Category Archives: Family

SPARE THE ROD- SPOIL THE CHILD:

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The phrase “spare the rod, spoil the child” is a modern-day proverb that means if a parent refuses to discipline an unruly child, that child will grow accustomed to getting his own way. He will become, in the common vernacular, a spoiled brat. The saying comes from Proverbs 13:24, “He who spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is careful to discipline him.” The Lord uses discipline to reveal our sin to us. This is also how parents reveal the truth of our need for a Savior to their children. When a child does not feel the consequence of his sin, he will not understand that sin requires punishment. The Lord provides a way to salvation and forgiveness through Jesus, but that means little to those who do not see their sin.

Furthermore, correction shows us that we are not above reproach and that we are accountable for our actions. Our natural pride blinds us to our need for a Savior, and discipline reveals the truth of our wretchedness (Revelation 3:17). Since salvation is the most important choice the child will ever make, it is imperative that parents are leading him to Christ, and discipline is critical to this process. Proverbs 23:13 says, “Do not withhold discipline from a child; if you punish him with the rod, he will not die.” In the context of verses 13–14, die means “experience spiritual death in hell.” Children who respect authority and feel sorrow for their sin are much more likely to ask Jesus to forgive them and be saved.

All children are born sinful (Romans 5:12–19). Their natural self is destructive and unrighteous. That does not mean they aren’t valuable and worthy of love (Psalm 127:3). It means that they are not born with any natural “goodness” in them. That is why all children need discipline. Proverbs 22:15 says, “Folly is bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of discipline will drive it far from him.” Discipline is critical for wisdom (Proverbs 29:15), and a child who obeys his parents will be wise (Proverbs 13:1). And even adults who do not heed correction will feel the consequences of their foolishness (Proverbs 10:13).

Some people believe in discipline, but not in physical discipline such as spanking. However, the Bible is the final word on what is truth; it is not mere opinion or theory. The word rod indicates a thin stick or switch that can be used to give a small amount of physical pain with no lasting physical injury. A child should never be bruised, injured, or cut by a physical correction. The Bible warns that parents should never abuse the power and authority they have over their children while they are young because it provokes the children to righteous anger (Ephesians 6:4Colossians 3:21). Physical discipline is always done in love, never as a vent to the parent’s frustration. It is also just one part of discipline and should be used when the child shows defiance to a clear limit, not in the heat of the moment.

God instructs parents to parent their children the way He parents His children. Hebrews 12:5–11 tells us that God disciplines those whom He loves to perfect their righteousness. God only disciplines His own, which proves that Christians are His beloved children. Notice that David says that the Lord’s rod comforts him in his time of trouble (Psalm 23:4).

Finally, we know that no discipline feels good while it is happening, but afterwards the rewards are rich (Hebrews 12:11). Godly character, fruit of the Spirit, and peace are rewards of God’s discipline. The same is true for our human children. Children who have learned how to take responsibility for their actions are much happier people (Proverbs 3:11–18). The importance of the rod of correction is that it steers the heart of a child toward Jesus and the forgiveness of sin He offers. When parents trust God’s methods over their own, they will see the blessings for their children and themselves.

Prophet Nathan Emol

DOMESTIC VIOLENCE:

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Domestic violence is narrowly defined as an act or threatened act of violence upon someone with whom the perpetrator is or has previously been in intimate relationship. The term domestic violence often brings to mind the concept of the “battered wife” or perhaps a married couple’s verbal argument escalating into physical assault. Domestic violence is also commonly linked to child abuse. Even if the children are not physically injured, watching or hearing a parent being abused can have severe psychological implications.

Domestic violence is about power and control. Though the term violence has physical connotations, domestic violence or abuse can occur in non-physical ways. For instance, abusers may manipulate their victims through emotional or economic means. Verbal abuse and sexual abuse are other forms. A person of any age, gender, socio-economic class, education level, or religion can be impacted by domestic violence.

Domestic abuse can be viewed in terms of a “cycle of violence.” Tension builds; the victim attempts to keep the abuser mollified; but, eventually, an incident occurs. The abuser apologizes and attempts to make it up to the victim, perhaps by promising it will never occur again or by lavishing the victim with gifts. Then comes a period of calm before the tension begins to build again. The stages of this cycle may take only minutes or may develop over years. Without intervention, the periods of “making up” and “calm” often disappear.

Domestic violence is in stark opposition to God’s plan for families. Genesis 1 and 2 depict marriage as a one-flesh, helping relationship. Ephesians 5:21 talks about mutual submission. Ephesians 5:22–24 explains a wife’s submissiveness to her husband, while verses 25–33 talk about a husband’s self-sacrificial love for his wife. First Peter 3:1–7 gives similar instructions. First Corinthians 7:4 says, “The wife does not have authority over her own body but yields it to her husband. In the same way, the husband does not have authority over his own body but yields it to his wife.” The two belong to one another and are called to love one another as Christ loved us. Marriage is an image of Christ and the Church. Domestic violence is a far cry from the character of Jesus.

Domestic violence involving children is also condemned by God. Psalm 127:3 says, “Children are a heritage from the Lord, offspring a reward from him.” God entrusts parents with children, and those parents are to lovingly care for them and train them up. Ephesians 6:4 says, “Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord” (see also Colossians 3:21). Children are to obey their parents (Ephesians 6:1–3), and discipline is important. But discipline is distinctly different from violence and abuse.

Following God involves serving others, not manipulating and controlling them. Jesus told His disciples, “Whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave—just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Matthew 20:26–28). His command to us is to “love one another” (John 13:34). Ephesians 5:1–2 says, “Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” Christians are called to sacrificially love others, especially those in their own families.

Those who are currently in a domestic violence situation should do everything possible to get out safely. Often, the most dangerous time for a victim of domestic violence is when she or he leaves. Contacting the police may be in order, or there may be other local resources available to help. 

Even after victims are physically safe and bodily wounds have healed, emotional and psychological scars run deep. Domestic violence can have severe spiritual implications as well. Victims may distrust God. Why would He allow such a thing to happen? Is He trustworthy? Does He really love me? Where was He when I was being abused? Walking through the healing process takes time. The emotional reaction to the situation must come. It is appropriate to express anger over the abuse. If we do not acknowledge the severity of the situation—the anger, the confusion, the hurt, the shame, etc.—we cannot heal from it. Too often, victims are prematurely hurried into forgiveness. Ultimately, forgiveness is the thing that will set a victim free. But true forgiveness cannot be extended if the scars of the abuse are not first acknowledged and dealt with. Victims of domestic violence will likely need the support of a well-trained Christian counselor to journey with them through the healing process.

We should not assume that abusers have no needs other than to stop abusing. There are likely unresolved issues that have led them to become abusive. If an abuser is willing to admit his or her culpability and desires help, there is hope. Again, Christian counseling can be of great value.

Each domestic violence story is different. The situations and people are so diverse that no one article can sufficiently handle the issue. However, generally speaking, marriage counseling is not an appropriate solution—at least not until all abuse has stopped, both parties have undergone individual counseling, and both parties desire reconciliation. The same would be true for family therapy. Children should never be put into an abusive situation or be expected to remain in one while an abuser learns godly parenting.

Domestic violence hurts the heart of God. He is not unmoved by its victims, nor has He abandoned them. His plan for human relationships—particularly those among family—is a beautiful depiction of who He is. Family is meant to reflect God’s love. It saddens Him when a home turns into a place of pain. God’s desire for those involved with domestic violence—both victims and abusers—is healing and wholeness.

Prophet Nathan Emol

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