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Adoption Challenges Family Parenting tips

Stop Apologizing! Parenting Tip #42

 

True Story…

Years ago we saw a rash of food theft in our home. We limited the sugar many of our kids consumed because of their sensitivity, though occasionally we would reintroduce it into their diets to test it out. Within two weeks we’d see such a negative change in their behavior that we’d withdraw it again.

There were some who would sneak whatever they could find when my back was turned – a mom has got to use the bathroom once in a while! One day I came out into the living room and saw one of my kids throw an empty pop bottle into the kitchen bathroom, hoping I’d not see they had taken it out of the fridge.

When confronted, they would not own up to their disobedience even though it was obvious I saw them. When I retrieved the empty bottle,

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confirming what had happened, they still would not admit they had done it. “Deny to the death” was their mantra.

There is a meme going around on Facebook that says, “Don’t worry about it… just deny, lie, attack those telling the truth, blame everyone else, and then pretend to be sorry. Works every time.” This quote not only fits the person who denies even when confronted with ironclad evidence of their wrong, but could create a dilemma in the mind of one who does not parent confidently.

I was fortunate enough to have been very confident and tried to always be consistent. My DH was the same and we supported each other. And by the way…BOTH parents need to project a united front. It is important for a child’s emotional security.

If you can get someone to doubt themselves, you have defeated them.

There is a common thread among some of today’s teens and young adults who think their parents ought to apologize for discipline.

discipline
dis·ci·pline ˈdisəplən/noun
the practice of training people to obey rules or a code of behavior,
using punishment to correct disobedience.
“a lack of proper parental and school discipline”
synonyms: control, training, teaching, instruction, regulation,
direction, order, authority, rule, strictness, a firm hand

 

As believers we had a two-fold purpose: to turn out responsible kids who loved the Lord and wanted to serve Him. To do so required a stalwart resolve that colored every minute of every day, every decision, and every move we made. It required a 100% faithful consistency and unwavering commitment.

Parenting Tip for Adoptive Moms {Mom of Many)

We believed that to waiver is to fail.

Parenting Tip for Adoptive Moms {Mom of Many)

That commitment was more important than friends. It was more important than ministry. It was more important than our own lives or welfare. It was more important than sleep, food or money. The kids’ welfare dominated our every thought, our every plan, our every move.

So why apologize?

If the above is true, if a parent can honestly say that they did their best with the best of intentions, then why do we see parents apologizing to their children for being too hard on them? Why do we see children asking their parents to admit they were bad parents and asking them to apologize? Why do parents feel responsible for the bad choices their kids make in adulthood when they were taught to do right? Why are parents feeling guilty? For what?

Disclaimer time: I’m not letting parents off the hook that aren’t doing or didn’t do their best, are or were lazy or neglectful. I’m not condoning the behavior of parents who don’t/didn’t care about their kids and put their own desires and welfare ahead of their kids.

I’m talking about the parents who did their best to provide a good, stable home. I’m talking to the parents who, with great consideration, raised their kids to respect authority, be responsible, care for others, work hard, be consistent, live morally, love God and value family. No one can judge a parent. Only God can judge and only He knows the circumstances and challenges the parent had to deal with.

Since when are parents accountable to their children?

  • God is the giver of life. He alone builds families.
  • God alone knows what is best and what the future holds and which parents each child needs to become what He has planned for them.
  • God knows who were are, what we’ll do, and how we will react.
  • He has things in place to guide and direct us and if we truly desire to follow and please Him, then He will be our guiding Light.
  • God has the power to intervene and will do so when needed.
  • It is not the responsibility of anyone but God alone to judge a parent and He can be trusted to manage and mold anyone or anything into His own perfect plan.

You will not find past generations cowering to their kids immature emotional demands.

Why do parents feel the need to apologize when there is no need? In the story above, in a later conversation that child told me, “It’s your fault. If you would let me have sugar whenever I wanted it I wouldn’t have to steal.”

WHAT?

If I had lacked confidence, I might have bought into that faulty reasoning, or at least re-evaluated my prior decision to do what was best for them and the family.

“Don’t repent of decision in the dark decisions made in the light.”

Children don’t have the latitude to make those decisions because of their lack of maturity, experience and information. That is why God gave them parents. Yet, as they remember back, their incomplete and immature memories corrupt their thought process.

It is important to your kids’ maturing process that they stop blaming others or their circumstances or consequences for their actions and start taking responsibility for their decisions and how they will affect their future. To fixate on what they thought was unfair keeps them looking back. For many this can hinder their maturing process.

All kids have potential {Mom of Many}

Should we apologize for:

  • Providing a healthy lifestyle?
  • Teaching them to clean up after themselves or help with the chores?
  • Requiring they do their homework and do their best in class?
  • Setting a bedtime and requiring them to be quiet and leave everyone else alone?
  • Teach them to be respectful, obedient, and kind?
  • Making them take responsibility and holding them responsible for their actions?
  • Expecting proper dress and language?
  • Preventing them for owning things that would tempt them to do wrong?
  • Teaching them to work, pray or plan ahead?
  • Following through, being consistent or persistent?

It’s not that complicated.

Am I saying we should never apologize?

Occasionally we will run across someone that felt offended or was hurt unintentionally and they will harbor feelings of ill will. If they are not mature enough to put it in the past and leave it there, then is when you say, “I had no intention of offending you, but I’m sorry if you felt that way.” If it was over a good decision that they didn’t like, add, “But I stand by my decision.” This can be applied to our children as well.

If you’ve done your best as a parent because you wanted the best for your child, then don’t apologize. It’s simple. Don’t enable your child if they cling to a corrupted memory of the past. They don’t always remember correctly or may be searching for an excuse for their poor behavior (probably both). If you apologize for good parenting, you only enable their immature thought process and undo all your past work.

It’s amazing the growth you can see in a person when they stop blaming others. Stand firm by your conviction that you were/ARE a good and faithful parent. Make them see the truth through the boundaries that you set – by your confidence in your parenting.

We are amazed and thrilled at how well most of our kids are doing in their adult life and are blessed often with good reports. Hang on if you are discouraged – God isn’t done. We should always have hope our kids will mature and take hold of our faith and lead a responsible lifestyle.

Parenting Tips {Mom of Many}
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Takeaway: Kids don’t respect weak parents.

  • They don’t always appreciate their upbringing until they mature – but that doesn’t mean you were wrong.
  • Give them time to mature, but don’t waiver. Exude confidence.
  • Stand firm and expect to be treated with respect. They need your strength and confidence to have a firm footing.
  • Let them go. If they walk away, just stay put till they come back. Don’t compromise to gain their favor.
  • Wait and pray and always – always, watch out the window for when they come back and meet them on the porch with a hug and a “Welcome home, we’ve missed you.”

Val @ Mom of Many

Join Mom of Many to be invited to our secret/closed M.O.M.s Facebook group where we chat every day about mom stuff. If you need support, a strong shoulder or a listening ear – M.O.M. is here. If you’re interested, let me know!

Parenting Tips {Mom of Many}

 

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Adoption Family Parenting tips Things I've Learned

When Your Child Publicly Hates You – Parenting Tip #40 (Part 1)

 

Time to address a very sensitive subject…

For many, this type of conversation is painful – and will possibly elicit anger and a lashing out, but there are so many suffering parents out there that need you to know their reality and be reminded that they are not alone that I must speak out.

Insight into what it is to be a family like ours – to parent children with a difficult past, to invite into our family those who carry around emotional baggage and painful memories will not only help those of you who are on the outside looking in, but it will also help the children and families that that will be represented here. Bringing issues to light is needed.

This is not intended to paint a picture of pain and suffering to gain sympathy but to garner some understanding and support for families like ours who bear the brunt of disgruntled children.

Like many, we are still waiting for part of our family to establish a foundation, to reconcile their past and discover the value of family and reconnect with us. It’s not easy for some, though it may seem easy to us. “Just come home!” we want to shout at them. But it must be their decision. There must be a change of perspective and change of direction.

So we wait… and hope.

Public Hate {Mom of Many}

Do you have a child that publicly hates you?

Do they tell everyone around them stories of cruelty, abuse or favoritism? Do they post nasty comments about their upbringing on Facebook to try to garner sympathy and the “Aww, you poor thing, no wonder your life is a mess.” comments? Do they paint you as a monster that got joy from making their lives miserable? Do they desire to hurt you because their bitterness drives them to it?

In case you are one of many parents experiencing the hate that children who have become adults often dish out, I want to offer you hope. This is a temporary situation and one day they will, with God’s help, have their eyes opened and reconcile those deep seated conflicting emotions.

It’s Not Just an Adoptive Family Issue

Though our story centers around adoption, this issue doesn’t just affect adoptive families. Families are struggling all around us. They need our compassion and support…not our judgement, criticism and too often offered advice.

I ask you to give a little latitude while reading about our personal experiences and the conclusions we have drawn because of them. Unless you were there, and even if you were, you cannot 100% understand or know what it is like to raise “interesting” children.

Do You Think You Have the Right to Judge?

Families are complex entities that cannot be easily measured or evaluated by onlookers. As the heart can only be known by God and is so often misunderstood even by its own flesh and blood owner – families are too intricate and complex to be judged easily or even fairly by anyone but the One who in His infinite wisdom brought them together in the first place.

And if we do, and we realize that God brought the family together, are we not criticizing the One who in His sovereignty deemed it so? Do we in our own eyes and heart assign wisdom to our Maker and then show our lack of belief when we criticize or judge the actions of those who are doing what we are unwilling to do ourselves?

This will be a series…for there is  much to talk about.

Let me make a few statements and lay some groundwork before we begin…

  • We adopted many special needs kids, so some of them at the time of adoption were a bit behind in many areas (socially, intellectually, emotionally, physically, educationally etc.). They ranged from 3 months to 9 years old at adoption. Some came to us individually, some by groups of 3 and 4. Some were easy to raise. Some were not with a capital NOT.
  • We were as their adoptive parents in a precarious position – living down what other adults had done or not done to them and being the brunt of their preconceived ideas and experiences. We dealt with severe fear, distrust, anger, confusion, and bitterness that were firmly planted in their heads and affected their behavior long before we came into the picture.

Do Your Children Publicly Hate You? {Mom of Many}

  • Their prior history and/or disabilities ALWAYS colored their perspective and reactions.
  • Normal discipline seldom worked with the “interesting” kids, so we had to get creative or deal with mutiny. Our feeling of responsibility to craft them into loving, responsible human beings was at times overwhelming. Needless to say, we were not successful with many and had to give them to God to complete the work. Who, by the way, has been wildly successful with most of our kids.
  • It is common for those who are trying to cope, mature, and find their way to blame others with their failings: “Oh no, it couldn’t be MY fault.” It is too painful to accept responsibility and much easier to blame the siblings or parents.
  • We parented the best we knew how without much help from others. No one knew what advice to give when we asked, but many onlookers were critical and judgmental when they had no personal experience or knew all the facts.

Do Your Children Publicly Hate You? {Mom of Many}

  • We adopted most of our children at age 3 1/2 or older. The ability to form emotional bonds usually develops somewhere between ages 1 and 3. Many would say we were doomed to fail. We were determined to be the exception. We knew God could make all the difference and hoped it would be so.

I could probably spend 20 minutes listing all of the conditions/syndromes we dealt with.

I’ll just list the few right off the top of my head: ADHD, FASD, OCD, ODD, PTSD, LD, Dyslexia, Dysgraphia, Dyscalculia, TMI, EMI, RAD, Asthma, Allergies, Asperger’s, DD, BEH, CCD, ED, TS, APD.

If that’s not enough, add in prior abuse and neglect combined with abandonment issues.

Please use a bit of understanding when you try to form an opinion about families like ours:

  • If a child cannot reconcile the things that happened before they came to the adopted family, those feelings will spill over into their new family. There is a saying about special needs adopted kids, “If they can’t hate the one who hurt them, they will hate one they’re with.” We found this to be very true. You could say, “we resemble that remark.”
  • Special needs adults (special needs kids do eventually grow up, though they don’t necessarily mature) seldom remember what they did as children to warrant discipline or sanctions. They only remember the pain of embarrassment, the painful discipline or loss of freedom. Accusations of abuse roll off their tongue without much consideration of the facts or reality.
  • It is common for the hard to raise kids, the ones with behavioral issues, to compare themselves to the other kids in the family who earned freedoms through trustworthy behavior. Jealousy creates bitterness and clouded memories.
  • Children who have a warped view of love will often cause dissension in the family and disrupt or sabotage family events and outings. It is common for them to target the kids already in the family when they first come (and along the way) and the ones who appear to them to be favored.

Are Your Kids Fighting? {Mom of Many}

  • Interesting children tend to be self-centered and narcissistic because of the pre-adoption days when they felt the need to protect themselves, felt unloved or not valued. Their reality usually isn’t the same as ours.
  • The lack of bonding children experience in their first 3 years will affect their ability to form healthy relationships in the future. You will see issues develop with these kids and those they live with and work around. We as parents are not the only ones who experience their less than adorable nature – we just happen to be the ones they blame for it, even thought they brought it with them when they moved in.
  • Kids with immature impulse control, poor reasoning skills, and trouble coping with disappointment will carry that into adulthood. If they have difficulty adjusting to adulthood (which is more common than not) their out of control lifestyle will breed discontentment, guilt, discouragement or depression. ALL of their failures will be blamed on the parents and how they were raised. “If they weren’t so hard on me,” “If they’d only let me do what I wanted,” “If they’d been fair/reasonable/less demanding/accepting/less controlling,” the list goes on in their head. The alternative would be to take responsibility and change – which would require a change of mind. Pride does not allow them to evaluate themselves or their home life properly.
  • Spiritual maturity is key to turning the “interesting” kid into a mature, responsible, loving adult. When you meet an adopted kid that grew to be gracious and compassionate out of a past of turmoil and upset, realize it was the power of God that brought them through.
  • When you hear hateful comments and accusations publicly, realize that a spirit filled mature child would never malign their family or parents. If the accusations were true, they would forgive. If they were not, a spiritually mature child wouldn’t lie to make themselves feel or look better. Consider the source.

Side note: The kids who were raised right along with the “interesting” ones have had issues of their own to overcome –  their family was changed through adoption – which brought uncommon drama into their life. Few stop to think about them and what they had to live through.

Most of the focus by onlookers is on the adopted child and their perceptions, needs and challenges. This only adds to the prideful arrogance of the troubled child who cries foul and adds to the bitterness that the non-troubled child often deals with. It’s the prodigal child/faithful son story all over again. Be careful how you support these struggling kids and adults. Treading on parental authority is dangerous business.

I’ll leave you with that to chew on for a while. Please realize that there is more to the story than what you have been told or think you have witnessed. If you could only have walked a mile in our shoes…you would have run screaming to the next town and cried, “Mercy!”

I’ve said it before and so now I’ll say it again. I love all of my kids and am grateful for those who do love us and desire a relationship. I am blessed. And for those who do not – I still love them too and will always watch out the window for when they decide to come home. Some will scoff, but they must realize that I will still continue to hope they come back home.

 If you are a parent in need of support, please join us and be invited to our exclusive M.O.M.s Facebook group where we chat every day about mom stuff. it’s a safe place to share your concerns and seek advice.

Next I will tell you how we handle the publicly declared accusations and hate mail as siblings and parents. God speed and until next time…

Val @ Mom of Many

Parenting Tips {Mom of Many}

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Brow Beating Believers

The path I have chosen with God’s direction has been enlightening. I have learned many things, especially the past few years. After 20+ years of dealing with “interesting children,” I’ve seen my share and then some of children tied up in a world of sinfulness. Not only have they sinned in record measures, but they have been sinned against in ways that would cause even the most experienced sinner to blush. I’m talking about the kids who were adopted out of families that did not regard them as precious jewels the way Christ does. They were broken as small children and grew up with that reflected in their behavior and thought processes. Nearly all of my children who were violated as small children by their birth families have fallen into great vast pits upon leaving our home and striking out on their own. Yes, you can sit back and judge them – or you can have great compassion for a fellow human being who experienced the worst the world has to offer and is trying to make sense of it. Sure, they could have leaned on the One who created them and could have trusted and obeyed Him, but for some reason their view was so darkened they were not able to look up at the light at that point in their lives. It is not for me to judge, though I have tried to reason the “why” of it all.

We tried to make up for all the “bad stuff” that they had experienced prior to coming into our home. It was certainly our intention to do so, but for some reason we were not enough. We gave them a safe home that had proper education, both spiritually and mentally, love and concern along with the discipline to train them in the right way to live. Did it “take?” No, not for the ones who were resistant to such things. But it was planted in their heads. That’s the key.  We’re beginning to see that for some of them, when the time is right and they’ve discovered that the world has nothing for them, they know where to look when they decide to seek God and all He has for them.

It’s obvious to everyone what a parent’s stand ought to be in the midst of their children’s life’s journey. They support the good decisions and don’t support the bad ones. They seek the best for the child. When sinned against, they are to be willing to forgive if the child is genuinely repentant. That doesn’t mean the parents have to support them when they aren’t living right, but they pray for them and give godly advice when asked. They don’t brow beat them or slander their name. They sit quietly by and wait for the child to see the light and welcome them back when they do. They do their best to advise them and try to teach them to keep their paths straight. If the child gets off the right path, the parent does not go off with them. They continue on, waiting for their child to return. If the child is living at home, the parent is to grab them and put them back on the right path in any way God directs them to do so. I’ve told my adult children that they have the right to choose whatever path they want to walk down, but to not expect me to go down with them, for I too have a responsibility to walk with God in the way He directs me.

But what is the responsibility of those who are not family, those who the child has sinned against? If they are believers, then their responsibility is the same. The only exception is deferring to the parent for discipline. Compassion ought to rule. We are in God’s family. Too often I have seen my children offend or sin against another believer and receive the same amount of offence right back. If we consider ourselves mature believers, then we ought to return love and compassion, not seek to “make them pay.”  We ought to consider what is the best for that child, not recompense for our offended pride. Brow beating someone into submission out of our so called spiritual standing as authority is not love. The desire to capitalize on their sin is as bad as the original sin we were considering. It is prideful arrogance – showing we care more for our hurt feelings than the offender’s welfare and spiritual needs. To not offer forgiveness and reconcilliation when there has been repentance is to curse the love of God. If the love of God dwells in us, we will love others. If it does not, we will allow our selfish desires to walk all over those we consider less than us. It is then at that point that we become the offender and turn God’s attention off the sinner and on to ourselves. That is not a place I would ever want to be.

John 8:7  “So when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.” 

Galatians 6:1  “Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.”

Matthew 18:6 “But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea.”

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Musings

Job’s Friends – Part 4

Continued from 2.7.09 posting, Job’s Friends Part 3.

We’ve been told that we are too easy on our kids, too hard on them, too watchful and that we need to watch them closer. We’ve been told we are too controlling by some but are blamed when they do something wrong when they’re with others. We’ve been told we need to give them room to breathe, that we have to let them have some freedom to make their own decisions, but when they make their own decisions and mess up, it’s our fault. We’ve been told to not use the Bible for a “punishment” like assigning verses to write out or memorize, and we’ve been told it should be used for correction. We’ve been told we’re wrong for treating them all as individuals, for a parent should always treat all their kids the same.  Yet, the same people were nice to some of our kids and rejected others.  We’ve been told by some people that they admire what we’ve done for the Lord in adopting so many tough kids and the same day we were told by someone else that we should never be in the ministry with the kind of kids we adopted because we were such a bad example of a ministry family.  It seems we are to be a perfect family in the eyes of church members, someone they can all look up to – but according to the church members who we were closest to, the ones who loved our family, we were the perfect example of a family who loved others with Christ’s love – especially the children that were hard to love.

We’ve been told that as Christians we should reach out to those in the world and offer Christ as the solution, to be active in our community and disciple and care for the poor. But then we are told out of the same mouth that we should have never adopted these “types of children” if we wanted to be in full-time ministry because they are trouble makers and make us look bad. We are told to be forgiving and compassionate but then hear from the same person how rotten one or more of our kids are and how they deserve to pay for what they’ve done. My kids have been lied to, put down, criticized, verbally abused, held to a higher standard than others, called names, and singled out and made an example. Yet, the same people walk around ignoring their own kids’ bad behavior and lift them up as greater than sliced bread. Those that were hardest on our kids have a past of being kind and forgiving to their own. Somehow, it just doesn’t seem right to me.

I’ve come to the conclusion that people just don’t understand. They haven’t lived the life we have, nor do they love our kids like we do. Even though my children are terrible sinners, God loves them and so do I. Should they pay for their mistakes? Should they suffer because of bad decisions? Yes and no. Yes, sin is awful and we must repent and go to God and others to make it right. But we also need to remember that God at one time picked US up out of the mirey clay and set US on a rock. We weren’t such a great bargain either. Yet, He loves us and manages our life so that He can be glorified and also seeks our good at the same time. As parents, we have consistently brought discipline into our kids’ life to teach them to do right, but we never should bring discipline into their life to hurt them, to show who’s boss or to make them “pay.” We ought to always operate in a way that pushes them toward the Savior, not toward anger and bitterness.

I’ve recently been in a situation where I now can understand the Scripture that tells a us not to punish in a way that creates bitterness. “And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.”  Eph. 6:4  Many of our children came into our home with bitterness, and others developed it over time through circumstances we couldn’t control. It is our job, even if they sin in their bitterness, to not cause them reason to embrace it even more than they have already. These are kids. They’ve been hurt by adults in their life. They didn’t choose it. They didn’t deserve it, yet it happened. Let’s not make it worse by confirming to them that all adults are cruel and not to be trusted. We have an excellent opportunity to show these kids that God really does love and that He can love them through us.

Mt 18:23 “Therefore is the kingdom of heaven likened unto a certain king, which would take account of his servants. And when he had begun to reckon, one was brought unto him, which owed him ten thousand talents. But forasmuch as he had not to pay, his lord commanded him to be sold, and his wife, and children, and all that he had, and payment to be made. The servant therefore fell down, and worshipped him, saying, Lord, have patience with me, and I will pay thee all.

 Then the lord of that servant was moved with compassion, and loosed him, and forgave him the debt. But the same servant went out, and found one of his fellowservants, which owed him an hundred pence: and he laid hands on him, and took him by the throat, saying, Pay me that thou owest. And his fellowservant fell down at his feet, and besought him, saying, Have patience with me, and I will pay thee all.

 And he would not: but went and cast him into prison, till he should pay the debt. So when his fellowservants saw what was done, they were very sorry, and came and told unto their lord all that was done. Then his lord, after that he had called him, said unto him, O thou wicked servant, I forgave thee all that debt, because thou desiredst me: Shouldest not thou also have had compassion on thy fellowservant, even as I had pity on thee? And his lord was wroth, and delivered him to the tormentors, till he should pay all that was due unto him.

 So likewise shall my heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses.”  to be continued…

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Spiritual Truths Things I've Learned

Don’t Go to Egypt

Wow. Pastor Ron did it again. His messages are to me very obviously spoken directly from God’s mouth to my ear. I feel like God is remaking me into someone from whom He’ll one day ask something big. It is as if I’m in the refining fire – and boy is it hot! He’s calling up one by one those truths in my life that I have already tucked away and is making them real – so real that I’m feeling pulled inside out! All I can say is I hope I live through it. This valley is riddled with rocks. Behind every tree is a dangerous beast that threatens my family. Under every rock is a snake ready to strike. I feel like a weary traveler in a Pilgrim’s Progress type of story. If I hadn’t already read the last page, I’d feel as though my very soul was in peril. Yet, His assurance is as real as the pain that threatens to take me over.

Above me I see clouds ready to burst like the call of impending doom. I see moving shadows all around that are the embodiment of an eerie, supernatural threat. As in the book of Esther, God is here, but I can’t see Him. He has stepped aside to give way to His faithful servants. He has set the burden of His will on the shoulders of fallible, yet Spirit-filled believers. It’s no trial to trust the One true God, but it is tenuous to say the least to trust fallible man, actual human flesh to do His perfect will even if God Himself directed it this time to be so. It is a new road that He takes me on. Hopefully my faith is up for the journey.

Here are the verses – the living Word that the world so easily casts aside.

Jeremiah 42:1-12  “Then all the captains of the forces, and Johanan the son of Kareah, and Jezaniah the son of Hoshaiah, and all the people from the least even unto the greatest, came near, And said unto Jeremiah the prophet, ‘Let, we beseech thee, our supplication be accepted before thee, and pray for us unto the LORD thy God, even for all this remnant; (for we are left but a few of many, as thine eyes do behold us:) That the LORD thy God may shew us the way wherein we may walk, and the thing that we may do.’

 Then Jeremiah the prophet said unto them, ‘I have heard you; behold, I will pray unto the LORD your God according to your words; and it shall come to pass, that whatsoever thing the LORD shall answer you, I will declare it unto you; I will keep nothing back from you.’

 Then they said to Jeremiah, ‘The LORD be a true and faithful witness between us, if we do not even according to all things for the which the LORD thy God shall send thee to us. Whether it be good, or whether it be evil, we will obey the voice of the LORD our God, to whom we send thee; that it may be well with us, when we obey the voice of the LORD our God.’

And it came to pass after ten days, that the word of the LORD came unto Jeremiah. Then called he Johanan the son of Kareah, and all the captains of the forces which were with him, and all the people from the least even to the greatest, And said unto them, ‘Thus saith the LORD, the God of Israel, unto whom ye sent me to present your supplication before him; If ye will still abide in this land, then will I build you, and not pull you down, and I will plant you, and not pluck you up: for I repent me of the evil that I have done unto you. Be not afraid of the king of Babylon, of whom ye are afraid; be not afraid of him, saith the LORD: for I am with you to save you, and to deliver you from his hand. And I will shew mercies unto you, that he may have mercy upon you, and cause you to return to your own land.'”

Though the people who brought this petition did right in the beginning by asking the Lord to judge and guide, they ended up going into Egypt rather than staying put like God told them to. It proved to be a big mistake on their part to seek the help of the world when God was so very present and able. I borrow from another story to end – the story of David and God’s judgment for his sin. God gave his three choices as chastisement for his sin and this is what David decided:

1Chron. 21:8-13 “And David said unto God, ‘I have sinned greatly, because I have done this thing: but now, I beseech thee, do away the iniquity of thy servant; for I have done very foolishly.’ And the LORD spake unto Gad, David’s seer, saying,  ‘Go and tell David, saying, Thus saith the LORD, I offer thee three things: choose thee one of them, that I may do it unto thee.’ 

So Gad came to David, and said unto him, Thus saith the LORD, ‘Choose thee either three years’ famine; or three months to be destroyed before thy foes, while that the sword of thine enemies overtaketh thee; or else three days the sword of the LORD, even the pestilence, in the land, and the angel of the LORD destroying throughout all the coasts of Israel. Now therefore advise thyself what word I shall bring again to him that sent me.’

And David said unto Gad, ‘I am in a great strait: let me fall now into the hand of the LORD; for very great are his mercies: but let me not fall into the hand of man.'”

We should never go to the world for solutions to our problems. It will hurt the cause of Christ. Nor should we rely on human reasoning to deal with our problems or sin in our life or others. We need to always go to God. He is able. The world is not. Satan is the prince and power of this world, and those in the world is not worthy to entrust the advancement of the cause of Christ. Our goal ought to always be to glorify God and bring others to Him. If what we are doing does not fulfill those two objectives, then we are not following the example of Scripture and we will be a liability to His kingdom.

Heb 10:30,31 “For we know him that hath said, ‘Vengeance belongeth unto me, I will recompense, saith the Lord. And again, The Lord shall judge his people. It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.'”   Even so, I choose God’s hands over the world’s. For like David said, “Great are His mercies.”

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Spiritual Truths Things I've Learned

So Iniquity Shall Not be Your Ruin

I ran a post a while ago about forgiveness from the perspective of the one who was offended. I’m taking the other slant and looking at forgiveness from the perspective of the offender. The truths are the same, regardless which side your are on.

Forgiveness is four fold.

1. We are required to be willing to forgive as Christ forgave. He forgives all those who ask. 
2. The responsibility of the offender is to acknowledge his sin.
3. The offender is also required to pay restitution/make it right.
4. Restoration will happen when 1-3 are done completely and correctly. “Completely and correctly” are the keys.

Without all three, forgiveness isn’t complete. I can do my part and still maintain the blessing of God on my life (peace, contentment, closure, etc). That is all that is required of us. If the offender doesn’t do his two parts, he will not experience God’s blessing or victory in that area (of offense). If the offended party doesn’t do his part, the same results will fall on him. That’s partly why we see Christians today not experiencing blessing or growth in their lives – they stay nominal or shallow in their Christian walk.

 

Christ said to forgive as He forgives. He forgives all who asks. So, I’m using His example of forgiveness to show the steps of reconciliation. If we offend someone, repent of the deed acknowledging it as sin, ask forgiveness, and pay restitution, we are the one walking right with God. If we are not forgiven by the person we offended, it will not hurt our walk with God. Of course we might suffer more dire circumstances because of an unforgiving heart, but God will walk through them with us and use them to purge us. Mercy toward a sinner can only be shown by one who sees the advantage of forgiveness. While it is true that consequences can be our best teacher, mercy can be an even better catalyst toward change in the life of a sinner. Iniquity doesn’t have to be our ruin.

(Eze 18:30 “Therefore I will judge you, O house of Israel, every one according to his ways, saith the Lord GOD. Repent, and turn yourselves from all your transgressions; so iniquity shall not be your ruin.”)

Our pastor preached Sunday on forgiveness and I thought it was a remarkable sermon. It wasn’t the normal, hum drum sermon that we’ve heard 70 times – but then none of his ever are. It was like he’d delved into it himself for personal reasons and came out of the refining fire different and wanted to share it with us. His heart is truly one of forgiveness and acceptance, full of compassion. Just watching him with our children has given me the fuel to continue on this difficult journey. Really, that’s what it’s all about. Traveling through this world is just temporary and if we can help someone along the way, then the world has been a better place because we were here. The world definitely is a better place because he lives here. Thank God for Pastor Ron.

Col 3:13 “Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye.

Ps 86:5 “For thou, Lord, art good, and ready to forgive; and plenteous in mercy unto all them that call upon thee.”

Lu 17:3 “Take heed to yourselves: If thy brother trespass against thee, rebuke him; and if he repent, forgive him.”

1 John 1:9 “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

I try to often contemplate that God has forgiven me for a lifetime of sinful behavior, so I ought to remember that as I seek to forgive others. Forgiveness isn’t easy, but it is necessary.

It is those who fall and get back up using God’s hand for a support who become a better person through it all.

(Prov. 24:16 “For a just man falleth seven times, and riseth up again: but the wicked shall fall into mischief.”)