Tag Archives: choices

Don’t take your home to Tarshish

Our choice: run to Tarshish, taking our homes into the storm, by refusing to follow God’s plan for wives in the home; or go to the Nineveh of submission in obedience to God.

“Those who cling to worthless idols forfeit the grace that could be theirs” (Jonah 2:8).

Running in the wrong direction

Do you ever turn and run the opposite direction from which God tells you to go? Years ago the prophet Jonah ran from God’s direction too:

The word of the LORD came to Jonah son of Amittai: “Go to the great city of Nineveh and preach against it, because its wickedness has come up before me.”

But Jonah ran away from the LORD and headed for Tarshish. He went down to Joppa, where he found a ship bound for that port. After paying the fare, he went aboard and sailed for Tarshish to flee from the LORD.
–Jonah 1:1-3

Selfish motives

God instructed Jonah to go to Nineveh. Why did he not want to go there? Jonah answers this question in chapter 4:

But Jonah was greatly displeased and became angry. He prayed to the LORD, “O LORD, is this not what I said when I was still at home? That is why I was so quick to flee to Tarshish. I knew that you are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity” (Jonah 4:1-2)

Jonah didn’t want to go because he knew that the people of Nineveh didn’t deserve God to forgive them. He knew if he preached to them they would repent and be forgiven.

This seems to be the ultimate of selfish excuses. Yet every time we run from God, we are doing it with selfish motives. Like Jonah, many times we are standing in the way of others coming to know Christ, and we may not even realize it.

Right circumstances

When Jonah chose to go to Tarshish, he chose to go the exact opposite direction from the way God told him to go. Tarshish was south. If you look on a map, south is always down. When we run away from God, our life always heads into a downward spiral. Sometimes we kid ourselves into thinking God approves our misbehavior. After all circumstances are right for it.

What circumstances were right in Jonah’s life to make it seem okay to go to Tarshish?

  1. Jonah was able to find a boat to Tarshish.
  2. The boat had room for him.
  3. He had money for the fare.
  4. There was a wind going toward Tarshish so the boat would sail.

Bringing it home

What about in your home? It is easy to decide our husbands dont deserve our kindness and helpfulness, just as Jonah felt about the people of Nineveh. We often find circumstances that seem to invite us to go the opposite direction. We want to run from that which God has called us to be in our homes. We want to follow our own plans. God permits it, and the circumstances seem equitable to it.

Running in their own power

The sailors ran from God

When Jonah ran from God, he set the stage for others to run too. The sailors had no doubt heard about the powerful God of the Hebrew people. They began to question Jonah during the storm:

[Jonah] answered, “I am a Hebrew and I worship the LORD, the God of heaven, who made the sea and the land.”

This terrified them and they asked, “What have you done?” (They knew he was running away from the LORD, because he had already told them so) Jonah 1:9-10.

The sailors feared the God of Jonah. Yet, rather than call on Jonah’s God themselves, they looked to other things for help. According to the first chapter of Jonah, what are some things the sailors looked to for help before finally turning to God and following his directions?

  1. They looked to other gods, gods who could never help, gods with a little “g,” not the only true God who could help them.
    • All the sailors were afraid and each cried out to his own god…
      –Jonah 1:5a
  2. They tried to fix the problem themselves by throwing cargo overboard.
    • And they threw the cargo into the sea to lighten the ship. But Jonah had gone below deck, where he lay down and fell into a deep sleep.
      –Jonah 1:5b
  3. They asked someone else to pray for them before they prayed for themselves.
    • The captain went to him and said, “How can you sleep? Get up and call on your god! Maybe he will take notice of us, and we will not perish”
      –Jonah 1:6
  4. They tried consulting mysticism by casting lots.
    • Then the sailors said to each other, “Come, let us cast lots to find out who is responsible for this calamity.” They cast lots and the lot fell on Jonah.
      –Jonah 1:7
  5. They blamed someone else. So often we are tempted to blame our husbands for the shape of our homes.
    • So they asked him, “Tell us, who is responsible for making all this trouble for us? What do you do? Where do you come from? What is your country? From what people are you?”
      –Jonah 1:8
  6. They asked advice from someone else before they consulted God.
    • The sea was getting rougher and rougher. So they asked him, “What should we do to you to make the sea calm down for us?”
      –Jonah 1:8
  7. God showed them his solution through the other person. They refused to follow.
    • “Pick me up and throw me into the sea,” he replied, “and it will become calm. I know that it is my fault that this great storm has come upon you.” Instead, the men did their best to row back to land. But they could not, for the sea grew even wilder than before.
      –Jonah 1:12-13
  8. They tried to run away from the problem: Instead, the men did their best to row back to land… (Jonah 1:13).

How would you feel if God said, “Throw this man overboard, that is my solution!” They must have been appalled. How many times has God shown us something we are to do in relation to our husbands and we have said, “Oh, no God, anything but that!” We want to be independent. God says we are to be dependent on him.

The sailors turned to God

“Then they cried to the LORD, ‘O LORD, please do not let us die for taking this man’s life. Do not hold us accountable for killing an innocent man, for you, O LORD, have done as you pleased.’ Then they took Jonah and threw him overboard, and the raging sea grew calm. At this the men greatly feared the LORD, and they offered a sacrifice to the LORD and made vows to him” (Jonah 1:14-16)

When they got right with God the storm ended. They did this by:

  1. Calling out to God.
  2. Recognizing Gods sovereignty.
  3. Obeying Gods instructions.
  4. Fearing God.
  5. Offering a sacrifice to God.
  6. Making vows to God.

Bringing it home

Some of their own solutions, for example throwing the cargo overboard, were sensible. But God’s only acceptable solution was repentance and trust in him. We have our own ideas of how things are to be done in our homes. As wives God tells us to be submissive to our husbands.

Wives, in the same way be submissive to your husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives (1 Peter 3:1).

Anything short of that is running away, running to Tarshish, and God will certainly deal with it. This is not to say we should allow physical abuse and God’s Word does have some things to say about desertion and fornication. But most of the time we break Gods rule for us as wives in the home because we just flat don’t like it.

Running or revealing?

“He answered, ‘I am a Hebrew and I worship the LORD, the God of heaven, who made the sea and the land'” (Jonah 1:9).

Jonah was a Hebrew. By saying “I am a Hebrew,” he was saying “I am one of those through whom God reveals himself to the world.” Yet, by his rebellion against God’s direction, Jonah ran from his responsibility to allow God to reveal himself to the world through him.

Bringing it home

According to 1 Peter 3:1, if our husband is an unbeliever, we, as a Christian wife, are one of those through whom God reveals himself to our husbands.

Wives, in the same way be submissive to your husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives (1 Peter 3:1).

Are you running, or revealing?

Running from accountability

Because Jonah refused to follow Gods will for him, those he was to be an example to suffered:

  1. They experienced great fear (Jonah 1:5,10 below).
  2. They had to throw some of their possessions overboard.
    • All the sailors were afraid and each cried out to his own god. And they threw the cargo into the sea to lighten the ship. But Jonah had gone below deck, where he lay down and fell into a deep sleep… This terrified them and they asked, “What have you done? (They knew he was running away from the LORD, because he had already told them so)” (Jonah 1:5,10).
  3. They had to live with throwing a man overboard.
    • Then they cried to the LORD, “O LORD, please do not let us die for taking this man’s life. Do not hold us accountable for killing an innocent man, for you, O LORD, have done as you pleased.” Then they took Jonah and threw him overboard, and the raging sea grew calm (verses 14-15).

    How would you like to have to live with that?

  4. The worst thing of all that people had to suffer because of Jonah’s rebellion was this: The people of Nineveh had to continue in darkness until Jonah repented.

Bringing it home

If we refuse to follow God’s plan for us in our homes, our husbands, our children, all in our household will suffer. We are accountable to God.

Running to God

The storm and the fish

God sent the storm, and God sent the fish.

  • God sent a great wind. “Then the LORD sent a great wind on the sea, and such a violent storm arose that the ship threatened to break up.” (Jonah 1:4)
  • God also sent a great fish. “But the LORD provided a great fish to swallow Jonah, and Jonah was inside the fish three days and three nights” (Jonah 1:17).

God will chastise his children greatly, and God in his grace will also provide great protection for them even in the midst of the chastisement. The fish is a perfect example. It was chastisement. It also protected Jonah from being drowned in the ocean.

The forfeiture of rebellion

You can read the story of Jonah’s repentance from the belly of the whale in Jonah 2:1-10. Jonah summed his experience up with these words: “Those who cling to worthless idols forfeit the grace that could be theirs” (Jonah 2:8). That is an awesome statement.

How much we forfeit when we cling to our idols, our “rights” in our home. When we rebel against God’s plan for us in 1 Peter 3:1, we forfeit the grace that could be ours.

We sometimes do this just by refusing to study the word that we might know God’s will for us. We refuse to study and find out what his will is, then when we know his will we run from it, because we think it is too much to ask. We think our way is so much better. This is fleeing to Tarshish.

Those to whom Jonah should have been setting an example, the very ones who God had called him to minister to (for us as wives/mothers that is our husbands/children) — those very ones are the ones who saw Jonah’s disobedience and had to deal with it. They are the ones who were hurt by Jonah’s disobedience. When Jonah repented and got right, people repented and placed their faith in God.

Tarshish or Nineveh?”

Jonah repented from the whale’s belly and God again called him to go to Nineveh. Jonah obeyed God and “On the first day, Jonah started into the city. He proclaimed: ‘Forty more days and Nineveh will be overturned’ (Jonah 3:4).”

The people of Nineveh believed God, and the king issued a proclamation:

“Let everyone call urgently on God. Let them give up their evil ways and their violence. Who knows? God may yet relent and with compassion turn from his fierce anger so that we will not perish.”

When God saw what they did and how they turned from their evil ways, he had compassion and did not bring upon them the destruction he had threatened.
–Jonah 3:8-10

Nineveh repented and turned to God, all because Jonah said, “I was wrong. I have rebelled against God.” Jonah repented, and this opened the door for the lost to repent.

Bringing it home

The choice is ours: Either we run to Tarshish, and take our homes into the storm with us by refusing to follow God’s plan for wives in the home; or we go to the Nineveh of submission in obedience to God:

“Wives, in the same way be submissive to your husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives” (1 Peter 3:1).

Prayer

Lord, we ask that you give us hearts to follow you. Whatever choices you are calling us to make, help us keep our eyes from Tarshish. Help us say “Yes,” and go to Nineveh, even if it seems so hard. For we know your promise, and we thank you for this: “Those who cling to worthless idols forfeit the grace that could be theirs” (Jonah 2:8).

Thank you for that wonderful grace Lord. We love you and trust you, and to be in your plan for us is far more desirable than any Tarshish that may seem so convenient. Help us not choose convenience but rather obedience Lord. Thank you for your faithfulness when we do. Amen.

Scripture taken from New International Version unless otherwise noted

06. Positive support: Praising right choices

Praising right choices our children make reinforces them. Even in wrong choices, we can praise the right desires we’ve planted in our children from God’s Word.

I will give him to the Lord for all the days of his life (1 Samuel 1:11).

An Irrevocable Vow

As Christian parents we must say with Hannah of all our children, “I will give him (or her) to the Lord for all the days of his (or her) life.” Hannah made a special promise called a Nazarite vow.

And she made a vow, saying, “O LORD Almighty, if you will only look upon your servant’s misery and remember me, and not forget your servant but give her a son, then I will give him to the LORD for all the days of his life, and no razor will ever be used on his head.

“So now I give him to the LORD. For his whole life he will be given over to the LORD.” And he worshiped the LORD there.

–1 Samuel 1:11, 28

Hannah’s Nazarite vow (“and no razor will ever be used on his head”) is not applicable to our day. However the principle of dedication of our children is not only appropriate, but mandatory if we would bring our children up to honor the Lord.

An Unremitting Reminder

We must tell our children from a young age that they are being raised for the Lord. We must remind them of this over and over. We must make sure they understand that we have embedded this goal in their life. We must let them know as they mature that this responsibility to live for the Lord is being shifted to their shoulders. We must remind them that the teaching we have given them puts an extra burden of responsibility upon them before the Lord to live by God’s principles. We must let them know that this is what we expect. We must always be positive in our teaching. Our children have a choice. They will learn that soon enough. But we must always reinforce the right choices.

An Expressed Positiveness

Even when they seem to be going in the wrong direction, we can know what we have sown in our children’s hearts, and we can affirm them:

“I know you want to do the right thing, because you love the Lord. Let me pray with you that he will help you make the right choice.”

“You did the wrong thing. But I know your desire now is to do what God wants. I know you are going to follow what God shows you to do about this.”

“God is going to remind you of all the things we’ve talked about. I just know God is going to do great things in your life!”

We must take every opportunity we can to let our children know how proud we are of the right choices they make. Even in the midst of their wrong choices, we can praise the right desires we know we’ve planted inside them.

We should praise our children’s obedience before they rebel. If our children display a hint of rebellion, we must renew our praise for their obedience before the leaven of rebellion has a chance to rise. Even if the rebellious attitude had to be squelched by our firmness, even if the child really did not want to obey, we can inspire our children to squelch the rebellion themselves next time:

“I was so proud of you tonight. You started to argue with me about going out with your friends. But when I told you ‘No, this is how it will be,’ you accepted that. I’ve seen a lot of kids be very disrespectful of their moms in situations like that. But you did what I told you, even though you really didn’t want to. You’ve always respected what I’ve told you, and I want you to know how much I appreciate that.”

Then we can reel in the catch by praising this child to another adult in the child’s presence at the first opportunity:

“He (or she) is a good kid. He respects me, and he obeys me, and he really wants to do the right thing. I couldn’t be more proud of him!”

Next time he starts to disobey, he will be so compelled to live up to the standard Mom has set that it will most likely take only a gentle “You’re not obeying me” to turn the tide.

An Unrelenting Love

We must let our children know that we are always praying for them. We must teach them that to depart from God’s principles is to walk on our prayers and to walk on God’s love. But we must also let them know that they can never do anything to depart from our love or God’s love. We must teach them about God’s love with our love. We must prove to our children over and over that no matter what they do we always love them.

When our children fall short of the principles we teach them, we must be there to support and help them back to the right way–never to criticize. We must respond to them as God responds to us.

An Endearing Discipline

We must love them enough to discipline when necessary. Here are some of the things the Bible teaches about discipline:

Discipline your son, for in that there is hope; do not be a willing party to his death.

Folly is bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of discipline will drive it far from him.

The rod of correction imparts wisdom, but a child left to himself disgraces his mother….
Discipline your son, and he will give you peace; he will bring delight to your soul.

Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord

Fathers, do not embitter your children, or they will become discouraged.

–Proverbs 19:18; 22:15; 29:15,17; Ephesians 6:4; Colossians 3:21

A mother must discipline her children from an early age. Sometimes parents disagree on the discipline of their children. When the father’s ideas of discipline differs from the mother’s, a mother may not be given the opportunity to discipline her children as she would like. But a mother must always love her children enough to demand their respect.

A mother must never, never allow her children to speak disrespectfully to her. She must love them so purely that with only a glance she inspires their admiration of her integrity and sacrificial love. She must love them so firmly that with only a word she employs their desire for her approval and fellowship to produce a reverential respect for her authority. She must demand nothing less than utmost respect from her children.

“Honor your father and your mother, as the LORD your God has commanded you, so that you may live long and that it may go well with you in the land the LORD your God is giving you.” (Deuteronomy 5:16).

An Adept Example

The Apostle Paul was a master at incorporating the above principles into his ministry. To him, the churches he had established and nurtured were his children. In 2 Thessalonians 2:7-11 (quoted in the next session), Paul shows us his father heart. He compares his ministry to that of parent to child.

In almost all of his epistles (letters) to the churches, he began with affirmation and commendation.

The Philippian church was his most well-behaved “child,” the child after his own heart. He told the Philippian church he was praying for them, and expecting great things from them. He did not overlook the dissention between two women who were apparently disputing. However, he did not labor the point. He let them know that he loved them, and that he expected unity.

Corinth was a wicked city, and the church at Corinth tried Paul’s patience at times. This was the child who had never grown up. This child was prone to be rebellious, to follow the world. He had to be firm with this child.

The first letter to the Corinthians displays something of Paul’s firmness–still mingled with love and positive hope, but abounding with discipline. He is reminding them that they have been “trained up” in the way they should go, and that he will not accept their departing from that way now.

The second letter reveals more of Paul’s heart. Even for Paul, the master at balancing discipline with affirmation, it was hard to know how to handle this child. He did not want to be overpowering in his discipline, yet he could not approve the evil in them.

He “disciplined” them in his first letter, but after they had both had an opportunity to think and pray about the situation, he took the initiative to write to them again. He didn’t apologize for his discipline, but he made sure they understood the spirit with which he gave it. And he did indicate that some of the things he had led them to do in his previous letter needed to be amended at this time. He admonished them in love to live up to the positive things he was expecting of them now.

Application

Our children need both our positive support and our consistent discipline. When we are angry or disappointed with our children, or when our children are angry because of our discipline, we can’t really “finish” the job. We haven’t finished until we go back to that child after things have settled.

We must not apologize for our discipline if it was merited, but we must apologize if we have displayed any misbehavior toward our child. We must make sure our child understands the heart and spirit of our discipline, and the reason for it. We must then let our child know that we already feel proud of the way we expect him to behave in the future.

Our children are looking for someone to believe in them. As mothers, we must be that someone!

Thought to Remember

We must take every opportunity we can to let our children know how proud we are of the right choices they make. Even in the midst of their wrong choices, we can praise the right desires we know we’ve planted inside them.

Questions for Discussion

  1. This sounds good. But HOW do I pull it off? I need some PRACTICAL advice.
  2. What do we do when our children rebel?

Nazarite Scriptures

Nazarite Vow Requirement for Hair:
Numbers 6:5 “`During the entire period of his vow of separation no razor may be used on his head. He must be holy until the period of his separation to the LORD is over; he must let the hair of his head grow long.

Sampson:
Judges 13:5 because you will conceive and give birth to a son. No razor may be used on his head, because the boy is to be a Nazirite, set apart to God from birth, and he will begin the deliverance of Israel from the hands of the Philistines.”

Samuel:
1 Samuel 1:11 And she made a vow, saying, “O LORD Almighty, if you will only look upon your servant’s misery and remember me, and not forget your servant but give her a son, then I will give him to the LORD for all the days of his life, and no razor will ever be used on his head.”

John the Baptist (Compare Luke 1:15 with Numbers 6:3):
Luke 1:15 for he will be great in the sight of the Lord. He is never to take wine or other fermented drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit even from birth.

Numbers 6:3 he must abstain from wine and other fermented drink and must not drink vinegar made from wine or from other fermented drink. He must not drink grape juice or eat grapes or raisins.

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Scripture taken from New International Version unless otherwise noted