The Power of Perception

5th in a series

Training up a child in the way he/she should go doesn’t mean ignoring their natural gifts. Take time to understand and perceive your child’s ways, so that you may guide them to be who they are meant to be.

Train a child in the way he should go,
and when he is old he will not turn from it.
Proverbs 22.6 (NIV)

All too often the phrase “in the way he should go” has been interpreted to mean the ways of godliness or righteousness. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that emphasis; however, that’s not what this proverb is aiming for. An error in perception, or the way we see this verse, ends up causing an error in the way this verse is applied.

The words “in the way he should go” are taken from a Hebrew phrase that literally reads “according to the tenor of his ways.” Here’s what it looks like:

Train up the child according to the tenor of his way,
and when he is old he will not depart from it.

Here’s how this plays out. The temptation is to use a “one size fits all” approach to parenting; in other words, everybody is treated the same. Resisting that temptation allows for each child to be perceived, or seen, for the ways in which God created them. An awareness of their disposition or individual character then guides you in how teaching and correction are approached. It helps you to know how best to help them become who God created them to be.

My wife and I have been blessed with three children; a son and two daughters. And believe you me, each one of our three is d-i-f-f-e-r-e-n-t. But they all have a common request of their father: Dad, look at me. The power of perception. Dads, when we look, what do we see?

There are the obvious differences between boys and girls. The book of Genesis clearly speaks into this: He [God] created them male and female. The literature is abundant these days on the differences between the two. Miss seeing that first important distinction and you’ll miss much about your children and they may quite possibly miss much about themselves.

There are also the telling differences that show up as a result of birth order. It’s silly to straight-jacket your kids into some behavior due to their birth order, but it’s just as silly to dismiss it outright. Those birth order books sell because there’s something that rings true in them. Think about the birth order examples in scripture: Jacob the trickster and hairy, firstborn Esau; Joseph the dreamer and his jealous brothers; Mary who wanted nothing more than to “be” while Martha was always compelled to “do.”

And then there are those subtle differences that take a sharp eye to spot; they’re what the Hebrews referred to as “the tenor of his ways.” This is where it takes courage to be a father to your son or daughter, for I’m talking about looking and listening and noticing, otherwise known as “paying attention.” And like the first word of that phrase (paying), it’ll cost you something. Not being willing to pay that price may be what Paul was warning about when he wrote, “Fathers, do not exasperate your children” (Eph. 6.4). How many times have you heard an exasperated adult voice bemoan, “My father never really saw me?” Yeah, a bunch.

Do you remember the story of Adam, the first man? One of his duties was to see each created animal and then name them. There was a power inherent in his naming of each one. That same power is available for fathers today. We’re not naming rhinos or beagles, but we do have the opportunity to really look into the lives of our children and name what we see.

Does your daughter have artistic gifts? How about buying her a Georgia O’Keeffe book and reading together about that southwestern saint? Or maybe your son loves to sing. You’re not sure where that came from but the point is he loves it and furthermore, he’s pretty good. Do you have the courage to name what you see? Can you encourage him and support his efforts to develop that gift? Or maybe your daughter adores animals. Is there anything truly wrong with having a pet turtle, a beta fish, a dog, and maybe even a rabbit? Truly looking into her life may reveal a heart that is gentle towards God’s creatures and you, Dad, may see it when no one else does. She desperately needs you to wield your God-given power and help her grow into who she is. Who else is going to do that?

Gentlemen, remember what they want and need: “Dad, look at me.”

Copyright © 2008 John Blase.

Experiencing Loneliness

Hebrews 13:5

All of us feel alone from time to time. Poor health, a jam-packed work schedule, or trying circumstances can make it hard to stay connected. Moving to a new location, job, or school can also bring a sense of isolation. Once this season passes or we adjust to the new place, the feeling goes away.

But loneliness is different from aloneness—it involves a sense of separation from people and can intensify over time. In this state, we find it harder to reach out and easier not to be around others. When our mind starts telling us no one’s interested in what we have to say or do, we build a wall around our heart and allow access to very few. The more we withdraw, the worse we feel. Peace of mind eludes us, and loneliness weighs us down.

God never intended for us to live disconnected from one another. From the beginning, He purposed that we should enjoy an intimate relationship with Him and each other. First He established a personal relationship with Adam and then provided him with Eve. Our Creator knew it was not good for us to live in isolation (Gen. 2:18).

Note the order: Intimacy with God precedes intimacy with anyone else. In the absence of a personal relationship with Him, one is never truly at peace. The only way to be connected to the Father is by trusting Jesus as Savior (John 14:6). Whoever places faith in Him receives a new nature, becomes a member of God’s family, and experiences His peace (1:12; 14:27). If you’ve never accepted Christ’s invitation, you can pray right now to become God’s child.

Disciples and Servants

“The disciple is not above his master, nor the servant above his lord.” (Matthew 10:24)

Note the twofold relation of the believer to the Lord Jesus Christ expressed in this verse. We are His disciples and servants; He is our Master and Lord. Each of the two relationships is vital. The word for “disciple” means “pupil.”

The word “master” is the same as “teacher.” The Lord Jesus, therefore, is our teacher, and He teaches us through His Word—the Holy Scriptures. It is our function to learn His teachings and, of course, to believe them. No Christian (one under the authority of Christ) has the right to reject or even to question one of the teachings of His Word (Matthew 5:18-19). The lord-servant relationship goes even further. The word for “servant” is actually “bond slave.” The “lord” of a slave was his owner; the word itself means “supreme ruler” and is the title commonly assigned to God Himself in the New Testament. Thus, if a disciple is to believe the word of his master without question, the servant is to obey the word of his lord without hesitation.

But the world scoffs at the teachings of God’s Word, and will try to persecute those who seek to follow them. The unbelieving world—even the religious world—responded to the teachings of the Master by ridiculing Him, then torturing Him, and finally hanging Him on a tree to die.

Yet we are to go to the same world with the same teachings. “As my Father hath sent me, even so send I you” (John 20:21). “As thou hast sent me into the world,” He prayed, “even so have I also sent them into the world” (John 17:18). He does warn us: “Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also” (John 15:20). HMM

That they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that He might be glorified

That they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that He might be glorified.—Isaiah 61:3.
For so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.—2 Peter 1:11.

HAST thou a sense of the way to the Father? Then be careful that thy spirit daily bow before Him, that He would continue His mercy to thee; making thy way more and more clear before thee every day;—yea, and bearing thee up in all the exercises and trials which may befall thee, in every kind; that, by His secret working in thy spirit, and helping thee with a little help from time to time, thou mayest still be advancing nearer and nearer towards the kingdom; until thou find the Lord God administer an entrance unto thee there into, and give thee an inheritance of life, joy, righteousness, and peace therein; which is strength unto the soul against sin and death. ISAAC PENINGTON.

Probably the greatest result of the life of prayer is an unconscious but steady growth into the knowledge of the mind of God and into conformity with His will; for after all prayer is not so much the means whereby God’s will is bent to man’s desires, as it is that whereby man’s will is bent to God’s desires. CHARLES H. BRENT.

Faith as a grain of mustard seed

Faith as a grain of mustard seed. Matthew 17:20

Barak said unto [Deborah], if thou wilt go with me, then I will go: but if thou wilt not go with me, then I will not go. God subdued on that day Jabin the king of Canaan.

—Gideon … feared his father’s household, and the men of the city, that he could not do it by day, … did it by night. And Gideon said unto God, If thou wilt save Israel by mine hand as thou hast said, … let me prove, I pray thee. And God did so.

Thou hast a little strength, and hast kept my word, and hast not denied my name.

—Who hath despised the day of small things?

We are bound to thank God always for you, brethren, as it is meet, because that your faith groweth exceedingly. —Lord, increase our faith. — I will be as the dew unto Israel: he shall grow as the lily, cast forth his roots as Lebanon. His branches shall spread, and his beauty shall be as the olive tree, and his smell as Lebanon.

Judges 4:8,23. Judges 6:27,36,39,40. Revelation 3:8. Zechariah 4:10. 2 Thessalonians 1:3. Luke 17:5. Hosea 14:5,6.

Thou shalt put the mercy seat above upon the ark, and there I will meet with thee

Thou shalt put the mercy seat above upon the ark, and there I will meet with thee. Exodus 25:21,22

The way into the holiest of all was not yet made manifest. — Jesus, when he had cried again with a loud voice, yielded up the ghost. And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom.

Having … brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh; … let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water. — Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.

Christ Jesus: whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation [mercy seat] through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God. — Through him we have access by one Spirit unto the Father.

Hebrews 9:8. Matthew 27:50,51. Hebrews 10:19,20,22. Hebrews 4:16. Romans 3:24,25. Ephesians 2:18.