Tuesday, August 12, 2014

School's a Battleground

As the start of a new school year draws near, I worry a little more.  There are so many "unknowns" where my mom-control cannot reach.   

Will they be safe?
Will their teacher be a good fit?
Will they be challenged appropriately?
Will they fit in?
Will they make good friends?
Will they be a good friend?
Will they treat others with love and respect?
Will they seek God's heart wherever they are and in whatever they are doing?

If you are like me, these questions and all their unknown answers draw me to my knees.  I've come to Jesus with these questions over the course of the last few weeks, beseeching Him to be the REFUGE and STRENGTH of my children as they venture back to school.

I've been meditating on the following Scriptures:

Psalm 9:9  "The LORD is a refuge for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble.  Those who know your name will trust in you, for you, LORD, have never forsaken those who seek you."

Psalm 461-2a  "God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.  Therefore we will not fear..."

Scripture is clear.  God is the place to which we flee in times of danger and oppression.  He is our lofty wall, our high tower, our fort, our fortress, our source of strength when we are weak and defenseless. 

As strange as this sounds, I believe school can be an intense battleground.  With all the social, academic, physical, emotional, and spiritual pressures they will face every day our kids need a place of refuge to flee to and a source of strength to trust in. 

Grayden, our oldest, is starting first grade at a new school this year.  He is entering an entire new battleground.  There are a whole lot of "unknowns" for him.  So my heart's cry is that when the going gets tough, when he has trouble, when he is weak, and when he needs a safe place that he will find it from The One who has never forsaken those who seek Him, The One whose name he can put his trust in, The One who is his refuge and strength...JESUS!!

Friends, no matter what grade your children are entering this year there are unknowns for them.  They are entering their own battlegrounds.  They will fight social, academic, physical, emotional, and spiritual battles every day of this school year.  But thanks be to God...He is their refuge and strength for each and every battle.  Will you join me today and let's pray for our kids as they begin a new school year?

Jesus,
I ask that You would continue to draw my children's hearts to You.  May they seek You and trust You as they enter a new school year.  When they are battling all those social, academic, emotional, and spiritual pressures, may You be their place of refuge to flee to and their source of strength to draw from.  As You have spoken in Scripture, I find peace in knowing that You are their ever-present help in times of trouble.  Therefore, I will not fear the unknowns.  I will trust in You and place my precious children in Your hands.  I ask that You will make this school year one of great spiritual growth for them.  Will You sift and refine them, sanctifying them through and through, as they battle through each day.  Amen!  

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Sometimes We Just Need To Get Out of God's Way

If you were to sit down and watch old videos of me as a young girl there is a phrase you will hear the videographer (i.e. my parents) say quite often,  "Get out of the way, Renee."

You see, I had a knack for standing directly in front of the video camera (my back to it) when someone other than me was being taped.  It wasn't on purpose.  I wasn't trying to steal the attention (though I did like attention).  I just simply didn't understand "staging" etiquette.

So it's quite ironic to me that one of the more recent instructions I received from the Lord was the exact instruction my parents used to give me, "Get out of the way, Renee."

You see, I'm a rescuer and I'm a problem solver.  People like me have a tendency to get in God's way.  My intentions are usually good, yet my solutions are limited. 

Over the past few years a dear friend of mine has been trying to get pregnant.  I wrestled within myself again and again, wanting to step in and help her as I saw fit.  I desperately wanted to be part of her problem solving process.  I had some ideas, some thoughts, some opinions, some solutions.  Yet while running and praying one day (these two go hand-in-hand quite often in my life), the Lord spoke directly to my heart.  "Get out of the way, Renee.  Let me.  Trust my plan, it's way better than anything you've determined."  I'll be honest, it wasn't easy stepping aside.  I'm a doer, so I did the only thing I could do...I prayed A TON. 

Grayden, our 7 year old, broke his arm at the beginning of the summer.  His first few days in a cast were tricky having to get acclimated to doing those common everyday tasks with only one arm.  Boy did I want to step in and rescue him as I watched him struggle to put on and take off his shirt, to eat, to write, to buckle his seat belt.  Yet that phrase, "Get out of the way, Renee" came quickly to mind.  This is not to say it isn't okay to help our kids when they need it, but in this case I knew I needed to let Grayden struggle through these somewhat challenging obstacles.  I can't rescue him all the time or else I'll always be in the way of God's building and refining process of his little heart.  And yes, I believe a broken arm can absolutely be a building and refining process of the heart.

Cole, our 5 year old, just recently learned to ride his bike without training wheels.  He got the riding down pat, but the starting and stopping proved to be a greater obstacle for him.  I gave him a few key pointers, even demonstrated the best plan of attack.  But the bottom line is that I knew I needed to let him solve this problem on his own.  He needed to work through it, put in some of his own sweat and tears to get to the point where he mastered the start and stop of bike riding.  Had I held his hand and helicoptered the process obsessively, he wouldn't have learned the value of hard work and determination...both incredibly essential qualities for anyone who follows Jesus these days. So I got out of the way.   

Friends, I believe that sometimes we just need God to give us a good shove to the side so that He can work, especially with our kids.  This is a hard lesson to learn, but one that proves to shape our kids' lives for the better.

And this is a lesson our kids must learn as well.  Will you pray with me and let's ask God to give them the faith to trust His way in all things and thus grow to understand that their best chance at rescuing or solving problems is by getting out of His perfect way.  Let's pray!

Lord Jesus, When our children are afraid for someone, even themselves, and want to step in and rescue or problem solve, teach them to trust in You (Psalm 56:3).  May they trust in You with all their heart, and lean NOT on their own [limited] understanding (Proverbs 3:5).  Gently shove them aside when they are in Your way, but give them eyes to see Your perfect work and plans.  Give them purpose in prayer as they let You work.  And as the God of hope, will you please fill them with your [sweet] joy and [relieving] peace as they trust in You.  May they abound in hope through the power of Your Spirit so that it becomes incredibly easy to get out of Your way. (Romans 15:13) 

And in case any of you were wondering, that dear friend of mind...she's pregnant.  And God's plan was brilliantly perfect.  I love it when He gets flashy with me.  And Grayden mastered those common everyday tasks with a cast in about 2 days, building his endurance and strength to overcome future obstacles.  And Cole, he practically has the starting and stopping of biking riding down.  Sure he got a few scrapes and bruises on the way, even threw a few tantrums.  But he did it all on his own, gaining a greater sense of the value of hard work and determination.  Lesson learned:  When I let go and let God, I am always glad I did.

 


Tuesday, July 8, 2014

What Do I Pray When My Kid's In A Funk?


My definition of a kid's funk:
Moody
Whiny
Ornery
Easily Angered
Dramatic
Indifferent and Unresponsive to Discipline
Stubborn
and.
Challenging.

Have you seen this type of funk in your own kid?

All my kids have had these funks.  Some the result of sickness, lack of sleep, developmental changes, difficult circumstances, or a rebellious heart. 

Certain funks have only lasted a day, others have gone on for weeks. 

Regardless of the cause or longevity, they are challenging to parent through. 

As I seek to understand the "why" and help my children, I can become frustrated and frazzled.  There have been quite a few funks that have brought me to my knees with tears of desperation.  And I can recall a few that have even sent me spiraling into my own personal funk.

Our little Cole is currently in one of these funks.  And it's been going on for a few weeks.  I keep waiting for that breakthrough, that ray of sunshine to pierce through the stormy cloud.  Thus far, it hasn't come. 

His funk isn't constant, rather it comes in waves throughout the day.  As a whole, we've had a few more challenges with Cole.  He is a strong willed and stubborn little guy.  Yet, he is also a fun-loving, affectionate, and sweet boy.  When stuck in a funk, though, those latter attributes present themselves less and less.

To be completely honest, I'm ready to tag myself out and let someone else weather this storm with him.  Honestly, I hate that I feel this way.  It's just that I've become weary of disciplining, short on patience, and lacking in wisdom.  I feel very defeated.  I probably sound a bit dramatic, but that's what these funks produce...dramatic emotions that desperately need an abundance of God's grace and a good healthy dose of His truth.

While I may feel defeated, I am determined to not allow the Enemy to defeat me.  As I've been committed to praying for my kids over the past year and a half, I've learned that parenting can be an intense spiritual battle.  A battle that requires great faith and steadfast reliance on the Spirit.   The Enemy wants me to tag out with Cole.  He wants me to focus on the failures.  He wants me to dwell on the negative.  He wants me to get frustrated and frazzled.  Like a roaring lion, He is looking to devour me. 

So today I chose to fight the Enemy the same way I've been fighting him over the past year and a half, I will pray God's Word over myself and over my little toe-head that I love so much.

I'm using Psalm 107:28-31 & Job 33:28 to cry out to the Lord...

"Lord, I cry out to You in my trouble.
Will you bring me out of my distress?
Will you still this storm to a whisper?
Will you hush the waves?
For I will be glad when it grows calm,
because You will guide me to a safe harbor
where I will give You thanks for Your unfailing love
and wonderful deeds.
So Lord, redeem my life from going down to the pit,
may I live to enjoy the light."

And you better believe I am praying the exact same words for Cole...and I invite you to pray them over any child of yours who has a funk of their own.

"Lord, I cry out to You regarding Cole's trouble...this stormy, dark funk.
Will you bring him out of his distress?
Will you still his storm to a whisper?
Will you hush his waves?
And will you fill him with gladness when he grows calm?
Will you guide him to safe harbor?
And may he give you thanks for Your unfailing love for him
and for your wonderful deeds toward him!
Lord, redeem his life from going down to the pit.
May he live to enjoy the light."

I love the imagery of a storm that needs calmed or a dark pit that needs light.

As we've done for a year and a half, and as we will continue to do, let's pray the above prayers full of God's Word over our kids...especially as they (and we) battle those stormy, dark funks.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

It's Just Food

Before I begin, I feel it is important to clarify what this post is NOT about. 
It's not about dieting. 
It's not about weight. 
It's not about eating disorders. 
It's not about nutritious versus non-nutritious foods, nor it is about organic versus non-organic foods. 
Yes, all of these topics are legitimate and important topics in relation to food. 

However, today's post is solely about the control food can have on our minds and hearts

I've always been thin.  In grade school I was literally a bean pole.  In junior high and high school, I was a bean pole with acne.  So some might find it weird, even obnoxious, that I'm writing a post about food. 

Please don't misunderstand me, I fully recognize that I do NOT know what it is like to significantly struggle with my weight and nothing that I write today insinuates that I do.  I would never dream to compare myself to any individual whose struggle with food has direct correlation with their weight.  Just like I find it extremely insensitive (and obnoxious) when an individual with very nice skin complains to me about a single pimple on her face.  She doesn't get acne, just like I don't get low metabolism.

But please understand something:  In my experience, the issue of food and its control on an individual's mind and heart has become an epidemic across the body weight spectrum.  People of all different shapes and sizes can have an unhealthy mind and heart relationship with food.

While I have never significantly struggled with my weight, I am being openly honest in sharing that I have (and do) struggle with food and its control over my mind and heart.  Like so many individuals, I think about food too much.  I prescribe it to cure my boredom.  I seek comfort and refuge from it when I'm emotionally vulnerable  And, at times, I give it too much control in my everyday living...to the point that it dictates my highs and lows.  Simply put, at times I give food god-like control in my life.

Does this make sense?
Can you relate?
Have you personally struggled with giving food too much control over your mind and heart?
 
 
Recently, I felt the Lord breathe a new wave of grace over me when it comes to my personal struggle with food.  As I've asked Him to rescue me from food's control He has spoken one simple morsel of truth: "It's Just Food Renee."

In those moments of temptation to put food on the throne, I'm clinging to God's truthful message:

"Yes, food nourishes your body.
And yes, food satisfies your physical hunger.
But it's still just food.

Food cannot satisfy your hunger for companionship.
But I can.

Food cannot satisfy your hunger for happiness.
But I can.

Food cannot satisfy your hunger for rest and relaxation.
But I can.

Food cannot satisfy your hunger for relief.
But I can.

Food cannot satisfy your hunger for fun.
But I can.

Food cannot satisfy your hunger for purpose.
But I can.

Food cannot nourish the deep, dark places of your feeble soul.
But I can.

Let me renew your mind so your thoughts about food are realistic, logical, true and pure.
Release back control of your heart to Me so that you can love Me fully, without distraction or competition.
 
Food is food.
But I am God. 
The Creator of this universe. 
The Giver of life. 
The Merciful Father. 
The Source of all grace, hope, and love.  
I am everything you need all wrapped up into one. 
I can perfectly satisfy you. 
I can wholly nourish you.
 
My daughter, this is My gracious reminder:
It's Just Food."

It's easy to make something powerless a god in our lives, especially when we are hurting, disappointed, weary, experiencing difficulty, or even bored.  The trouble is that when we release control over to something that is powerless to help us, the enemy gets a foothold and uses it to enslave our minds and pervert our hearts to his lies and trickery.  

And thus, like the Romans, we exchange the truth for a lie:

"They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshipped and served created things rather than the Creator..." Romans 1:25 

Once we've exchanged truth for a lie and given something control in our mind and hearts, its tough to get it back.  We can spend years in therapy and never find freedom.

But I believe that with Jesus ALL THINGS ARE POSSIBLE.  I cling to the power of the gospel in my life:

"It is for freedom that Christ has set us free.  Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery."  Galatians 5:1

If food has control over you, will you join me in approaching the throne of Jesus and asking Him to rescue us and set us free?  Friends, let's fervently pray for a breakthrough.  Let's exchange the lies of the enemy for the truth of God's Word.  Let's remember God's gracious message to us, "My children, It's Just Food."

And let's pray for our kids and their relationships with food.  If you are like me, you deeply desire for your kids to remain free from food's ugly control of their minds and hearts.

Lord Jesus,
For me, I ask for freedom from food and its yoke of slavery over my mind and heart.  Give me the strength and wisdom to stand firm against food and its deceptive control in my life.  May I know Your truth so that I am not deceived to believe any lies about food.


And for my kids, I ask You to fill their minds and hearts with Your truth about food.  May they resist the temptation to release control of their minds and hearts over to food.  Through Your Spirit working in them, may they be empowered to stand firm against the enemies lies regarding food.  May they trust You with food and would you graciously remind them that when it comes to food, 'It's Just Food.'  I pray food would remain in its rightful place in their hearts and I pray You would be their ever present hope in times of trouble.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Pretty is As Pretty Does

Look at how pretty you are!
Aren't you a beautiful little girl!
You look just like a princess!

These seem to be some of the most common phrases said to girls under the age of 5.

We've all likely said them.
And there isn't anything inherently wrong with saying them.
Little girls are, in fact, pretty and beautiful.

But when heard over and over again these phrases have the potential to prematurely rob little girls of the coveted freedom they possess.  A freedom most adolescent girls and women desperately wish they still had. 

This freedom being THE freedom to not care at all about what they look like.  The freedom to walk into a room without fear of looking ugly, fat, or fashionless to those around them.  The freedom to not worry about whether the people around them think they look good or bad.  The freedom to have no inhibitions or insecurities where looks are concerned.

This picture of Allie is a perfect example of the freedom I'm talking about.  She was helping me fold laundry the other day and she single handedly put together this little outfit.  And yes that is her bathing suit over a pair of pajama pants and a t-shirt (she added goggles later on for kicks). 

She wore this ensemble proudly for a neighborhood party I hosted that evening.  Never once did she worry about what she looked like.  Never once did she feel insecure.  She could have cared less about fashion or vanity.  She was just being a little girl, using her curiosity, imagination, and creativity. 

Ahhhhh, that type of freedom from obsessing about beauty is so refreshing.  I wish she could keep this freedom forever.

But we all know that's impossible.  Sin has corrupted our minds when it comes to beauty.  We worship it.  And for many, they are enslaved by it.  No matter how hard they try to avoid its deadly snare, they can't stop obsessing over it. 

As much as we'd like to hope and think it isn't, man's main measure of beauty is based on the outward appearance.  So the more our little girls hear these phrases, the more quickly they begin to measure their own beauty on the outward appearance.  At an earlier and earlier age, they become crippled by physical insecurities and enslaved by an obsession to become the perfect specimen of outward beauty.

So how do we protect our girls from all this?

How do we help them hold on to the freedom that little girls should still possess?

How do we transform their hearts and minds with God's definition of beauty: "The LORD does not look at the things man looks at.  Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart." 1 Samuel 16:7

I believe we can start with a simple, yet profound, motto: 
Pretty is as pretty does.

I had a mom friend tell me recently that she uses this "Pretty is as pretty does" phrase with her 5 year old daughter all the time.  When her daughter has a nasty attitude and is acting selfish and unkind, with a gentleness and grace she explains to her daughter how ugly her attitude and actions are making her.

But when her daughter has shown kindness to her brother or put someone else above herself, she joyfully explains how beautiful her attitude and actions are making her.

The goal, she says, is to change the way her daughter thinks about and sees beauty.  "I want her to understand that the condition of her heart, and nothing else, determines her beauty.  In other words, I want her to understand that "pretty is as pretty does."  She consciously limits how much attention and emphasis is put on her daughter's outward appearance.  The most attention goes to the beauty of her daughter's heart.

I love this mom's approach.
It's full of God's wisdom.

For,

Beauty, in God's eyes, isn't about clothing oneself with the latest fashions...it's about clothing oneself with "compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience" (Colossians 3:12).

Beauty, in God's eyes, isn't about appearing put together and flawless on the outside (while being unclean and depraved on the inside: Matthew 23:27)...it's about having a pure heart to see God (Matthew 5:8).

Beauty, in God's eyes, isn't about looking to become a particular size, shape, or style...it's about looking to Him.  For "Those who look to him are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame" (Psalm 34:5).

Beauty, in God's eyes, isn't about maintaining a youthful appearance with an hour-glass figure...it's about trusting that although "outwardly we are wasting away, inwardly we are being renewed day by day" by Jesus Christ himself (2 Corinthians 4:16).

In summary, God's Word teaches that when our daughter's clothe themselves with His virtues, when they strive to have pure hearts like His, when they look to Him above anything else, and when they trust that their relationship with Him is daily renewing them on the inside...then they are radiantly beautiful!

Will you join me today and let's pray about how our kids understand beauty!

Lord God,
I pray my kids would trust and treasure you're measure of beauty. May they grow to understand that You measure beauty, not from the outside, but by the condition of the heart.  In their hearts may they know and honor Your view of beauty: "Pretty is as pretty does."  May they beautify their hearts rather than their outward appearances.  I pray they wouldn't obsesses over outward appearances but rather that they would seek after and look to You with their whole hearts so that you can make them radiant and pure of heart.  And may they clothe themselves with those virtues of the heart like compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. 

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Obsession With Fame

"You don't have to be famous to be unforgettable."

I first heard this quote on a commercial encouraging men and women to consider teaching as a career.  It's stuck with me ever since.

In our culture so many people are obsessed with fame.  Everywhere we turn an individual is looking for his or her 15 minutes of fame.  And many will go to shameful lengths to attain them. 

People spend precious time, even hard earned money, in order to know all about the rich and famous.  They study them.  They strive to live, act, and think like them.

And why?
Because deep down, we all want to live a life that is unforgettable.

The point of the quote is to remind people that it isn't how many Twitter followers, Facebook friends, You-Tube views, or blog hits that measure the value of one's life.    

Rather it is about the sincerity of one's living.

A sincerity comprised of service to others rather than oneself.

A sincerity rooted in kindness.

A sincerity that finds true joy in being unforgettable to just one person.

A sincerity that hungers to be a blessing to others.

A sincerity that drives one to keep going even if no one else sees or acknowledges one's efforts.

Like the commercial pointed out, a good teacher's work is full of this kind of sincere living.  Hence the reason why each of us has at least one teacher who made a great impact upon our lives.  They might not be famous but, to us, they are absolutely unforgettable. 

And it isn't just a teacher's work that is unforgettable.  Every day millions of people are working hard and living with great sincerity.  And most of them aren't famous.  Even so, another person's life has been greatly impacted by their sincere living.

I recently took a trip to Cambodia and spent a few days at an orphanage there.  I'll never forget one woman who worked behind the scenes at the orphanage.  She helped serve the children meals, brushed and braided the girls' hair, and served as the "house mom."  She epitomized sincere living and her work everyday matters.  Truth be told there are very few people in this world who know her name.  Yet, to those orphan children she so faithfully serves and nurtures, she is unforgettable.

Our kids are growing up in a culture that puts way too much emphasis on fame.  Their generation
believes the lie that if you're popular, then you're somebody special.  And so again and again we see young people today doing whatever it takes to be noticed...popular...remembered.  And in this quest for fame, they've lost sight of sincere living.  In its place is a compromised state of living that is selfish, unkind, and greedy.

I don't know about you but I would rather my kids not get caught up in this hunger for fame game.  I so desperately want them to avoid the pitfalls associated with an obsession for popularity. 

The truth is, I have firsthand found tremendous peace and fulfillment in thirsting for God rather than fame or popularity.  Fame is temporary; popularity dries up quickly.  But God fills the soul with an abundance of hope and love.  And it is out of this abundance that He gives us the strength and grace to live a life that is sincere and thus, unforgettable.

So let's pray our kids thirst for Him rather than fame. Let's pray they find an abundant peace in Him.  And let's pray He gives them the strength to trust Him to direct them toward a path of sincere, unforgettable living.

"O God, you are my God, earnestly I seek you:  my soul thirsts for you, my body longs for you, in a dry and weary land where there is no water."  Psalm 63:1

Lord, may this be the cry of my kids' hearts!  May their souls long and thirst for You above fame.  When the dry and weary land of popularity leaves them parched, my they find an abundance of living water in You.

"Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times and in every way.  The Lord be with all of you."  2 Thessalonians 3:16

Lord, as my kids hunger after You may they be filled with Your peace at all times and in every way.

"Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight."  Proverbs 3:5-6

Lord, may they grow to trust You in all things...especially as they resist the temptation to be obsessed with fame.  In all that they do, may they acknowledge You.  And as they do, would you direct their paths toward sincere, unforgettable living that impacts others one person at a time.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

The Cure for a Darkened Heart & a Depraved Mind


 I read a story this week about a 25 year old woman in Pakistan who was stoned to death (via bricks) by a crowd of 20 men, many of which were her relatives...her brothers, her cousin, AND HER FATHER. 

Her supposed crime was that she was choosing to elope with the man she loved rather than marry the groom chosen by her family.  In their eyes her actions were unforgiveable and would have brought shame and disgrace upon the family.  Her father later admitted to killing his own daughter and expressed no regret stating, “I killed my daughter as she had insulted all of our family by marrying a man without our consent, and I have no regret over it.”

Regardless of cultural or religious differences, it's hard to even fathom that any father could so brutally kill his own daughter. 

As I read the article and reflected upon the horror of it all, the only words that I feel appropriately describe her father's action and attitude are HEARTLESS & RUTHLESS.

And I asked myself, how does one become so unapologetically heartless and ruthless?

I recently studied the second half of Romans chapter 1 in which Paul writes about individuals whose hearts are darkened and whose minds are depraved as a result of exchanging the truth of God for a lie and worshipping anything and everything but Him.  As these individuals willfully suppress God's truth, they become filled with every kind of wickedness...heartless and ruthless attitudes and behaviors included. 


 28 Furthermore, since they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, he gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what ought not to be done. 29 They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, 30 slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; 31 they are senseless, faithless, heartless, ruthless. 32 Although they know God's righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.

The Message version translates it this way:

28-32 Since they didn’t bother to acknowledge God, God quit bothering them and let them run loose. And then all hell broke loose: rampant evil, grabbing and grasping, vicious backstabbing. They made life hell on earth with their envy, wanton killing, bickering, and cheating. Look at them: mean-spirited, venomous, fork-tongued God-bashers. Bullies, swaggerers, insufferable windbags! They keep inventing new ways of wrecking lives. They ditch their parents when they get in the way. Stupid, slimy, cruel, cold-blooded. And it’s not as if they don’t know better. They know perfectly well they’re spitting in God’s face. And they don’t care—worse, they hand out prizes to those who do the worst things best!

In the original Greek, heartless means without love or affection; brutal.  The word ruthless means without mercy, lacking compassion, unconcerned with the plight of others.

To be so utterly heartless and ruthless to his own daughter, there is no doubt in my mind that the heart and mind of this Pakistani father is depraved.  He has exchanged truth for a lie and worships himself.  And worst of all, just like the Scripture teaches, he shows no remorse for his wicked actions.

Yet before I judge this father entirely, this verse (and the previous verse in Romans 1) remind me that any time I worship and serve anything other than my Creator God I am making myself vulnerable to a depraved mind in which any of the 21 vices listed could ensnare me. 

When I worship myself, my relationship with Keith is full of strife.  When I worship success, my actions are arrogant, boastful, and greedy.  When I worship the perfect female body image, my mind and actions are senseless and envious (and sometimes even slanderous toward other female body types).  When I worship humans, desperate to please man, my mind and actions are deceitful and senseless.  And yes, when I worship "religion," my mind and actions are sometimes even heartless and ruthless toward those who aren't as "holy as I am." 

Bottom line:  When we exchange the truth of God for a lie & worship and serve created things, our hearts will become darkened and our minds will become depraved.  And when this happens, we will absolutely do "what we ought not to do."

Sometimes we cannot believe the wicked actions of others, but we mustn't forget that there is "no one righteous, not even one" (Romans 3:10).  We ALL need the saving grace of Jesus to pierce our darkened heart with His light and to heal our depraved minds with His truth.

Our kids need Jesus just like anybody else, just like that Pakistani father.  I'd like to pray for their hearts and minds today.  Will you join me?

Jesus,

I pray my kids would consider it worthwhile to know You.  I pray they would not suppress the truth nor exchange it for a lie.  Would you draw them to Yourself and fill that hole in their heart that longs for meaning and purpose.  May they faithfully serve and worship You, and You alone.  I pray You would protect them from the slippery slope of idolatry.  May their hearts never become so darkened and their minds never so depraved that they become full of every kind of wickedness.  And Lord, when they do struggle to keep You at the center of their hearts, may You open their eyes to the depravity of sin.  May they trust that obedience to You brings freedom and peace like nothing this world has to offer.