in a year and have me reading in both the Old Testament and the New Testament at the same time. The act of reading from 2-4 different areas in the Bible helps me make observations and connections I haven’t made before.
However, I am not consistent at Bible journaling, nor do I regularly do a separate Bible study. I underline and write little notes in my Bible, but sometimes I have more to say than what I can write in the margins. And while I love journaling, I’m a wordy person, so writing in a blank page journal is like a 30 minute exercise for me. This means that I usually get lazy and don’t pull it out because “I don’t have time for that.”
However, I have decided that, in order to continue to grow in my relationship with God (2 Peter 3:18), I have to do more than what I already do. So I purchased this simple journal that uses the Scripture, Observation, Application, Prayer (SOAP) method. I decided to do this instead of using a blank journal like I have in the past to make the idea of daily journaling feel less intimidating. The fill in the blank pages are one page per day which make me feel like I can briefly write my thoughts without writing a book. 10 minutes of journaling is still journaling! I’m still getting my thoughts on paper without taking up all my time. Also, I have committed to write in the journal daily, which forces me to think and meditate upon what I have read (Joshua 1:8).
In addition to reading and meditating on the Word of God, prayer is an important part of daily spiritual disciplines. Because I lack focus, I can struggle with this aspect at times. Not because I don’t know what to say, but because, despite my best efforts, my thoughts stray to other things. The best way I have found to combat this is to have my Bible open and pray scripture and/or write my prayers in a journal. Again, this is not something I do everyday, but I am striving for excellence in this area. Another favorite way to pray is during my morning walks. After I read my Bible and before my kids get up, I leave the house and walk about 2 miles. The peaceful serenity of the morning makes for a wonderful time of prayer while I get some exercise, Somehow being outside and moving my body helps me concentrate on prayer. I am also looking for other profitable ways to pray during my day. My pastor’s wife tells how she would often pray while doing monotonous daily tasks such as folding laundry or ironing. This is also a good method.
So what’s so important about developing this skill? Why not just do a five minute devotional and be done? 1 Timothy 4:7 says to “discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness.” In his book on spiritual disciplines, Donald Whitney compares this to spiritual exercises. “To go to your favorite spot for prayer or journaling, for example, is like going to a gym and using a weight machine. As physical disciplines like this promote strength, so the spiritual disciplines promote godliness.” As we grow in godliness we grow in sanctification, and that is the goal of the Christian life. (1 Thessalonians 4:3)
New to spiritual disciplines? Not sure what they are or why you should develop them? I suggest the book Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life by Donald Whitney as a very readable resource on the subject.
How are you making sure you have time in bible study and prayer throughout the week?
I am a list setter and a planner. I like to write my to-do lists and I like to schedule out my days. There may be times I need to adjust on the fly, however I do so much better in my day if I have a plan worked out telling me what I need to do and when. Because of that I have tried a lot of planners. Digital and print, specialized and general, purchased and homemade. I’ve tried them all. And nothing is just right — just what I’m looking for.
The specialized ones are too … ummm … specialized, not leaving room for the other areas of my life. The general ones don’t allow me the space for jotting down notes and brainstorming; processes that help me keep my brain in check. Digital ones keep me in a box of “fill in this blank with this type of information” — sometimes (a lot of the time) my life doesn’t fit in a box. Then there are the printable planners that boast of completely customizable pages that include several different options to make the planner what I need it to be. I just print what I want. That sounds great in theory, but printing 150 pages in full color and binding it in something durable is expensive! I’d honestly rather pay a little bit more to buy one already printed and professionally bound.
So what it boils down to is that I want a planner that is already printed and bound, that is not specialized in to categories like homeschool calendar or blog calendar, but has room for me to brainstorm my thoughts and allows me to schedule out my day to include all the different things I do.
Enter the Living Well Planner. I found it a year ago when I was searching for a good way to plan my chaotic life and bring the overwhelm under control. I was unhappy with the last two planners I had purchased as they were homeschool specialized and were not conducive to the other areas of my life. I had been a reader of Ruth Soukup’s blog for a couple years and had heard about the planner but hadn’t checked it out yet. It seemed to have everything I was looking for, so I took the leap and ordered it. I’m so glad I did!
My favorite part is the goal setting and project planning pages at the beginning of each month. It’s a place for me to brainstorm the “big thing” I’m trying to accomplish right now and set goals for projects I want to accomplish in the future. The worksheets help to break up my big “to-do’s” into actionable steps. It’s especially helpful that there is a new set of goal pages every month as I have different things I want/need to accomplish that often.
The goal setting page at the beginning of each month.
Project planning pages following the goal setting page.
Then there are the weekly pages. Every day is laid out by the hour so I can time block what I need to do each day. For a slightly scatter-brained person like me, that is a life saver. In addition to the time block, there is a space to write your daily “must-do” and what’s for dinner. Seriously, it’s like this planner was made just for me!
The weekly planning pages. Everything is undated so you can start whenever!
In addition to these pages every month, there is also a monthly budget page, thoughts and thanks page, and a notes page. You could literally almost keep your whole life in this planner — and it’s beautiful too!! The months are tabbed making it easy to flip right where you need to be.
There are a multitude of planners out there — one to fit every taste and niche, and then some! While that means that somewhere in the sea of planners there is something that fits your unique personality, it also can be overwhelming. So I thought I’d share with you the planner I use and enjoy. I hope this review was helpful to you.
Check out the Living Well planner and see what you think!
In full disclosure, I do earn a little commission of your purchase, but it has not effected my review in the least. I had this planner for a year before I became an affiliate and I would recommend it regardless of that fact. It is a planner I will purchase again in the future.
Am I making the most of my time? Homeschool, blog, church, family; I have so many things vying for my attention, but if I’m not careful, I can easily waste an entire day wandering aimlessly because I haven’t written anything down. I know I have things to do, but I don’t know where to start. I don’t want to come to the end of our school year and feel that I didn’t accomplish all that I set out to do. I don’t want to look back at the end of this year and think that I did not give my all to my family or the people God has put in my life. It is important that I learn to intentionally think about my time and how I spend it.
As for the days of our life, they contain seventy years,
Or if due to strength, eighty years,
Yet their pride is but labor and sorrow;
For soon it is gone and we fly away.
So teach us to number our days,
That we may present to You a heart of wisdom.
In Matthew 25 Jesus tells the parable of a man getting ready to go on a journey. He calls his servants and entrusts to each of them various amounts of talents according to their ability. To one he entrusts five talents, to another two talents, and the last he gave one talent. Then he goes off on a journey. When he returns, he lines the servants up to see what they did with the money. He expects that they invested it in some way and received a return for it. The man who had been given five talents traded with them and earned five more. In the same manner, the man who had two talents also invested them and earned two more. The landowner was pleased with these men, because they wisely used the possessions he gave them and acquired more. This is what he he told them:
Well done, good and faithful slave. You were faithful with a few things. I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.” (Matt. 25:21)
Then he came to the last slave, the man who had been given a single talent. He was a fearful man. What if he lost the talent? What if he didn’t use it correctly and made a huge mess out of things? He believed his master to be a hard man who reaped where he did not sow and didn’t want to disappoint him. So he decided to hide the talent — he couldn’t lose it if he didn’t use it, right? When the time came to give an accounting, he went and dug up the talent and held it out. “See, here is your talent. I was afraid to lose it because of what kind of man I knew you to be, but here it is, I didn’t lose it!”
Instead of being grateful, the master was furious! He called the slave wicked and lazy! “You should have at the very least put the money in the bank so it could earn interest! What good does it do me in the ground!” He then took the talent from the man and gave it to the servant with the ten talents.
For to everyone who has, more will be given, and he will have an abundance; but from the one who does not have, even what he does have shall be taken away. (Matt. 25:29)
What does this mean for us? Let’s think of the talents as abilities or time. God has graced each and every one of us with abilities and skills, as well as 24 hours in a day and 365 days in a year. How are we using these precious commodities? Wisely and thoughtfully? Or are we hiding them in fear? Are we squandering them on useless things that will gain no profit?
Consider 1 Corinthians 4:2, “Moreover, it is required of stewards that they be found faithful.” Am I being a faithful steward of what He has given me? God has given me the ability to write and a desire to encourage others. But if I decide that I’m too fearful to share the post I wrote (which I’ve done) or if I don’t talk to the person that I know needs encouragement for fear of rejection (also guilty), then I’m not being faithful to that which God has given me. He has also given me six children and has called me to homeschool them. I need to be faithful to teach them and prepare them for life. I need to be faithful to share the gospel with them and show them what it means to be a christian. The last two decades I’ve had as a parent have gone by in a flash; in another decade all my kids will be grown. I only have a short amount of time with them — how am I spending it?
I know myself, and I know that if I am not proactive and intentional about my days, I can easily waste an entire day appearing active but actually accomplishing nothing. If I don’t consider my goals and make a prioritized list of actions that need to be accomplished then I will wander from place to place, knowing something must be done but not knowing what to do first. The Living Well Planner is the best thing I have found to keep track of my life and keep me in check. You can read why I like it in this post. This is one way that I can keep from wasting my day. It is the first step, but it isn’t the only step. I must also DO the things I plan to do.
Psalm 37:5 says, Commit your way to the Lord, Trust also in Him and He will do it. Before I begin my day I need to spend time with the Lord, as well as meditate on His word throughout the day. This is an important routine to fill up my tank for the day allowing me to go into my tasks with the right attitude and providing the words to use in spreading the gospel. I will talk more about this in my next post.
Luke 16:10 “He who is faithful in a very little thing is faithful also in much; and he who is unrighteous in a very little thing is also unrighteous in much… If you have not been faithful in the use of that which is another’s, who will give you that which is your own?
What do you do to make sure you are using your time wisely?
I know that I am not alone when I say that I love fall. The colors, the crispness in the air, the cool temperatures, the smell of pumpkin and cinnamon wafting through the air as we cuddle in sweaters and blankets before a fire — yes, those thoughts bring a smile to my face. This fall has been especially beautiful; the colors of the changing leaves have been brighter, more vibrant, and longer lasting. The variance in color seems to be more pronounced as well. I’m told there is a scientific reason for this – something like more rain and cooler temperatures in the summer. Whatever the reason, I’m just basking in the artistry of it all and wanting to be out in it as much as possible.
Some of the fall colors in my front yard.
I was driving this past week with my fifteen year old daughter, who has also been enthralled with the variety of color on the trees. She really can’t get over it! She said something that I initially dismissed, but the more I have been thinking about it, the more profound it seems.
“I just love fall. I mean I love spring and the colors of the blossoms, but there’s just something about the colors of death. I love the beauty of death.”
I had never thought of it like that before — that all the beauty of fall is due to the fact that the leaves are dying! They are losing chlorophyll and thus losing their green and changing color. They will soon die and fall of the tree onto the ground.
I have said before that spring is one of my favorite seasons because it reminds me of hope. All winter the trees have been dormant, barren, lifeless. The world seems bleak, as it often does during times of trial and affliction. Then those first buds of spring appear and you know that there is hope! Suddenly the earth is bursting in luscious greens and pinks and yellows and we are reminded that God is indeed faithful to His promises! But in all that I have never thought of loving fall because of the death it represents.
Is there beauty in death? I can think of one death in particular that should bring us to our knees — the death of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. He truly is the holy, all-powerful, all-knowing God, yet He so loved us that He left the riches of heaven and came to earth where He suffered and bled and died a brutal death at the hands of sinful men so that we might become children of God. (Eph. 2:4-7; Phil. 2:5-11; Acts 2:22-24, 1 John 3:1)
Speaking of His imminent crucifixion, Jesus said in John 12:23-24, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.” Jesus would be glorified by dying! Just as a grain of wheat falls to the earth and dies to produce a rich harvest, so also Christ’s death would bear much fruit by providing salvation for many.
Romans 5:8 tells us that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. The holy, pure, sinless Son of God became sin on our behalf because of His great love and mercy. According to Romans 3:23 and 6:23, we are ALL sinners and are thus deserving of death and hell. But Christ humbled Himself to the point of death, even death on a cross, so that we might be saved and enjoy fellowship with Him.
So, yes, there is beauty in death, but even more beautiful is the fact that he didn’t stay dead. He came back to life again three days later, never to die again and is currently sitting at the right hand of God the Father as our mediator. And that is what we rest our hope in! This is the perfect opportunity to share the gospel with your children — it’s right before your eyes! Talk with them about why the leaves fall of the trees and the hope of spring and then lead into Jesus dying on the cross for our sins and the newness of life that comes thru the resurrection.
For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures. 1 Corinthians 15:3-4
What are some other ways you see the gospel in fall?
This post is linking back to this link-up party.