Parents, Do Not Provoke

Ephesians 6:1-3

Children, obey your parents because you belong to the Lord,[a] for this is the right thing to do. “Honor your father and mother.” This is the first commandment with a promise: If you honor your father and mother, “things will go well for you, and you will have a long life on the earth.”[b]

Another parenting failure.

I’ve had a few (thousand) in my tenure as a mom.

Recently, I ignored anotherwarning from the Spirit about one of our children. As a result, I failed to intervene on their behalf, again. So, the Lord spoke through two of our other children to get my attention. Hello!? Did you hear what I said? He pursued and corrected me through our kids!!!

Humbled.

Grateful.

Thankful.

Ephesians 6:4

Parents, do not provoke your children to anger by the way you treat them. Rather, bring them up with the discipline and instruction that comes from the Lord.

I used to think the above-mentioned verse meant that parents only provoked their children to anger by commission. As a kid, I often erupted when my parents disciplined, said “no,” or restricted me from what I wanted. And I’ve experienced the same backlash from some of our strong-willed kiddos. But today I saw this passage differently. I realized children can be provoked to anger by omission.

In the midst of this latest parenting episode, our child was lashing out in anger because of what I didn’t do. I ignored the Lord, neglected to intervene, and justified myself in being passive. In so doing, I failed to see what was happening in the unseen. Our child was battling, unsuccessfully, against an enemy that is continually trying to steal, kill and destroy their life.

But, God.

GOD!!! 

God, our helper – the One who knows all and sees all, gave dreams, wisdom and discernment to several of our family members. The result? Difficult discussions and a willingness to admit failure, but not defeat. God was faithful! He provided a way of escape for ALL OF US! 

Now before we go blaming the enemy for everything, let’s get one thing straight: Satan and his legions have no authority unless we give it to him. Our child was not some innocent bystander (neither was I). And this particular onslaught was not a result of us advancing the Kingdom- thus, ticking off the enemy’s camp. No. Repeated rebellion against authority resulted in an invitation to torment. Deliverance and discipline (boundaries) was needed- and has been implemented. Boundaries guard the heart! An unguarded heart is open to all forms of attack. And an unguarded heart is easily provoked to anger. 

I gotta tell ya…

Every failure I’ve endured as a parent is a result of a childish heart that rebels against the Father. Every success I’ve enjoyed is a result of a childlike heart that bows to the Lordship of Jesus Christ. And every triumph is a result of a humbled heart that obeys and overcomes by the power of His Spirit.

My fellow parents,

I plead with you, for the sake of future generations. Throw out your self-help books. Ignore the educated experts. Reject the advice of the world. Stop making behavioral excuses because of labels (I have a child on the Autism Spectrum and one with ADHD. I understand the science- but the Spirit trumps all in the training of our children). Seek the Lord. Fear Him. Obey Him. He alone is the creator and sustainer of family. He alone is the One who beckons prodigals to return home. Let’s get to know the Father. Let’s train our kids to know Him. The eternity of their souls is at stake. 

God promised.

Numbers 13:25-31

25 After exploring the land for forty days, the men returned 26 to Moses, Aaron, and the whole community of Israel at Kadesh in the wilderness of Paran. They reported to the whole community what they had seen and showed them the fruit they had taken from the land. 27 This was their report to Moses: “We entered the land you sent us to explore, and it is indeed a bountiful country—a land flowing with milk and honey. Here is the kind of fruit it produces. 28 But the people living there are powerful, and their towns are large and fortified. We even saw giants there, the descendants of Anak! 29 The Amalekites live in the Negev, and the Hittites, Jebusites, and Amorites live in the hill country. The Canaanites live along the coast of the Mediterranean Sea[a] and along the Jordan Valley.”

30 But Caleb tried to quiet the people as they stood before Moses. “Let’s go at once to take the land,” he said. “We can certainly conquer it!”

31 But the other men who had explored the land with him disagreed. “We can’t go up against them! They are stronger than we are!”

The Lord had delivered His children from slavery in Egypt.

He was with them as they wandered in the desert.

And He was bringing them into a new land…He promised.

After the 12 returned from their scouting adventure, they gave their report to Moses and the people. They all agreed on what they saw: milk, honey andgiants. But their responses were divided:

2 of the men were filled with faith.

10 were filled with fear.

The report of the majority infected the ENTIRE community. By believing what the 10 said, the children of Israel doubted what God had said. Subsequently, they were willing to go back to bondage or just die in the wilderness! Paralyzed by fear, they refused to fight the giants in order to claim the land God promised to them. Witnessing the massive pity party, Joshua and Caleb tore their clothes in deep grief, pleading with their brothers and sisters to NOT rebel against the Lord- and NOT be afraid of the people!!! 

We’re currently facing the same test of faith.

A roadblock I continue to encounter in the wilderness, between Egypt and the promised land, is the fear of man. Being non-creative and unclever, it’s a tactic the enemy has used over and over again since my childhood. He’s convinced people- family and friends- even fellow Israelites to speak things which cause me to doubt what God has said. Most of the time, it’s very subtle and difficult to understand in the natural. But He is always faithful! When I ask the Holy Spirit for supernatural help, He gives me eyes to see, ears to hear, and a heart to understand. Only then can I recognize the lies, be set free by the Truth, and extend forgiveness to those who didn’t know what they were saying.

God promised us a new land 7 years ago.

He sent us to scout it out.

We saw the milk and honey.

We saw the giants.

And…we heard reports from the 10:

Did God really say to move to Florida?”

Did God really sayto live in Lakeland?”

Did God really say to relocate to be a part of a CHURCH?”

Did God really say to leave your entire extended family?”

Did God really say to close the ministry & stop meeting (church @ home)?”

“Florida is so dang hot… they have LOTS of hurricanes- and alligators!”

“Lakeland is a terrible town….and it’s not near the beach.”

“There’s no perfect church…why not just stay here?”

“Family is everything….I can’t believe you’d abandon them.”

“You invested so much in your ministry…it’s a waste to give it up.”

Yep. There’s been a lot of chatter in the community.

But we’re going with the minority report.

We believe what God said.

So, it’s time to prepare for battle…. because we’re following Him into the land HE promised!

The Cost

Luke 14: 25-35

25 A large crowd was following Jesus. He turned around and said to them,26 “If you want to be my disciple, you must, by comparison, hate everyone else—your father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even your own life. Otherwise, you cannot be my disciple. 27 And if you do not carry your own cross and follow me, you cannot be my disciple.

28 “But don’t begin until you count the cost. For who would begin construction of a building without first calculating the cost to see if there is enough money to finish it? 29 Otherwise, you might complete only the foundation before running out of money, and then everyone would laugh at you. 30 They would say, ‘There’s the person who started that building and couldn’t afford to finish it!’

If.

Then.

IF I want to be a disciple of Jesus…THEN I must essentially hate everyone (including myself).

That doesn’t sound like the bible at all, does it? How many sermon series are centered around this passage of scripture? How often is it shared and liked on social media? Regardless, it is written, in redlettering. There is a cost that is required to follow Him. There is a cost and a cross. 

It’s our choice, however. 

IF…..

Then.

I’m currently in a “then” season.

I answered another “if” question 7 years ago. The Lord spoke to me in the secret place: “I’m removing your tent pegs….and sending you to a new land (Florida).” (read about it here: https://deepintothewater.com/2020/11/18/uprooting/) I must admit, I didn’t respond with great faith in the beginning, as Mary did when the angel told her she would conceive the Savior of the world by the power of the Spirit. Instead, I asked a slew of questions, 

“What about my husband?

What about our kids?

What about our family?

What about our house?”

Still, the Lord was gracious. He gave me the gift of time and testing to build my faith. He gave me the gift of time and testing to count the cost. He gave me the gift of time and testing to face my fear of man. He gave me the gift of time and testing to confront the lies of the enemy. He gave me the gift of time and testing to receive the Father’s perfect love. He gave me the gift of time and testing to obey the Lord. He gave me the gift of time and testing to follow His Spirit.

IF I wanted to be a disciple…THEN I had to count the cost of my relationships:

  • My husband initially rejected God’s call to go (which felt like personal rejection).
  • Our children initially rejected God’s call to go (ditto to the above).
  • Our family & friends initially rejected God’s call to go (ditto, again).

IF I wanted to be a disciple…THEN I had to pick up my cross:

  • We closed the ministry we planted and pioneered for more than a decade.

IF I want to be a disciple…THEN I have to follow Him to Florida:

  • I have to leave my friends and family.
  • I have to leave the house we’ve poured blood, sweat and tears in to remodel.
  • I have to leave some of our possessions.

The cost, however, pales in comparison to the reward of knowing the One who has called me by name. To the One who ran out to meet me when I came home to Him. To the One who healed and delivered me from sin. To the One who filled me with Himself. 

There must be a call. 

There must be a cost.

There must be a cross.

IF we leave everything….AND follow Him, we will see His plan, His promise, and His provision fulfilled in our lives. I’m living proof of it, my friend! His Word has NOT returned void. He said He would take care of all these things to fulfill His promise, including answering my prayer to sell our house, supernaturally.

 “Lord, would you pleeeeeease just send someone over to buy our house?” 

Yep. 

He did.

Our next-door neighbor referred her sisters family. 

They came over, walked through, sat and talked with us …and later made an offer.

The rest, as they say, is history.

He’s calling you, my friend. Can you hear Him? He wants an intimate, deep, abiding relationship with you. THAT is the ONE THING He is after: your heart. Do you know Him? Does He know you?  IF you want to be His disciple…THEN you must consider the cost to leave your family, your nets, your boats and follow Him. 

Trust me, HE is worth it!

Matthew 4:18-22

18 One day as Jesus was walking along the shore of the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers—Simon, also called Peter, and Andrew—throwing a net into the water, for they fished for a living. 19 Jesus called out to them, “Come, follow me, and I will show you how to fish for people!” 20 And they left their nets at once and followed him.

21 A little farther up the shore he saw two other brothers, James and John, sitting in a boat with their father, Zebedee, repairing their nets. And he called them to come, too. 22 They immediately followed him, leaving the boat and their father behind.