Category Archives: Family

GOOD PARENTING:

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Being a good parent can be a difficult and challenging venture, but at the same time can be the most rewarding and fulfilling thing we ever do. The Bible has a great deal to say about the way we can successfully raise our children to be men and women of God. As a good parent, the first thing we must do is teach them the truth about God’s Word.

Along with loving God and being a godly example by committing ourselves to His commands, we need to heed the command of Deuteronomy 6:7-9 regarding teaching our children to do the same. This passage emphasizes the ongoing nature of such instruction. It should be done at all times—at home, on the road, at night, and in the morning. Biblical truth should be the foundation of our homes. By following the principles of these commands, we teach our children that worshiping God should be constant, not reserved for Sunday mornings or nightly prayers.

Although our children learn a great deal through direct teaching, they learn much more by watching us. This is why we must be careful in everything we do. We must first acknowledge our God-given roles. Husbands and wives are to be mutually respectful and submissive to each other (Ephesians 5:21). At the same time, God has established a line of authority to keep order. “Now I want you to realize that the head of every man is Christ, and the head of the woman is man, and the head of Christ is God” (1 Corinthians 11:3). We know that Christ is not inferior to God, just as a wife is not inferior to her husband. God recognizes, however, that without submission to authority, there is no order. The husband’s responsibility as the head of the household is to love his wife as he loves his own body, in the same sacrificial way that Christ loved the church (Ephesians 5:25-29).

In response to this loving leadership, it is not difficult for the wife to submit to her husband’s authority (Ephesians 5:24Colossians 3:18). Her primary responsibility is to love and respect her husband, live in wisdom and purity, and take care of the home (Titus 2:4-5). Women are naturally more nurturing than men because they were designed to be the primary caretakers of their children.

Discipline and instruction are integral parts of being a good parent. Proverbs 13:24 says, “He who spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is careful to discipline him.” Children who grow up in undisciplined households feel unwanted and unworthy. They lack direction and self-control, and as they get older they rebel and have little or no respect for any kind of authority, including God’s. “Discipline your son, for in that there is hope; do not be a willing party to his death” (Proverbs 19:18). At the same time, discipline must be balanced with love, or children may grow up resentful, discouraged, and rebellious (Colossians 3:21). God recognizes that discipline is painful when it is happening (Hebrews 12:11), but if followed by loving instruction, it is remarkably beneficial to the child. “Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4).

As a good parent, it is important to involve your children in the church family and ministry when they are young. Regularly attend a Bible-believing church (Hebrews 10:25), allow them to see you studying the Word, and also study it with them. Discuss with them the world around them as they see it, and teach them about the glory of God through everyday life. “Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it” (Proverbs 22:6). Being a good parent is all about raising children who will follow your example in obeying and worshipping the Lord.

Prophet Nathan Emol

FAMILY PROBLEMS:

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Family problems are nothing new. In a fallen world, those we should love the most—our families—often become the ones we fight with the most. The Bible doesn’t gloss over sin, and it records a number of family problems, starting with Adam’s blame-shifting, with his wife as the target (Genesis 3:12). Sibling rivalry crops up in the stories of Cain and Abel, Jacob and Esau, and Joseph and his brothers. Jealousy among wives—one of the negative consequences of polygamy—is found in the stories of Hannah, and Leah and Rachel. Eli and Samuel dealt with wayward children. Jonathan was almost murdered by his father, Saul. David was brokenhearted by his son Absalom’s rebellion. Hosea experienced marital difficulties. In each of these cases, relationships were damaged by sin.

The Bible has a lot to say about relationships, including family dynamics. The first institution God established for human interaction was a family (Genesis 2:22–24). He created a wife for Adam and joined them in marriage. Citing this event, Jesus later said, “What God has joined together, let no man separate” (Matthew 19:6). God’s plan was for one man and one woman to remain married until one of them dies. He desires to bless that union with children who are to be raised “in the nurture and admonition of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4; see also Psalm 127:3). Most family problems emerge when we rebel against God’s design—polygamy, adultery, and divorce all cause problems because they deviate from God’s original plan.

The Bible gives clear instructions about how family members are to treat each other. God’s plan is that husbands love their wives in the same way that Christ loves His church (Ephesians 5:2533). Wives are to respect their husbands and submit to their leadership (Ephesians 5:22–24331 Peter 3:1). Children are to obey their parents (Ephesians 6:1–4Exodus 20:12). How many family problems would be solved if husbands, wives, and children simply followed those basic rules?

First Timothy 5:8 says that families are to take care of their own. Jesus had harsh words for those who evaded their financial responsibilities to their aging parents by claiming they gave all their money to the temple (Matthew 15:5–6).

The key to harmony in families is not one we naturally want to apply. Ephesians 5:21 says to “submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.” Submission is in direct opposition to our flesh’s desire to rule and have its way. We defend our rights, champion our causes, defend our opinions, and assert our own agendas whenever possible. God’s way is to crucify our flesh (Galatians 5:24Romans 6:11) and submit to the needs and wishes of others whenever we can. Jesus is our model for that kind of submission to God’s will. First Peter 2:23 says, “When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly.”

Most family problems could be lessened if we all followed the instructions found in Philippians 2:3–4: “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.” When we adopt the spirit of humility and treat others as Jesus would treat them, we can resolve many of our family and relationship problems.

Prophet Nathan Emol

RAISING CHILDREN:

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God created the family. His design was for a man and a woman to marry for life and raise children to know and honor Him (Mark 10:9Malachi 2:15). Adoption is also God’s idea, and He models this in His adoption of us as His children (Romans 8:1523Ephesians 1:5). Regardless of the means by which they enter a family, children are a gift from God and He cares about how they are raised (Psalm 127:3Psalm 34:11Proverbs 23:13–14). When God gives us gifts, He also gives clear instructions about their use.

When God led the Israelites out of bondage, He commanded them to teach their children all He had done for them (Deuteronomy 6:6–711:19). He desired that the generations to come would continue to uphold all His commands. When one generation fails to instill God’s laws in the next, a society quickly declines. Parents have not only a responsibility to their children, but an assignment from God to impart His values and truth into their lives.

Several places in Scripture give specific instructions to parents about how to raise their children. Ephesians 6:4 says, “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.” There are several ways parents might provoke their children to anger. Some parents set impossible standards so that a child despairs of ever achieving them. Some parents tease, ridicule, or humiliate their children as a means of punishment, which does nothing but provoke them to anger. Inconsistency can also provoke to anger as a child is never sure about the consequences of his actions. Hypocrisy provokes children to anger when parents require behavior from children that the parents are not choosing for themselves.

To “bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord” means that parents should train their children the way God trains us. As a Father, God is “slow to anger” (Numbers 14:18Psalm 145:8), patient (Psalm 86:15), and forgiving (Daniel 9:9). His discipline is designed to bring us to repentance (Hebrews 12:6–11). His instruction is found in His Word (John 17:17Psalm 119:97), and He desires that parents fill their homes with His truth (Deuteronomy 6:6-7).

He also disciplines His children (Proverbs 3:11Hebrews 12:5) and expects earthly parents to do the same (Proverbs 23:13). Psalm 94:12 says, “Blessed is the one you discipline, LORD, the one you teach from your law.” The word discipline comes from the root word disciple. To discipline someone means to make a disciple of him. God’s discipline is designed to “conform us to the image of Christ” (Romans 8:29). Parents can make disciples of their children by instilling values and life lessons they have learned. As parents practice godly living and make Spirit-controlled decisions (Galatians 5:1625), they can encourage their children to follow their example. Proper, consistent discipline brings a “harvest of righteousness” (Hebrews 12:11). Failure to discipline results in dishonor for both parent and child (Proverbs 10:1). Proverbs 15:32 says that the one who ignores discipline “despises himself.” The Lord brought judgment upon Eli the priest because he allowed his sons to dishonor the Lord and “failed to restrain them” (1 Samuel 3:13).

Children are a “heritage from the Lord” (Psalm 127:3). He places them in families and gives parents guidance in how they are to be raised. The goal of good parenting is to produce wise children who know and honor God with their lives. Proverbs 23:24 shows the end result of raising children according to God’s plan: “The father of godly children has cause for joy. What a pleasure to have children who are wise” (NLT).

Prophet Nathan Emol

FAMILY CONFLICT:

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 Family conflict is almost as old as humanity. Sibling rivalry existed in the very first family and culminated with Cain killing his brother Abel (Genesis 4:3–8). While other examples may not be that extreme, family conflict is a recurring theme in the Bible. From Athaliah killing all her children and grandchildren so she could seize the throne (2 Kings 11:1) to Jesus’ own mother and brothers becoming embarrassed by His preaching (Mark 3:21), examples of family conflict illustrate what happens when family members treat their flesh and blood as liabilities instead of blessings.

Some family conflicts are inevitable. In our world of sin, some will reject Christ while others accept Him as Lord, and this happens within families. Jesus, the Prince of Peace Himself, warned us of this type of family conflict: “Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to turn ‘a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law—a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household’” (Matthew 10:34–36; cf. Micah 7:6). We see evidence of this everywhere: when one family member embraces Christ and another rejects the way of holiness, the result is often family conflict and domestic imbroglios.

Because family relationships have an even greater potential for conflict than other relationships, God gave some clear commands for each family member. When we defy those commands, family conflict will erupt. For husbands and wives, the Bible details specific instructions. Husbands are to love their wives as they love their own bodies (Ephesians 5:25–29). Wives are to respect the leadership position of their husbands (Ephesians 5:22–24). Children are to obey their parents in everything (Ephesians 6:1), and those parents are to bring up their children in the Lord (Ephesians 6:4). Grandparents are to delight in grandchildren and share their wisdom with them (Proverbs 17:6). There is to be no sexual contact of any kind between immediate family members (Leviticus 18:6–181 Timothy 5:2). When families align their home and practices with Scripture, the occasions of family conflict diminish.

God compares His church to a family, so the rules to the church on interpersonal relationships also apply to individual families. Every child of God is to respond to other Christians as brothers and sisters (Romans 12:101 Peter 3:8). The church is to avoid “discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, slander, gossip, arrogance and disorder” (2 Corinthians 12:20), and so should families. James 4:11 says, “Brothers, do not slander one another.” A rule of thumb is that if we would not treat a highly respected friend a certain way, then don’t treat family members that way.

Healthy families provide a safe place for every member to express his or her feelings, thoughts, opinions, and desires. Families don’t have to agree on everything in order to maintain harmony. The absence of family conflict is not necessarily the sign of a healthy family. Some families are ruled by authoritarian strictness; others refuse to allow any type of discussion. God designed the family to be a place where every member feels loved and valued, where differences can be acknowledged and respected, and where inevitable conflicts are peacefully resolved. Through dealing with family conflict, we can learn humility, kindness, patience, and selfless love (Galatians 5:22), traits that will benefit us as we interact with our brothers and sisters in the family of God.

Prophet Nathan Emol

RESPECTING PARENTS:

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 Respect is the act of giving particular attention to someone or something, especially when that attention is accompanied by a high regard. The Bible does not directly command us to respect our parents; however, the idea of respect is included in the command to honor and obey them (Exodus 20:12Ephesians 6:1).

To honor is to assign value. Regardless of the character of the people who brought us into the world, they are our parents and we are to honor them. They have value because of their part in our creation. We can honor their roles even if we cannot always honor their behavior. When we couple the idea of honor with that of respect, we have a formula for the treatment of our parents. Because of their assigned value as our mother and father, we give them particular attention and special esteem.

In childhood, honor and respect are demonstrated by obedience. Children are commanded to obey their mother and father (Ephesians 6:1Colossians 3:20). Whether they like the instruction or not, children need to learn to obey their parents with an attitude of respect. Parents who tolerate disrespectful behavior in their children are merely grooming them for an adulthood of rebellion and lack of honor. It is the parents’ responsibility to train their children to be respectful. Parents can model the behavior they want their children to imitate by showing respect toward their own parents and authority figures.

The teenage and young adult years often set the stage for the future relationship with the parents. Despite the cold wars and stormy scenes, wise parents will remain firm in requiring respectful behavior from their hormone-driven future adults. When still living at home, they need to obey the house rules and show respect for their parents’ values, even when they disagree. One skill young adults should develop is that of listening to counsel. Listening is one way of showing respect. Proverbs 23:22 says, “Listen to your father, who gave you life, and do not despise your mother when she is old.” Parents can model this skill by also listening to a child who speaks respectfully to them.

Once children are grown and out of the house, they can show honor and respect by keeping in touch with their parents when at all possible. As parents age, their needs increase. Adult offspring should stay aware of those needs and be ready to help meet them. Even a parent who was not a good parent still deserves respect because of the role he or she played in bringing a child into the world. God used that parent, flaws and all, to accomplish His good plan. We show respect for the position because it is healthy for us to do so. Refusing to demonstrate respect leaves us with bitterness and anger (see Hebrews 12:15). Even when speaking boldly and confronting wicked behavior, we can maintain an attitude of respect.

Godly people show respect to all other people, regardless of their behavior or position. We may need to distance ourselves from dangerous people, but we can do so with an attitude of humility and kindness because they, too, are created in the image of God (James 3:9). Parents and grandparents are especially worthy of this respect because of the roles they played in God’s plan for us. While we do not need to obey parents once we’ve reached adulthood, we should still consider their wishes and advice as a way of respecting them. Showing respect to one’s parents is also a way to model for the next generation the way we’d like them to treat us.

Prophet Nathan Emol