God says in Proverbs 20:11, that even a small child is known by his actions . . . And in Proverbs 23:7, as a man thinks, so is he. I cannot find much distinction in the Bible between our actions and our identity. Instead I read things like, out of my heart, my mouth speaks, that when people habitually lie they are called liars and so on. The big Grace is that God can change our identity when we become His child, a new creation. We heard a teaching from Ray Vander Laan how that in a practicing Jew mind, the schma ( . . . Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your strength. ) is not something they do but rather who they ARE. It is their identity! Maybe there really something to this parenting FROM a place of identity!
Then, I was reading the story of Abraham and wondered, “What was so special about this man? Why did God choose him to be the Father of nations? Was he like a super-parent? Can we learn something from him as parents?” And there it was in black in white, “For I know him and he will command his children in My ways . . .” Therefore one if not THE reason God chose Abraham is that He knew Abraham would ‘command’ his children to follow God. Abraham was not under the law. The law came with Moses because of the stubbornness of people. But Abraham was before the law and he was in covenant with God. Not only him but his children, which included Ishmael! I believe Abraham grew and learned in the process of fathering Ishmael and was actually a more Kingdom father, a better picture of the Heavenly Father to Isaac, but that’s for another blog.
I believe that if we read the story of Abraham with fresh eyes, with Kingdom eyes, we can see how Abraham ‘commanded’ his children especially Isaac in the ways of God by passing on his identity, creating an environment for Isaac’s identity, and calling out Isaac’s identity! Abraham ‘commanded’ Isaac in the ways of God not by rules, but from an attitude of identity. Gen. 25:5-6, states that to the children of the concubines Abraham gave gifts, but to Isaac, his only son Isaac (the son of promise), he gave all that he had, all that he was. He passed onto Isaac all that he was by fostering an attitude of identity which created Isaac’s behaviors and actions. We see it in the fact that Isaac not only trusted his father but THE Father that he was the son of promise and willingly follows Abraham to the alter to sacrifice to the Lord, allows an elderly man to tie him and place him on alter with knife raised above his head about to be plunged into Isaac’s heart. Isaac probably felt fear but his identity in the faith overrode the fear.
So practically, how do Randy and I do this? How do we create an attitude in our kids that their actions are governed not by rules but by who they are? We prayed a lot!!!! God didn’t just give us three opposite personalities (which I did not realize that there could be three opposites), but three totally different people groups, totally different cultures inside each of these little bodies. One is a systematic and calculating person, the other a free spirit – pushing the limits ALWAYS, the other a person of justice – right and wrong. We found ourselves declaring over each of them the meaning of their names.
Josiah David: Fire of God, Blessed. Josiah was said to be the best King of Israel before or after him, which included David. He followed the Word of God and had a love for the Word of God. He loved God’s people. David was blessed. He loved the presence of God. He was a skilled warrior and knew how to gather and lead armies. He was a worshipper. Our Josiah is a combination of the two great Kings! He expresses these characteristics uniquely through his own personality.
Bethany Marie: House of God, Blessed. Named after Mary of Bethany. Mary of Bethany sat at the feet of Jesus. Her love for God overrode the cultural norm that women could not be with the ‘men’. She used the expensive oil that was probably her dowry to anoint Jesus feet with oil, washed them with her tear, dried them with her hair. Jesus said that she was anointing him for his burial. She heard and understood God’s heart when the disciples could not. She knew Jesus. She moved Jesus heart to raise her brother Lazarus from the dead. Our Bethany Marie definitely gets her identity and behaviors from this Mary. She loves God. She is quiet in spirit but vicious in passion. She is not restrained by social or cultural traditions, she usually breaks them. She fights for the underdog. People do not sway her opinions. Sacrifice is normal to her. She was the most difficult to keep in bounds. The more she knew her identity, the more powerful she became.
Hannah Grace: Grace, Grace. Hannah in the Bible was given to prayer. She moved the heart of God and was honored by Him. She was a great mother – the mother of Samuel, the voice of God during his time. She was much loved by her husband. Grace, Grace = double grace, double favor, double anointing = the anointing of Elisha. Elisha was determined, persistent, a worker, explosive, believed God, heard God, an example of God’s power. Our Hannah is one of the most determined, persistent people I know. If God gives her a dream she will bite into it and not let go. She will work to see her dreams come reality. She believes God, hears God, moves God’s heart in prayer. She has a mother’s heart which motivates her in being one of the top graduates in one of the top 5 education colleges in the US. She loves children. She is explosive in passion for her sense of right and wrong. Everything she does she finds favor from those above her and is soon promoted. She brings grace with truth, she knows the heart and power of God.
All three kids were saved at three years old. We constantly were saying to them that they were responsible for their relationship with God. God was their Heavenly Father. They were to pray, read the Bible, worship, make good choices, show kindness, forgive others, work hard; not because they HAD to do these things, it was because that was/is WHO THEY ARE. They are God’s, not their own. They are a new creation. Then we prayed and still pray like crazy for the gift of hunger for God in their lives!!!!
We also directed them practically. At three years old, they couldn’t read, so during family night Randy would read Bible stories and ask questions. I would take every opportunity I saw to pull in a story from the Bible to apply to the situation. We wanted them to pray on their own. So I made each of them a picture book of different things and people for them to pray for every day. They were to pray and then be still and watch for the Holy Spirit to give them pictures or words. If they wanted, they could draw the picture. Again this is not what we ‘did’, this was who we were/are.
We had been praying for rain in Abilene because we were in a severe drought. One day when Hannah was six she came running downstairs, she said God had shown her a picture of all the creek beds in Abilene full and running over. She said that God told her that in 6 weeks that was going to happen and the drought would be broken. I responded, ” Great,” but in my heart I was thinking, “How am I going to explain this when it doesn’t happen.” (Momma of much faith!) Soon, through a series of prayers, city leaders coming together and such, Abilene was flooded. All the creeks were full and running over. The drought was broken. We counted back and it was the exact date Hannah had said God told her! What a faith builder, not for her, she expected it, for ME!!!
We learned along with our kids that we have to live from a place of identity. Identity establishes our attitudes and actions. Identity brings relationship. The law brings religion. But functioning from a place of identity doesn’t do away with the law but rather fulfills it. It’s Christ living through us!
I was really blessed the other day as Bethany, our boundary pusher, now, 24, told me she was thankful for us creating in them the responsibility of time alone with God each day. She said she has not always been faithful every day, but she does not struggle like some others. She realizes the value of that time and knows that each time is different, sometimes dramatic, sometimes just being there with God. She said she doesn’t feel like she HAS to spend time alone with God, it is who she is!
YEA! It took! God’s grace!
Originally posted February 11, 2017