Have you ever felt like a freak? Completely abnormal? Go to http://mca.byoaudio.com/files/media/Verge_Part_1.mp3 or subscribe to the “Merge Ministries” podcast on iTunes.com and listen to my October 21, 2009 message on “Freak” to hear some of my thoughts on the subject.
I would highly recommend John Rosemond’s “The Well-Behaved Child: Discipline that Really Works!” I was fortunate enough to receive a copy in a special pre-release. You can purchase a copy for under $17 at Amazon.com (http://www.amazon.com/Well-Behaved-Child-Discipline-Really-Works/dp/0785229043/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1255401512&sr=8-3) or directly from Thomas Nelson Publishers at http://www.thomasnelson.com/consumer/product_detail.asp?sku=0785229043&title=The_Well-Behaved_Child.
The author defines “discipline” as “the process by which you transform your child into a disciple” (Rosemond, 23). The book aims to sharpen parent-leaders who raise children who trust them, respect them, obey them, and who are loyal to them (23). For that to take place, parents have the serious task of leading their homes as they follow Christ. With dependency upon the Spirit of God and the wisdom of the Scriptures, parents are to make decisions, cast vision, give instruction, and share inspiration (28). No easy task – but well worth the work.
Take a moment to reflect on the words of King Solomon which read, “Train up a child in the way he should grow; even when he is old he will not depart from it” (Proverbs 22:6, ESV). Rosemond makes the claim that the emphasis of this verse is not so much a promise to children as much as a commission for parents – a commission to lead. He reminds us that our call as parents is not so much to raise up men and women who do certain things, such as grow up to become businesspeople, professional athletes, artists, husbands, graduates, or celebrities; as much as it is to become somebody – such as to be known as “honest, compassionate, charitable, thrifty, well-mannered, responsible, caring, and loving” (Rosemond, 197). Integrity is so much more important than accomplishment. I know we believe that but do we actually parent that way? With this in mind, would we say the same things? Discipline the same away? Spend our time and money on the same things? Have the same values and priorities? Go, and lead your home.
Official Description: A parenting workshop in a book! The biggest frustration felt by today’s parents is in the area of discipline. Family psychologist, best-selling author, and parenting expert John Rosemond uses his thirty-six years of professional experience working with families to develop the quintessential “how to” book for parents. Rosemond’s step-by-step program, based on biblical principles, traditional parenting approaches, and common sense, covers a wide range of discipline problems applicable to children from toddler to teen. Sections include topics such as essential discipline principles, essential discipline tools, perplexing problems and simple solutions, not your everyday problems, and general questions and answers (troubleshooting). Filled with real-life examples that anyone who’s ever been around children can relate to, this book is sure to be one of the most valuable, helpful resources parents have ever stumbled across.
Author Biography: John Rosemond is one of America’s most widely read parenting experts. A family psychologist, he has been a featured guest on Focus on the Family and interviewed on major television talk shows including Good Morning America, 20/20, The Today Show, Politically Incorrect, The O’Reilly Factor, and The View. John has on average given more than two hundred talks to parent and professional audiences each year. His weekly syndicated newspaper column appears in more than two hundred newspapers and major dailies reaching an estimated 20 million readers every week. Author of thirteen previous books on parenting and family issues, for ten years John was the featured parenting columnist for Better Homes and Gardens and wrote the family counselor column for the United Airlines magazine Hemispheres. John and Willie have been married for forty-one years. They have two adult children and seven grandchildren. Visit the official John Rosemond web site at http://www.rosemond.com/.
I would reluctantly recommend John Bevere’s “Extraordinary: The Life You’re Meant to Love.” I was fortunate enough to receive two copies in a special pre-release (I already gave a book to one of our interns). You can purchase a copy for under $16 at Amazon.com (http://www.amazon.com/Extraordinary-Life-Youre-Meant-Live/dp/0307457729/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1254595476&sr=8-2) or directly from Random House at http://www.randomhouse.com/catalog/display.pperl?isbn=9780307457721&ref=externallink_wbp_extraordinary_sec_0817_01. In all due respect to the author, I would say that there are better resources on many subjects that he covered in his work. For example, I would encourage the reader to look at John Ortberg’s “The Life You’ve Always Wanted” on the topic of spiritual growth, Frank D. Macchia’s “Baptized in the Spirit” on the topic of charismatic gifts, and Graham H. Twelftree’s “Jesus the Miracle Worker: A Historical & Theological Study” on the topic of miracles.
Though I found myself agreeing with much of what he wrote, I often was very cautious to agree with many of his conclusions. For example, I have difficulty aligning with much that he wrote in the chapter titled, “True Faith is Relentless.” The author writes, “This principle of God responding to our faith rather than to need applies to all areas of life, whether it’s the ability to walk in holiness, live creatively, apprehend wisdom, or inspired ideas, or receive healing or deliverance from habitual behavior – in short, to receive anything heaven has provided for our lives or, or more importantly, for reaching our world with the gospel” (Bevere, 162). I do appreciate his wisdom in highlighting the mission of God and our partnership in the Cause. However, I fear that much of what he says will foster the “name it and claim it” approach to prayer. We often have the tendency to act as if we are gods rather than recognize that he is sovereign and our role is to trust and obey him. That being said, the pendulum can also sway in completely the other direction where we as Christ followers begin to live our lives with nothing more than doubt and disobedience and thus expect absolutely nothing from our Heavenly Father. Neither perspectives are holistic and neither are healthy.
Before I go any further with this blog, allow me to state emphatically and clearly that I believe wholeheartedly that God heals today just as he healed in the accounts found in the inspired, infallible, and inerrant Scriptures. It is because of that doctrinal stance that I find it so troubling when God doesn’t heal. I am talking of the times that a person dies from cancer, a child is stillborn, a job is lost, a marriage ends in divorce, a natural disaster takes numerous casualties, a war never seems to end, or a family member never returns to the faith of his childhood. The list could go on and on. We ask. We believe. We have faith. No miracle. What then? I have often wrestled with the words in the bible which read, “And Jesus answered them, ‘Truly, I say to you, if you have faith and do not doubt, you will not only do what has been done to the fig tree, but even if you say to this mountain, Be taken up and thrown into the sea, it will happen'” (Matthew 21:21, ESV).
There are no easy answers. I will not pretend to adequately address such issues in this forum – but rather raise more questions for dialogue and consideration. Though I hate to admit such a thing, I have come to believe that at times there is as much Kingdom-good that comes out of suffering as there flows out of miracles. Maybe more. Jesus was calling us to pray. He was challenging us to join our heart with his and thereby coming into agreement – his requests becoming his requests. God’s Kingdom coming to earth. Jesus was not talking about the amount of our faith as much as he was speaking of who we have our faith in. Our eyes must always be on the purpose and plans of God rather than our comfort and convenience. This is one reason I am uncomfortable with the idea of the idea of the extraordinary life (or at least his definiton). Our existence might not always be one of prosperity and pleasure but I am confident it will be one of purpose and power – in so much as we surrender our wills to the One we consider our Lord.
Official Description: There’s a question that troubles many believers: “Why am I not experiencing more joy, more hope, more satisfaction, more intimacy, more power, more everything in my Christian life–didn’t Jesus promise that?” He did promise an abundant life, but too many people are trapped by the curse of “the ordinary.” They have accepted the wrong idea that following God means losing individuality, creativity, and a passion for achieving lofty goals. Nothing could be further from the truth! John Bevere builds a convincing case, straight from Scripture, for a way of living marked by extraordinary experiences and accomplishments—the life God always intended for his children. Here is a guide to understanding God’s incredible plans, and how to enjoy a life where he adds the “extra” to “ordinary.”
Author Biography: John Bevere is an internationally popular conference speaker, teacher, and author of bestsellers, including The Bait of Satan, Drawing Near, and Driven by Eternity. His award-winning curriculum and books have been translated in over sixty languages and his weekly television program, The Messenger, is broadcast around the world. John and his wife, Lisa—also a bestselling author and speaker—reside with their family in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Visit his ministry website at http://www.messengerinternational.org.