Sunday, August 28, 2011
Monday, August 16, 2010
Today is not a Friday. It is neither the last day of a nightmare job nor the first day of my dream job. Today I do not begin vacation nor end chemotherapy. Today the Lord did not heal me of a disease nor raise me from the dead. Today my debts are not cancelled and my mailbox is not overflowing with unexpected checks. By all outward appearances, today is just another day. But it is not an ordinary day.
Today I am one step closer to being with my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, for all eternity. I Thessalonians 4:16-17
Today belongs to the Lord. He made it for me. I am joyful and glad for today and everything He designed in it. Psalm 118:24
Today I am a recipient of free and generous gifts. I cannot buy nor earn my standing with God. Even His Holy Spirit was poured out freely upon me. Acts 8:17-20, Romans 5:15-17, Romans 6:23, 2 Corinthians 9:15
He proves Himself as righteous. My trust and faith in Jesus make me stand before Him blameless today. Romans 3:24-26
Today I am growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened by His mighty hand that I might have patience and endurance. I am joyful that Christ has qualified me to be a citizen of the kingdom of light. My sins are forgiven and darkness has no dominion over me today. Colossians 1:10-14
I am the righteousness of God through the sovereign work of Jesus. I am holy, blameless, above reproach and completely acceptable to God by the blood of the cross. 2 Corinthians 5:21, Colossians 1:19-22
Today He is living to make intercession on my behalf. I can state firmly that He saved me willingly, fully and forever. Isaiah 53:12, Romans 8, Hebrews 7:25
Today He inscribes His will on my innermost thoughts and understanding. He remembers my sins no more. Jeremiah 31:33-34, Hebrews 8:8-12, Hebrews 10:16-17
Today I have all the blessings promised to Abraham. I am not a slave to the law. I am free to live a blessed life because Jesus took my curse upon himself on the cross. I am no longer a slave to sin. Today I am a willing servant to Christ who bought me out of slavery. Romans 7, Galatians 3
God speaks to me. I hear His call and He spends time with me one on one. He abides in me this day. Revelation 3:20
Today His holy word has transformed my ideas and attitudes. His perfect will is made clear to me so that I will have no superficial or internal conformity to the ways of this alien world. Romans 12:2
Today I have felt perfect love in my heart. I have known Him and been known by Him. God makes Himself known to me as I clearly see His real person. John 14:21, John 17:26
Today I am given strength from the inside out. The Lord pours out love on me beyond anything I could even imagine. My experiences in Christ Jesus are beyond my previous understanding of what was even possible. Today He exceeds my greatest prayers, desires, hopes, and dreams. Ephesians 3:14-21
Today I am working for Jesus and Him alone. He prepared good works in advance and created me to fulfill them. His Spirit enables me to accomplish these tasks in all excellence of workmanship, knowledge and skill. Colossians 3:23-24, Ephesians 2:10, Exodus 31, Exodus 35
I have the promise of future glory because God lives in me today, as I live in Him. Colossians 1:27, John 6:56, John 15, I John 4
Today I will declare His amazing works. He is on my side and I desire to please no one but God. I trust Him with my very being. I draw near to God because there is no better place to be. The Lord is my refuge, my strength and my portion. Psalm 73:25-28
I praise the Lord, today and forever, for this extra-ordinary day! Amen.
Monday, May 10, 2010
Thank you for letting me speak today. It is an honor to be here with you all. Thank you Pastor Janet for asking me. Thank you, Mike, for encouraging me to do this.
I would like to begin by applauding those of you have taken on the difficult challenge of being Christian mothers who dedicate much time and devotion to training up your children. Women who pour into their children are not missing out on opportunities to make a difference – they are creating them. I did not lose my identity by raising children. I multiplied my legacy. There is no example in the Bible of God cursing someone with children. They are always a blessing. We must relish these opportunities to strengthen God’s kingdom. I hope that today you are encouraged and invigorated to continue with renewed strength in your motherhood journey. I pray that God’s love would be obvious in my subject matter and that you would be moved toward His best for your family.
First I would like to discuss the nature of children and our roles in their development.
There is a sweet image that people love to think of children as angels. They even do newborn pictures with little fuzzy wings and a sweet halo.
This is simply not true. Children are not angels. They come into this fallen world and sin the first chance they get. They are flesh-driven and selfish in every way. This is not to say that God has not given them some things to love. As they grow we get to see their personalities and their talents. We get to watch them enjoy the wonders of this world. But we cannot be blind to the work to be done. We must love the way God created them to be and encourage their spiritual growth while encouraging them to stop bowing to their sinful nature. That is why we are admonished in scripture to train them up night and day in the Word of the Lord. This is the best way. It is best for a peaceful home and best for the future of their spiritual lives.
Next, I would like to consider how we might be fruitful in training up our children in the ways they should go.
There is a difference between having children and growing a heritage. Children in the Bible are described in many ways. Initially all children are gifts from God and should be considered such. However, depending on how they are brought up they can either become arrows in the hand of a mighty warrior or a source of sorrow to their parents. What is the delineation between these two extremes?
I believe it is their training. Some people ask why their children, “throw fits in the grocery store,” “cry when they don’t get their way,” “are mean to other kids,” or “whine about everything.” Why their teenagers “don’t want to be around them” or “ignore them” etc. I believe that the answer is not that they were born that way or it’s just God’s will for their personality or even that it’s just a phase. That’s a worldview that Christians should not buy into. Most times the parents have trained the children to be this way. I don’t mean that we purposely set out to develop a fit-throwing brat or a crazy dishonoring teenager. But what we tolerate is what we encourage.
Your children know. They know you’re not perfect. Pretending otherwise trains them in hypocrisy. Your children know you don’t have all the answers by yourself. Pretending otherwise trains them in pride. Your children know when things aren’t okay. Telling them otherwise teaches them that pretending is better than laying your worries at the foot of the cross. Your children know a lot. And they are learning from you at all times. This includes infants and teenagers and grown adults.
Your children know how far they can push you. How often to pull you. How to use guilt. How to use your pride and fear of being embarrassed. They know how to push your buttons to get what they want. And the more we allow them to use these weapons against us the more we are training them in the ways of ungodliness. Children should not be developing their arsenal of rebellion and manipulation. They should be expanding their righteousness and becoming more obedient.
The good news is that it is never too late to be retrained. Parents, if you notice that you have trained your child in less than desirable behaviors then take the hand of the Lord as you refocus your child’s path. This is not an easy process because the person that will need the most retraining is the parent. We have to be retrained to listen and respond to our children with their spirit and soul in mind. What a great responsibility we have been given to train their flesh to obey our voice that they might one day heed the mighty voice of the Lord. They are His children after all.
I think about the children of Israel wandering the dessert after leaving Egypt. In Deuteromy 1 we hear about the immediate consequences of delayed obedience. The only hope for God’s people was in the children. We can say this definitely because God did not allow anyone from the hard-hearted, fearful generation to enter the promised land – except Joshua and Caleb. The adults could not trust God’s instructions and denied His command for them to take the land. Without hesitation or wavering, God told them that the land was closed to them and that their children would take the land and dwell in it. As soon as the parents heard this, they picked up their weapons and said, “Okay, we’re ready to fight now. We believe you now.” But it was too late. Their fear and lack of instant obedience caused God to warn them that if they went in now by their own force they would be destroyed. This to me is the strongest admonishment that we should train our children to be instantly obedient through OUR EXAMPLE. It allows them and us to receive our greatest blessings from the Lord.
If there is an ounce of regret or guilt on your shoulders right now for your parenting past, don’t let your conviction be confused with condemnation. I don’t want you to leave here with regrets but with hope.
Some of us may have to repent to our Lord and apologize to our children for our past shortcomings. If we repent He is excited to forgive us and able to restore the years that have been lost. This would be a great opportunity to begin anew in the ways of godly parenting. Nothing opens the door to a new chapter of success like a good apology. Don’t ignore any convictions. Thank God for the working of the Holy Spirit and walk forward from glory to glory!
Training and retraining is a big task but nothing is impossible with the Lord!
It is my goal that my children would seek the Lord all the days of their life. So I must ask myself in what ways am I pointing them to God? It is my goal that my children would be salt and light. So I must ask myself how to encourage their pure saltiness and teach them to reject darkness. It is my goal that my children would affect the world for Christ. So I must ask myself what their giftings are and what weaknesses they need to be trained to fight against. These might seem like grandiose, ridiculous goals for such a young group of people. But we fight these giant, spiritual battles with training in godliness that can be as simple as serving others before you serve yourself, allowing others to go before you, helping your parents to maintain the home, speaking to all adults with respect, introducing yourself with cheerfulness, speaking kind words instead of complaints, praying for someone who is sick or hurt, being happy for those that are happy and sad with those that are sad.
I would like now to address all the adults in the congregation. If you notice that there are ways that your parents trained in you that do not line up with God’s ways then ask Him to show you those areas in His pure light of love. He desires for us to walk in His righteousness and holiness. He knows our parents were not and are not perfect. But as adults it is not the picture of Christian maturity to maintain childish ways. Perhaps our parents were unable or unwilling to train us out of our pridefulness, selfishness, laziness, or an assortment of other sinful ways. But as adults we are to examine those lifelong stumbling blocks and pray with faith that the mountains in our lives would be moved. We don’t have to walk in those wornout paths our whole lives. God has a bigger plan.
God can change people. He can change anyone. He can change their heart and their soul. He can change them down to the core of their being. He can do it in His timing and in His way. God can change your mother and He can change your children.
Only God can change people. Only God can change the fiber of someone’s being. Only He knows their hurts and pains and can heal them completely. Only God convicts people of sin. Only God can change your mother or your children. But He can certainly use you to love them through the process.
I would like to speak for a moment to those of you who might not have a perfect mother and you find it hard to be thankful and honor her on Mother’s Day.
You can’t know the full picture of sacrifice that your mother went through to bring you into this world. Don’t take your life for granted.
A friend of mine has changed lives through selflessness.
She was sexually assaulted as a young teenager.
It was a terrible and scary time for her. It became much more difficult to cope when she found out she was pregnant.
The enemy was hard at work in this young girl’s mind. He told her it was her fault and filled her with anger toward the young man who hurt her.
The enemy reminded her of her previous dealings with boys. She had been promiscuous and had previously had abortions to cover her tracks. The enemy wanted her to believe that this story would end the same way. Abortion wasn’t out of the picture in her mind.
But God told her to save this child’s life.
She carried this child for 9 months and gave the baby girl up for adoption through a Christian agency. This young mother updated her address and contact information with the agency every time she moved in hopes that one day her daughter would reach out and find her.
That daughter did find her birth mother over 25 years later. That daughter is now living a life. She’s had trials and triumphs. She’s graduated from college and found a man she wants to marry. She’s been a revered ballerina dancing with companies all over the country…all because a teenager made a hard choice to give up her identity as a carefree child and leap into the world of motherhood, if only for 9 months.
I have often thought of how the daughter in this story must have felt when she finally learned the truth of how she came to be here. She was the product of such a horrible event. She’ll probably never know her biological father. I can’t imagine the emotional roller coaster such news would bring to my life.
To me she is the poster child for hope and selflessness teaching us that what the devil means for evil God can turn to good. God turns all things to good for those that love Him and are called according to His purpose.
Maybe the story of your birth is not this dramatic. But don’t take for granted the gift of life you’ve been given. Some of our mothers did the best they knew how. Others didn’t try at all. But love can cover a multitude of sins. Bitterness is a root that should be dug up and replaced with thankfulness. Maybe you can’t be thankful for your mother. Try being thankful that you’re simply alive.
The fifth commandment to honor your father and mother was not given only to people 18 and younger. It was for you and me. Honor does not mean that as adult children we must obey or like everything about our parents. I challenge you to dig out a place of honor in your heart for your mother. She is not the Virgin Mary but God chose her to be the vessel He used to bring you here with us today. I thank God for your mother that she made such a contribution to this fellowship.
One way I honor mothers is to call them and thank them on their child’s birthday. The first time I called my mother’s mother I think she thought I was crazy. My mother was one of 9 children but I am thankful that my grandmother had her. My precious children wouldn’t be here if my grandmother had made up her mind to the contrary.
My final point is to illustrate a caring way for mothers to dispense wisdom to other mothers or to their own adult children.
There’s a difference between giving advice and dispensing wisdom.
I know a mother who is more than happy to give you advice on hundreds of subjects in which she considers herself an expert. She’s got lots of information and knowledge and is eager to share it with everyone within earshot.
She has many words and speaks them with such authority that it is difficult to discuss alternative viewpoints with her. She’s very much a confident know-it-all who lets her voice be heard.
There is another mother I know who has taught me through her example and through her love for her husband and children.
The most important piece of parenting advice I’ve ever been given was from this woman who didn’t say a word to me until I asked. She had been around me and seen me with my children but never said a word about my methods or failures or utterly disobedient children. She didn’t raise an eyebrow to my frustration or lack of patience. She simply set her mind on her own family’s growth. She had plenty of opportunities to correct me and set me straight. But she chose to wait until I was seeking the right path.
This is the mother I seek to emulate. She is full of discernment and wisdom. She is quick to listen and slow to speak.
The difference between these two women is not their intelligence or their willingness to help. It is discernment and love. I am convinced that someone who asks for your opinion or input is more likely to receive it. And when one is not looking for wisdom it is difficult to see it as such.
Happy Mother’s Day and God bless you.
Thursday, March 25, 2010
Monday, November 2, 2009
Friday, October 30, 2009
The world would have you keep your child in a mindset of childhood long after it is suitable. I Corinthians 13:11 (AMP) tells us that “When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; now that I have become a man, I am done with childish ways and have put them aside.”
Unless you plan on heaping adult thoughts and responsibilities on your child on their 18th birthday you might consider easing them into this way of life even today.
Consider the following suggestions:
Decision-Making - Let them be a witness to Godly decision-making and priority ranking. Children will not simply know how to honor God with their time and treasure. They must learn it from being submerged in it as their lifestyle.
Gifts & Abilities - Romans 12:6 says that “We all have gifts and they differ…” Your child is not just another brick in the wall. They are a unique and distinct part of God’s plan with unique and distinct gifts given by their Father to fulfill His wishes. Train the child according to their bent, according to their skills and giftings, and you will encourage them to seek God’s will over their own. He knows best what is desired from your son or daughter. Teach them how to focus on His best for them by learning the talents that He deposited in them.
Responsibility - Giving them opportunities to build trust and gain responsibility will teach them to be faithful with little. Servant attitude in their daily chores/responsibilities show them how we are daily to serve others with a spirit of excellence. Love in all activities will teach honorable actions when they are to choose on their own how to behave toward their spouse and children. If they never have anything to do at home, not only will they not feel a valuable part of the family, but they will have nothing to offer as far as servanthood outside of the home.
Commitments - Don’t be a thief. Be prompt. If you believe that God has led you to make a commitment to something then you are gathering in His name. You wouldn’t show up late if you really thought Jesus was there waiting, would you?
Authority - Respect, honor and obey your authorities. If you want your children to rebel against you then you should model rebellion in the way you speak about your boss, your pastor, your parents or your children’s teachers. Hold everything up to the Bible but don’t be disrespectful in your attitude. If you leave your child in someone’s care then you have chosen that person to carry authority. Honor it.
Priorities -The 12 tribes of Israel lived in locations assigned around the tabernacle. Their lives revolved around God. He is our center. If we make Him second or third so that our children can look more like a well-rounded child of this world then we are robbing them of the opportunity to live a God-centered life. When they hear you model decision-making that puts God at a lower priority than anything else you are insuring that they follow in those steps as they make their own decisions.
Prayer - Your children need to hear you pray so that they can rejoice with you and stretch their faith with yours. If you come together in agreement with your children it shows them that they are integral and effective in moving the heart of God.
The Bible - God’s word never returns void. It will always achieve its purpose. When you immerse your children in a living, breathing Word-saturated atmosphere they will thrive and the enemy will have no defense.
Civic Responsibility - God’s people are to be active in this world just as God is. Though we are strangers in this world we are also called to be salt to a dying world. We are to “cure” the rottenness of the world by involving ourselves and our God in everyday affairs.
Roles - Seek God’s will for your family dynamics. This holds true for families with one parent or two. A woman can only be a great mother. She can never even be a mediocre father. The same concept holds true for men. When mothers are great mothers and fathers are godly fathers then the Lord is glorified and the home is at peace. The value of our different roles should be cherished and stressed as glorifying our Lord with everything that we choose to do and NOT to do.
Friends - Direct their paths toward righteous choices by asking questions. The Holy Spirit will spark their hearts toward the right answers for friends and friendly activities. If you see your child with an influence that boldly or subtly changes who your child is in Jesus then strengthen their walk by discussing their changing attitudes and remind them that the Rock on which we stand never wavers.
Service - Allow them to serve in and out of the church with you. One of my young friends told me her definition of a leader. She says that, “Leaders are servants who help others even when they don’t feel like it.” Let your kids live in this Christian life that you profess. Don’t just let them hear you talk it. Let them walk it with you.
Tuesday, October 27, 2009
Being a leader is about influencing people. In Mark 16:15 Christians are called to go into all the world and share the good news with everyone. This would definitely influence people. This should, at the very least, leave a distinguishing effect on our schools, communities, and places of employment. Christians are called to be leaders. Even though this is understood, there is no scripture that defines the exact age at which we are called to be a leader to those in our sphere of influence.
If you believe that leadership is too much pressure to place on your child then I suggest you follow these easy steps to avoid having your children develop as leaders:
Decision-Making - Don’t burden children with decision making. It will just make them grow up too fast. They’ll have to learn soon enough when they start to earn a living and have to make their own choices of how to spend their time.
Gifts & Abilities - Don’t hurt their self-esteem with skill or gifting assessment. We’re all winners. Tell them they are gifted at everything they try even when it’s not really true at all. This way they will not really know what they’re good at and they won’t have the added pressure developing in one direction.
Commitments - Make judgments based on how you feel moment by moment. Allow them to break commitments and be late when something comes up.
Authority - Question everything. Make sure your child understands that they do not have to obey their teachers or coaches if they think that you might allow the child to do something differently. It’s best to always believe your child over anyone else without question.
Priorities - Keep the kids well-rounded. Carve out prime chunks of time for friends, school, work, sports and arts. Enroll them in every conceivable class because they’ll make loads of friends. An overly full schedule means you are involved and much more important.
Prayer - Pray in private. Bedtime and mealtime prayers will suffice for now. Children just don’t have the patience for long adult prayers they don’t understand.
The Bible - Keep them in their child storybook as long as possible. They just won’t understand the real Bible.
Civic Responsibility - Separation of church and state isn’t just for politics. Don’t mix God with current events.
Roles -Men and women do whatever works best for your family as far as gender roles and responsibilities. The roles established in the Bible were for a different time and place.
Friends - Don’t interfere with their friendships. They need to learn to choose their own friends and deal with their own problems.
Service - Make sure to tell the children when you serve the Lord so that they will know that you are doing good.
If you have been challenged by these comments I encourage you to read the second part of this article. We will look at a path which will ask much of the parent and produce much in the child.