Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Courtship - Part 3

I hope that you will forgive me for going so long between these posts. I have thought many times that I needed to sit down and continue this but life kept getting in the way. I am sure you understand.

I have talked about gathering your children's hearts to you. It is the first step to teaching anything that you want to stay in their heart and to become their own.  One of the ways that I know is very important is to live authentically in front of them. What I mean by authentically is, living a life that is not hypocritical or full of pride. A very young child can see when their parents tell them to live or to act one way and then the parents do not live or act that way. It is confusing when they are young and it makes them angry, resentful and rebellious when they are older. I have always shown my weaknesses to my children. When I fail, I do not try to cover it up, even when my instinct is to cover my failure or sin. It is for my children's own good that they see me as having human failings in my life. It encourages them when I repent and try again to live correctly. It lifts them out of despair to see me admit my wrong and tell them that I will depend on God to forgive and help me. It lets them know that they are not alone in their battle against sin. Who can live up to the life that a parents portrays as one of pious Christianity? One of a parent who claims not to sin or to be tempted in any way? One who claims to be free of the burden of their sin filled life. Romans 7:15-25, has to be one of the most comforting passages in the bible. It shows that even Paul, whose passion for Christ infused him every moment of every day, struggled with sin until his own death. But he was utterly dependent on God for his strength, for Christ living in him for his salvation and the covering of his sin and for His strength to live through it. We can give our children the strength to live through sin by being honest with them about our own struggles.
Now I do not advocate using your child as a confessional, only to let them know that you struggle and that you depend on Christ. And if you don't, you need to face it that you sin daily, you are not worthy of Christ's sacrifice yet He died for you to have His covering of your sins. You do nothing of your own strength but through Christ who dwells in you. Say that to yourself over and over until you understand it completely before you try to tell your child that he/she will struggle with sin. If you really don't understand how it applies to you I promise they will see you as a hypocrite and your credibility as a mentor and leader is out the door, along with them.

If you have not lived this way, humble with humility in your own weakness, anger at your own sin, and repentance  with an outward showing of a desire to strive to be more like Christ , then I admonish you and encourage you to immediately do this very thing. Read parenting books like The Heart of Anger by Lou Priolo, and Shepherding a Child's Heart by Ted Tripp. Keeping Our Children's  Hearts by Steve and Teri Maxwell is a fantastic book for specifically knitting your child's heart to you at any age. So don't despair if you have teens and are regretful of lost years. Remember how God restores what is lost, it is never too late for your children's hearts.

So it is my very deep desire to encourage you to look at where you are with your children, where you stand in their estimation. Because if you are convicted in teaching them courtship and hoping it will be come their own desire, you must be able to talk about things that are important and deep with them without them squirming and saying they don't want to talk about it. You will have to be insistent without being harsh and demanding, because you are talking about their hearts and how they will control it. Ultimately, you have no control over their hearts, or actions. This must be them coming to their own conclusion, and wanting it for what it is worth- the purity and sanctity of their relationships.  This is one of the most difficult things for a parent to accept, because they want their children to walk in the Way, but the control you thought you had in their life will die as soon as they walk out the door.This leaving must happen sooner or later and too often it happens sooner than later without you equipping them with the ability to handle their own emotions and actions. You must first have their hearts before you can help them to begin guarding their own hearts. And that is your goal. To have your children guard their own hearts. For them to desire to maintain purity and preserve their hearts for their future spouse without the baggage that comes with having a past. This is a way to show your children you love them because you are protecting their marriage from a very young age. You are showing that a marriage is something that is so important that you have to prepare for it. It is not "oh I fell in love so I get married". That is the world's way. We want our children to marry God's way.

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