Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Don’t Delay in Guiding Your Child

Leslie Basham: Betsy Corning says, "When disciplining your children, little things matter."

Betsy Corning: So many times mothers will say, “Do I have to address it immediately? It’s just a little thing.”

Well, it’s just a little thing if you address it immediately. Otherwise, it gets blown up into this great big thing, and then you have sort of a World War III on your hands with your three-year-old.

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts, with Nancy Leigh DeMoss, for Thursday, July 5. This week, Betsy Corning has been showing us how to guide our children’s hearts. We’ve also heard from some women Betsy’s been mentoring: Gina Cho and Stef Caterer. Here’s Nancy, to pick up that conversation.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: I’m so grateful for my friend, Betsy Corning, and for the resources that she’s developed around the study called Entrusted with a Child’s Heart, that we’ve been discussing over the last several days. I know we have lots of moms who listen to Revive Our Hearts who say, “We want our children to know the Lord, to love the Lord, to walk with Him."

But there’s nothing automatic about that, is there Betsy?

Betsy: No, there isn’t.

Nancy: There’s no magical formula that says, if you do these six things . . .

Betsy: Wouldn’t that be great?

Nancy: Wouldn’t it? And if you’d written that book, it would be a huge best seller.

Betsy: Absolutely, I’m convinced.

Nancy: But you’ve written a study that has lots of practical insights. It can be done by an individual, by a couple. It can be done, ideally, in the context of a local church where people are growing together in their understanding of God’s ways, and where families are being raised together in the church to love the Lord.

We’ve sought to do that in our ministry, where we have lots of families with children, and we consider that this is all our responsibility. We’re to care for each other’s children. I’m not responsible, ultimately, for yours, but I have a burden that your children would walk with the Lord, and that our staff children would.

For a church to go through this study together is a great resource. That’s how this study really began, as a Bible study for moms.

Betsy: Yes. We would observe families, and the difficulties our families were having, and we thought, wouldn’t there be a great way, if we could take families through biblical principles so that they wouldn’t be reaching some really serious crisis points in their lives?

Is there a way that people could understand God’s biblical blueprint for families?

And so, to put it together in such a way that people see that “this is for my family,” and we’re not taking it out of context, we’re really just laying it out there. It’s hard. I thought that when I did this, there would be a hundred of these around the country. And still, twelve years later, I have people telling me, “I’ve never seen anything like this, and this is what I’m craving.” So, praise God for that.

Nancy: And you’ve continued to hone and develop these materials so that now that can be used and reproduced in churches all across the country. If listeners will go to our website, ReviveOurHearts.com, there’s a link to Entrusted Ministries so that they can find the different resources you have listed there: the workbook, the DVDs, the twenty-two week curriculum, Scripture memory cards, and a book entitled Entrusted with a Child’s Heart.

We’re making that book available through Revive Our Hearts during this series. As you’ve developed this material, Betsy, there are other women—lots of them now—who’ve been through the course. It’s a nine-month course, the way you do it in your church. Their lives are now bearing testimony to the power of these principles.

It’s not your course; it’s God’s Word that’s having the impact. We’ve had with us during this series two of those women: Gina Cho and Stef Caterer. Before we get any further, let me stop and welcome you to the broadcast, Stef and Gina, and thank you for joining us and sharing us how God is using these principles in your lives.

Stef Caterer: Thanks, Nancy, thanks for having us.

Gina Cho: Thank you, Nancy, we’re very glad to be here with you.

Nancy:Excited,” is a word that describes you ladies. You’re just bubbling over and very full, because these principles you’ve studied in this resource have not just affected your children—they have certainly done that—but I can tell they’ve really had an impact in your lives and your walk with the Lord, as well.

Gina: Yes, and the core of this ministry is—one illustration I like to use is, it’s like a mirror. You think you’re looking into God’s Word to know how to raise your children, and it becomes a mirror back into what’s in the mom’s heart—what’s in my heart, and what am I battling?

Am I being rebellious to God’s will in my circumstances? So, you’re exactly right. The more I’m in God’s Word, the more I realize how weak I am and how things are beyond my control. Now I’m learning that’s where God wants us to be . . . at the end of ourselves so that He can do His work in us.

Nancy: I think that must be the prayer from a mom’s heart that God most loves: “Help! Lord, I don’t know what to do!” And the starting place really is in a mom’s own heart, as you just said, Gina, in your own walk with the Lord.

And Stef, I know you’ve encountered these principles when you were a pretty new believer. How has God used this content to shape your own heart and your own walk with the Lord?

Stef: God has given me, through Betsy and through Entrusted, a biblical road map for parenting, for being a mom, for being a wife. My husband is one of the biggest supporters of Entrusted Ministries. He says to Betsy . . . He’s not a very excitable person, but he gets so excited about Entrusted. He says, “It changed our family’s life.” He’ll just say that over and over to Dave and Betsy, encouraging them, because it clarifies our family’s plan for us. We didn’t have a family plan . . . now we have a family plan.

We can hone it to make it our own. I love that I took this study in a church with a bunch of other women. Betsy’s daughter, Emily, has my kids right now, and I know what she’s saying to them. She’s saying, “First time, right away, all the way, with a happy heart."

And I hear a mom across the hall at the church, and she’s saying, “Say, okay mommy.” And I think, "There’s an Entrusted mom.” Because we tell our kids, we’re all kind of on the same page.

Nancy: And reinforcing those values.

Stef: Reinforcing those same values, and encouraging each other and sharpening each other and helping each other and listening. We're really taking it in and saying, “What do you do here?Remember what we heard here?” It’s so encouraging, and really, it’s fun.

Nancy: You cover in this material so many different aspects of marriage and parenting, starting with living under the authority of God’s Word. You make that your blueprint, your roadmap for all of life. In fact, while we were recording the last session, one of our staff who's been listening in—she’s a single woman—came in to me and said, “I want to get this book now so I can be reading it in preparation for the day when God will give me children.”

I think you, Gina, were telling me just a little bit ago, this is a resource you wish you had before you were married.

Gina: Yes, because I do feel like there are so many challenges in marriage—when you’re living with a sinner, and you’re a sinner. You can avoid so many pitfalls and arguments and the waste of life issues that Betsy talked about earlier in the week.

Just knowing what a biblical roadmap looks like. For me, what I got out of it was daily hope, in a tangible practical way. “What can I do?" I’m a very task-oriented person, and God’s working with me to humble me and make me more grace-oriented.

What are the steps I can take in my parenting and in my marriage to reflect the love of Christ and to serve my family? That’s something that’s just I not taught in school or in college. It’s not natural. So I really felt like when I first took this class, even though I had all these degrees,  wanted to get an A+ in this class on my report card, and it’s like God’s the Judge.

That’s what I was telling Betsy. I was so excited because I had poured all of my energies into these other areas, and they’re temporal. They were just a season of my life as a single woman, or as a working person. These things I’m pouring into now, they’re eternal. They’re for the eternal glory of God and for my husband and for my children. So, I felt like I embraced this teaching.

I thought, all those hours I spent sitting for the CPA and doing my auditing career, it’s just so small and inconsequential to studying God’s Word and trying to apply that to my daily life, so that God can change me.

Nancy: And to be entrusted with a child’s heart, what greater privilege, blessing, joy, mission in life could there be, next to knowing the Lord yourself?

Gina: That’s easy for us to say now, but it takes a while for God to open your eyes to that truth, and it’s hard to find in today’s world, because you really have to be intentional. I think I had the sin, not of commission, of doing the wrong things. I had the sin of omission, of not running hard after Him as my first love . . . losing that along the way.

That’s what revived in me a spirit of seeking the Lord, through this ministry, that was so exciting and fun.

Nancy: I love how you talk about the content being grace-filled and grace-based, because what hope does any of us have apart from God’s grace?

I know there’s one topic that when you get onto it, and you do have to get onto it when you talk about raising children, that it’s hard to know how it goes with grace, and that’s the whole issue of discipline . . . the “D” word.

You tackle that subject—maybe tackle’s not the best word—you address that subject so effectively, I think, in this book. This is not a one-size-fits-all—that it always looks the same for every child, for every family. But there are some basic biblical principles of discipline.

So you say, can you discipline and be grace-based at the same time? Betsy, can you really practice biblical discipline in the home with your children of various ages and still have that be grace-filled?

Betsy: Yes, you can, because what you do is you teach your children limits. When they assert their will against those limits, discipline is the God-given biblical answer to a child asserting their will . . . or they will never learn to submit that will, not just to you, but to their heavenly Father.

So we teach what that means. Now, there are examples of immaturity in the child’s life, or just not understanding. Those are not the issues of discipline. But we teach that when a child outright disobeys or defies, those are issues of discipline.

Then we create, in essence, boundaries for their life, like a big circle. They learn that life inside the circle is full of grace and tenderness and learning. We don’t want to be women that are just reacting to crises by watching our children try to run to the outside of the circle. We are training them how to obey so that they can put on that behavior and not even have to receive the consequences.

When they do go to the edge of that circle, which requires discipline, then we have to be quick to respond with consistency so they learn that that holds, that that anchor in their life holds. Younger children are disciplined differently than older children, and we go into that quite in detail.

Nancy: So let’s talk about a younger child, two or three years old—and obviously, it’s not in the scope of this program to go into a lot of detail, that’s why this study is available. But briefly, Stef, you’ve had younger children. How do you think about dealing with defiance, disobedience, when it comes to your children.

Stef: You have to tackle their little hearts, is what you have to do. As Betsy said, their hearts are in different places at different times. We’re training ourselves as moms to see if they’re just being ignorant—do they just not know? Or do they need a little encouragement, or are they deliberately defying me?

Nancy: And in order to know that, it’s important to know that the directions have been clear, and the guidelines, the parameters are clear.

Stef: Those are clear, and you’re paying attention to your children. You need to know where it’s coming from. You can ask them questions to try and figure out what happened, and really know where theor heart is. The Lord looks at the heart. Let’s look at their hearts.

When they deliberately defy is when we discipline. Betsy has created this to take them full circle (she can explain it way better than I can) but definitely show them what they did that was wrong, have them make sure they admit that and repent of it, and show them what the right way would be.

Replace the wrong behavior with right behavior and then restore their hearts to the Lord.

Betsy: There are four things we take a child through when they’ve disobeyed willfully and have asserted their will, because we have to get their will submitted to us. If we don’t, then we’ve missed the point. Part of that is teaching a humility of heart toward their parents.

I like it that it’s a little microcosm of the gospel, actually, because you haven’t truly repented or moved on if you haven’t humbled your heart. So what we do, we have mothers go through this full circle with them, and they just stop in their tracks and they say, “What just happened here? I asked you to do something, and you didn’t do it.”

So they have to recognize, “Oh, I did willfully disobey you.”

Nancy: That’s like God saying to Adam in the garden, “What did you do?” Starting place . . .

Stef: Let me just break in here and say, when Betsy said, “Stop them in their tracks . . ." you do it right away. These are little kids. They’re not going to remember ten minutes later or when Daddy gets home. You do it right now and then it’s over, and that’s where the grace comes in. There’s no time-out. It’s over.

There’s no, “You go sit in a corner and think about it.” And they think, “What am I going to think about? I need a sucker right now.”

Betsy: The most humane thing about biblical discipline. It releases that burden, that “I have sinned or done something wrong, and I have to carry that.” That’s really tortuous for a young child. In this study I’d like to remind listeners we are “entrusted with a child’s heart,” not their body and their behavior, although we are entrusted with those things. But ultimately, it’s their heart. So in discipline, we say, “What just happened here? I asked you to put your shoes on, and you didn’t. What would the right choice have been?

So then they verbalize, and they’re owning it. They say, “I should have put my shoes on.” And you say, “What should happen the next time we go through this?” It’s training. And they say, “Well, Mommy, I will put my shoes on the next time you ask me.”

And then we say, “Okay, everything is cleared up between us.” And if it’s willful defiance, of course the discipline comes in there also. But it clears the slate for them, so they know they are restored to you, and that’s what builds a child’s heart, they build this connection with you.

Rather than growing up and thinking, “I know that I did something wrong. I’m going to hide it from my parents.” They want to come to you and work it out because they want to have that feeling and that connection with their parents. Kids really, really do.

Then that’s the inside of the circle, that relationship that you’re building with your kids.

Stef: They have that freedom of the relationship. They are free now to just live their life, because they have repented of the wrong, and they can go on, and not be burdened with their sin.

Gina: And the key word is the “connection.” You want to stay connected with their heart, so you’re not exasperating them or punishing them too hard, or in your anger lashing out at them.

That’s the hard part of self-control. You want to stay connected and do it in a tender way, that’s penetrating to their heart. That’s easy to say, but hard to do.

Nancy: Well, and it sounds like you can’t effectively discipline your own children if your own heart is not disciplined.

Betsy: Yes, and I think that’s a great point of what Stephanie says. You need to address things right away. Because what happens so often with mothers is, they’ll say, “I want you to stop doing that,” then they’ll go about making dinner or whatever. Then they’ll say again, “I want you to stop doing that."

Nancy: Twenty times later.

Betsy: Then what is she doing? She’s very frustrated and overreactive to the situation—where if you just address it immediately—so many times mothers will say, “Do I have to address it immediately? It’s just a little thing.”

Well, it’s just a little thing if you address it immediately. Otherwise, it gets blown up into this great big thing, and then you have sort of a World War III on your hands with your three-year-old. Really, to go completely, because we’re so willing, mothers, to let our children get by with things. We think we’re being kind, but in the long run we’re really not. We’ve got to work on the heart, where their heart is in each one of those moments, so that they get the lesson of humbling their heart.

I don’t really want to call out my granddaughter on this, but we were in the store . . . We have five store rules, and we say them before we go into the store.

So I was doing this with one of my granddaughters, and I said, “One of the store rules is, you don’t leave me.” I was with four grandchildren. She was seven, and so they were seven, six, five, and three. So I said, “You cannot leave me because I’ve got four children here, and you cannot leave me.”

We were all going to have such fun in the store together, and we were looking for a little treat. I said, “I have to be able to see you at every single moment. You cannot even go into the next aisle without me.”

And she did. She went into the aisle because she was so excited to see what the next aisle had. And I said, “Oh, my goodness, now we have to leave the store. I’m so sad that you didn’t obey, and now there’s a consequence.”

And so often we just want to gloss that over, but this turns out to be a huge life lesson. But also it is a lesson to me, because I said, “Now, what happened there?” She was bound and determined to say, “But you knew I was there." She was rationalizing.

Nancy: And don’t we do that?

Betsy: So that first step of owning what you did is massive. I literally sat with her for fifteen minutes and said, “Just say that what you did was wrong. Just say that you followed your own will to do what you wanted to do.” I was just sort of watching it in amazement. “All you have to say that.”

“But you knew that I was going there,” was her response. And I said, “You just have to say that you knew it was wrong and you did it.”

Stef: Isn’t it funny just how resistant the kids are to admitting that they’re wrong, and we are, too. We have so much pride.

Betsy: When she did it—the thing that was amazing was she was not fighting the consequence, that we needed to leave—she was fighting owning it and humbling her heart. And that’s what mothers do, they don’t wait for that point. They don’t go through this whole process with their kids, and so they’re not accomplishing the goal of discipline with their kids.

So when that happened, it was a break through. When it’s a break through with your kids, they get it. It makes a point that is lasting. Then you’re not feeling like you’re disciplining them constantly, and it’s so effective. God’s ways are amazing.

It’s so interesting to me that people want to do anything except God’s ways. If we believe Jesus, we believe what He says, and then we do what He says.

Nancy: So what is the goal of discipline, whether younger children or older children. What are you shooting for?

Betsy: Well, we want them to feel that they have a connection with the Lord, in the same way that they would have with their mother or their father, that God is their authority. That they live in fear of God their whole lives. And it sort of starts out having a fear of crossing over the line.

Later on, it’s a healthy loving fear of living with God, living in connection with God. Ultimately, that’s what we want for our children. We want them to know, whenever they’ve messed up, they have a way back, and that’s what discipline does for a child’s heart.

Nancy: And that’s the gospel, to know that when we have messed up, by God’s grace, because of what Christ has done for us on the cross, there is a way back. And the way back is not just to be better, do better, do more . . . it’s through repentance and faith in Jesus Christ.

And it brings to mind, as we’re talking about the goal of discipline, that wonderful passage in Hebrews chapter 12 that talks about spiritual discipline in the lives of believers. How God, as our Father, disciplines us for our good. And then verse 11 of Hebrews chapter 12, “For the moment,” while you’re in that parking lot at the store, dealing with that situation, “all discipline seems painful, rather than pleasant.”

Sin does have consequences, and disciplining your children involves appropriate consequences for certain behaviors, that are age appropriate and effective. So all discipline for the moment seems painful rather than pleasant, and we say, “Why do we do it then? We don’t want painful. We want pleasant.”

Here’s the “why.” Here’s why we do it. “But later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.” Now, that’s talking about our own walk with the Lord. In time, if we will let God’s discipline take hold in our lives, though it’s painful, it will produce a peaceful fruit of righteousness.

Leslie: That’s Nancy Leigh DeMoss, talking with two younger moms, Gina Cho and Stef Caterer, and Nancy’s been talking with Betsy Corning, author of Entrusted with a Child’s Heart. We’d like to send you this book from Betsy when you support Revive Our Hearts with a donation of any size.

The book will inspire you to invest in your children’s lives and show you how to take practical steps in training them. Whether you’re a mom, or know a mom who could use this book, I hope you’ll donate any amount at ReviveOurHearts.com.

Once you provide your gift, you’ll have a chance to indicate you’d like the book Entrusted. Or you can ask for it when you call 1-800-569-5959.

You have a chance to ask Betsy Corning your question about parenting. She’s part of our Revive Our Hearts listener blog today. Just visit ReviveOurHearts.com, find the title of today’s program, it’s called “Don’t Delay in Guiding your Child,” and click on “comments.”

You can then add your comment or question and read what Betsy is posting for our listeners. Betsy Corning will be back tomorrow, and she’ll show you why behavior modification is not enough. You need to be praying about your child’s heart. Please be back for Revive Our Hearts.

Revive Our Hearts is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

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