positive parenting

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Ephesians 6:4 (JDV)

Ephesians 6:4 Fathers, don’t stir up anger in your children, but bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.

positive parenting

Becoming a father is not difficult, but being a Christian father is a tremendous challenge. You have to build strength of character and social skill into your children, by stretching them so that they become what God wants them to be. This involves more than just teaching them right from wrong. You have to train them in right ways of thinking and acting, which necessitates correction – and your children will need correction constantly.

But whenever you try this positive parenting, you will discover that you are liable to cross the line very often, and frustrate your children. Tears are often an indicator of this, and other expressions of this anger.

Mutual submission in parenting means being sensitive to where the line is. You have to strive for a balance which includes persistent instruction and careful correction.

Lord, show us how to father like the Father – how to parent positively.

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honoring parents and mutual submission

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Ephesians 6:1-3 (JDV)

Ephesians 6:1 Children, obey your parents in the Lord, because this is right.

Ephesians 6:2 Honor your father and mother, which is the first commandment with a promise,

Ephesians 6:3 so that it may go well with you and that you may have a long life in the land.

honoring parents and mutual submission

That mutual submission which Paul encourages the Ephesian Christians to practice is seen in more than one type of relationship. That is why Paul will go on to highlight the employer/ employee relationship in 6:6-9. But now he proceeds logically from marriage to parents and children in 6:1-4. In each of these subgroups, he begins by addressing the party considered lesser in society (wives, then children, then slaves). Then he proceeds to the part with assumed authority over that group (husbands, then fathers, then masters). Is Paul endorsing the patriarchal hierarchy of Greco-Roman culture – essentially Christianizing it?

No way. What Paul Christianizes is mutual submission of all these believers to one another. Remember that Paul taught that Christians should no longer live like the Gentiles live (4:17). Instead of lording it over others, we should be submitting to one another (5:21). In this context, Paul mentions the fifth commandment of the Decalogue. He then goes on to add an admonition to fathers (6:4) because his point is not the submission of the lesser to the greater, but the mutual submission of everyone in Christ to each other.

Christian children of all ages should honor their parents of all ages as a way of showing this submission – which is a mark of our identity in Christ. When we are younger, honoring our parents means obeying them. When we are older, honoring them means taking care of them. The authority structure changes, but the respect and care should not.

Lord, thank you for our parents in the Lord. We honor you by honoring them all our lives.

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the pattern of the eternal relationship

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Ephesians 5:29-33 (JDV)

Ephesians 5:29 You see, no one ever hates his own flesh but provides and cares for it, like Christ does for the congregation,

Ephesians 5:30 since we are members of his body.

Ephesians 5:31 For this reason a human will leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.

Ephesians 5:32 This mystery is profound, but I am talking about Christ and the congregation.

Ephesians 5:33 To sum up, each one of you is to care about his wife like himself, and the wife is to respect her husband.

the pattern of the eternal relationship

There is a profound mystery Paul is talking about here, and a practical implication. The profound mystery has to do with the eternal relationship between Christ and the saved – past and present – who will live with him forever. The practical implication has to do with present reality – the temporary relationship between husbands and their wives who are part of that group, and living today. Our Christian marriages are temporary in that we will not be married after the resurrection.

Until then, we should make every effort to pattern our marriages after the permanent relationship we will have with Christ. Just as Christ sacrificed his life in order to procure that permanent relationship, so husbands ought to live sacrificially for the sake of their wives. Husbands and wives should be faithful to each other because their marriage is following the pattern of the eternal relationship.

Lord, show us how to reflect our permanent relationship with you in our marriages.

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only yours for the time being

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Ephesians 5:25-28 (JDV)

Ephesians 5:25 Husbands, care about your wives, like Christ cared about the congregation and gave himself in her behalf

Ephesians 5:26 to make her sacred, cleansing her with the washing of water by the word.

Ephesians 5:27 He did this to present the congregation to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or anything like that, but devoted and blameless.

Ephesians 5:28 In this same way, husbands are to care about their wives like their own bodies. He who cares about his wife cares about himself.

only yours for the time being

You have been given a special gift if you have a wife. You alone can really appreciate the special gift that she is. But just as our Lord gave himself for his bride, so now you are expected to give yourself in your bride’s behalf.

All this talk about your authority over your wife is missing the point. Yours is not the work of domineering her. You have to care for her sacrificially as Christ did us. You have to submit to her needs. You have to seek her welfare. You have to care about her with the same attention that you bring to nourishing and strengthening and protecting your own body.

You will run the risk of being called things. People will think you weak if you don’t assume control over your “woman.” Let them think or say what they will. When the king comes, you want to present her to him as his bride – along with yourself. She is only yours for the time being. You had better treat her right.

Lord, give us the strength to care for our spouses with courage and determination – knowing the one for whom we are preparing them.

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submitting to one another

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Ephesians 5:21-24 (JDV)

Ephesians 5:21 submitting to one another in the fear of Christ.

Ephesians 5:22 Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord,

Ephesians 5:23 because the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the congregation. He is the Savior of the body.

Ephesians 5:24 Now as the congregation submits to Christ, in this way also wives are to submit to their husbands in everything.

submitting to one another

It is very easy to use this passage as a proof-text for male superiority in the church. After all, the passage does say that husbands are the head of their wives, and their wives should submit to them in everything. It would be tempting to think that if our females would just learn to yield to our wills, there would be no interpersonal problems.

Except that Paul is not saying that. Paul never says that males are superior in any way because they are males.

He does encourage wives to submit to their husbands, but he also encourages husbands to submit to their wives by sacrificially caring for them, like Christ does for the congregation (5:25). He begins his teaching on this subject by the command “submit to one another” in verse 21, which is mutual submission. He outlines the details of this mutual submission in verse 33, where he tells husbands to care about their wives like they do themselves, and wives to respect their husbands.

This mutual submission is not about who’s the boss, it is about how each of us can reflect the dynamics of being the congregation of Christ in our interpersonal relationships – particularly if we are married.

Lord, give your congregation the wisdom to refrain from the domination of anyone, and the good sense to stop using passages like this as proof-texts for that domination.

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resurrection life today

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Ephesians 5:18-20 (JDV)

Ephesians 5:18 And don’t get drunk with wine, which leads to reckless living, but be filled by the Breath:

Ephesians 5:19 speaking to one another in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, singing and making music with your heart to the Lord,

Ephesians 5:20 giving thanks always for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ,

resurrection life today

A life directed toward worship of God and encouragement of one another: this is the Christian alternative. When the sacred Breath fills us, we naturally want to do what pleases the one who breathed new life into our dead corpses. The result is not loss of control and shame and a hangover afterward. The result is mutual encouragement, musical hearts and thankful lives.

Lord, show us how to keep filled with your Sacred Breath, so that we keep overflowing with worship and mutual encouragement, living the resurrection life today.

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against the flow

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Ephesians 5:15-17 (JDV)

Ephesians 5:15 Pay careful attention, then, to how you live – not as unwise people but as wise –

Ephesians 5:16 making the most of the season, because the days are evil.

Ephesians 5:17 So don’t be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s preference is.

against the flow

Every day we make choices. If we go with the flow during evil days we can only expect evil as a result. That is why we must learn what God prefers and live out his will. We cannot just “be Christian” passively. We have to aggressively pursue what God wants because it will not happen by chance.

One of my biggest problems is my resentment. The enemy reminds me of unfair things that have happened to me, or are happening to me, and he tempts me to sin in retaliation. The whole idea is stupid, but it sometimes works on me.

What I need to accept is the truth of what Paul is saying here: we are living in evil days. Unfair things are going to happen. These are not signs that God has betrayed us. They are opportunities for us not to go with the flow.

Lord, no matter how long it takes, we are committed to pursuing what you want. Make us faithful followers of you, not passive gliders through evil days.

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making the dark deeds visible

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 making the dark deeds visible

 Ephesians 5:11-14 (JDV)

 Ephesians 5:11 Don’t participate in the fruitless achievements of darkness, but instead expose them

Ephesians 5:12 because it is shameful even to mention what is done by them in secret.

Ephesians 5:13 Everything exposed by the light is made visible.

Ephesians 5:14 You see, what makes everything visible is light. For this reason it is said: Get up, sleeper, and rise up from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.

 making the dark deeds visible

 Christians get a bad reputation in many cultures because of what we choose not to do. It isn’t always blind legalism that motivates those choices. We choose to not participate in some things because those things are shameful and sinful. Our choice to refrain from those activities is exposing them to the light – making it visibly clear that God does not approve of them.

 The more we choose to live the resurrection life we have been granted by Christ, the more this will happen. Christ himself, in all his goodness, righteousness and truth will shine on us, exposing what is going on in the darkness all around us. His light will show us what is worthwhile and pleasing to God, and what is not. Then, it is up to us to say no to the deeds of darkness.

 Lord, shine through us, and show us what is worth participating in, and what is not.




























































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decision training

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Ephesians 5:9-10 (JDV)

Ephesians 5:9 because the fruit of the light consists of all goodness, righteousness, and truth –

Ephesians 5:10 evaluating1 what is pleasing to the Lord.

decision training

We are used to evaluating our life options based on our own interests and ambitions. What would life be like if we dared to stop and evaluate every option based on whether this choice would please God or sadden him? Is this a good choice? Is this a display of righteousness, or depravity? Is this choice based on truth, or a lie I would rather believe?

Lord, train us to make choices that please you.


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don’t partner with darkness

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Ephesians 5:6-8 (JDV)

Ephesians 5:6 Let no one deceive you with empty arguments, because God’s wrath is coming on the disobedient because of these things.

Ephesians 5:7 Do not become their partners, then.

Ephesians 5:8 You see, you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light –

don’t partner with darkness

There is no third option here. You are either living as a child of light, or you are counted among the disobedient on whom God’s wrath is coming. Paul warns the Ephesian Christians that their eternal destiny is at stake should they choose to partner with unbelievers.

The reason Paul is so strict about associations is the same reason God insisted that Canaan be cleared of its inhabitants when he sent the Israelites to live there. They would encourage the Israelites to be unfaithful. But the Christians were not supposed to drive out the unbelievers in Ephesus. Instead, they had to seek to win the lost, without being corrupted by their unbelief.

Lord, show us how to win others to you, without losing our commitment to you.

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