Monday, September 30, 2013

Sharpening One Another

Hello Friends! 

I am on vacation this week.  However, I will post as much as I am able.

"As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another."  Proverbs 27:17

I have a handful of wise, dear friends in my life who absolutely sharpen my faith & play a very active role in sharpening my character. 

When I spend time with these individuals I am encouraged and challenged.  Their opinions, insights, advice, and ideas are grounded in God's Word.  Their actions and lifestyle are full of integrity.  They are honest and genuine about their own struggles. They are slow to speak and quick to listen.  They are faithful to pray. 

I humbly recognize the HUGE role they play in my life.
God uses them over and over again to sift and refine me.

I have not always had friends like this in my life, and so I do NOT take them for granted.  I am sincerely so thankful for their presence in my life, especially as I parent three children.

In fact, several of these friends are moms as well.  And I can't help but believe that God KNEW I needed strong, godly moms in my life as I walk the parenting journey.  Simply because it is THE most difficult, mind-boggling journey I've ever walked.  It is so wonderful but so incredibly intimidating and overwhelming at the same time.

God knew I would need sharpening throughout this journey, and so He faithfully provided me good friends.

I want this for my children.
I want them to have wise friends who sharpen their faith and character (and vice-a-versa).


So, let's pray and ask God to faithfully provide our children friends who are sharpeners!

God,  I pray you would bring wise, godly friends into my kids lives whom they can not only live and enjoy life with, but with whom their faith & character are sharpened.  As iron sharpens iron, may these friends sharpen my kids, especially during the more challenging journeys.  May they point my kids to God's Word, may they be faithful in prayer, and may they set an example in faith, in life, in love, and in purity.    








   



Thursday, September 26, 2013

Simple or Prudent

My boys have experienced many natural consequences due to foolish and/or disobedient behavior.

 
Natural consequences are those things that happen in response to a child's behavior without parental involvement. These are imposed by nature, society, or another person. You do not actually deliver a natural consequence yourself. Instead, you allow nature or society to impose the consequence on your child by not interfering.

For example,

If a child refuses to eat, a natural consequence is they will eventually feel unpleasantly hungry.

If a child refuses to pick up his/her toys outside,  a natural consequence is their toy is stolen or rusts.

If a child plays with a candle's fire, a natural consequence is their finger will be burned.

Often, children experience a natural consequence because they refuse to listen to their parent's warning or obey their instructions.

This happens often in my house.  I have a perfect, yet sad, example from just the other day.  I've told both Grayden & Cole on countless occasions that the baseball bat is ONLY for hitting a baseball with, and that using it to hit anything else could harm someone else or oneself. 

I was making dinner and Cole came running and screaming into the house with blood all over both his hands.  It took me a few minutes to figure out where the blood was coming from (all while he was hysterically crying), but eventually I discovered he had a rather viscious bruise on one of his fingernails.  It was already black and blood was seeping out from underneath the nail.

While trying to clean up the wound and settle him down, I asked him what happened.

"I was hitting the fallen tree limb with a baseball bat."

From what I can figure, his finger got in between the bat and the limb and took the impact.

Friends, I can't tell you how many times I've told Cole that he cannot use the bat to hit anything else but a ball.  Yet, on this occasion he lacked prudence to see danger and experienced a natural consequence as a result...a painfully, hurt finger.

His finger bled for hours.
It is now completely black and is very sore to the touch.
And, he will undoubtedly lose his fingernail eventually.

I do feel sad for him, but I also feel frustrated.
Why couldn't he have just listened to my previous warnings, been prudent, and avoided danger?  His lack of prudence, resulted in a rather painful natural consequence.

I do hope he's learned his lesson and that he thinks of this experience the next time he wants or continues to do something foolish and/or dangerous that he knows he shouldn't.

Proverbs 27:12 says:

"The prudent see danger and take refuge, but the simple keep going and suffer for it."

The Hebrew word prudent means to have good judgment and good sense.  The Hebrew word simple denotes those who are easily persuaded and who lack judgment, who are immature and naive.

Do you have impulsive children like Cole who lack prudence?
Are they "simple"... easily persuaded (in their own minds or by others) to act foolishly?
Do they lack judgment?
Are they immature and naive when it comes to making right, safe choices?
And as a result, do they suffer from unpleasant natural consequences?

If so, will you join me today and let's pray they mature and gain prudence so that they won't have to experience the pain (physical, emotional, and spiritual) of natural consequences.

God,
I pray You would give my children prudence.   I pray they would take refuge in Your very divine, and perfect wisdom.  I pray that they would have good, sound judgment when faced with dangerous choices and/or opportunities.  May they learn from natural consquences they've already had to experience. And thus grow in maturity and be able to discern when to stop impulsive, unwise actions so as to avoid suffering. 





 

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Marked by Quarreling

Do your children regularly quarrel with you?  Their siblings?  Their friends?  Those in authority?

I'm told it's "normal" for children to quarrel with the above groups.
Many say...Children are immature with an incessant need to prove their individuality, they'll grow out of it.

Perhaps this is true.
However, I can't help but question the validity of this claim when I see grown adults who regularly quarrel.  Whether they are at home, work, or socializing they find themselves quarreling with family, co-workers, and friends at every turn.  They are simply quarrelsome people.

A quarrelsome person is contentious, likely to cause an argument.

A quarrlesome person stirs up dissension and trouble.

A quarrelsome person is often wise to knowing exactly how to push someone's buttons.

A quarrelsome person is marked by quarreling.

Do you personally know an adult who is marked by quarreling
For some of us, we'd need to look no further than a mirror.

If our hope is that our children will "grow out" of their tendency to quarrel, then clearly they must see US demonstrate peacemaking choices.

"If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone."
Romans 12:18

I love the practicality of this Scripture.  It recognizes there will be situations where it's nearly impossible to keep peace.  But it challenges the individual to do whatever he/she can to keep peace.  It eliminates one's fleshly tendency to make excuses or blame others for quarreling...it points the finger and responsibility right back to self. 

As far as it depends on us, we are called to be people who purposely try to make/keep peace.

So the question WE must ask ourselves in all situations and relationships is simple this:  What can I do to keep peace? 

Similarly,

When I see the boys take Allie's elephant and taunt her with it. the question to ask is:  What can YOU do to keep peace?

When I see Grayden purposely ignore Cole who is trying to talk to him because he knows Cole will get frustrated at his silence, the question to ask is:  What can YOU do to keep peace?

When I see Cole stubbornly get in the way of Grayden so he cannot open the door and leave, the question to ask is:  What can YOU do to keep peace?

I sincerely hope that my children see me being a peacemaker rather than someone who is marked by quarreling.  And my prayer is that as they grow and mature, they will be wise in pursuing peaceful relationships.

Let's pray!

Jesus, You taught that "blessed are the peacemakers" [Matthew 5:9].  My prayer is that my children would be marked as peacemakers rather than by quarrels.  Would you teach and equip them with the wisdom to pursue peace in all their relationships (even with perfect strangers).  I pray they would choose Your wisdom for peace and thus, avoid making excuses for quarrels and pointing the finger when trouble ensues.  I pray that as much as it depends on them, that they would live at peace with everyone. 






Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Trashing Treasure

Our little Allie is learning a ton these days.  One of her favorite new activities is throwing trash away into the trash can.  She wobbles her cute spunky self over to the can with trash in hand, and tosses it in.  She claps with pride as though she's accomplished a great feat.
 
The only trouble is that lately I've been finding things in the trash can that don't belong there.  I've found a few toys, her clothes, and most recently my Anne of Green Gable's dvds (my favorite movie of all time). 
 
I chuckled and smiled finding the toys and clothes, but when I saw my TREASURED dvd's in the trash I panicked.  I thought, what other treasures of mine has she thrown away without me noticing?
 
It's slightly comical, but mostly disheartening to think of Allie trashing my treasure

Yet, it got me thinking about if I've ever trashed someone else's treasure.  I can remember accidentally throwing away a student's treasured art work once.  I've accidentally thrown money away.
I purposely threw away a beat up toy that the boys treasured but used for "evil" to taunt each other.  However most of these examples aren't too big of a deal.

So then I got to thinking, what have I thrown away that God treasures?  To answer this question, I first had to think about what God treasures.

God treasures His creation. 
And His most treasured creation is mankind.
 
The Bible teaches that we are God's people, His treasured posession [Deuteronomy 7:6]; a people belonging to Him [1 Peter 2:9]. 
 
Because we are of great value to Him, He longs to be in relationship with us, to bring us into His family, and to share with us all that he has. 
 
"His unchanging plan has always been to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. And this gave him great pleasure." Ephesians 1:5 NLT
 
THE strongest evidence to support the truth that we are His treasured possession is the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus.
 
Jesus "gave himself for us to redeem us..and to purify for himself a people that are his very own..." Titus 2:14
 
"God, for whom and through whom everything was made, chose to bring many children into glory. And it was only right that he should make Jesus, through his suffering, a perfect leader, fit to bring them into their salvation. " Hebrews 2:10 (NLT)

So if God treasures people, then we should never "trash" them.

When I was 10 years old, my mom miscarried a baby around the 4th month of pregnancy.  I remember vividly going to the cemetery and burying this baby whom we named Christian Michael.  It was a tearful goodbye to the sibling I would never know personally here on this earth.

Imagine if my parents had just trashed this unborn baby, God's most treasured possession.

It's completely disheartening to even think of his underdeveloped, yet very human body tossed and laying in a trash can as though he had no value.

God treasures even the wee little ones in the womb.
And we are called to treasure what God treasures. 
So shouldn't WE also treasure all people, no matter their age.


Most of us aren't literally throwing people into a trash can, but how often do we treat people as though they were trash?

Do we trash their feelings and emotions, writing them off as crazy, high-maintenance, or overly emotional?

Do we trash their needs assuming their stupid choices are to blame? 

Do we trash their talents and gifts through discouraging or unkind words that belittle their skill level or signficance?

Do we trash our children's ideas by refusing to listen or shaming them for childlike thinking?

Do we trash our children's growing hearts by belittling them and constantly reminding them of their failures?

Do we trash the uneducated deeming their ideas and opinions as worthless or stupid?

No matter a person's age, race, gender, sexual orientation, educational level, career, physical appearance, faith, or sinful lifestyle God treasures them...and so should we.  Whether or not they've believed or accepted Him, He still loves and treasures them...and so should we

No person should ever be treated as though they were trash to be tossed.

This is a truth our children must be taught.
They must firmly believe that human life is sacred to and treasured by our Creator God. 
And each and every person they encounter should be treated as such. 

Join me and let's pray that our children don't trash God's most treasured possession.

God,
You treasure all people.  In your eyes, every man, woman, and child have value.  Today I pray that my children would see people through your eyes.  I pray they would never minconstrue need, emotions, or sin in people as an excuse to trash or devalue them.  Rather,  I pray they would treasure mankind by treating them with respect and loving them with Your abounding and grace-filled love.



 



 

Monday, September 23, 2013

A Strong, Long Run

I can remember the FIRST run I ever ran.

I took up running in the spring of my junior year in high school after a rough basketball season.  A guy friend of mine twisted my arm and convinced me to try out for track.  I figured before I tried out for the track team, I'd better give the whole running just to run business a whirl. 

So I walked down my driveway and began to run.  I barely made it half-a-mile before I was ready to quit.  Thankfully, I was stubborn and wouldn't let myself quit so I kept going for another half mile...1 mile total. 

As I look back on that 1st mile run, I can remember how ugly it was.  My arms were awkward and flailing.  My feet were heavy, nearly slapping the pavement with each step.  My breathing was completely out of control...I had to stop often to gasp for air.  Both mentally and physically, it was miserable from beginning to end.

To be honest, I'm not sure why I ever ran again after that first run.

But I did.  And with each new run, I became smoother, faster, and more in control.  I was determined to persevere and so I fixed my eyes on a simple goal of wanting to call myself, A Runner

I ran track that season, although not very well. 
I ran throughout the summer and my entire senior year.  
Throughout college, I ran nearly every day with an average of 6-8 miles a day. 
The fall before I got married I ran my first (and only) marathon. 
I ran other shorter races after that. 
I ran while I was pregnant with all three kids. 
And to this day I take all three kids on runs with me (pushing two in a stroller and forcing one to ride his bike). 

Its safe to say, I met my goal and can rightly call myself A Runner.

But lately where I once pushed myself and was determined to grow as a runner, I now have become a little complacent and satisfied with medocre running.  I still run 4-5 times a week but I'm not nearly as motivated to grow and get better.  And I'm pretty okay with running at a pace that is comfortable rather than pushing myself to run faster and/or longer.

The other day I was running around a park path while the boys played on the playground and a cross country team happened to be running their practice on the same loop as I was.  As I watched their spry, young selves glide across the pavement determined to grow and get better, I realized something...I haven't ran with such determination in years. 

I started to get that runners hunger again.  I determined that I needed a new goal.  So as I watched these young bucks flying past me I set a goal that I would push myself at least one run a week.  Meaning that once a week I will care about my time and I will challenge myself to run a longer distance.  And I decided that there was NO good excuse...too old (there are 70 year olds who run the Iron Man), too tired (everyone's tired), no time (make time)...that could justify my complacency or lack of growth as a runner.  

This is true for us spiritually as well.
After awhile, we can become complacent and comfortable with mediocre faith.  We can lose our determination to grow and get better at this loving Jesus and others commitment.

Hebrews 12:1-3 teaches,

"Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses [all of those OT men & women of great faith], let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.
 
Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 
 
Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart."

Sometimes I can look around me and see other Christians running the race with a smoother and stronger stride.  They persevere through trial after trial.  They stay the course overcoming obstacle after obstacle.  And they avoid entangling themselves up in sin by focusing on Jesus and the race He has set before them.  They are like those young cross country bucks...smoothly gliding by me, persevering, and continuing to grow and get better. 

God never wants us to settle for mediocre faith.  He never wants us to become comfortable, complacent, and stagnant in relationship and service to Him. 

Rather, He wants us to throw off everything that hinders us like excuses and sin and He wants us to run with purpose...pushing ourselves further and further out of our comfort zones. 

Because when we persevere and run with determination we grow as Christians AND Jesus accomplishes in us all that He has planned. 

"For it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure." Philippians 2:13

So let's ask God:
 
Are there areas of our faith where we've grown complacent or too comfortable?  

Are we setting growth "goals" to push ourselves out of our spiritual comfort zones? 

Are we growing in our knowledge of God's and His Word? 
 
Are their habitual sins in our lives than easily entangle us, slow us down, or throw us off course that we need to throw off? 

Are we determined to grow more and more like Jesus every day by running this Christian life with great perseverance?

We are without excuse. 
For God will "equip you with everything good for doing his will" and he will "work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ..." Hebrews 13:21

I could care less if my children ever call themselves runners.  But I desperately desire that they would call themselves runners in the race God has marked out for them. 

Time to pray.

Jesus,

I pray that my children would be determined to run the race you have marked out for them.  I pray they would run it strong and long.  I pray they would run it with great perseverance, throwing off every excuse and sin that will easily entangle them.  And I pray that after awhile they wouldn't grow complacent or comfortable, lacking spiritual growth; but rather that they would push themselves to grow more and more in the knowledge of You and Your Word.  May their faith journey grow better and better as You equip them with all they need to stay on course and do Your will.










Friday, September 20, 2013

GUEST BLOG: Keep It Simple

GUEST BLOG FRIDAY!!

My husband Keith wrote today's blog.  I'll spare you a sappy write up about how much I love and respect this guy.  I am thankful, however, to hear his praying heart and I hope you will be as well.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------

by Keith
 
How many times a day does your child ask you a question that is hard to answer with a simple explanation? 
I’ve tried to explain why the United States does not play Ohio State in basketball, why the United States soccer team played Mexico (instead of the Columbus Crew) at Crew Stadium last week, and why my children’s favorite Cleveland Brown running back was traded two weeks into the season (in exchange for a “draft pick. . . “). 

Ok, so most of these confounding questions are about sports and giving a sound answer is not life or death. 
But the truth is:

– there are many mysteries surrounding us,

– our kids have tough questions about those mysteries,

– and the answer (if we know it) may not be easy to explain. 

Some of these tough questions can even come out of the Bible.  Indeed, scholars have been trying to answer questions about God, his Kingdom, and our place in that story since the days of Moses. 
 
Thankfully, Jesus understood that some things are best kept simple.  When asked which is the greatest commandment in the law, Jesus replied: 
 
“‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment.  And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’   All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
(Matthew 22:34-40) 
  

A strikingly simple answer for the Pharisee “expert in the law” who was trying to test Jesus with that question. 
 
Paul reminded the churches in Rome and Galatia of this simple truth:

Romans 13:9.  The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not covet,” and whatever other command there may be, are summed up in this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”

Galatians 5:13-14:   You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love.  For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” 


In James 2:8 we are told: “If you really keep the royal law        found in Scripture, “Love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing right.”

This message is simple enough for even our littlest of children to grasp:  Treat others how you would want to be treated.  (See Luke 6:31)

Why shouldn’t I hit my big brother with a baseball bat?  Would you want him to hit you with a baseball bat?  (If your child is sincere they will say no, but if your child is 4 they’ll probably say yes)

Why should I listen respectfully when others are speaking?  Would you want others to listen respectfully when you are speaking?

Why should I stop to make sure my little sister is okay when she falls and scrapes her knee?  Would you want someone to stop and make sure you are okay when you fall off your bike and scrape your knee?

But this simple message wasn’t given to just the little children, it was given to everyone, including us very wise, know-it-all adults who still seem to have problems playing nice with others at work, or sharing the road with our “neighbors” on our morning commute, or leaving a mess behind us at Chipotle for someone else to clean up. 
 
Do to your co-worker as you would want them to do to you.  Treat other drivers as you would want to be treated.  Show the same courtesy of cleaning up your mess that you would want others to show you. 

As a colleague encouraged me last week, “Keep it simple stupid.”  (This is also known as the KISS principle http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/KISS_principle) 

If we remember Jesus’ simple message, “love the Lord your God with all your heart – and in the same way – love your neighbor as yourself” we can fulfill God’s commandment AND, in turn, we may more often find ourselves free of some needless stress and, just maybe, the beneficiaries of our neighbors love as well.

Today would you pray with me that our children would be reminded of this simple message in the midst of all the confusing circumstances that they may face as they grow up.

Jesus, thank you for giving us a simple, yet profound, truth by which we can live.  Lord, thank you that in a world full of tough questions and few easy answers you have simplified things in such a way that any of us can understand your commands.  Please help our children to remember this simple message in their relationship with you and in their relationship with others.  And Lord, thank you for loving us first and always.

 

Thursday, September 19, 2013

The Names of God

There is great significance in a name.


Have you ever thought about all the names you could use to describe yourself?

Renee: Wife, Mom, Friend, Sister, Grandaughter, Daughter-in-Law, Runner, Teacher, Housekeeper, etc...

And then there are the names that would describe my spiritual character...some good, some not so good.  I'll spare you the detailed list.

Yesterday the boys and I did a devotional about names and how they tell the many of aspects of who one is and what one does

They had fun listing out the many names they would use to describe themselves.  And then we talked a little bit about the names God used to describe Himself.

In Scripture, God has many names to tell of who He is and to show how He meets our many needs.
 
Here are just a few:
 
ADONAI [ah-doe-NI]
The Lord, My Great Lord
God is the master and majestic Lord.  God is our total authority.
Psalm 8
 
ELOHIM [el-o-HEEM] 
The All-Powerful One Creator
God is the all-powerful creator of the universe.  God knows all, creates all, and is everywhere at all times.
Deuteronomy 10:17
 
EL OLAM [el o-LAHM] 
The Eternal, Everlasting God
He is the Beginning and the End, the one who works His purposes throughout the ages.
Psalm 90:1-2
 
EL ROI [el ROY]
The God Who Sees me
There are no circumstances in our lives that escape His fatherly awareness and care.  God knows us and our troubles.
Psalm 139:7-12
 
EL SHADDAI [el-shaw-DIE]
The All Sufficient One
God is the all-sufficient source of all of our blessings.  God is all-powerful.  Our problems are not too big for God to handle.
Genesis 17:1-3


IMMANUEL [ih-MAN-u-el]
God With Us
Jesus is God in our midst.  In Him all the fulness of Deity dwells in bodily form.
Isaiah 7:14

YHWH [juh-HO-vah]
"I AM," The One Who Is, The Self-Existent One
God never changes.  His promises never fail.  He is faithful.
Malachi 3:6

JEHOVAH-JIREH [juh-HO-vah JI-rah]
The Lord Will Provide
God will meet all our needs.
Psalm 23

JEHOVAH-RAPHA [juh-HO-vah RAH-fah]
The Lord Who Heals
God has provided the final cure for spiritual, physical, and emotional sickness in Jesus.  God can heal us.
Exodus 15: 25-27

JEHOVAH-ROHI [juh-HO-vah RO-hee]
The Lord is My Shepherd
The Lord protects, provides, directs, leads, and cares for His people.  God tenderly takes care of us as a strong and patient shepherd.
Psalm 23:1-3

JEHOVAH-SHALOM [juh-HO-vah shah-LOME]
The Lord is Peace
Jesus is our Prince of Peace.  God brings inner peace and harmony.
Numbers 6:22-27

JEHOVAH-SHAMMAH [juh-HO-vah SHAHM-mah]
The Lord is There; The Lord is My Companion
God's presence is not limited or contained in the Tabernacle or Temple, but is accessible to all who love and obey Him.
Psalm 46

FATHER
The Heavenly Father who lovingly cares, provides, and disciplines.
Through faith in Jesus, God becomes our personal Father.
James 1:17

Studying and thinking about the names of God can remind us of His true character. 

Knowing the names of God can help us better understand and trust Him. 

It can also empower our prayer life.

For example,

When my children feel lonely they can pray to JEHOVAH-SHAMMAH, their God who is near. 

When they are anxious or fearful they can pray to JEHOVAH-SHALOM, their God of peace. 

When they are in need of care and refuge they can pray to JEHOVAH-ROHI, their Great Shepherd. 

When they are sick they can pray to JEHOVAH-RAPHA, their Lord who heals. 

When they have needs they can pray to JEHOVAH-JIRAH, their God who provides. 

When they are overlooked or forgotten they can pray to EL ROI, their God who sees them. 

When they are weak or overcome by this world they can pray to ELOHIM, their all-powerful creator who knows all, creates all, and is everywhere at all times. 

When they need tender care and discipline they can pray to God, their FATHER who loves them perfectly and unconditionally.

And when they recognize they are lost and hopeless sinners, they can pray to IMMANUEL, their Savior!

Join me today and let's pray that our children become eager to know and understand the many names of God.

God,
Your many names encompass the beauty and majesty of who You are.  They speak of Your greatness and of Your care for Your people.  Today I pray that my children would grow curious and eager to know and understand the many names You ascribe to Yourself in Scripture.  May they learn of Your true character and how You are more than able to meet any and every need they will ever have.  And I pray that knowing Your names would help them to better understand and trust You.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Silencing the Skeptics

I know that I have friends, family, and acquaintances who think this blog is a meaningless waste of my time. Most of these skeptics don't know Jesus.  And without a relationship with Jesus, I'd feel the same way they do.  

Yet it is because of my relationship with Jesus that I write this blog and that I am not discouraged by their skepticism.
  
There are Jesus skeptics all around us.

People who doubt He is the Divine Son of God.

People who will not tolerate Him to be the one, true and living God.

People who consider Him a great historical figure but nothing more.

People who believe Him to be the figurehead of the Christian "cult" whose name is used to control and manipulate millions of people all over the world. 

People who laugh at and mock believers like me who claim to be His followers; calling us ignorant, naive, gullable, and weak minded.

If and when our children sift through all the beliefs this world has to offer and decide to follow Jesus, they will undoubtedly also encounter these skeptics...and quite often I'm afraid.

Their faith will be challenged over and over again.

So, how can we prepare them for this?
In all honesty, WE cannot.
But THEY can prepare themselves.

If they seek and search for Jesus like hidden treasure,

if they study His life and words with a fine toothed comb,

and if they talk to Him openly and honestly about anything and everything...

THEN they will be well-equipped for any and every skepticBecause no skeptic (no matter how intellectually brilliant) can ever belittle or disprove their active and living relationship with Jesus.

I'm sure many of you are familiar with the the story of Jesus talking with the Samaritan woman at the well.  However, today I'd like to look at the second half of that story and connect it to today's prayer:

John 4:39-42

"Many of the Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman's testimony, "He told me everything I ever did."  So when the Samaritans came to him, they urged him to stay with them, and he stayed for two days.  And because of his words many more became believers

They said to the woman, "We no longer believe just because of what you said; now we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this man really is the Savior of the world."

It could have been easy for the Samaritans to have been skeptical about the woman's testimony.  However, their personal encounter with Jesus erased whatever skepticism they may have had.  Through relationship with Him, they firmly believed!

I am like the woman at the well.  Jesus met me where I was (a hopeless sinner) , breathed living truth into my soul through forgiveness & grace, and then changed me from the inside, out.  And I've been in a relationship with Him ever since. 

To my children, I am like the woman at the well who went back to her family and friends and told them all about Jesus.  I cannot help but tell them what Jesus has and is continuing to do for me.  The peace and joy I receive in relationship with Him is something I cannot keep quiet about.  And to some extent, they believe in Him because of my testimony.

Yet like the Samaritans, their story and relationship with Jesus must not end with my testimony.  They must seek Him themselves, spend time studying His life and words, continually talk to Him about anything and everything.  As they personally encounter Him, THEY will firmly know that He really is the Savior of the world.  And the skeptics will be silenced.

Join me today and let's pray that our children have a living and active relationship with Jesus that silences the skeptics.

Jesus,
I pray my children's faith in You would not be shaken by the skeptics in this world.  I pray they would not get caught up in silly and pretentious arguments that set themselves up against the knowledge of You.  Rather, I pray they would combat skepticism by fervently seeking a living and active relationship with You.  May their time with You and the study of Your life and words solidify that You truly are the Savior of this world.

















Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Seasons of Life

Cole and I had a lengthy, yet fun conversation yesterday about the 4 seasons.

We discussed their different temperatures and vegetations. 

We talked about the enjoyable activities each season has to offer. 

And we rated our "favorite thing" about each.

It went a little something like this: 

Winter Cold.  Snow. Dark.  No leaves.  No flowers.  Snowmen.  Sledding.  Christmas.

Spring:  Cool.  Warm.  Rainy.  Flowers.  New leaves.  Daddy's birthday.  Allie's birthday.  Cole's birthday.  Grayden's birthday.

Summer:  Hot.  Sunny.  Swimming.  Baseball.  Mommy's birthday.

Fall:  Warm.  Cool.  Leaves change color.  Leaves fall.  Pumpkins.  Hay rides.  Thanksgiving.

I don't know about you, but I quite enjoy living in a climate where I am able to experience each season.  Just as I grow tired of one season, it ends and another begins!  It's a perfectly balanced cycle...never too much nor too little of one.

Yet, while in one season it can be tempting to long for another.  Or to wish a season would be shorter or last longer.  No matter how perfectly balanced the 4 season cycle is, our sinful nature can still grow discontent.

This is especially true for me during the winter season.  The dark, cold days grow tiresome and I often wish them away and long for the warmth and sunshine of spring.  Winter activities grow dull and I am always dreaming of those seasonal activities of summer and fall that I adore. 

Similarly, we are all tempted to grow discontent in seasons of life as well.

We can long for a season to hurry up and end.
 
We can wish a season would last longer.
 
We can play the "Grass Is Always Greener" game, fueling discontented hearts.
 
And if we aren't careful, we can find reasons to grumble and complain amidst every season of life.

Or

We can embrace every season of life as God's perfect plan.

We can look for God's hand as we venture through each and exalt Him with due praise.

We can ask Him to teach us through the struggles and equip us for each trial.

We can live each season to the fullest by finding happiness in relationship with Christ.

And we can make great use of the time God's given us by seeking out ways to do good in every season of our lives.

Sounds too good to be true?
Or too impossible to attain?

For many, yes.

But for those who trust God with all their heart, with all their soul, and with all their mind it is just a matter of a right foot, then left foot way of living; leaving expectations at the foot of the cross and humbling walking each step with God.

Isn't this what we all want for our children?

That they would enjoy each day and season of life to the fullest.

That they would trust that in each season God's greatness never diminishes or fails.

That they would learn each season's lesson and grow closer and closer to Jesus because of them.

That they would not just survive a season's trial, but thrive and grow because of God's grace.

And that they would look for ways to serve Him at every turn and throughout every season.

Too many people today, both young and old, question God amidst seasons of lifeThey grow discontent with where God has them.
They covet the seasons of others.  And so they doubt God's goodness and walk away from faith in Jesus.

But living the true Christian life is recognizing that God will take us through many seasons of life..

some hard,
some easy
some painful,
some full of pleasure
some sad,
some exceedingly happy

Regardless, He makes everything beautiful in its time.
And so we are called to trust.

Let's read Ecclesiastes 3:1-13 and remember that each season is a gift from God.

"There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under the heavens:


a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.


What do workers gain from their toil?  I have seen the burden God has laid on the human race.

He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end. 

I know that there is nothing better for people than to be happy and to do good while they live.  That each of them may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all their toil—this is the gift of God."

Join me today and let's pray that our children trust God in every season of life:

Jesus,
I pray that my children would never doubt in Your goodness.  I pray that they would trust You in each and every season of their lives. No matter how easy or difficult the season, I pray they would rest in knowing that Your timing and plans are perfect and that You will make everything beautiful in its time. 

May they resist the temptation to grow discontent in certain seasons of life.  Rather, may they lay their expectations at the foot of the cross and make the choice to walk humbly & contentently with You through each season. 

I pray they would thrive and grow in the grace of knowledge of Jesus amidst every season's trial.  And I pray that they would seek ways to serve You regardless of their circumstances.  All in all, may they be happy and do good in all the seasons of life!