Shaping Influences

125 posts

The birthmark

Several years ago I had the privilege to respond to a mom whose daughter was mocked by another child on a school bus. Here is the comment from the little girl’s mom: “The girl on the bus pointed at her birthmark–the one just below her left eye–and told her she looked stupid. The soft confession came from my little girl, who was staring at the floor. A groan escaped me and I grabbed my daughter close. And I did exactly what I shouldn’t have: I cried. Will it get easier to be strong? Will it get easier to say the right thing in response to pain?” Below is what I wrote to encourage this mom. A birthmark, curly hair, freckles, […]

Anger – when you parent your way

Human anger and biblical discipline do not mix. Man’s anger will not bring about the righteous life that God desires. (James 1:20) The key phrase is the righteous life that God desires. God did not give you your children so that you could teach them to follow your desires and wishes. When you make parenting about your desires, then, in your mind, God exists to serve you, to support your agenda and standards. When this role reversal occurs, even if unintentional, you attempt to make God subordinate to your will. This will produce anger and frustration, first in you and then in your children. Anger is an indication that your desires have become the most important thing. God has not […]


Obedience is not something that can be used to gain a reward – obedience itself is the reward. What is the basis of your acceptance with God? When there is disobedience, the solution is not simply to do better next time. The solution is to to trust Christ for the strength to do what you cannot. Repentance is about a change of heart, not just actions. Biblical obedience acknowledges the weakness of the flesh and the absolute necessity of having a heart transformed by the power of the cross. If you settle for something less you have a false understanding of biblical obedience. Obedience that seeks to earn acceptance, favor or status results in frustration. Such “obedience” is self-serving. Obedience […]

Confronting and controlling your fears

Whatever fears you struggle with, consider them in the light of Romans 8. There is no fear that you have that cannot be conquered by God’s power at work in you!  The greatest fear anyone can have is the condemnation of God. But in Christ, there is no condemnation. Confront your fear with this truth. You do not have to be controlled by fear. Apply the teaching of this wonderful chapter to help you be controlled by the Spirit of God and his word. Here is a brief application from Romans 8 that encourages you not to be controlled by fear. Christians need not fear condemnation. verse 1 Christians are not controlled by the flesh but by the Holy Spirit. […]

Emotions and your children

In the wisdom literature of the Old Testament, the Holy Spirit has provided you with a guide book for understanding emotions. Biblically, emotions can be thought of as the first responders of the heart. If the heart is good and well-guarded emotions can work for us, not against us. If the heart is not guarded then emotions can bring much damage. This is why Solomon is adamant that the heart be guarded above all else (Proverbs 4:23). The book of Job tells us right away the value of emotions. We read that Job feared the Lord and shunned evil. His strong emotional fear of God protected him from evil. This is the same emotional response that protected Joseph when he […]

God doesn’t take coffee-breaks

Much of our behavior is centered around self-protection. When someone sins against us we often act like God was looking the other way or perhaps he was on coffee-break and missed the wrong done to us. For example: A young child has his toy taken by an older sibling. He cries out to his parents. A teenager lies to her mother. The mother informs her daughter that she can’t be trusted. A friend says something really stupid. You react with shock and awe. A co-worker takes credit for something you did. You look for a way to get even. Your spouse is insensitive and hurtful. You withdraw and become discouraged. You have a car accident the same day you learn […]

For the sake of your children, guard your heart!

Whatever you let into your heart will flow directly into the lives of those you love.  If you guard your heart you guard those whom you love. If your heart is not guarded then you directly expose those closest to you to the evil attacks of the enemy. Proverbs 4:23 warns you to guard your heart: Above all else, guard your heart,
    for everything you do flows from it. In other words the ideas, the images, the influences you allow to flow into your heart become the substance of what flows out of your heart and out of your mouth. Fathers and husbands are you winning the war of purity and sexual temptation? Mothers and wives are you overcome by discouragement […]

Fantasy: the trap of the social media

Notice Solomon’s wording of Proverbs 12:11. One person pursues a productive path of working his land while another pursues fantasies. He who works his land will have abundant food, but he who chases fantasies lacks judgment. Proverbs 12:11 Social media offers the endless pursuit of the things that are not productive, or in the meaning of this Proverb, fantasies. It can be as obvious as spending hours and hours perusing posts, tweets and home pages. Or your pursuit can be about the being involved in arguments and causes which, while interesting, are ultimately, not productive, i.e. fantasies. The world of the social media makes it easy to ignore the reality of God. Remember, the fool has said in his heart […]

A conversation with a young teenager

“Stop bothering your sister.” “Why?” “Because it is not nice to do that to her.” “Well, she is not nice to me. Why should I be nice to her?” “God says you should be nice to her.” “Well, then, you should tell her that. If she starts being nice to me, I’ll be nice to her. Its not like I am hurting her or anything.” “But that is not how it works. You should do what God wants no matter how your sister responds.” “So, what do I do when you get mad and yell at me?” “You shouldn’t talk to me like that!” “Why? I am not being disrespectful or mad, I just asked you a question.” “You just […]

Manipulation or Instruction

Life is busy. It is tempting to think it doesn’t matter how we get our children to obey as long as they obey. This thinking may well achieve its purpose today, but create serious problems in the years ahead. Specifically I am talking about the distinction between instruction and manipulation. In it’s truest sense instruction means to teach children about God and his ways so that they are challenged to long for a deepening relationship with God. (see Deuteronomy 6:5-7 & Ephesians 6:4) Manipulation cares not for establishing a relationship with God. Manipulation is for rescuing yourself from a crisis of the moment. To illustrate: The pressure is on. It seems as though there are 17 appointments, 6 music lessons, and […]