Daily Distinctives, April 25, 2018 – When Parent’s Lead Their Kin to Sin

This week has certainly been a blur for me, and so I have not been able to update my devotional every day like I had intended to. Between work and meetings, and experiencing a new set of chores that have helped me to empathize a little more with my wife, I have had to adjust a little and will try to get these in when I can. I have been in prayer quite a bit over the course of the last couple of days. As I mentioned in my previous devotional, my marriage was getting away from me and my wife let me have it in a big way. I am happy to say that though I am not out of the woods, we have pushed past the initial frustrations and are on speaking terms, even sharing in some limited affection towards each other. I could view this as a horrible circumstance, but if you know me you will understand that I view things in a peculiar way. To me, this was an unnecessary series of events, in that they could have been avoided altogether had I been sensitive to my wife, but necessary in that they have become a catalyst for me to seek to improve my marriage and take positive steps towards digging up things in my own life that have been hindering my marriage and have been a source of constant conflict between me and my wife for the decade that we have been married. The road ahead promises a whole lot of heart-ache I am sure, but pruning does that to you. At the end of it all, I am hopeful that it will prove to be a fruitful season and that I will see the benefits in the face of my bride every time she looks at me. I cannot tell you how grateful I am for those of you who have reached out to me and who have been praying for me and Erin both. I feel the prayers and have witnessed both their effectiveness and the peace that they bring. So thank you all so very much. I pray that I never have to return the favor under such “circumstances,” but if you ever need prayer I am committed to praying for you as well, as the Body should. Just to document my journey (in case someone comes along this chapter of my life and can benefit from my experiences) and so I can look back on it myself when the LORD is satisfied in my changes and praise Him for the mighty work that he is about to do in me. Today, I met with my pastor, as I have been doing now for several months to tell him what all has transpired in the last week. His counsel was well received and I took his advice to reach out to a professional counselor that specializes in dysfunctional families (aren’t they all) and dysfunctional marriages. I started the restoration process in faith by reaching out to those godly women closest to my wife to plead with them on behalf of our marriage to speak to my wife on my behalf to ensure her that I love her deeply and that I was willing to do whatever was necessary to open lines of communication with my bride again and empty myself before her with the promise that I would allow the LORD to do His work in me to bring about restoration in our marriage and our family. I am so grateful for our friend Amy B. who mediated a 2-hour conversation between my wife and I and helped to bring an objectivity to our discussion. I think she talked us both off the ledge and showed godly wisdom and love to both of us. It was during this conversation that I reached the same conclusion that my wife had been hitting on for some time regarding my past and how it was impacting my present. I know I have shared this before in my devotionals, but I also grew up in a very dysfunctional family where I was often the victim of verbal and physical abuse. I thought I had repressed that oppressive chapter of my life but it managed to find its way to the surface again. I am not foolish enough to believe that my past defines me, but I am practical enough to recognize that it can and does influence my present. One of my friends happened upon my blog from the other day and reached out to me with some resources. It just so happens that this same friend is over a ministry that my wife has wanted me to attend for some time, but that I have ignored. It is a program called Grief to Grace, and it helps people to heal from the pains of past abuse. I thought that perhaps it was time that I dealt with my past and so to my own surprise and my wife’s surprise (based on the emoji she sent me in response to me telling her), I asked my friend if I could sign up for one of the retreats in hopes to find resolution to my past. In addition to this, I reached out to several men in my sphere of influence and sought wisdom and prayer as well. I have to say that since then, my wife and I are talking again, actually beginning to communicate, and I am off the couch and back in my bed! Bonus! But I have also seen the LORD doing a mysterious work in my business too. I don’t know if the two are related but God is so good to me. There are so many people that I want to thank for coming alongside me and my wife through all of this: Mary Lee, Micheal M. and his wife Adrianna, Ed my metal buddy and Christian brother, our Californian brothers and sisters (the Stransky’s), my brother and sister for their well-intended advice and counsel, and countless others who have been praying for us over these past few days. And really, I am so especially grateful for Amy and the time she spent away from her own family sacrificing her time and energy to bless my wife and me.

So there is my update, there is a whole lot more I could share, but for now, I really want to get into the WORD as it is my anchor through all of this and everything else, and is the only thing that will make all of these efforts permanent in my journey of sanctification. So, without any further delay, I hope you will join me as I continue through Genesis chapter 27. I won’t likely get through it all this evening and will probably change the time that I spend doing these devotionals to a more convenient time with my new evolving schedule but, I will do my best to cover as much as I can with the energy I have left in me.

Gen 27:8 NKJV] “Now therefore, my son, obey my voice according to what I command you.

When we last left off we discovered some of the underlying issues that plagued Isaacs family. It seemed that both Isaac and Rebekah were seeking their own ways and instead of coming together and doing things God’s way they began a journey that would bring their family a whole lot of heartache. It is only by God’s providence that any of this ended well for the parties involved, but God is so good that He can use even our sinfulness to bring glory to Himself. In this verse the scene shifts from Isaac and Esau to Rebekah and Jacob. Rebekah tells Jacob to listen and do what she tells him to do. And I want to go through her instructions here and then pose a question that is worthy of consideration.

[Gen 27:9 NKJV] “Go now to the flock and bring me from there two choice kids of the goats, and I will make savory food from them for your father, such as he loves.
[Gen 27:10 NKJV] “Then you shall take [it] to your father, that he may eat [it], and that he may bless you before his death.”

It seems that Rebekah is instructing her son to sin. Lying is a sin in all of its clever guises. But you might say, “what is so wrong with trying to butter up dad by bringing him a meal?” I don’t think there is anything wrong with it personally. In fact, over the past few days, I have been making some pretty stellar dishes for my family for dinner. The problem is not the blessing of bringing Isaac food, it is the intent behind it. They were not doing this to bless Isaac, but out of their own self-interests. This reminded me of something my wife recently shared with me. She said when you do things don’t simply do them to check a box, but do them out of genuine love. Rebekah and Jacob weren’t seeking to bless but, instead, were seeking the blessing. Now, I must confess, the reason I have prepared dinner these past few days was a little of both. I wanted to bless my wife and family, but I also wanted my wife to see how serious I was about making some changes in my life for her and our marriage. With her working now, I was able to bless her by taking away yet another burden that is on her plate, one that I should have been sharing with her all along.

[Gen 27:11 NKJV] And Jacob said to Rebekah his mother, “Look, Esau my brother [is] a hairy man, and I [am] a smooth-[skinned] man.
[Gen 27:12 NKJV] “Perhaps my father will feel me, and I shall seem to be a deceiver to him; and I shall bring a curse on myself and not a blessing.”

Seem to be a deceiver? Really? I mean that is your name bro! What do you mean, “seem to be a deceiver?” No doubt that Esau and Jacob were quite different and Jacob was smart enough to realize that though dad’s eyesight was poor, the physical differences between he and Esau were stark. But this also shows that Jacob was complicit in Rebekah’s scheme. It can be inferred that Jacob intended to play along with it but feared getting caught and facing the consequences of deception, bring upon himself a curse instead of a blessing. Now here is the question that I have, which I alluded to earlier. Is it ever okay in a parent/child relationship for a parent to lead their children into a deceptive practice? Is it ever okay to put your children against their other parent and have them lie to the other parent? And finally, are children obligated to obey their parents when asked to do something outside of God’s will? Okay, so that is a few questions, but I think that they are obvious questions that are worth discussing.

There are so many things wrong with this scenario, and yet these are the real-life stories of the Patriarchs of our faith. It goes to show me that God can and does use fallible humans to bring about His will and purpose for humanity (Romans 8:28). But to answer the questions that I posed, I don’t believe it is ever okay to lead your children to sin (Mark 9:42). We know that the outcome of this deception, as we will see later in this chapter, became a stumbling block for Esau and brought about a furious hatred for his brother Jacob (Romans 14:13). I would argue that it is never okay to pit your children against their other parent either (Mark 3:25). Parents should work together in all things to train their children in the fear and admonition of the LORD (Ephesians 6:4), But, to my last question, I could see how it could be argued both ways, but I believe the Bible gives us clear instruction on how a child should respond when led into the temptation to sin. Ephesians 6:1 tells us that children should obey both of their parents in the LORD: for it is right. But what if the parents are advising the child to do something sinful?

We understand that the LORD is the one who has placed authorities in our lives and it He who has given us all commandments which we should obey out of reverence and fear of the LORD because we love Him and want to honor Him. God has placed authorities in our lives and has created a hierarchy for the sake of order. Without this structure, the world would be in total chaos and ruin. Still, when you are dealing with leaders you have to take into account that there are no leaders who are not capable of misleading and sinning. For instance, we may be persuaded by a leader in our jobs to do something that we feel and understand to be morally unethical or legally wrong. In a country where moral relativism wreaks havoc in our democratic form of government, our own representatives might legislate something against our Christian moral obligations (i.e. protecting the innocent from abortion). We need only look to the New Testament for an example of how we ought to respond to such requests (Acts 5:29, and Acts 4:19-20). And while these examples seem to be aimed at civil disobedience, they apply to parent/child relationships as well. In fact, the authority of parent over a child, in my opinion, is far greater than that of the state over its people, for the simple fact that the parents are the God-ordained leaders of their children ahead of the State. Still, if a child is coerced by their parent to do something that is against the WORD and will of God, then the child it is perfectly acceptable and even commendable that the child respectfully declines to do as they are told.  This may be more common in parent/child relationships where the parent, the child or both are not believers, and my statement by no means should be confused with the idea that it is okay for children to disregard the expectations of their ungodly parents when the parents are asking their children to do what is right. But in instances where the child is asked or commanded to do something that is immoral or illegal they should disobey.

This is a very touchy subject, especially when you bring the idea of abuse, physical or sexual into the equation. In these cases, I would say that the parent forfeits their rights as parents when they subject their children to these kinds of things. Sadly though, the consequences of disobedience for those who are trying to do the right thing by disobeying instruction to sin can lead to harm being inflicted upon them and further abuse. I would say that in these instances that the child should seek immediate help from the authorities. In these cases, I am grateful that the State steps in on behalf of the child and prosecutes the parents. I will add though, that sometimes the State overreaches its proper domain when a parent, in good faith, disciplines the child in love and firmness and the parents are treated with contempt and sometimes even imprisoned. When my own children get out of line I have no problem applying the board of education to the seat of understanding. In fact, I am commanded by the WORD of God to discipline my children. Sometimes this requires corporal punishment, but I administer this fairly and rarely, and most often when my children disobey what is right.

I think I am going to close on that note for tonight but will try to get back into this on my new devotional schedule. My old pastor used to say, “Blessed are the flexible, for they shall bend and not break.” Even with the business of my days lately, I have to find or make the time to get into the WORD because I know how much I need it. I have tasted these past few days a little bit of what my wife struggles with and can empathize with her. I see now, how the lack of time and energy dealing with the daily affairs of working and running a household can diminish the time she has to get into the WORD herself. And so I am even more committed now to take some of these responsibilities off of her plate in hopes that it will buy her the necessary time she needs to get into the WORD and grow in her own walk with the LORD. And so with that, I am going to go snuggle with my bride in the bed that I have so missed these past few days.

Prayer: LORD thank You for sending Your people to our aid in our time of need. Thank You for their prayers and their love for us. Thank You for starting a new work in my life and in the life of my bride. Thank You for all that You do for us. Thank You for using these “circumstances” to bring about change that will benefit my marriage and bring glory and honor to You. Thank You for loving me so much that You gave me a wife who is sensitive and truthful enough to show me my flaws, warts and all. I love You LORD and I need You now as much as I have always needed You. Let Your way and Your will be done in my life. I wish that I could say I am looking forward to the pruning to come, but You and I both know that would not be true, but I am as ready as I can be because I know You love me and want to make me into the man of God that You have purposed for me all along. I want to thank You for my pastor and his continued support and counsel. I pray for him that there would be enough hours in the day to accomplish all that he has to get done for the sake of Your people. I pray that distractions would be minimized and the fruit of his labors in Christ would be multiplied. I am thankful for our time to meet together and especially today as it almost seemed to be an answer to prayer, seamlessly meeting my needs while serving as preparation for the wonderful message he gave tonight! You are truly amazing LORD, answering my prayers many times before I even utter them. LORD, shower Your blessings upon those who have interceded on my behalf. Bless Mary Lee for her graciousness and kindness towards me. And for my dear sister Amy B., I pray that You would bestow upon her a special blessing, one that will show her without a doubt that her service, ministry, and love towards our family was in accordance to Your will. I ask all of these things in the wonderful name of Jesus. –Amen

 

 

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