Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Faithful to Prayer

Today is the 233rd post of the year!  

This year's mission to daily pray for my children has been an incredible journey for me.  And I must begin by thanking all of you who have joined me.  I can honestly say that walking this journey alongside you has been a tremendous privelege.  

Some of you are family I hold dear.  Others of you are friends I am blessed to live life with.  And many of you are essentially strangers.

Yet, TOGETHER we've formed a praying community.  A community in love with Jesus.  A community kneeling together before the throne of grace lifting up prayer after prayer about the children in our lives.

I've shared this with you before, but I fought the Lord about starting this blog for quite awhile before I finally obeyed.  Months before the blog began, He began to challenge me to personally choose prayer above fear and worry when it came to the daunting task of loving and parenting the three precious children in my life.  As I strove to habitually turn to prayer in all things parenting, I quickly realized I needed the support system of other believers.  I would have been content with the Mom's Prayer Group a circle of friends and I started back in early January.  But God had bigger plans.

I had no interest in becoming a blogger.  I was terrified of baring my soul on a daily basis for all the world to see.  Yet, the Lord began to give me a clear picture of a unified community of moms, dads, grandparents, aunts, uncles, teachers, & caregivers who knew the greatest gift they could ever give the children in their lives was the gift of faithful prayer day in and day out.  I felt Him firmly asking me to write a blog for one year with a solid focus on praying His Word over the children in our lives.  The beauty of this picture overshadowed my fears. 

So on January 27th our journey began.  I had about 20 "views" on that first day.  20 people who prayed that first prayer with me.  I was honestly content with 20.  Yet overtime, the Lord has greatly increased this number.

Today, there are so many of us praying on a daily basis.  Our community is strong in numbers and MOST IMPORTANTLY, faithful in prayer.  I have tears in my eyes as I think about the beauty of our community.

Together we have obediently lived out Philippians 4:6,

"Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God."

I hope You have experienced the promise of verse 7 like I have,

"And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."

Over the past year as I've made prayer my first response in parenting, I absolutely have a greater peace about my children.  And as I've dropped to my knees daily about EVERYTHING relatated to parenting, this peace has in fact guarded my heart and my mind.  

It's as though I have a forceshield protecting my mind and heart from all the fears and worries trying to infilitrate my spiritual soul.  I worry less about my children.  My heart's love for them is beginning to look more and more like the Father's love.  I see them through the eyes of their Savior Jesus.  And for me, the parent, I feel safe, guarded, and directed every time I kneel at His throne.  

Have you also experienced these blessings as you've been obedient to His Word and been faithful to prayer?  Oh how I wish I could meet with all of you and hear your answer.  Even if you've found it a struggle to become a parent whose first response is to pray, I have no doubt that as you've prayed along with me that the Lord has sifted and refined you in ways you never imagined.  And I trust that, like me, through prayer you've recognized your great need for Jesus as you care for, nurture, teach, discipline, and lead the children in your lives.

Many of you have been asking me if I will continue this blog every weekday after the year is up.  Up to this point, I've not been able to give you a definitive answer.  Over the past month, I've prayed regularly asking God for direction.  Seeing the community we have makes me never want to stop.  I firmly believe God is doing a great work in our own lives AND our children's lives as we choose prayer again and again and again.  I want to allow God to do more in our lives through this prayer focused community.  

And so, as long as people are praying alongside me I will continue to write this blog.  Yet as the time commitment to write every day has been a significant challenge for me, during 2014 I will only write once a week rather than five times per week.

My hope is to publish a new post at the beginning of each week, and maybe others as I feel led.  I encourage you to subscribe to this blog (see the follow by e-mail link located at the top of the information bar to the right) so that you can receive an e-mail when I've published something new.  Please know that I absolutely receive no income from this blog and have no intention of trying to at any point.  So asking you to subscribe is by no means a sales pitch.  It's simply an easy way for you to be made aware of new posts I've published.

Again, I want to sincerely thank you for taking the time to read my praying heart, for enduring all my personal stories about myself and my kids, and for praying along with me.  I am very aware there are hundreds of wonderful blogs available for you to spend your time reading, most with people who have great writing and artistic talent.  Yet regardless of my own limitations, you've kindly remained faithful to the blog and to prayer.  And for that, I am humbled and so very grateful.

If you don't mind I'd like to end with a little pep-talk for all of us.  Friends, we will never achieve perfection in parenting.  We will always make mistakes. We will always have moments where we fail our children.  Yet, prayer is our best response.  

When we pray we are first, humbly recognizing our great need for God in our parenting.  And second, we grow in wisdom and knowledge of Him and His Word.  And it is with this wisdom and knowledge that we find the best direction in parenting.

So we must never, ever stop praying for the children in our lives.

And for this reason, since the day we've joined together, I have not stopped praying for you (& me), asking God to fill us with "the knowledge of his will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding."  And I pray this in order that we "may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that we may have great endurance and patience." Colossians 1:9-12

And for the children in our lives, my desire is that they learn to imitate our faithfulness to prayer.  For when they learn to habitually bring everything before the throne of grace, they will find a peace that transcends their understanding, a knowledge of God that transforms their hearts, and a spiritual wisdom that will lead and guide them throughout life.

And so like we've done 232 times before, let's pray these things for our kids today and for years to come!

What a year it has been!  Thank you for desiring to be in relationship with me.  Thank you for listening to my prayers.  Thank you for giving me a peace that trancends my parenting understanding.  Thank you for wise direction as I do my best to lead my children in the way they should go so that when they are old they won't depart from it (Proverbs 22:6).

Today I pray that, through my commitment to prayer, You would teach my children to be faithful in prayer.  As they see me choose prayer first, may they learn to bring everything before Your throne of grace.  And as they come to You in prayer would You bless them with a peace that transcends their understanding, a knowledge of You that transforms their hearts, and a spiritual wisdom that will direct them in all that they do.  

And as they pray, would You fill them with the knowledge of Your will.  Would their faithfulness to prayer teach them to live a life worthy of You.  One that please you in every way.  One that bears fruit in every good work.  One that grows in knowledge of You.  And one that is strengthened day in and day out by Your power so that they have great endurance and patience for all that life has for them.


Monday, December 30, 2013

Finding True Inner Joy & Peace

At the end of a Christmas season where there is a great deal of talk about joy and peace, I can't help but ask the following question:

How can my children find true inner joy and peace in a world saturated with depression and strife?

At times I feel that everywhere I look there are people trapped in a pit of inner despair where their souls have neither peace nor joy.  They are, in a sense, tortured by their inner self.  And nothing the world offers gives them any lasting peace or joy.  They are in a constant state of inner turmoil.  They feel worthless, useless, even hopeless.  Their mind is gripped by fear, tormenting them day and night.  They shutdown and shut others out.  They are lonely, isolated, and hurting.

Over the past year, my heart has broken for the people in my life who the above paragraph decribes.  They are in a dangerous and horrible place.

A place I hope my children never find themselves in.  So, I've sought God's Word and asked Him to show me how to specifically pray that my children find true inner joy and peace so that they never find themselves in this inner pit of depression and strife.

He led me to the beginning of Jesus' Sermon on the Mount where he discusses what is famously known as The Beatitudes.  In these first twelve verses of Matthew 5, Jesus teaches the ethical guidelines for life in His kingdom.

Allen Ross a Christian professor said this of these guidelines: 

"The guidelines point to the quality of righteousness that characterizes life in the kingdom, now in part, but fully in the future...

The term, beatitude, is an exclamation of the inner joy and peace that comes with being right with God.  

Happiness may indeed be a part of it; but it is a happiness that transcends what happens in the world around us, a happiness that comes to the soul from being favored by God.  

In some ways the Lord’s declaration of “blessed” is a pledge of divine reward for the inner spiritual character of the righteous; in other ways it is His description of the spiritual attitude and state of people who are right with God." (Allen Ross)

Thus, true inner joy and peace comes when we are right with God.  And a life right with God is one submitted to Jesus and one that follows the guidelines He taught in the Beatitudes.

So let's read those guidelines and let them penetrate our own hearts and direct our prayers for the children in our lives!  I hope you don't mind but I've included The Message version as its contemporary language helps to deepen our understanding, practically speaking.

Matthew 5:1-12

You’re Blessed

When Jesus saw his ministry drawing huge crowds, he climbed a hillside. Those who were apprenticed to him, the committed, climbed with him. Arriving at a quiet place, he sat down and taught his climbing companions

This is what he said:

“You’re blessed when you’re at the end of your rope. With less of you there is more of God and his rule.

“You’re blessed when you feel you’ve lost what is most dear to you. Only then can you be embraced by the One most dear to you.

“You’re blessed when you’re content with just who you are—no more, no less. That’s the moment you find yourselves proud owners of everything that can’t be bought.

“You’re blessed when you’ve worked up a good appetite for God. He’s food and drink in the best meal you’ll ever eat.

“You’re blessed when you care. At the moment of being ‘care-full,’ you find yourselves cared for.

“You’re blessed when you get your inside world—your mind and heart—put right. Then you can see God in the outside world.

“You’re blessed when you can show people how to cooperate instead of compete or fight. That’s when you discover who you really are, and your place in God’s family.

“You’re blessed when your commitment to God provokes persecution. The persecution drives you even deeper into God’s kingdom.

“Not only that—count yourselves blessed every time people put you down or throw you out or speak lies about you to discredit me. What it means is that the truth is too close for comfort and they are uncomfortable. You can be glad when that happens—give a cheer, even!—for though they don’t like it, I do! And all heaven applauds. And know that you are in good company. My prophets and witnesses have always gotten into this kind of trouble.

I love the use of the phrase climbing companions, giving us a vivid picture of how we must do whatever it takes to get to Jesus so that we can know Him better.  Oh how I long for my children to be Jesus' climbing companions!

Join me and let's pray our children follow the guidelines Jesus taught so they absolutely ensure for themselves true inner joy and peace in a right relationship with Him.


I pray my kids would be Your climbing companions, willing to trudge uphill to sit at Your feet and learn from You.  I pray their lives would be characterized by a spiritual attitude and state of mind that is right with You. May they live a life of righteousness that grants them true inner joy and peace which transcends any trial or tribulation they may face in this world.   Ultimately, may they have a happiness that fills their soul from being favored and blessed by You.

And as Your Beatitudes taught, may they...
  • Be humble and show a great need for You.
  • Lose themsleves and be embraced by You.
  • Mold a tender, contented heart in love with You.
  • Maintain a serious and passionate hunger and thirst for You. 
  • Be a giver of mercy; and then shown mercy.
  • Nurture a pure, unobstructed heart with a 20/20 vison of You.
  • Be Your child of peace.
  • Rejoice as a persecuted citizen of Your kingdom  

Friday, December 27, 2013

GUEST BLOG: Obstacles to Following God's Will in Obedience

written by my husband Keith

Renee has blogged more than once about our desire that our children follow God’s will in obedience.  She has given examples from her own life of times when she has, and times when she has not, been obedient to God’s calling and followed His will.  This very blog is an example of a time when Renee has followed God’s will in obedience.  

Each of us can likely think of examples in our own lives where we have felt God’s calling to do something and we have or have not done it.  We can also usually point to an obstacle (or many obstacles) that has stood in our way of responding in obedience to God’s calling.  Again, thinking of this blog, I can point to many times when there were obstacles that stood between Renee and her faithfulness to the blog –busy schedules, late nights, early mornings, sick children, hyperactive children, etc. 
But in obedience, Renee has remained committed to praying God’s Word over our children and sharing those prayers through this blog.
Our childrens’ journeys with God will also come upon obstacles.

I am reminded of the classic Pilgrim’s Progress written by John Bunyan, which chronicled the spiritual journey of the lead character Christian.  Christian’s journey was impeded by several obstacles – e.g., the slough of despond, the valley of humiliation, Vanity Fair, Doubting Castle and Giant Despair.  Despite the impediments and thwarters, Christian remained on the path God had set before him.

“So be careful to do what the Lord your God has commanded you; do not turn aside to the right or to the left. Walk in obedience to all that the Lord your God has commanded you, so that you may live and prosper and prolong your days in the land that you will possess.”  Deuteronomy 5:32-33. 

“The Lord detests the way of the wicked, but he loves those who pursue righteousness.  Stern discipline awaits anyone who leaves the path; the one who hates correction will die.”  Proverbs 15:9-10.

We desire that our children would, like Christian, overcome any obstacles or thwarters and walk in obedience to God’s will.  Unfortunately there are times when we as parents can ourselves be the obstacle in our children’s response to God’s will.  While we may have the best intentions for our children, our finite minds can often miss what God is trying to do in their lives.  For example, have you ever enrolled your child in an activity because you think it would be good for them – but that activity later conflicts with something else that may be better for them. 

Our boys love soccer (or so we think) so we enrolled them in another class/league this past fall. 
Shortly after the season began, our church began a youth group that conflicted with the soccer schedule.  In a perfect world our kids could have done both, but because of the soccer schedule our boys were only able to participate in the youth group in a limited way. 

Okay, we can’t do it all and this is far from an egregious example of being an obstacle in our children’s lives.  Another example may be a parent that insists his/her college age student get a job during the summer . . . (“because that’s what I did when I was a college student . . .and it will teach them responsibility”) – which prevents them from going on a short term mission project.  Sure, the summer job may be an important step in our child’s maturation or it might just be the most practical decision at that time.  Perhaps God’s will is that the child spend his/her summer in a summer job for a whole host of reasons.  But it may also be that God wants to take our child in a different direction that he knows is best – that may challenge them to follow him in faith despite what may be most practical – that may be used by God to touch the lives of someone else in spiritual or physical need – that might be the turning point in the child’s life that takes them to a whole other level of intimacy with Jesus.

These are the kind of choices life presents: to our children and to us as parents.  We may not intend to be an obstacle in our child’s journey of obedience – but we can be.  All the more reason why we must pray continuously and seek God’s guidance as we guide our children (young and old) so that we can avoid being an inadvertent obstacle in our child’s obedience to God’s higher and perfect will.  Our very love for our children can sometimes lead to obstacles if we are not seeking God’s guidance as to how to direct it. 

“Teach me, Lord, the way of your decrees, that I may follow it to the end.  Give me understanding, so that I may keep your law and obey it with all my heart.  Direct me in the path of your commands, for there I find delight.  Turn my heart toward your statutes and not toward selfish gain.  Turn my eyes away from worthless things; preserve my life according to your word.  Fulfill your promise to your servant, so that you may be feared. Take away the disgrace I dread, for your laws are good.  How I long for your precepts!  In your righteousness preserve my life.”  Psalm 119:33-40.

We can also pray against other obstacles that may threaten to impede our children’s walk with God – such as friends that may be a negative influence, temptations to follow after the allures of the world, and selfish desires.Listen, my son, and be wise, and set your heart on the right path.”  Proverbs 23:19.  I gain understanding from your precepts; therefore I hate every wrong path. Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.” Psalm 119:104-105.

Dear God, please help our children to walk in obedience to Your will and to follow and respond to Your calling.  Please help our children overcome any obstacle that may prevent them from responding in obedience (even if that obstacle is us as their parents).  Lord, as the Psalmist prayed for guidance, we pray that You would guide us as we parent our children:

·       Teach me, Lord, the way of Your decrees, that I may guide my child in the way they should go.

·       Give me understanding, so that I may keep instruct my child in Your law so that they may obey it with all their heart. 

·       Direct me and my child in the path of Your commands, for there we find delight. 

·       Turn our hearts toward Your statutes and not toward selfish gain. 

·       Turn our eyes away from worthless things

·       Preserve our lives according to Your word.

·       How I long for Your precepts for me and my child! 

God let our children follow Your will in obedience!

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

The Manger of Hope

Merry Christmas!

This is a season of HOPE.

However, HOPELESS is how I would describe our photo shoot attempt this year for the perfect Christmas Card picture.  After the first click, I knew we were doomed.

There was whining.

There was pouting.

There was sulking.

There was hair in the mouth.

There was the refusing to look at the camera.

There was squinting. 


And there was just awkward. 

We took over 50 photos and not a one of them was good.  The situation was hopeless.

As I scrolled through the photos desperate to find just one that might do, I started to understand how futile are our own attempts at capturing beauty, goodness, and joy in this life.

So many people in this world feel their situation is hopeless.

So many try to capture something, anything, that will shine a glimmer of hope on a life that is otherwise dark, dreary, and full of despair.

But we cannot capture that which is the Lord's. 

The birth of Jesus captures perfectly beauty, goodness, and joy in the form of Hope to a hopeless world.

"But the angels said to them (the Shepherds), 'Do not be afraid.  I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all people.  Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord."  Luke 2:10-11

And because of Jesus, we have a living hope.  

"Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ!  In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil, or fade--kept in heaven for you."  1 Peter 1:3-4

And Christ in us is our only "hope of glory."  [Colossians 1:27]

My prayer this Christmas is that my children quit looking for beauty, goodness, and joy in our hopeless world.  Instead, I pray that they begin to see Jesus as hope itself; their living hope, the hope of glory!
Let's pray!

As we celebrate Christmas this year, I pray my kids would see more and more clearly how hope is only found in professing faith in You.  I pray they would receive a new birth into a living hope through faith in your birth and resurrection.  May they receive the good news of great joy that is for all people...today You long to be their Savior.

I pray that when life deals them a hopeless hand, they would find comfort in an inheritance from You that can never perish, spoil, or fade.  

And I pray they would never make futile attempts at capturing that which is Yours, a beautiful, good, and joyous hope found in being perfectly loved by You.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Guest Blog: No Other Gods

I know it's Monday but my wise friend Erin, whom we've heard from multiple times, has a prayer on her heart.  Monday sounds like a great day to hear it.  

So let's listen and join her in prayer over our children!


Not long ago, Renee wrote a blog about the role of sports in our lives, pointing out that there needs to be balance and ultimately we pray that the training they learn through sports would be a skill they use in the future and in their relationship with the Lord.  This idea of something good getting taken too far weighs heavy on my heart.  Since this topic perfectly connected to something I had already been asking God about for my kids, I thought maybe we could continue the conversation.  Shall we? 

In beginning of the book of Daniel, the Jewish people had been taken from their homeland to Babylon.  The youngest and brightest were trained in the ways (including religion!) of the Babylonian people for various purposes, including infiltrating their existing belief system.  You see, if the Babylonian leaders could change the way this group of young men thought, it would impact future generations.  The Babylonians believed in many gods.  This was not the way it worked for God’s people. 

Three of the young men chosen, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego (names given to them as part of their training) were put to the test on this.  In Daniel 3, they are told to bow down to the statue of the king.  They refused and were punished but amazingly God saved them.  

After hearing a sermon on the topic recently, I read this story with fresh eyes.  The Babylonian king didn’t particularly care if the Jewish people served a god.  They could do that in private.  But when it came time to bow down to what he, as king commanded, they needed to submit to the polytheistic (more than one god) way of thinking. 

Where in the world am I going with all of this?  
If I haven’t lost you yet, hang on.  

Think about sports.  
Think about friends.  
Think about clothes, shoes, electronics, toys … 

We are raising our kids in a culture that may be ok with attending church over the weekend, unless it interferes with a game schedule, or unless it means we say no to specific movies, games, even ways our children spend their time.  


God is so clear.  No other gods before him (Exodus 20:3, Deuteronomy 5:7).  

Along with the rest of the commandments, God gives this to

us because it’s what is best for us.  He knows us because He made us.  He also knows what our sinful hearts lean towards.  

Jesus says this really clearly in Matthew 6: (The Message translation)

You can’t worship two gods at once. Loving one god, you’ll end up hating the other. Adoration of one feeds contempt for the other.

Nothing else can be for us what God is.   We can take comfort in this.  Everything else will fail; even a stellar 5-year-old soccer season will pass. J

Isaiah 44:8
Do not tremble, do not be afraid … Is there any God besides me? No, there is no other Rock; I know not one.

Isaiah 45:18
For this is what the Lord says— he who created the heavens, he is God; he who fashioned and made the earth, he founded it; he did not create it to be empty, but formed it to be inhabited— he says: “I am the Lord, and there is no other.”

Out of his great love for us, he sent his son to make right what got messed up a very long time ago.  For me personally, no bag of Doritos or ice cream can compete with that. 

Romans 5:8
But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

What Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego modeled for us is what I want to model and teach my kids.  We may not be in Babylon, but this challenge applies to us today.  Even when surrounded by those who bow down to lots of things, and even when we are asked (even told!) to bow down to other things, I pray we would choose not to – knowing we serve the only God. 

Graciously heavenly father, hallowed be your name.  We come before you knowing that we bow to other things beside you and ask for your forgiveness.  God, please give us wisdom to teach and model for our children that there is no other god but you.  You are the gracious giver of every good gift.  They need nothing but you.  While you have givens us amazing things to enjoy in this life, we serve nothing or no one but you. 

Friday, December 20, 2013

Selfish People are Unhappy

There I was
sick with a head cold,
standing in the freezing cold garage,
exhausted from a long grocery trip,.
and holding two heavy bags in one hand and a 1 year old little girl in the other.

All I asked was that Cole carry and bring in his coat.
You'd have thought I had asked him to carry a ton of bricks.
The groaning and whining began instantly,
"I'm too tired."
"I can't lift it."
In that moment, the world revolved around Cole. 
He was completely oblivious to my plight.

All kids, to some extent, think the world revolves around them.
Some kids turned grown-ups still think the world revolves around them.  I've certainly been guilty of this a time or two or three or...

I'm sure you have many stories of your own where your kids inability to see past themselves left you frustrated.  In those moments their very selfish hearts cared little for the needs and circumstances of others.  

This ME mentality greatly concerns me because I've seen firsthand that selfish people, who think the world revolves around them, are unhappy.

Since we are smack dab in the middle of this Christmas season, take Ebenezer Scrooge for example.  He absolutely lived as though the world revolved around him.  His heart and actions were shockingly selfish.  And he was incredibly unhappy. 

So for ourselves and for our kids, how can we combat this heart 
mentality that the world revolves around us?  How can we find true happiness?

Scripture teaches that...
True happiness occurs when we love others more than we love ourselves.
True happiness occurs when we serve others above ourselves.
True happiness occurs when life revolves around doing the will of God instead of our own.

As my children display selfish hearts by acting as though the world revolves around them, I've begun to pray they would take the path toward true happiness.  Which involves crucifying their selfish desires & living by and keeping in step with the Spirit:

"I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.  The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me."  Galatians 2:20

And so..

"Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires.  Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit." Galatians 5:24

It can be a great challenge to bury our own selfish desires and to in turn, keep in step with the Spirit.  Every day we are faced with the choice to live as though the world revolves around us OR to live by faith in Jesus and thus, crucify our selfish desires, and instead gratify the Spirit's desires: to love, to be joyful, to be peaceful, to be patient, to be kind, to be good, to be faithful, to be gentle, and to be self-controlled.  All of these desires keep our hearts revolved around the will of God.  And His will is the source of true happiness for me and for my children.

"For the world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever." 1 John 2:17

A life devoted to and in step with You, a will completely submitted to Yours, and a heart revolved around Your desires is the formula for true happiness.  Today I pray my children would combat the temptation to live as though the world revolves around them by crucifying their sinful natures with all its passions and desires.  May they choose to live by faith in You.  May they keep in step with Your Spirit and His desires.  And may they find true happiness laying down their lives and following after You.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Jesus & Women

Are you concerned with how your sons will view women?
Are you concerned with how your sons will treat women?

I am.

I often ask myself,

Will they see women as created in the image of God?  
Or will they see them as lesser beings?

Will they see women as a valued part of creation and God's Kingdom?  
Or will they see them as irrational and emotional beings incapable of reason and thus, useless?

Will they treat women as Jesus did?  
Or will they treat them as inferior objects to be had and disposed of according to their own selfish needs and desires.

I find myself doing whatever I can to shield my boys from images and portrayals of women that belittle their value and parade them about as stupid, sexual objects.  I discreetly turn magazines over in the checkout lane so they don't see the scantily clad and sexy images of women plastered on nearly every magazine cover.  I avoid certain store departments, even some stores altogether, where I know there will be images of women in their underwear all over the place.  I change the channel when inappropriate commercials, shows, or movies come on that further the personification of women as irrational and unintelligent sex objects.

I go to these extremes because I desperately want to protect my sons' eyes and minds (for as long as I can) from seeing women as most of the world does.  Instead, I long for them to see and treat women as Jesus did and still does.    

Jesus was revolutionary in his treatment of women.  

He presented them as faith models in a culture where women were considered to be corrupting, evil influences [Luke 4:24-26; 15:8-10; 18:1-8].  

He redefined the one-sided Jewish legislation concerning divorce providing more protection for women [Mark 10:11-12].  

He redefined adultery, placing a higher level of accountability for men to honor women with pure thoughts and motives [Matthew 5:27-30].  

He willingly and openly taught women in a culture where women were generally barred from reading and being taught the Torah [Luke 10:38-42]. 

There isn't one recorded instance where Jesus disgraces, belittles, or stereotypes a woman.  His treatment of Mary Magdalene, the Samaritan Woman [John 4:1-42], the Woman taken in Adultery [John 7:53-8:11], the Repentant Sinner [Luke 7:36-50], and the Bleeding Woman [Mark 5:25-34] give absolute proof that He loved and valued women as daughters created in the image of God.

Throughout the Gospels, so many firsts went to women:

The first news of the incarnation went to a woman [Luke 1:26-38].
The first miracle was performed for a woman [John 2:1-11].
The first recorded Samaritan convert was a woman [John 4:7-42].
The first recorded person clearly told by Jesus that He was the Messiah was a woman [John 4:26].
The first recorded Gentile convert was a woman [Matthew 15:21-28].
The first resurrection teaching was given to a woman [John 11:23-27].
The first witness to the resurrection was a woman [Matthew 28:1-10].

Dorothy Sayers, a Christian writer and close friend of C.S. Lewis, summed up Jesus' attitude toward women beautifully:

"Perhaps it was no wonder that women were first at the Cradle and last at the Cross.  They had never known a man like this Man.  There never has been such another.  A prophet and teacher who never nagged at them, never flattered or coaxed or patronized; who never made sick jokes about them...who rebuked without querulousness and praised without condescension; who took their questions and arguments seriously; who never mapped out this sphere for them, never urged them to be feminine or jeered at them for being female; who had no ax to grind and no male dignity to defend; who took them as he found them and was completely unself-conscious.  There was no act, no sermon, no parable in the whole gospel that borrows pungency from female perversity.  Nobody could possibly guess from the words and deeds of Jesus that there was anything "funny" or inferior about woman's nature."

As disciples, we are called to be imitators of Christ.  So as my two boys continue to learn how to best follow Jesus in all that they say and do, I must pray that regardless of what the world (both men and women alike) say about and how they treat women, that my sons would faithfully imitate Jesus' beliefs and treatment of women.

Let's pray!

Thank you for revolutionizing beliefs and treatments of women while You were here on this earth.  Thank you that You never belittled, disgraced, or stereotyped women.  Thank You that You viewed women as faith models and worthy of hearing and learning Your teachings.

As my boys grow up, may they imitate Your beliefs about and treatment of women.  I pray they would counter the world's attitude about women by fervently study Your words and actions with women.  And may that study make them powerfully aware of how the world's attitude is far from Your own.  Through Your Spirit, may they avoid being entangled up in the world's views of women.  May they treat women with respect and value.