June 13, 2011

Prisoner For Christ V: “Each for the Other, All In Christ #2”-Father & Children

Ephesians 6:4a “Fathers, do not exasperate your children…”

Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.” This passage is generally a continuation of the thought that begins in Ephesians 5:21 and pertains to the children in the family unit. Paul was explaining the proper roles and relationships of the individual family unit in the larger context of the responsibilities and relationships as believers in the Church at-large. As with the marriage the relationship is to be “in Christ”. This applies to children. Paul tells the fathers not to exasperate or “deliberately antagonize and provoke to anger” the children. Instead train and instruct them in the precepts of the Lord (more on this later). This is an echo of the Shema in Deuteronomy 6.

The Shema was/is the centerpiece of the morning and evening Jewish prayer services. It is traditional for Jews to say the Shema as their last words before death, and parents teach it to their children before they go to sleep at night. Jesus even quotes from it in Mark (12:29) when asked which commandment is most important.

Again, I have struggled here since I am not the most patient man in the world. I immediately go for prayer if time allows. I point my mind towards Christ.

I have tried to implement fail safe measures to avoid “snapping out” at my kids when they clearly push my buttons. Stepping away and trying to become a third-party observer (objective). I purposely step back and pray a “microburst”pray of patience and guidance in these situations. I have consciously decided to “be the adult” in this situations and put my desire to yell or rant in subjection to the will of the One that created me. Of all the sins that continue to hold on to, this is the most stubborn one. When I react in anger in these situations it is unrighteous anger (Eph. 4:26-27). It boils down to the desire to totally control the bad behaviors of my kids and fix them myself. I can’t do that because it just causes more quarreling. I now realize they are little people…but they are still people. ISo after I bite the bullet and gain control of my emotions by putting them in subjugation to a Biblical pattern of behavior (if I can), I then try to move on to phase two.

I let the situation simmer down and then show my children that disobedience to their parents is disobeying God and His precepts. God has put parents over the child. In the Greek the word is hupakouo: they are to subordinate themselves to mom and dad. Ephesians 6:1-2 are clear, “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.” And here is the clincher, “Honor your father and mother”… “so that it may go well with you…” I continue to try to explain and instill the idea in my kids that this God’s blueprint for…a God glorifying family. It pleases God.

It is interesting to note that Jesus willfully subordinated Himself to the Father and it brought honor to the Father. I tell this to my children. What did the Father do for His Son in Philippians 2? He “exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name.”In John 17:1 we see reciprocity between the Father and the Son and a desire to be bring honor to one another. This is what I try to do for my wife and my children and will continue to do. I will continue to behave in a manner that best glorifies God first, and my wife and children second. Ironically, I believe that by doing the first, the second falls into place by default. This then leads to my last application.

Ephesians 6:4b- “…instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord."

This especially speaks to my heart since I believe I am also being called to teach the body of the Church at large. I really need to get this right at home before trying to move on to large things. The Bible is clear on this premise (1 Timothy 3:4-5)- An elder/leader, “must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him”… “If anyone does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of God’s church?”To a lesser extent Luke 12:48.

Along with keeping emotions in subjection to the will of God through prayer and deliberate controlled behavior I need to plan and educate my children in Biblical precepts outlined in the Bible. As with all three of these applications there is the importance of time spent in prayer and meditation with the Lord. It is paramount and critical to all my other relationships that I maintain and build the one with God. A family (and Church) is a symphony of many different pieces and moving parts. A spiritually choreographed symphony and Christ is the tuning fork. He is the key we need to be tuned to and this is where the prayer and meditation on God and His precepts are critical. It is my time to tune to God’s note. Tune to His will. As a common starting point for the Church, the family, the husband, wife and child it grounds all in harmony…in Christ.

Once this is accomplished I then need to systematically explain not only to my children but also my wife the ideas outlined in the Bible and apply them in a way and explain them in a way exactly as I have here in this paper.

Generally I have found these three areas of applications are areas of entrenchment for my sin and thereby have become footholds for the enemy. I need to implement or continue the plans I have stated in this paper before this sin starts fortifying their hold on me.

To wrap up the last two posts Prisoner For Christ III & IV I will do it in an easy to remember formula.

Children In Christ + Parents In Christ = God Honoring Family in Christ
Families in Christ = Church in Christ
Church In Christ = Spreads the Gospel…and glories the Father
God relies on time proven method to spread Gospel: A Family in Christ Jesus

Deuteronomy 6:4-9 Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.

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