Wednesday, October 23, 2013

don't get mad, get even {grace words wednesday}

don't get mad, get even. 
okay, so it's not {exactly} biblical.
but i like it.
and, on occasion, it works.

like last week when i removed all the light bulbs from my teenage daughter's bedroom and bathroom. nine of them. taken. gone. hidden away.

total darkness.

i hadn't been plotting this cold-blooded act of parenting. there was no plan. no premeditation. in fact, it was kind of a light-bulb moment when the idea first turned on in my brain.

after being gone most of the day, i had grabbed a stack of laundry and carried it down the hall to her room. and there, no less than six hours, from her morning exit, i found at least seven of her lights beaming brightly. the afternoon sun streaming through the windows mixed with the blaze of bedside lamps was, for a moment, almost blinding.

and in this brilliant flash, i saw red ... and then i saw the cha-ching-cha-ching of dollar signs.

just this past week the electric bill had arrived.

it wasn't pretty ... and i was pretty done.

her dad and i have repeatedly asked her to turn off the lights before leaving for school each morning ... and for some reason, this request hasn't sunk in.

she's a bright girl. gets good grades. varsity athlete. tall. seems socially savvy enough. but there's been this disconnect with her light switch for a long, long time.

of course i had to share this moment on
facebook.  =) i love all the "likes"...
most of them from parents who get it! 
often i feel as if i just repeat myself.

over and over and over. again.

flip the switch on and off ... on and off ... on and off.

perhaps you know this cycle of which i speak.

if you're a parent, i'm sure you do!

we nag and needle and remind. we ask and plead and push. we jump on that merry go
round of parenting which spins us round and round with our easy expectations and simple requests ... and then hurls us off into a mud puddle of failure and frustration when our kids seem to ignore our wishes.

i am not the first parent to ride this wheel of bewilderment, and i'm sure i won't be the last. but still ... we get to a point when we feel like we either have to do something drastic or blow our cool. i've gone the blowing-my-cool route before, too .... not especially pretty.

so, standing in her room with an armful of clean clothes, i decided instead of getting really, really angry ... i'd get really, really resourceful.

instead of getting mad, i'd get even.

last year my friend, paige, told me that was her husband's motto in parenting. "don't get mad, get even." (you need to know that paige and hank have 6 kids. by the way, i always get the best ideas from big families -- i think it's quite often a matter of survival). hank's simple motto stuck with me.  i've thought of it several times since our talk last december.

... son leaves his new tennis shoes outside in the rain. they get wet -- he must wear them.

... another son fails to bring his soccer jersey to the laundry room in a timely manner -- he gets to wear a dirty, smelly jersey at his next game.

... daughter forgets her homework back at school -- she gets a poor grade and misses her recess.

it's called natural consequences. and they're good for our kids.

in fact, i think they're great for our kids. way better than mom or dad running around ranting and raving about light switches and wet shoes, right?

but these examples above, let's be honest, they are rather insignificant, right? kind of small potatoes really. i'm not sure my boys even care if their shoes are wet or if their soccer jersey stinks to high heaven.

there are other, larger kinds of consequences to poor choices or bad decisions though.

last week in our prayer challenge one of the words was righteousness. and i have to tell you, it's one of those big, hairy, ugly, even kind of uncomfortable words. none of us are righteous on our own, and yet we are told multiple times in God's Word to "practice righteousness," to "live rightly" or to "make right choices."

we can't earn our righteousness, just like we can't earn our redemption or salvation.

but, that doesn't mean we don't have choices. we do! and with those choices there will come reward or their will come wrath.

uh-huh, i said it. i did. i used the wrath word.

if you're like most people, you want to talk a lot about the reward, but not so much about that wrath thing -- reminds me of five kids i know. it's no surprise how we can verbally belabor a good grade or a great serve or blue ribbon ... but when we need to address an unfortunate action or a  mistake or a bad choice or just some plain, old sin all of a sudden the room empties out.

it's how we're wired. i'm not saying i'm surprised. i get it. i, too, love the crowns and compliments and kudos. i much prefer those things to consequences and condemnation.

who doesn't?

but here's the deal, sweet friends, psalm 7:11 clearly tells us, "God is a righteous judge." and, like it or not, the last time i checked, a judge deals with both -- sweet reward and dire consequences.
"and now the prize awaits me--the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give me on the day of his return." ~ 2 timothy 4:8 
"for the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth." romans 1:18
there will be a day of judgment. God will return and He will judge us according to our lives. we will have to give an account. crowns of righteousness will be rewarded, just as the wrath of God will be revealed. this is not my opinion, this is what God's Word says. it's a big deal, friends. i know it's not a nice, warm, wednesday morning, feel good kind of discussion, but sometimes we just need to put away the fluff and the feel good stuff. we need to stop making excuses. we need to be reminded that what we do does matter.

i stole my daughter's light bulbs to get her attention. (and i'm really hoping it worked).

is God trying to get your attention? our attention? my attention?

has He taken something away or maybe even made things a bit dark? is there a chance that He is trying to make a point in your life?

thankfully, God's motto isn't: "don't get mad, get even." if it was, we'd all be in a boat load of trouble! i can't begin to imagine what that would look like in my life.

but God is Just and He is Holy and He does demand our attention and obedience.

what message is He sending your way today?

i could leave this right here. and it would be probably be enough to ponder for a while. but, i want to go back to that courtroom scene i mentioned earlier ----

God is the judge.

and we -- all of us -- sit in the hot seat clutching our collection of dirty deeds and dark secrets.

we deserve wrath.

deep inside, we know it.

and, what's more, we know we haven't got a case.

it's desperate. hopeless. a surely condemned situation.

but then Jesus enters.

He sweeps into the courtroom, coming right for us, and asks, "will you let me sit in your place?"

we have a choice -- yes or no.

if we stay in our seat, we suffer God's judgment.

but ... if we say yes to Jesus and surrender our seat to Him. He takes our place. He takes our sin. He takes God's wrath ... and He leaves it -- all of it -- nailed to the cross.

He, the one who knew no sin, covers our unholy, awful, ugliness with His beautiful, beautiful righteousness.

what we could not do for ourselves, He does for us.

and that's grace.

beautiful, undeserved, freely given ... grace.

a crown of righteousness or the wrath of God? which do you choose?

{grace words:
righteousness * grace * light * crowns}

Jesus -- it is in your mercy that you grab hold of us. it is in compassion that you demand our attention. when we are making choices which lead to dire consequences and even death, you are not silent --- sometimes, you even shake us up a bit. Lord, shake us free from our sinful ways. remove what you must to grab hold of our hearts. it's a scary thing to pray ... but we want to be all ours. we desire crowns of righteousness which come with surrendering to your Spirit. 

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ 

if you desire to go deeper on this topic, i'd encourage you to read through romans 8. i've included a piece of it here below.
There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. 2 For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. 3 For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, 4 in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. 5 For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. 6 For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. 7 For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God's law; indeed, it cannot. 8 Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.
9 You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. 10 But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. 11 If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.
12 So then, brothers, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. 13 For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.   ~ romans 8

don't forget to head over to BECKY CRENSHAW at THE WORD OF GOD AND A CUP OF JOE for her sweet grace words this morning! she's writing about a rendered heart ... 


Jamie Molle said...

I love the idea of natural consequences. Have you heard of Jim and Lynn Jackson? They have an organization called "Connected Families" (out of Chaska) and they've written a book on discipline that connects hearts within the family - all thru natural consequences. Love your post.

Simply LKJ said...

Yes, I do love the idea of natural consequences as well. Especially now that I am not there to pick up the pieces for my girls. I am in the midst of a study of this post!