Genesis 18:19(NLT): ...he will direct his sons and their families to keep the way of the
LORD...Then I will do for Abraham all that I have promised.
I. Parenting 911
II. Deliver Us From Parenting!
I. Parenting 911
Treat your spouse with love and honor.
Children recreate their parents' relationship in their own romantic life. This is not always true, but it happens enough to establish a predictable trend. Girls drift toward boys that reflect their father/father-figure; boys drift toward girls that reflect their mother/mother-figure, and both sexes drift toward a relationship that mirrors their parents'.
This generational impressioning can be for good or evil. The first and greatest impression parents must imprint on their children's tabula rasa is a model marriage. When spouses consistently treat one another with obvious love and respect, the child's imagination previews what he can recreate for himself. If you do not graphically define romantic love for your children, Desperate Housewives will.
Show affection around your children. Verbally stroke one another within earshot with comments like "I love you" and "You mean the world to me" and "You are an awesome husband/wife". Have regular dates and explain to them what and why. Defer to one another in the little things, like handing over the remote control or relinquishing the thermostat. Kids notice and absorb all this into their personality.
Do not dispute in front of them unless it can be done in a respectful, positive, and solution-oriented way. Never jokingly embarrass or belittle one another. Most importantly, let them see you praying and seeking the Lord Jesus together as a couple.
Transfer genderized qualities.
Genesis 1:27 states that, from within Himself, God made two distinct human genders. Together, male and female would comprise and reflect His total image. God is capable of both fathering (Isa 9:6) and mothering (66:13), of strength (40:10) and sensitivity (v11).
(NOTE: God nevertheless defines Himself in the masculine, as "Father" and "Son" and "His Spirit".)
To be whole and balanced like our Creator, then, we need both male and female traits. This does not minimize our gender, for gender dictates which sex will be dominant and definitive in our psychobiology. It does, however, call us to a practical gender-balance.
For example, extreme maleness detaches a person from sensitive qualities--how many unfeeling and non-nurturing people do we know? These people have overdeveloped maleness and underdeveloped femaleness (like Jezebel). Likewise, extreme femaleness detaches a person from steadfast qualities--how many spineless and exploitable people do we know? These people have overdeveloped femaleness and underdeveloped maleness (like Ahab).
Gender is our God-given psychobiology, gender-balance is a practical fluidness to move back and forth between sensitivity and strength. A gender-balanced person is functional in both male and female nuances, yet lives primarily through their God-given gender. King David is probably the best example in all Scripture of a gender-balanced person. He showed amazing fluidity to be both sensitive and strong, yet was unmistakably a man's man.
Children and teens need a steady diet of both gender qualities. If not, they will develop with extremes. Fathers are to transfer the signature male trait, steadfastness or strength (Isa 9:6), mothers are to transfer the female one, sensitivity, (66:13). If the transfers are consistent and successful, the child will develop into a completeness. They will be less likely to crave codependent relationships to supply their missing half. Such people meet the ideal profile for very fulfilling relationships.
Sensitivity By example and encouragement, motivate children to share their feelings. Coach them into becoming comfortable with heart-talk. Validate and reward them verbally when they do. Help them see that "stuffing" is harmful, as is communicating only from the head. Encourage them to listen to others with empathy and acceptance.
Affirm their tears and urge them to cry when necessary. Remind them that Jesus wept often (Heb 5:7). Develop their physical affection by being affectionate with them. If you are not affectionate, resolve your issues and become affectionate. If you do not, you will be responsible for a starving child who will seek that affection somewhere. Affection-starvation is a known precursor to sexual addiction.
Strength Let them see you standing and speaking against evil and injustice in appropriate ways. Have clear moral principles on which you will not vacillate, and motivate them to do the same. Make hard decisions with their knowledge (when appropriate), explaining what and why. Help them ignore their feelings and do what is best when the two are in conflict.
Show them how knowledge and wisdom are the essence of internal strength (Pr 24:5), that a strong backbone comes from a strong mind. Therefore, read around them, to them, and with them things that have value and conviction.
Trigger unique self-expression.
Just as each child has a God-given gender, so also each child has a God-given personality, or unique self-expression. Personality can be quantified to a degree. Gary Smalley has done a good job for the church in simplifying and Christianizing the four basic personality types. After all, God Himself has four basic attributes from which the four human personality types flow (Gen 2:10, Eze 1:10, the four gospels, the four winds, etc.).
It is important to emphasize, however, that within the four arch-types there are idiosyncrasies and subtleties unique to the individual. In this way there is no one in the world like us! Each of us is truly a heavenly masterpiece.
Parents are not to create mini-Me's of their children. The tragedy of life after The Fall is that children became fashioned in the image of their parents (Gen 5:3), instead of the image of God (v1).
Every child is carrying a unique expression of God in them. Parents are to do anything and everything to let that personality breathe and blossom. You may not know what it is, they may not know what it is, but neither of you will ever know what it is if you force a duplicate of yourself on them. They are your child, but they are not you!
Triggering unique self-expression in children is simpler than many parents realize. The key is to understand "black, white, and gray", the message of Romans 14.
If it is clearly right or wrong according to Scripture (black/white), then speak out and rule, permit or prohibit.
If it is not a black-n-white matter, but one of personal preference or conviction (gray), then be silent and implicitly force them to discover their own variance. Do not tell them what they should like or dislike, prefer or not prefer. Encourage them to decide their own gray-area choices, and as they do, do not criticize or belittle when it differs from you.
Your job is to keep them within safe pasture (the black-n-whites), but not to tell them where to eat the grass or when to eat it or how much to eat or if to drink from the brook while they eat (the gray). Make sense?
Your children will favor you immensely if you successfully administrate black, white, and gray with them. They want and need both...the safety of black-n-white absolute boundaries AND the liberty of unique self-expression in the grays.
Train in godly habits.
Ephesians 6:4 commands parents, at the father's pilotage, to raise children in the training and truth of the Lord. This command fascinates me, since genuine godliness cannot be imposed or imparted from one person to another (1Sam 8:1-5). Thus, parents are to train their children in godly habits, in the hopes and prayers that one day they will embrace God and godliness in their heart--as their own.
Note the critical difference in habit and heart. Parents cannot do the heart part. Only the Holy Spirit and the child's own freewill can give godliness an everlasting home in the heart. By developing godly habits in your children, though, you are making it much, much easier for them to one day embrace it as their own.
Some sidenotes. First, children are more likely to embrace the Lord personally if He is presented to them delicately. Fear, guilt, and coercion produce temporary compliance, but permanent rebellion and disdain. Secondly, children are more likely to embrace the Lord if they sense "it works" for their parents. Children are irrational, yet entirely practical; they think in terms of toys and objects. They will evaluate your God, then, like a toy--by how well He works.
Parents, does your relationship with God "work"? Has it made you more pleasant and optimistic? More selfless and generous? More honest? More loving towards your spouse? More humble? Children know when a toy doesn't work.
Train them to elevate Scripture. Saturate your home with verses (Deu 6:6-9). The Spirit will pull your children's eyes to a certain verse at just the right time to create a personal experience. When discussing Scripture, don't preach at them, use personal testimonies (Ps 78:4) and creative parables (v2,3) that arrest their imagination. You'll have plenty of opportunities to discipline with the Word when they test your authority.
Train them to pray and worship daily (Col 4:2). Don't push or harass them; simply place them in the Presence with you and set the example.
Train them to honor all legitimate authority (Ro 13:1-7). Train them to have integrity (1Chr 29:17 NIV, Jer 17:10), not perfection. Train them to give freely (Lk 6:38). Train them to admit fault and failure humbly (Jas 5:16), and to forgive others from the heart (Mt 18:34,35). Follow the Spirit parenting through you.
Tutor in basic life skills.
Many good, even godly, parents stumble here. Godly training is crucial, but it won't cook you dinner, do your laundry, iron your clothes, get you in shape, balance your checkbook, give you good hygiene, or charm you with social skill.
Scripture calls for excellence in basic life skills. Solomon said "ointment and perfume delight the heart" (Pr 27:9 NKJV), praising hygiene that welcomes. He also said, "Let your garments always be white, and let your head lack no oil" (Ecc 9:8), praising clean clothes and good self-presentation. Jesus echoed Solomon, even while fasting (Mt 6:17). Proverbs urges sound money management (Pr 21:20), graceful social skills (Pr 12:18, 15:30), and diligent work (Pr 12:24, 21:5).
Parents are responsible for tutoring their kids in all these. Children well-schooled in this regard have high self-efficacy to manage the housekeeping side of life well.
Have good life skills yourself! Let them help you cook, clean, fold, pay bills. Bring them exercising with you, or do fun things with them that are active. Stop drugging them with sugar and fats and eat healthier around them and with them. Let them see you interact socially and conversate gracefully.
Mothers, tutor your daughters in tasteful beautification; fathers, your sons in handsomeness. Strong life skills are incredibly welcoming, open many doors, and invoke the favor of God and man (1Sam 16:18).
Teach wholesome relationships.
Those who relate with the wise become wise, but those who relate with fools suffer (Pr 13:20). Psalm 101 admonishes the prioritizing of good and godly relationships, while distancing from harmful ones. Paul reminds the Corinthian Christians that bad company corrupts good character (1Cor 15:33). Ecclesiastes 9:18: ...one sinner destroys much good.
Parents have the calling to maintain wholesome company themselves, then educate their children to do the same.
For several years I did youth ministry. The cycle was predictable and frustrating: a young person would catch fire for the Lord, walk with Him for a time, then start deteriorating spiritually via negative relationships.
To be blunt, many Christian parents are flimsy in this area. To not alienate their children, they become invertebrates, spinelessly indulging their kids' destructive "friends" and romantic choices. Let me clarify...after children become independent adults, they are free in God's sight to make their own choices without parental endorsement. However, as long as they are under the parental canopy, parents are under Scriptural orders to sift their kids' relationships for them. Even more so, to educate them thoroughly on the ins and outs of keeping wholesome company.
Educating children in good relational choices has nothing to do with your personal hang-ups, preferences, or expectations, but with Scriptural black-n-whites. In other words, race, nationality, economic status, dress style, or any other superficial quality is completely irrelevant. Forbidding your children to relate on such premises is shallow and elitist--and sinful. Remember how God dealt with Aaron and Miriam for their racism towards Moses' Ethiopian wife (Num 12:1,2)? Don't make their mistake.
Scripture has relationship black-n-whites. This and this alone is what parents are to implement. Let Proverbs 12:26 (NKJV) be a lighthouse: The righteous should choose his friends carefully, for the way of the wicked leads them astray.
Before I list some biblical relational values, understand that most young people will not be "there". The key is to ask yourself and God, Is there a willingness to learn and grow in this young person? We can all sense when a person has seeds of willingness or seeds of rebellion germinating in them. Teach your kids to look for teachability and humility in others, rather than perfect people who do not exist.
Parents and all Christians...the season has come to resurrect the Bible's relational values, and make headway towards a more wholesome relational life.
Scripture defines a friend as someone who.....
.....walks with God (Ps 119:63, 1Sam 23:16).
.....is an intercessor, a faithful pray-er (Job 16:20,21, Dan 2:17,18, 1Sam 23:16).
.....encourages, empowers, and helps you (Ecc 4:9-12, SS 6:1, 2Co 12:19); does not exploit
your weakness like Ahithophel (2Sam 16:15-23, 17:1-23).
.....admires you (1Sam 18:1-4, SS 1:4); does not have a jealous eye like Saul (1Sam 18:9).
.....struggles and suffers with you (Pr 17:17, Jud 11:37, 1Sam 20, Est 4:16); does not dip
out when lack or hardship hits (Pr 19:4,7).
.....gives and serves, even sacrificially (1Sam 18:4, 20:4, Jn 15:13, Ac 24:23, 27:3); is not
stingy (Pr 23:6).
.....is gracious (Pr 22:11), not hot-tempered (22:24, 19:19).
.....overlooks and covers (Pr 17:9); does not nitpick or corrode another's self-image
through negativity (Pr 11:12 NIV).
.....is honest and counseling when it matters (Pr 27:6,9).
.....is open (Ex 33:11, Pr 27:5, Jn 15:15, 2Co 6:11-13).
Tighten the security of their environment.
Children need to feel their living perimeter is secure. Because of their smallness and lack of resources, they sense their own vulnerability. Consequently, their eyes look intently to dad and mom for insulation and safeguard. When they perceive their living environment is secure, they settle emotionally and gain the ability to trust. Ultimately, they transpose this trust onto God, believing He can secure them just as dad and mom did.
Children need to feel safe to develop well. Unsure children turn into unsure adults, anxiously looking about, obsessing that fear and danger loom around every corner.
Do whatever necessary to create security in your child's living environment. An alarm system? Sensory lights? Watchdog? Moving to a new location? Having an emergency action plan? Important phone numbers? Verbal reassurance? Different families will need different solutions, but find them!
Tighten the security of your child's environment, and they will learn to trust in you, and one day, in others and in God. Jerusalem was God's holy city and dwellingplace, yet even it had citadels, watchtowers, ramparts, and high walls (Ps 48:12,13). Why is your child's dwellingplace any different?
Take out a financial or material inheritance for them.
Proverbs 13:22 says, A good man leaves an inheritance for his children's children. Proverbs 19:14 says, Houses and wealth are inherited from parents.
Familial inheritance is something long lost in many contemporary Christian minds. In biblical culture, parents were responsible for accumulating and reserving a material inheritance for their children, even their children's children! This is tough meat to chew for many American Christian parents. Let's look at Scripture.
In Scripture, children labored within the family environment (Gen 30:35, 37:12-14, Lk 15:29). This is where they learned work ethic and responsibility. This is where they "qualified" for their future inheritance. Each child, then, had some type of material inheritance reserved for them (property, houses, wealth, etc.), but it could not be gotten until the proper time--when the child was mature and responsible enough to receive it (Gal 4:1,2).
The prodigal son story highlights receiving an inheritance before time, as does Proverbs 20:21. In contemporary America we have it flipped. Children coast through life until they finish high school or college, then they enter "the real world" and become harshly acquainted with work and responsibility. If we return to Scripture, parents are to "test" their kids all throughout childhood and adolescence, developing work ethic and responsibility in them, qualifying them for a material inheritance to be given at the ideal time.
This inheritance is for one main purpose: to fund and facilitate their life purpose in God. How many destinies would be reached sooner if faithful Christians had adequate funding for destiny expenses? We cannot throw all the blame on "God's timing" or "God's sovereignty". God's order (one aspect of it) is to fund destiny through parental inheritance, and when that order is lost or misunderstood, faithful Christians are delayed and God is must provide in other, PLan B ways (Est 4:14).
Proverbs 13:22 and 19:14 presuppose financial/material prosperity. For, parents cannot take out a financial/material inheritance for their children if they are impoverished or barely surviving. Let me be very clear: I am not a supporter of the greedy, materialistic, hyperprosperity message many are chasing. It is simply Christianized materialism.
Having said that, understand there is a consistent biblical truth that promises a healthy financial bounty for God's people (Deu 8:18, 28:12, Ps 112:3, Pr 3:9,10, 8:18,21, Ecc 2:26, 5:19, Mk 10:29,30, 1Ti 6:17, 3Jn 2). If you do not believe it, pray for it, and strategize for it, how will you ever prosper enough to leave an inheritance for your kids? Start believing, praying, and strategizing. Your signature strengths, talents, and gifts are a good starting point (1Sam 16:18-22). So is giving consistently (Pr 3:9,10).
Transition fully through parental roles.
Finally, just as children evolve into adults, so also parents must transition fully through parental roles and stages.
Role 1: The Controller
This is the "do-don't do" stage of parenting, which covers babyhood, toddlerhood, and childhood. During these years parents essentially "control" everything pertaining to the child. They monitor and micromanage them closely, constantly saving their life!
Role 2: The Authority
This is the "coaching" stage of parenting, covering pre-pubescence and adolescence.
An athletic coach does two things: establishes/enforces the team's playing system (boundaries) and encourages player creativity and autonomy within that system (freedom). So also parents coach their children in this phase. They are to establish the system by setting clear boundaries and defining their authority (curfew times, hang-out locations, friend standards, media allowances, personal health, and so on); and, they are to allow much freedom and flexibility within that system.
This is like shepherding or herding. The shepherd fences in his pasture, setting boundaries the animals cannot exceed. Within those boundaries, though, they can roam and graze as they please. This stage redefines the parental role from total control to general authority, allowing the child to practice life and individuate in safe pasture.
Role 3: The Friend
This is the "co-equal" stage of parenting, and covers adulthood. This is where parents fully recognize--in word, deed, and attitude--the independent adulthood and equal stature of their child. Here they celebrate their child's launch into adultness.
The total control stage of childhood is expired, the general authority stage of adolescence is expired, and now the friend stage is in effect. Many parents extend stages 1 and 2 into their child's adulthood. Doing so invites tension, disorder, even demonic antagonism, as this is not God's order. If parental mistakes are perceived from stages 1 and 2, or an adult-child is perceived to have certain weaknesses and defects, ask God to fix it. Do not revert to former stages. Be humble and make restitution if necessary and possible, but look ahead toward His restoration. Be sure to transition fully.
Treat your spouse with love and honor.
II. Deliver Us From Parenting!
Ever heard prayers not prayed? In countless churches and homes the Holy Spirit oils my ears to hear this unspoken prayer: "Deliver us from parenting!" Maybe I've heard some of you reading this.
In any endeavor, knowledge is the tipping point that moves an experience from painful to pleasant, difficult to doable. I am overwhelmed, truly overcome, by how many people become parents with very little to no parenting know-how. Perhaps the pregnancy was unplanned. Perhaps parenting was foreseen as less complex, or more complex, than in actuality. Perhaps it was presumed upon God that He would do most or all of the parenting miraculously.
Whatever the reason, childrearing has become an ongoing nightmare for many. What was intended to be a divine blessing (Ps 127:3-5) has become an unspoken wish-I-hadn't. No matter how anarchic or melancholy your situation seems, the power of applied Spirit and truth by the heartfelt worshipper is more than enough. Your Titanic can turn around, but there are some parenting laws you will have to honor in fresh and practical ways.
This teaching is not comprehensive, but focuses on the five parenting absolutes and premises that I have found to be most important, yet least honored, among struggling parents.
ABSOLUTE #1: AUTHORITY
Premise: All developing humans crave authority, therefore, authority must be established.
Developing humans (children and adolescents) crave authority because they are incapable of defining reality for themselves. They instinctively need and want an authority--something, anything--to do this defining for them. This "something" is God's Word. Without it, they are left to the worthless philosophies and opinions of this world, and even your own parenting misconceptions.
Human brains are not fully developed until the late teens/early twenties, making perceptions of reality often faulty, and resulting behaviors even faultier. Hence, the child who sticks paper clips in a socket, or the adolescent illusion of invincibility. Though they might never articulate it as such, they are depending completely on a higher authority to literally protect them from themselves.
Deuteronomy 11:18-21 is the famous command about establishing biblical authority and worldview in the home. Verses 19 and 20 tell parents to teach God's Word to their children, to talk about it, and to put up scriptures around the house and property. Then, verse 21 says, your children will enjoy a Promised Land existence. Ephesians 6:4 says the same, to raise children in the training and truth of the Lord, which means, establish a biblical authority and worldview in them.
(NOTE: The human desire for authority also explains the success of political dictators. If a person never matures beyond childhood and adolescent perceptions, they will forever be seeking someone else's authority and definition of reality.)
Application: Establish biblical authority in yourself.
Establishing biblical authority in the home becomes impossible if the parents are mediocre or superficial in their spiritual life. For this reason, the Deuteronomy 11 passage opens with a command to parents (v18): Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads.
In other words, establish it in yourself first. God's Word must become your highest value and strongest habit. Not perfection, but authenticity. You must be spending daily time alone with Him, learning His voice and touch, cooperating with His Spirit to Christen your personality, and cultivating good relationships within the body of Christ (church family). If you want your kids to boycott and scoff at God's way, then impose biblical authority without a respectable spiritual life yourself. Even Jesus despised such hypocrisy (Mt 23:3).
Application: Establish biblical authority through storytelling.
In some cases, storytelling is superior to direct teaching. Hence, Jesus' use of parables, illustrations, and short narratives. Parents are highly tempted to patronize and nag. A captive audience seems to bring this out in most people. In some cases, nagging is a spirit (Ac 16:16-18). Nagging led to Samson's downfall twice (Jud 14:16-20, 16:16-21). Resist the urge, wherever it comes from. Resort instead to interesting short stories from Scripture. Rediscover subtlety. Do not go straight up, but circle around behind them (2Sam 5:23).
Application: Establish biblical authority through personal testimonies.
Psalm 78:4 tells parents to use personal testimonies, showing their children "the praiseworthy deeds of the LORD, his power, and the wonders he has done." Isaiah 38:19 also. Once again, this assumes parents have ongoing testimonies to tell! In other words, only those parents with a living, growing, daily experience with God will have regular reports of His personal activity. And, sharing them doesn't have to be a dramatic event (although it can be). It simply has to be timely, real, and non-pushy.
Application: Establish biblical authority through direct teaching.
Deuteronomy 11:19 commands parents to directly teach God's Word to their children. This should be set times of explanation and exhortation with open Scripture.
Every father is the pastor, teacher, and prophet of his home (Ps 78:3,5). He does not have to have "the gift of teaching" because his God-given position pre-graces him with a measure of teaching ability. He does not have to be a Billy Graham. He should not teach "over their heads" or talk down at them. He should not make it an awkward mini-crusade. He must not use it as an opportunity to vent his frustrations or soapboxes.
He must communicate with patience, humility, and winsomeness, and he must teach a balanced diet from all the Scriptures (Ac 20:27). Most importantly, he must teach from his own life, verifying his own growth and experiences with pertinent scriptures. If dad is not present or willing to do this, the mother must, just as Timothy's mother and grandmother did with him (2Ti 1:5). If neither father nor mother, the closest willing guardian must. Somebody must have the Lord's testimony for the next generation.
ABSOLUTE #2: MODELING
Premise: All developing humans instinctively conform to a model, therefore, an excellent model must be presented.
Modeling is one of the two greatest leverage points in all parenting (intimacy the other, see #5). You've heard the saying, "More is caught than taught." Just as we are prewired to want a definer of reality (authority), we are likewise prewired to conform to a model.
We instinctively notice and duplicate the example before us. We don't even have to try, it just happens on some deeper biological and spiritual level (over 75% of what we gather from others is nonverbal). Generational sins and blessings work by modeling (Eze 18, especially v2). Parents have children "in their own image" (Gen 5:3).
Children do not embrace the spoken values of their parents, they embrace the modeled ones. Usually on subconscious levels, they insightfully detect what their parents really value, regardless of what they say. For example, a family can go to church every Sunday and Wednesday, but what dad watches on TV every night models what he really values. Or, a house can be littered with Christian paraphernalia, but it's the quick comments and unscreened reactions that betray what mom really values. All the church services and Christian picture frames in the world can't negate those moments of raw self-revelation to your children.
The solution? Become yourself what you want your children to become. Like wolves following the alpha dog, they will sniff out and mimic the most authentic You.
The scene was unforgettable. While in Cancun recently, a handsome husband and father was beckoned by several intoxicated women to take a picture. Happily, and with his wife watching, he dove into the sea of dazed women and relished the moment. Just as the picture was about to be taken, the Spirit turned my head and fixed my gaze on a young boy in the pool, of maybe eleven or twelve years old. He stopped playing water football with his friend and watched closely as the man took the picture. He observed the scene almost scientifically. I later discovered it was his son.
No matter how many times Dad says "I love you" to Mom, or how much bacon he brings home, or how many anniversary gifts he buys, Little Man (his son) has already witnessed a powerfully negative model of masculinity. What a crucial moment! And right before puberty. What values could have been modeled if he politely declined the pic and grabbed his wife, held her tight and kissed her lips?
Application: Make a modeling list.
Get an index card and list the seven greatest values you want to model for your children. Certainly number one should be a respectable and growing relationship with God. Keep the list in your Bible, read and pray through it daily or weekly. Ask the Spirit to energize you to successfully model it.
Application: Capitalize on key moments to model.
Pounce on golden opportunities to convey your values, like the father at the pool or a child wounded from peer rejection. Use common sense and be keen on moments to model your values list.
ABSOLUTE #3: CONSISTENCY
Premise: All developing humans have the capacity to habitutate, therefore, consistency will produce right habits.
Habituation means the formation of habit. You know habit can be a best friend or worst enemy! Therefore, habituation must be used to form good and godly habits in your kids, habits they cannot form themselves. This will require consistency. Dogs are potty trained through repetition, children learn the alphabet through repetition, and developing humans learn godly habits through repetition.
Ephesians 6:4 says to train, or habituate, your children in God's way. This is because genuine, heartfelt godliness cannot be imposed or forced (1Sam 8:1-5). The idea, then, is that parents are to habituate godly impulses in their children, in the hopes and prayers that one day they will embrace it in their heart as their own.
Note the difference in habit and heart. Parents cannot do the heart part. Only the Holy Spirit and the child's own freewill can. By habituating godly impulses in your children, though, you are making it much easier for them to one day embrace God and His ways as their own.
Application: Correlate habits with values.
On the same index card as your values list, jot down two habits that correlate with each value. For example, say humility is on your list. Two related habits might be, the ability to apologize quickly and sincerely, and, the ability to be honest about both strengths and weaknesses.
Again, read and pray through this card every day or week. The more you have it in your mind the more it will resurface by the Spirit at relevant moments. Remember, you cannot force their heart to embrace your values, but you can habituate their mind and impulses, making it much easier for them to one day embrace as their own.
Application: Stay consistent.
Strangely, dogs are potty trained with the same mechanism that humans form habits. The less consistent you are with your pup, the slower he will learn, and the more messes you will have to clean up. Stay consistent, stay on top of habituation, and the quicker your child's character will be potty trained, saving you many messes later.
ABSOLUTE #4: SECURITY
Premise: All developing humans crave security, therefore, security must be present, obvious, and felt.
Developing humans need to focus on just that--developing--and not surviving. If children/teens sense ongoing danger or instability in their primary environment (home), the brain goes into survival mode and focuses the nervous system on surviving.
The result? They don't develop. Energies and processes shift away from spiritual, emotional, mental, and social development, and survival becomes all that matters. Consequently, they anxiously move about from relationship to relationship, job to job, place to place, fad to fad, searching nervously for that elusive feeling of security and "I'm okay".
Application: Secure the perimeter.
Their living environment. Get a tough guard dog, an alarm system, move to a safer place (Isa 32:18), separate from an abusive spouse, don't let them watch scary movies, cleanse the house of frightening images (certain comic books, toys, pictures, etc), set night lights in their room and around the house. Do absolutely whatever you have to do to secure their primary environment, releasing them to focus 100% on your modeling and messages.
Application: Secure the finances.
It does not matter whether you're a single mom or two-income family, the Bible promises the Christian parent (and all Christians) an inheritance of financial more-than-enough. This is not that materialistic, hyperprosperity message, but the basic biblical truth that Christians are supernaturally graced to abound in every area of life (2Co 9:8-11, 3Jn 2).
Scripture says godly parents are to leave a financial/material inheritance for their children's children (Pr 13:22, Ps 112:1-3). How can you do this unless you abound financially? And how can you abound financially if you do not believe God's economic promise? He cannot lie! Does He speak and then not act? Does He promise and not fulfill? Numbers 23:19.
Secure the finances so your children feel well-provided for. How will they trust Jehovah-Jireh if they cannot trust Parent-Jireh? Ask the Lord and think deeply about how you can financially increase (Deu 8:18). Polish your resume and send it out in seven or eight directions (Ecc 11:1,2). Seek work that uses your natural, God-given strengths and gifts (Ecc 5:18,19, Eph 2:10). Give regularly to your church family and the poor (2Co 9:6,7, Pr 11:25).
Application: Secure their emotions.
This means direct comfort and reassurance through words and affection. This should happen consistently and especially when they need it most. If you as a parent have affection issues, you must deal with it and change through the Spirit. Your child needs emotionally comfortable and comforting parents, lest they be deprived and continue the generational sin of disaffection and coldness. Proverbs 27:5: Better is open rebuke than hidden love.
The younger they are the less they can emotionally stabilize themselves. You will have to do it for them until they establish an independent adulthood or show signs of consistently doing it themselves. Children who grow up without ongoing comfort and reassurance often end up seeking such emotional stability through illegitimate sources, such as substance abuse or codependent relationships or sexual addictions. They seek things that make them feel "okay", comforted and reassured, even if those things will sabotage them in another season.
ABSOLUTE #5: INTIMACY
Premise: All developing humans crave intimacy, therefore, emotional warmth, closeness, and relationship must happen.
Intimacy is one of the two greatest leverage points in all parenting (modeling the other, see #2). What can be more powerful than authentic relationship? Parenting is not just a coaching endeavor--you are cultivating a lifelong friendship with this eventual adult. Parents must think in terms of this bigger picture. Your adult friendship with your kids will be determined largely by how warm the intimacy was in the developmental years. Do you want a suspicious, distant, superficial, bitter relationship down the road?
Application: Have fun.
Nurture warmth through fun. Find times to simply enjoy life with them, planned and spontaneous. Yes, you are their coach, no, you are not one-dimensional. Being able to truly laugh and play helps legitimize your authority and discipline, showing your three-dimensional, robust personhood. If they only taste the mentor side of you, they will develop likewise--overly coachy and serious. Who likes being around that?
Proverbs 15:15: ...the cheerful heart has a continual feast. Proverbs 15:30: A cheerful look brings joy to the heart... Proverbs 17:22: A cheerful heart is good medicine... Galatians 5:22: But the fruit of the Spirit is...joy... Php 4:4: Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!
Application: Be emotionally open and comfortable.
People who are significantly uncomfortable with their feelings, or those of others, are not yet whole or mature themselves. Jesus, the prototypical human, was super-comfortable with emotions. He wept publicly (Jn 11:35), rejoiced publicly (Lk 10:21), was affectionate (Jn 21:20), and did not suppress legitimate anger (Jn 2:14-17). Solomon said it is not good to hide love (Pr 27:5).
Parents (especially fathers), bringing home the bacon is not enough. Your children need your heart and intimate expressions flowing warmth. Don't know how to do this? Learn! Read books, talk to your pastor, observe others, repent, pray for help.
One of the saddest things to see is Christian folk not free to express themselves emotionally. Pray for healing and transformation, and move out towards emotional openness. Start talking more from the heart, not the head. Get past the weather, school, finances, goals, sports, plans, and events, and talk more from the "gut" about feelings, hopes, fears, joys, reactions, and what really matters to the heart.
Ever heard prayers not prayed? In countless churches and homes the Holy Spirit oils my ears to hear this unspoken prayer: "Deliver us from parenting!" Maybe I've heard some of you reading this.
II. The Emasculation of Our Sons (Part 1)
Who can adequately enunciate the importance of the father-son relationship? We sigh with Paul, who is equal to such a task? But we must try, for many of our men are still without strength. And as such, our families, our churches, and the administration of Christ's kingdom subsist in a weaker state.
But God's splendor of strength has not departed from men. The anabolic properties of testosterone in male bodies are a subtle parable illustrating this. Yet, many males have been emasculated from boyhood, their rise into the fullness of manhood blocked or retarded by their father situation. For this reason the Holy Spirit is intent on a reconfiguration, and reversing every negative effect of the emasculation of our sons.
"My father situation does not affect me."
Even amidst gushing geysers of evidence, many Christians have brazenly convinced themselves their relationship with their father, or lack of, did/does not affect them. It is necessary to disassemble this common bulwark of self-defense.
Lack of Understanding
Some hold this belief innocently. They simply do not understand yet how their father situation configured their personality and life. They are not deliberately maintaining a defense mechanism, they simply lack the hindsight and insight to bridge past and present. Hosea 4:6: My people are destroyed from lack of knowledge.
Proverbs 20:5 says, The purposes of a person's heart are deep waters, but one who has insight draws them out.
Some have father-related emotions and experiences submerged too deeply in their subconscious waters. Deeply submerged issues give us an "out of sight, out of mind" amnesia-like reality. The truth is, such issues affect us enormously until they are drawn out, like Solomon said.
Some people know their father situation has configured them wrongly. However, they will not face it or discuss it. Instead, they superficially and temporarily persuade themselves to think otherwise. Their father issues are not submerged at the deepest depths, nor are they fully conscious either; they are somewhere in between. These people are often at the tipping point of illumination and healing.
God, my Father
In a spiritualized form of denial, some Christians claim God has entirely replaced their earthly father. Most definitely, God is Father to the fatherless, and He will, at times, replace a person's earthly father when necessary (Ps 68:5, Hos 11:1-4). I have seen this truth in action.
However, some are using this concept as a diversion to not address certain father wounds and disfigurements. If a person continues to have relational problems with males, especially males in authority or romantic partners, the father issues still exist. God's replacement of an incapable earthly father is not a free pass on having to reconfigure what's been disfigured. Rather, Hosea 11:1-4 indicates God refathers, or reconfigures, us. We will discuss this in Part 2.
Our father situation was the single most configuring earthly experience, the mother situation being second. We were configured in ways both good and bad, righteous and sinful, healthy and harmful. If we are not 100% open to grasping this, we will forever tumble into familiar ditches and forever fail to capitalize on the good. To the emasculated sons, we will forever remain weak, stuck in the frailties and hesitations of boyhood.
The Configuring Power of a Father
Configuration is the perfect word for this teaching. To configure means "to set up, design, or arrange the parts of something for a specific purpose". It is derived from the 14th century Latin word configurare, which means "fashion after a pattern".
How appropriate. This is exactly what the Creator endowed fathers to do—fashion their children after a pattern, Jesus Christ. They are to "set up, design, and arrange the parts" of their lives for a specific purpose, again Jesus Christ. God endowed every father with this configuring power. Hence, the father situation can be so incredibly glorious or so ghastly destructive.
The Power to Configure...
...physical health and body image. In a study of 6,500 children from the ADDHEALTH database, father closeness was correlated with the number of a child's friends who smoke, drink, and smoke marijuana. Father closeness was also correlated with a child's own use of alcohol, cigarettes, and hard drugs.
Another study analyzed the dietary intake and physical activity of parents and their daughters over a two-year period and found this: (1) daughter's BMI (Body Mass Index) was predicted by the father's diets and enjoyment of physical activity, and, (2) as the father's BMI rose, so did their daughter's.
...intellectual aptitude. Father involvement in schools is associated with a higher likelihood of A-students. This is true for biological fathers, stepfathers, and single-parent fathers. Students living in father-absent homes are twice as likely to repeat a grade, while 10% of children living with both parents have ever repeated a grade, compared to 20% of children in stepfather families and 18% in mother-only families.
...emotional-mental soundness. Of the 228 students studied, those from single-parent families reported higher scores on delinquency and aggression tests when compared to boys from two-parent households.
...sexuality. Researchers using a pool from the U.S. and New Zealand found weighty evidence that father absence has an effect on early sexual activity and teenage pregnancy. Teens without fathers were twice as likely to be involved in early sexual activity and seven times more likely to get pregnant.
...societal civility. Adolescents, particularly boys, in single-parent families were at higher risk of status, property, and person delinquencies. A study of INTERPOL crime statistics of 39 countries found that single parenthood ratios were strongly correlated with violent crimes. A 2002 Department of Justice survey of 7,000 prison inmates revealed that 39% of them lived in mother-only households and 20% experienced a father in prison or jail.
...financial mindsets and capabilities. A child with a nonresident father is 54% more likely to be poorer than his or her father. Children in father-absent homes are five times more likely to be poor. In 2002, 7.8% of children in married-couple families were living in poverty, compared to 38.4% of children in female-householder families.
...relationships, personal and professional. Father presence, absence, or quality has been consistently linked to a person's choice in friendships, romantic and sexual tendencies, likelihood of marital success or failure, perceptions and interactions with authority and political leaders, and vocational relationships and outcomes.
(Source: all statistics from www.fatherhood.org )
The power of a father to configure his child is appalling. One has to wonder why God would delegate such power, why He would entrust such soft clay to hands that could so easily malfigure it. Or emasculate it.
Emasculation, in its original and literal sense, means the removal of the testicles of a male. This was a common practice throughout history, most often applied to the caretakers of harems, servants of rulers or wealthy men, and male prostitutes. The practice exists today in isolated settings.
The apostle Paul, in a moment of heated sarcasm against legalistic circumcision opponents, referred to emasculation. Galatians 5:12: As for those agitators, I wish they would go the whole way and emasculate themselves!
As a reproductive organ, the male testes produce spermatozoa—the power to create a new human. As an endocrinal organ, they produce testosterone—the hormone of muscularity, strength, and aggression. The emasculation of a boy or man, then, canceled his threat entirely to the man that owned him. He was of no sexual or combative consequence. He became a eunuch or male prostitute to the profit of his owner.
The Emasculation of Our Sons
What is done externally can also be done internally. The soul of a boy can be emasculated by his father. He can be robbed of masculine blueprint and imprint. He can possess questions where "manswers" should be. When the transference of the male spirit from father to son does not happen or happen well, sons are emasculated. Their physical organ might be present and functional, but their soul is not.
God's Word shows us four types of fathers that produce weakened or emasculated sons: (1) The Absent Father, (2) The Passive Father, (3) The Overwhelming Father, and (4) The Hedonistic Father.
Preview of Part 2
In Part 2, we will look at four types of fathers who weaken their sons, and finish with Scripture's ideal father and God's refathering of emasculated sons.
III. The Emasculation of Our Sons (Part 2)
(1) THE ABSENT FATHER: Abraham
Emasculated son: Ishmael
Emasculation type: no strength to relate and socialize peacefully
The charcoal stain in Abraham's story pertains to Ishmael, his son by Sarah's slavewoman, Hagar (Gen 16).
While Ishmael was still a child, God told Abraham to send both him and his mother away (21:8-13). He obeys. However, his application of the command was not very wise or conscientious or fatherly.
Abraham sent them off with only a bottle of Dasani and a few Triscuits (v14). He sent them off alone, with no protection or servants. And most importantly, He sent Ishmael away without a surrogate father-figure. Abraham easily could have supplied all these and more from his wealth—and still obeyed God's command. But he did not.
One has to wonder why Abraham was so seemingly uncaring. Was he that insensitive? That injudicious? That nearsighted? We will never know.
Though he was to be absent physically from Ishmael, he did not have to be absent in terms of provision, protection, servants, and a substitute father. He could have done what Rehoboam did in 2Chronicles 11:23. He could have set him up for the remainder of his childhood, maybe even life. But he did not.
Apparently Abraham learned his lesson. Genesis 25:6 says this: But while he was still living, he gave gifts to the sons of his concubines and sent them away from his son Isaac to the land of the east.
Consequently, Ishmael was emasculated, completely broken in his ability to relate with other people. The Angel foresaw all this, declaring in Genesis 16:11,12:
The angel of the LORD also said to her: "You are now pregnant and you will give birth to a son. You shall name him Ishmael, for the LORD has heard of your misery. He will be a wild donkey of a man; his hand will be against everyone and everyone's hand against him, and he will live in hostility toward all his brothers."
The Angel's word was not an irreversible pronouncement of doom. If Ishmael or any Ishmaelite would love Jehovah, they would receive a new identity and future in Him. They would not be bound to the Angel's prognostication. However, those who went their own way would automatically incline to the emasculated, hostile identity.
Ishmael's father situation created in him incessant waves of relational and social anxiety, resulting in his inability to coexist peacefully with others. Some of our kingdom men have also been thus emasculated. Their father situation has left them with little to no strength for peaceful relationships.
(2) THE PASSIVE FATHER: Eli
Emasculated sons: Hophni and Phineas
Emasculation type: no strength to manage physical needs
Eli, the head priest during Samuel's childhood, had two sons, Hophni and Phineas (also priests). 1Samuel 2:12-25 records their behavioral excesses that infuriated God.
Their first habit of defiance was not administrating the temple offerings according to Mosaic prescriptions, and, exploiting those offerings to eat gluttonously. God says to Eli through a prophet in 2:29:
Why do you scorn my sacrifice and offering that I prescribed for my dwelling? Why do you honor your sons more than me by fattening yourselves on the choice parts of every offering...?
Even Eli was involved in this priestly sloppiness and gluttony. He was included in the rebuke and 4:18 says he was a "heavy" man.
The sons' second sin was sexual in nature. 2:22 says “they slept with the women who served at the entrance to the tent of meeting”.
Finally God intervenes and gives young Samuel His judgment of Eli's fatherhood. 3:13 tells us (underline added): For I told him that I would judge his family forever because of the sin he knew about; his sons blasphemed God, and he failed to restrain them.
As a father, Eli was present but passive. He did not protect Hophni and Phineas with authority and discipline (Pr 19:18, 23:13). He did not outline thick demarcation lines for their behaviors. He did not say "No" when No was appropriate. Like David failing to punish Amnon for raping Tamar (2Sam 13:1-22), Eli failed to chasten his sons and so became an accomplice to their ruin. In a sad confession, God said to the passive father (2:29): ...you honor your sons more than me...
Hophni & Phineas’ Emasculation; Application
Hophni and Phineas were therefore emasculated, weak and powerless to their physical need for food and sex. They lacked the strength to fulfill these needs in legitimate contexts and measures.
Some of our kingdom men have also been thus emasculated. A passive father situation has left them passive to physical urges. Like Hophni and Phineas, they lack the strength to fulfill these needs in biblically-legitimate contexts and measures.
(3) THE OVERWHELMING FATHER: Saul
Emasculated son: Jonathan
Emasculation type: no strength to defect
King Saul shows us the overwhelming father. His overbearing tendencies made life very difficult for his son Jonathan. In fact, it emasculated his resolve to do what was best for himself and his future.
Overwhelming fathers/father-figures are the opposite of passive ones. Typically, they are the superachievers, micromanagers, critics, and time-bombs. In extreme cases, they are the violent.
They often seek to live and achieve vicariously through their children, especially their sons. In doing so, they squash their God-given personality and calling, snuffing out or cooling their predesigned passions. Independence, critical thinking, and decision-making confidence all remain dwarfed.
They do this by engulfing their son's existence into themselves, creating a duct tape-like codependency. They maintain a powerful, father-son umbilical cord.
Jonathan was not ignorant to all this. He understood Saul's destructive false fathering. He witnessed his spiraling evil. He knew God's anointing had left him. He should have defected to David permanently like so many other emasculated men did.
Jonathan never should have returned to his father's house upon his attempted murder of David—multiple attempts (1Sam 18:10,11, 19:1, 23:15, 24:14,15). He never should have tolerated his father calling his mother a "rebellious and perverse woman" (20:30)—when she was not. As if this wasn’t enough, he should have bolted fast and furious when Saul visited the witch at Endor (ch28).
But he did not. He stuck with dad. In doing so, he forfeited his own manhood and a delightful future in David's administration. And he forfeited his own life (31:2).
We often think of David needing Jonathan, but Jonathan needed David more. God gave him every opportunity to flee his father: a best friend, a family of brothers (22:1,2), a promise of rulership beside David (23:16,17). What more could God have done? Jonathan could've and should've defected to his best friend. He should have said and done with David exactly as Ruth did with Naomi. Ruth 1:16,17:
But Ruth replied, "Don't urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried. May the LORD deal with me, be it ever so severely, if even death separates you and me."
Jonathan possessed insufficient resolve to defect from a death-filled father and create a new life under David's canopy. Some of our kingdom men have also been thus emasculated. An overwhelming father situation has weakened them to do what is best for themselves. They lack the strength to defect from his dominance and the dominance of others like him.
(4) THE HEDONISTIC FATHER: Solomon
Emasculated son: Rehoboam
Emasculation type: no strength to moderate ambitions and wealth
The wisest father in human history was also the most hedonistic: King Solomon. Confusing, I know. His foremost son and heir to the throne, Rehoboam, was emasculated for it.
Hedonistic fathers are teenage boys mentally. They are riddled with excesses in alcohol, substances, money and materialism, ambition and recognition, sex and pornography, or anything else that spoils their "youthful lusts" (2Ti 2:22). These are the dads that drink beer with their underage sons, applaud their sexual conquests, teach them to swindle and scheme, and encourage them to grab for power. If not directly, then indirectly through modeling or subcommunication.
King Solomon had a bout with hedonism (Ecc 2:10). Financially, his disproportionate taxation and labor policy was responsible for the colossal wealth of his administration (1Ki 12:3,4). His son and heir, Rehoboam, had the opportunity to moderate his father's materialism. He could have lightened the tax and labor load of the people, but he did not.
Rehoboam, foolishly, chose to take his father's materialism to new levels. He told the people, "My father made your yoke heavy; I will make it even heavier. My father scourged you with whips; I will scourge you with scorpions" (v14).
Rehoboam’s Emasculation; Application
Rehoboam incurred yet another form of emasculation, one that lacks the strength to moderate ambitions and wealth. Some of our kingdom men have also been thus emasculated. A hedonistic father situation has left them without strength to moderate ambitions and wealth. Many of today's ostentatious hyperprosperity preachers are emasculated sons in the spirit of Rehoboam.
THE IDEAL FATHER: Jesus
Emasculated sons: none; only sons of strength and glory
Isaiah 9:6: For to us a child is born, to us a son is given...And he will be called...Everlasting Father...
God, who is never ambushed, provided the ideal father for every emasculated son: Jesus. Scripture says God the Father gives gifts of children to God the Son, shifting Him into the Everlasting Father of Isaiah 9:6.
Hebrews 2:13: And again he says, "Here am I, and the children God has given me." John 6:37,39: All those the Father gives me will come to me...And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all those he has given me...
The Father loves to give emasculated sons to the Son. As a proud grandfather per se, He loves watching Jesus beget as He was begotten!
Sons of Glory
Hebrews 2:10: In bringing many sons and daughters to glory...
Jesus is bringing all His sons and daughters to glory, but that work is especially good news for emasculated sons. What does this mean, to become a son of glory?
Sons of Eternal Glory
First, it means we are being prepared and perfected to be sons of eternal glory. 2Corinthians 4:17 (underline added): For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 2Timothy 2:10 (underline added): Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they too may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus, with eternal glory.
Our ever-maturing Christlikeness is accomplishing for us an equivalent degree of glorification in the new heavens and new earth. This will be our reward for earthly faithfulness (Mt 16:27, Rev 11:18, 21:12). Scripture says, however, this glorification is somewhat of a mystery. It is not yet revealed exactly what it will be like, only that it will resemble Christ's glorified state (1Jn 3:2).
Sons of Earthly Glory
Secondly, and more relevant to our topic, it means we are being strengthened to become sons of earthly glory (2Co 3:18).
God's undisputed highest purpose is to fill the earth with His glory, as Heaven is (Num 14:21, Ps 72:19, Hab 2:14, Jn 17:4,5). But how will He accomplish this if He is spirit and earth is material? Through compliant sons carrying and manifesting that glory through their material bodies and earthly lives (2Co 4:7). He is preparing us for an eternal glory, but He is strengthening us now for an earthly glory.
Sons of strength = sons of glory Becoming a son of earthly glory means becoming a son of strength (divine strength). Notice in Scripture how often strength and glory hold hands.
Genesis 49:3: Reuben, you are my firstborn, my might, the first sign of my strength, excelling in honor... 1Chronicles 16:28: ...ascribe to the LORD glory and strength. Psalm 29:1: ...you heavenly beings, ascribe to the LORD glory and strength. Psalm 89:17 (NKJV): For You are the glory of their strength... Proverbs 20:29: The glory of young men is their strength...
Paul and Peter directly mention the strengthening of sons as a prerequisite for God's earthly glory through them. Romans 4:20 (underline added): Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God.
God's glory did not permeate Abraham until he was strengthened.
1Peter 4:11 (underline added): ...If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.
Parallel to Paul, Peter says the praise of His glory cannot happen unless we are first strengthened by Him.
Sons of weakness = sons of dishonor On the opposite end, sons of weakness cannot be sons of their father's glory. Jether, Gideon's oldest son, could not be a son of glory because he lacked the strength to kill Zebah and Zalmunna (Jud 8:20,21). Reuben, Jacob's firstborn son, could not be a son of glory because he lacked the strength to manage his sexual desire (Gen 35:22, 49:3,4, 1Chr 5:1). These natural examples reflect a spiritual truth: only sons of strength are sons of glory.
And so Jesus, our Everlasting Father, refathers and reconfigures every emasculated son into a son of strength, and thus, a son of glory. Here's how He does it.
The Refathering & Reconfiguration of Emasculated Sons
The book of Hosea contains perhaps the most important refathering scripture in all the Bible. Please read the following verses carefully. The illustrations are moving. Hosea 11:1-4 (NIV):
"When Israel was a child, I loved him, and out of Egypt I called my son. But the more they were called, the more they went away from me. They sacrificed to the Baals and they burned incense to images. It was I who taught Ephraim to walk, taking them by the arms; but they did not realize it was I who healed them. I led them with cords of human kindness, with ties of love. To them I was like one who lifts a little child to the cheek, and I bent down to feed them."
The Call to Leave Emasculation
v1: "When Israel was a child, I loved him, and out of Egypt I called my son."
The Lord establishes Himself as Father and ReFather. Just as He called His son, Israel, out of Egypt's slavery, so also He calls every weakened son out of his emasculation. Expect this call. The season will come when Jesus will command you to face, fight, and be freed from your father wounds and disfigurements.
Struggling, Relapsing, & Purging
v2: "But the more they were called, the more they went away from me. They sacrificed to the Baals and they burned incense to images."
The Lord emphasizes Israel's dependence on idols—alternate sources of strength—even after hearing the call repeatedly. Nonetheless, He persists in His call and sanctification to free His people permanently.
Jesus understands the unique struggles and relapses of emasculated sons. He knows they need more than a Father, they also need a Purifier. Therefore, He will be to them the launderer of Malachi 3:2,3: ...For he will be like a refiner's fire or a launderer's soap. He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver...
To break this dependence on idols (alternate sources of strength), the Lord will inspire brokenness, godly sorrow, and repentance in you concerning those idols. He will ordain or permit difficult seasons to detox your psycho-emotional root system (Pr 20:30).
Learning to Walk with a Father
v3: "It was I who taught Ephraim to walk, taking them by the arms; but they did not realize it was I who healed them."
In a moving emotional picture, the Lord says He taught Israel to walk by taking them by the arms. This scripture always tugs my tears. So beautiful and tender of Him.
Like Israel, emasculated sons will also go through wilderness periods of learning to walk with God as Father. They may know Him in some of His other attributes, but until they learn to walk with Him daily as Father they will remain weak and needy of idols.
Jesus will teach you to walk where you've crawled, stumbled, or had no strength to put a foot forward. He will hold your arms, but you have to raise them. You raise your arms by spending time daily in private worship and prayer. Stop daydreaming about idols, stop settling for Christian activities, stop being a busybody, stop chasing this person and that. Slow down and raise your arms...invisible hands will grab them and show you how to walk.
Healing While Walking
v3: "...but they did not realize it was I who healed them."
Most of your father wounds will heal simply as you walk daily with Jesus as Father. As Israel walked with Him, periods of time went by and they did not even realize God healed them!
Some father wounds must be healed through dramatic measures, but this is not the refathering norm. Realize what God is saying here in Hosea 11:3; the majority will be healed as you simply walk with your Father daily. Luke 17:14 says the lepers were healed as they walked.
Led by Gentleness
v4: "I led them with cords of human kindness, with ties of love..."
The Lord says He led Israel with "cords of kindness" and "ties of love". He is perplexingly gentle, when those very same hands could crush mountains into fine powder.
Emasculated sons have a deep drawing to domineering people. They misinterpret their dominance as strength, which is what they lack and want. But Jesus refathers us through unspeakable kindness, empathy, and bearhug love. He can be found in the Spirit's tender whispers during Bible study, in the Dove's gentle landing on our shoulders during emotional crises, on that accepting breast that John cuddled upon. Emasculated sons need deep mercy, no matter how brawny, charming, or successful their exterior markets.
Appropriately then, a few chapters later Hosea says this (Hos 14:3 NKJV): "...For in You the fatherless finds mercy."
Cheek-to-Cheek Affirmation & Personal Feeding
v4: "...To them I was like one who lifts a little child to the cheek, and I bent down to feed them."
Finally, the Lord says He "lifts" us to His cheek and "bends down" to feed us. He lifts us by affirming what we can be through Him. He swells our self-worth by bringing us cheek to cheek, by showing us how our face can reflect the glory on His face (2Co 4:6). In other words, He shows us our potential to be a son of glory!
He bends down to feed us where we're at personally, in ways only we can fully understand and appreciate. Such conscientious interest from Jesus strengthens us greatly. This is why emasculated sons need to become married to God's Word. Prayerful Bible study is the primary way He feeds us, and without regular feeding, we remain hungry, undernourished, and weak—emasculated.
Male Spiritual Leaders & Father-figures
Hosea 12:13: The LORD used a prophet to bring Israel up from Egypt, by a prophet he cared for him.
Paul says the ascended Christ gave gifts to humanity, and those gifts were/are the New Testament church's most empowered spiritual leaders (Eph 4:7-11). He goes on to say these leaders are responsible for several tasks, one of them being to develop the church, its individuals and corporate community, into "a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; that we should no longer be children" (v13,14).
After relationship with Jesus, an emasculated son's most important connection is with male spiritual leaders and father-figures. Certain father issues can only be healed and reconfigured in this tangible, visible, and audible human context.
As Hosea noticed, "The Lord used a prophet to bring Israel up from Egypt, by a prophet he cared for him." Are there male spiritual leaders and father-figures near you that embody the refathering spirit? If so, connect with and receive from them in whatever ways possible.