January 9 – Obedience is Life and Death (Jenny)

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One of the sorest subjects around our house in our entire marriage involved an animal. Let me be more specific: a 120 pound black lab puppy. (He was not the first pet to be a part of this story, but I won’t go back that far!)

I completely dropped the ball when it came to helping this active and enthusiastic dog. Of all the obedience training I attempted to put in place while Lorenzo was at work, nothing seemed to stick! Several places on our home’s light beige carpet stuck around to prove my ineptness. In spite of all the success of my sisters and other friends and family with their pets, I just couldn’t get it to sink in.

Truthfully, I was too inconsistent to see any real progress! We do live in a society that values obedience training in our pets. And I know lots of animal lovers that do an amazing job. But the stakes really get high when we start talking about the pursuit of obedient children.

My husband has always said that whatever we see in our 2 year-old that goes uncorrected, “multiply that particular behavior” by a 16 year-old. It usually doesn’t give a pretty picture. Research has shown that the foundation to our children’s character is formed by the time they turn five.

What may look like cute antics right now in our toddlers won’t be so cute when they are ten, or older. In much the same way as our dog, (and even more so), our children are begging us for boundaries! They not only need to know “yes, no, who’s in charge, and I love you,” but they need to be trained how to respond in certain situations.

All of us have moments we need our children to stay close to us and not run off. So when our first three children were four and under, I would take them to the mall (a big, safe space) on a morning that wasn’t busy, and I would tell our older two that “our job today is to stay by mommy.”

Then we would walk around the mall, as I reminded them of the goal as I pushed the baby in the stroller. If one of them ran off, I would bring them back and give them a gentle reminder. After fifteen minutes of this kind of training, we’d all be ready for a reward.

Moments like that can really pay off in the long run. We can practice situations at home that will come up later, such as eating in a restaurant, sitting quietly through a wedding, etc.

Obedience doesn’t come just because we demand it, or even from using discipline, it comes from building a relationship. And it is life and death, because we can all face a time when a child tries to run towards a busy street. Then, obedience can save their life.

God loves an obedient heart. He’s certainly not into condemnation, nor does He hold our wrongs against us.

Mistakes will be made. But just as Jesus willingly went through the last moments of his life as God revealed His will to him, so should we cultivate the riches of obedience in our children. And their response to us will always reflect the level of our obedience to the Father as well. Spend time training your heritage towards obedience.

And these words which I am commanding you this day shall be [first] in your [own] minds and hearts; [then] you shall whet and sharpen them so as to make them penetrate, and teach and impress them diligently upon the [minds and] hearts of your children, 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 6:6,7 AMP

 Biblical Meditation: James 1:25

Favorite Source: Hints on Child Training by H. Clay Trumbull

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January 8 – The Total Package

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I like a good fight. I didn’t say I like to fight, especially when it comes to getting hit! Because I grew up watching some of the greatest boxers in the world on Saturday afternoons, I have a great appreciation for the sport of boxing.

Some of my favorite fighters were “Marvelous” Marvin Hagler, “Sugar” Ray Leonard, and of course, Muhammad Ali. It was like watching a chess match between fists when these men went at it. Every boxer had his own “style” and was often quite successful when he would stick to his game plan.   I

’ll never forget the first time I saw Mike Tyson step into the ring. Wow! What a fighter he was. Not only did he have the raw talent, and the fighter’s instinct, but he was well-trained. His coach, Costamatto, saw his potential when he was a boy and began to groom him to be a champion.   Tyson had the jab, he had a rock-solid defense, he was in great shape, and most of all he had a crushing punch. He indeed had the total package. Unfortunately, he made foolish choices and lacked character, and today he’s often referred to as “the champion that could have been.”

In the above verses, Dr. Luke accounts that Jesus grew up with the real total package. In my home, this is the highest priority for my little champions. I want them to grow up in an atmosphere that promotes strong bodies – inside and out, spiritual wisdom, and revelation of the grace of God.   For all practical purposes, life is truly a fight and each of us enters the ring every day, whether we want to or not. I don’t know about you, but if I have to fight, I would rather win! And if that be the case, let God’s Word be your gym and His Spirit be your coach.

Every day, get dressed in His strength, put on His wisdom, and let Him robe you in His grace.   Never take your eyes off these three keys. Say them on the way to work, while you cook dinner, and before you go to bed. Then watch yourself start floating through trials “like a butterfly” and stinging temptations “like a bumble bee.” You can’t lose with God on your side, the Holy Spirit in your corner and Christ as your example. You’ve got the total package!   When Joseph and Mary finished everything required by God in the Law, they returned to Galilee and their own town, Nazareth. There the child grew strong in body and wise in spirit. And the grace of God was on him. Luke 2:39-40  

Biblical Meditation: 1 Timothy 6:12