Guard Your Gates

Regardless of whether we set out to establish a "norm" for our family, it will happen.  Families that worship (more than just attend church) together will produce an air of worship within the household,  Families that pray together will produce a dependence on prayer in each member.  Families that fuss and fight will produce an atmosphere of animosity that filters down to the youngest member of the family.
Sometimes I hear my father or my mother speaking in my head and suddenly realize that it is my voice and I'm actually saying what they said, the way they said it.  My Mom passed away 27 years ago and my Dad about 4 years ago.  I really didn't live with them much beyond my graduation from high school, and yet their influence is still strong almost 70 years later.

I've said all of this to make a particular point.  We must be aware of the enemy at our gate.  If Satan can sneak in when the door is left ajar by sin that is not confessed, unresolved conflicts, and neglect to the impact of our words, it will not only affect us individually, but it will manifest in the lives of our family members.  It is important that you rule your emotions rather than be ruled by your emotions.  In the several of his letters to churches, Paul addressed the importance of exercising one's will against the enemy and his wiles.  In Ephesians he talks about the need to speak truth, refrain from sin even in the midst of anger, keep your words wholesome and pure and to be kind.  All of these are admonitions to use your will to rule your emotions.  In Philippians, he encourages Christ-followers to live like Christ, be like Christ and to take control of their thought life.  In 2 Corinthians he reminds us that we have the capability to take random thoughts "captive to the obedience of Christ".
The cycle of repetitive behavior, speech and attitude must be deliberately broken or it will continue through the generations.  Here are some steps you can take to collapse a bad habit and create a new, good habit in its place.


  • When you become aware of doing something that is not in keeping with the Christ life, IMMEDIATELY stop, confess and make a new positive profession (say the right thing the right way.)
  • When you see your bad behavior, or hear your negative speech being emulated by your children, IMMEDIATELY confess to them that you have set a bad standard for them, and ask their forgiveness.
  • REFUSE to react; CHOOSE to respond.  When you react, you are not in control.  Response requires thought and reason.
  • NEVER EVER try to out shout a child (or a spouse).  You have then given over control to them and established a "norm" for behavior that you will regret.
I had a friend who was a Youth Pastor who taught me a valuable lesson.  Although he was a huge guy, well over 6 feet tall and north of 240 lbs. he never raised his voice.  You would have to concentrate when he talked in order to hear him.  Consequently, his youth group, normal teenagers, were not nearly so raucous as most of their peers.  He established the standard, and they met it.  We must do the same in our families.

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