Have I Been Enough?

the-legacy-we-leave-behind-by-being-matters-just-as-much-as-what-we-are-doing-in-our-daily-lives

Inspirational Thought of the Day:

The legacy we leave behind by “being” matters just as much as what we are “doing” in our daily lives.

Scripture of the Day:

Deuteronomy 6:6-7

“These words I am commanding you today must be kept in mind, and you must teach them to your children and speak of them as you sit in your house, as you walk along the road, as you lie down, and as you get up.”

Proverbs 22:6

“Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.”

If you read yesterday’s post about my “personal best” running in a 10k (not), then maybe today’s post will encourage you that it is not just about what we do, but who we are, consistently, that matters.

While I am fairly accident prone and full of extreme and embarrassing stories, today I am reflecting on the grace of God in the midst of such times. I mentioned yesterday that one of my sons is going away to college in a couple of days.

He has been away from home for other trips, but this time the gravity of his childhood ending is hitting me as he goes on to the next chapter of his life.

I have wondered if I disciplined and discipled him well enough, if I was intentional enough with imparting the message of the Gospel that burns in my heart. Then it hit me. My precious son has watched me through the most painful, horrific, stretching moments of my life – and he has watched me cling to God harder with each passing trial.

He watched me fight for my children when we were taken to court time and again. He wept with me when I was too sick to move from a hospital bed, but made myself get up to write a Scripture on the board to witness to the nurses around me. He held my hand when I could not afford medication for asthma due to job loss and comforted me when my heart was broken.

Yes, my son “caught” my faith by how I tenaciously lived it out in dire times solely by the grace of God, but I also learned from him while he was learning from me.

The legacy we leave behind by “being” matters just as much as what we are “doing” in our daily lives. I did a lot with my children. I chose to home educate because God placed it on my heart and I was jealous for time with them and to be the biggest influence for the LORD in their lives.

I am grateful beyond words that I made that choice to stay home with each of my precious children. From baseball games to skiing, dancing, a home educational co-op I started and directed, speech competitions, orchestra, choir, band, worship team, TeenPact, CYT, the list goes on – all those times are cherished, but it was being with them that I will treasure the most.

Where we have shortcomings, God makes up the difference – and all along the way our children see us looking to our Father, too.

Lord, thank You for the privilege of raising sons and daughters for Your glory. May they walk in the Spirit and not aft the flesh and may every seed of faith planted blossom into beautiful lasting fruit in their lives.

 

Have I Done Enough?

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Inspirational Thought of the Day:

It’s not how you start the race that matters, but how you finish.

Scripture of the Day:

1 Corinthians 9:24

24 Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. 25 Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. 26 Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air. 27 No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.”

Leaning over and stretching, I looked at the entrance to the race with a side glance, as if to hide the fact that I was examining it. Had my training been enough? What about those days when I opted to eat chocolate instead of training on the treadmill? (There’s that chocolate appearing in the blog again).

“You can do this”, I told myself. Ugh, but I really didn’t want to. I started to contemplate why I signed up for this race in the first place, and so began the battle of the mind as we all took our mark.

In preparation for the race, earlier that morning my dear hubby thought it would be kind to make me a three egg omelet and grits with a banana. * Gulp. * One egg is usually my limit, but I thought I needed energy for the race, so I obliged and stuffed my face. It’s all about the carbs, right? Later he asked if there was any breakfast left. *Oops.* No wonder it was a three egg omelet – we were supposed to split it.

As we drove to the race, my tummy and I were not feeling in the running mood, if you know what I mean. Now back to that starting line. “Pace yourself”, I coached myself. “Don’t worry about everybody passing you when you are slower than everyone else around you”. Self-talk was starting to get me pumped up. I had enough fuel to get through this race, just needed the right attitude.

The blaring sound alerted us, hearts pumping, that it was our turn for our feet to slave away at the pavement. “Why, oh why am I doing this AGAIN?” Focusing on my first benchmark, I squinted between drops of sweat and thought I was probably already to a half mile. Suddenly, I really felt like I was going to hurl. Desperate for a quick exit, the 30,000 people surrounding me made it seem impossible to find a place to puke.

Note to self: “Don’t ever eat a 3-egg omelet with grits and a banana before a race again”. “I can’t do this”, I started to fill my mind with a doubtful mantra. Just then, my husband tapped me on the back. He was following me still, urging me on. Seeing my misery, he encouraged me to keep going.

Pressing on in my misery and panic, I furtively looked for places to hurl, but found none. At each mile marker my husband somehow appeared, dancing and rooting me on. He had not even trained for this race, and he was whooping me?! I started to wonder if he had a sinister plan with the 3-egg omelet he had prepared that morning just for me.

By the grace of God, I finished, but it wasn’t pretty. My husband sprinted the entire race ahead of me to encourage me, but I was feeling mighty inferior.

I learned a lot that day about perseverance, and yes, I ran that race again, but I avoided some of the mistakes I made before.

The lessons learned in a race impact all areas of life. The tasks God calls us to – will we work at them and complete them, or give up part way through? Will we prepare and be in the Word to enable us to do the work of God, or just randomly serve?

This question asked at the beginning of today’s post echoes in the corners of my mind. Have I Done Enough?

As a parent – have I done enough? As I prepare to send another child to study on campus instead of at home, I wonder, have I done enough? Will he be able to stand against temptation and run his own race?

As a child of God, have I done enough? Has my heart burned with the passion of sharing God’s love with the world? Or have I focused on being comfortable in this temporary world?

We are all in a race, but often get caught up in life’s hectic distractions and forget what matters most. That glorious finish line will be worth it. Our burdens and the difficulty of the race pale in light of what God has in store for those who run this race all for His glory.

Like the race I ran that was full of challenges, life is rife with hardship, temptations, and battles, but there are encouragements along the way provided by God to spur us on.

It is not those necessarily those who start well who win the race, but those who are consistent and finish it well. Stay focused and stay faithful. It will be worth it in the end.

Lord, thank You for your grace to run the race of this life. Give us Your perspective and help us to not lose heart. Be glorified as we run for You.

Mundane Monday: Prodigal Revisited

Photo Credits www.sharefaith.com

Photo Credits
http://www.sharefaith.com

Psalm 107:1, 8, 17, 28

“Give thanks to the LORD, for He is good, and His loyal love endures.  8 Let them give thanks to the LORD for His loyal love, and for the amazing things He has done for His people.  17 They acted like fools in their rebellious ways, and suffered because of their sins.  28  They cried out to the LORD in their distress; He delivered them from their troubles.”

In light of a fantastic sermon on the prodigal son at our church yesterday, called, “God is Not Co-Dependent”, I wanted to reblog a post I wrote on October 8, 2014, called, “The Prodigal’s Father”.  May God turn the hearts of the parents to their children, and the hearts of the children to their parents. (Malachi 4:6).


The image of the prodigal son’s father anticipating his son’s return with open arms is such a picture of God’s heart toward His children. But what is often missed is that the rebellious child must return.  Parents can long for their children to return, but if the child is still rebellious, then it would not be a complete picture of sweet repentance and restoration.  Instead, it would become a dysfunctional relationship of enablement and abuse.

God is loyally loving His children when he permits consequences for their rebellious actions, but the child does not often recognize such love.  Discipline is viewed as unloving, when it is actually a kindness to not allow sin to go unchecked. Blame is cast on the parent who was unreasonable to expect basic obedience, whether doing chores, the expectation of telling the truth or not permitting the child to stay out all night.  But when the child comes to his senses, as in the case of the prodigal son, it is a wonderful picture of repentance and the story of the Gospel – how God is willing to forgive all wayward children.  Forgiveness hinges on that moment of confessing sins, though, and cannot be dished out just because the prodigal believes he or she deserves it.

Many in the next generation have revolted against authority and are embittered at the suggestion that they should be accountable to anyone.  It is not just this generation that has bred prodigals, though – we are all prodigals in our own right.  Forgiveness and acceptance are much more pleasurable than living in sin, so what hinders the prodigal from returning? Deception, pride and loving our victim status.  Bearing the outward attitude of rejection, despite leaving being our choice, we receive attention and pity.  The original deception becomes truth if we feed on the praises of the enablers surrounding and flattering us.  The only way out?  Cry out to God for understanding and admit our wrongdoings.  Don’t seek sympathy for something we deserve. Take responsibility for our actions – only then can the mind of Christ illuminate and reveal our true condition. Lastly, if we could for a moment contemplate how our actions have hurt our loving father, instead of how our actions have hurt ourselves, we would begin to walk in freedom.

Let us give thanks that God shows us our rebellious ways and punishes us – though He does not give us what our sins deserve.  Loyal love is a love that keeps the unconditional love “on”, but does not permit an abuse of that love.  For a child to accuse a parent because of consequences they must bear due to their own behavior is folly.  God does not fall for it, either – but He does offer the sweetest peace, joy and love for those who have truly repented and not made excuses for their sin.

Lord, thank you for Your loyal love, which endures forever!  You did not leave us in our sins, but made a way out, praise Your Name!  Help all of us prodigals to wake up and see we are blessed beyond measure because of Your faithful love!

Denise Pass Promo PicDenise Pass | Author | Singer | Speaker | Worship Leader

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Thoughtful Thursday: Raising Abel

Train up a child

Photo Credits: kidsministryresources.com

Ecclesiastes 11:9 

“Rejoice, young man, while you are young, and let your heart cheer you in the days of your youth. Follow the impulses of your heart and the desires of your eyes, but know that God will judge your motives and actions.”

Ecclesiastes 12:1

“So remember your Creator in the days of your youth–before the difficult days come, and the years draw near when you will say, “I have no pleasure in them.”

A mantra spoken often in our culture is that teens think they know it all. And while there is surely a grain of truth in this statement, a step back reveals that it is a blossoming seed coming to fruition of the investment of earlier days.

It is sheer delight seeing the wonder in a child learning something new about the world around us.  Watching that wonder grow over time into fascination and a depth of wisdom and knowledge is even more amazing to see.  Such is the privilege of being a parent.

The quest I have held closely to in 21 years of parenting is an earnest desire to nurture a love of wisdom, fear of the LORD and a sincere love of the LORD in each of my children’s hearts.  Words cannot convey how wonderful it is to see them seeking after God and seeking to walk in His ways in a troubled generation.

The world around us insists that teens have to indulge in the flesh, sass their parents, live for self and rebel.  That is not what Scripture says.

Subcultures within Christianity can also have fads and recommendations of what convictions we should hold to in order to have godly children. While there is wise counsel often given by various authors and ministries, it becomes religiosity if we hold to methods and an external approach more than an internal commitment focusing on character.

We did not have television or electronics for most of my children’s childhood.  Then we did.  We learned lessons and how to grapple with this world around us and seek to impact the world rather than just avoid it.  We also utilize social media with age limits, are accountable and seek to use it for the glory of God.

I hesitate to share the parameters we set because everyone’s personal convictions vary widely and each one needs to honor God with the boundaries they have for their household.  Creating a center of wisdom through the provision of devotionals, worship music and a Christian education helped lay a foundation of providing a biblical lens in all that my children face.

Paramount above all is the voice within reminding us that “As for me and my household, we will serve the LORD”.  We go through seasons in which we recognize the world creeping in and have to take actions to “clean house”, but such revelations are a gift from God and part of walking in relationship with Him.  More than rules is an understanding why we have such boundaries.

Giving space little by little for children to make their own successes and failures is frightening, but also a tool for them to learn from.  Encouraging them to pray for wisdom themselves will be their key to a faithful walk with God if they dare to ask.

Trying to find a magic bullet or set of rules will not produce the youth God is looking for, but fostering, living it our ourselves and creating an environment which encourages a love for God’s word and provokes living an honest life before our Maker is fundamental.

Instead of buying into the propaganda which makes excuses for folly in youth and wastes the days of youth, we can spur the next generation onto greatness.  There is a joy that comes from being accountable and living life through a biblical lens that no frivolous childhood could ever compare to.

Dispensing away with lies that say being godly is not fun and debunking the fear that says we cannot be in the world yet not of it, we can raise our children to have freedom within boundaries, genuine “wise guys”, guided by wisdom and the fear of the LORD.

Lord, it is a humbling, overwhelming task to raise children for You and for Your glory.  Please enable us to live a radical life for You that is infectious and attractive so the future generation will see the joy of the LORD in our faces, which far surpasses worldly pleasures.

Thoughtful Thursday: Christmas Countdown day 4 – It Only Takes One

Photo Credits en.wikipedia.org

Photo Credits
en.wikipedia.org

Ecclesiastes 9:18-10:1

“Wisdom is better than weapons of war, but one sinner can destroy much that is good.”  10:1 “One dead fly makes the perfumer’s ointment give off a rancid stench, so a little folly can outweigh much wisdom.”

It always astounds me that it can only take one dissenter to bring about chaos and destroy something good.  A small percentage of a population can speak louder and change what the majority voted on.  How is this able to happen?  Passion.  Activism.  Devotion.  Leadership . . . and pressing on despite it not being popular.

We admire when people accomplish great things when the odds are against them, but much more admirable are deeds done in righteousness than the wicked prevailing.  A liberal agenda will not bring about the freedom it’s followers desire, but they still passionately fight for what they believe is right.  Now more than ever the righteous must not let their voices be silenced.  Our nation needs us more now than ever.  It will not be popular to hold ground and try to turn the tide back, but it is possible.  Your voice matters.  Make it count for righteousness.  It only takes one to begin to make a change.

Only One could pay for the sin debt of all mankind.  He was not popular, but He knew His mission and completed it, despite much opposition.  He changed this world forever – not just for a generation.  This Christmas may we remember what Christ did for us and all mankind.  May we all honor God with our lives and affect this society for His glory.  It only takes one.  Shine brightly in this generation – there is no other voice just like yours – it is needed now.

The song, “This Little Child” by Scott Wesley Brown, written in the late 70’s is so very fitting in our times.  I end today’s post with lyrics contained within the second verse:

“And over half the world is starving While our banner of decency is torn;
Debating over disarmament, Killing children before they’re born.
And fools who march to win the right to justify their sin.
Oh ev’ry nation that has fallen Has fallen from within
Yet in the midst of this darkness There is a hope a light that burns
This little child the King of kings Some day will return.”

Hear and see the lyrics to the complete song here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=riSAYsLTQBs

Lord, help us to shine for You brighter and brighter.  May we not cover or hide the light You have placed in us and boldly stand for truth and for Your glory.  

Thankfulness: Joy in the Humility of Gratitude

Photo Credits rootedforlife.wordpress.com

Photo Credits
rootedforlife.wordpress.com

Numbers 11:1, 4-6, 10, 18-20

1 When the people complained, it displeased the Lord. When the Lord heard it, his anger burned, and so the fire of the Lord burned among them and consumed some of the outer parts of the camp. 4 Now the mixed multitude who were among them craved more desirable foods, and so the Israelites wept again and said, “If only we had meat to eat! 5 We remember the fish we used to eat freely in Egypt, the cucumbers, the melons, the leeks, the onions, and the garlic. 6 But now we are dried up, and there is nothing at all before us except this manna!”  10 Moses heard the people weeping throughout their families, everyone at the door of his tent; and when the anger of the Lord was kindled greatly, Moses was also displeased18 “And say to the people, ‘Sanctify yourselves for tomorrow, and you will eat meat, for you have wept in the hearing of the Lord, saying, “Who will give us meat to eat, for life was good for us in Egypt?” Therefore the Lord will give you meat, and you will eat. 19 You will eat, not just one day, nor two days, nor five days, nor ten days, nor twenty days, 20 but a whole month, until it comes out your nostrils and makes you sick, because you have despised the Lord who is among you and have wept before him, saying, “Why did we ever come out of Egypt?”’”

As a mom and chief chef in our home, I feel the sting of this one.  Slaving over the stove to provide tasty meals, sometimes the creativity runs low.  But the attitude of gratitude is what the recipient should bear when provided with food.  God provided the food for them – they merely had to gather it.  But that was not good enough.  Ouch.  We can easily get spoiled when our needs are provided for.  When things come easily to us, we contemplate the value and wonder if we could do better.  Maintaining thankfulness takes effort.  It takes humility to understand what we really deserve instead of thinking we deserve better.

Moses was very humble – more than any man on the face of the earth (Numbers 12:3).  He was surrounded by complaining yet lodged none of his own, well, except for having to lead the complainers themselves.  This is also something I have seen as a parent.  Loving parents tend to want to make their children comfortable.  But too much comfort leads to idolatry of that comfort and the flesh is not pleased when comfort is removed.  How do we treat such whining?  When tempted to complain we can always consider one less fortunate, but perhaps beyond consideration should be action.  Serving someone who has less would help produce a humility and take the focus off of ourselves.

Another aspect of our humanity is comparing – thinking that the grass is greener on the other side.  For the Israelites to say it was better to be enslaved than to follow God and be provided for by Him is a slap in the face of our LORD.  But do we do the same thing? Somehow we think earth should be like Heaven and when hardship happens or someone else is blessed more than we are, discontentment can grow – if we let it.  Back to the example in my own life.  One of my sons was not fond of split pea soup when he was a toddler.  So, much like the Israelites who consumed manna daily, he had split pea soup every day until it became his favorite.  He learned thankfulness and to appreciate what was given to him.

The parent/child relationship serves as a great analogy in my life when trying to understand why God our father would be offended over our discontent.  The hurt of sacrificing for another only to have it poorly received is painful.  If I am willing to examine myself, I can see where seeds of dissatisfaction are sown in my life, too.  A migraine kept me from blogging earlier today – crippled with pain, I first complained about headaches but then thanked God for medicine and a wonderful husband who made me soup.  Medical or household bills can be a source of a disgruntled attitude on my part, too, until I thank God that we have physicians.  As we are nearing the celebration of Thanksgiving, and in everyday life, may we turn the discontent in our hearts around into a praise instead.

Lord, forgive our discontent and lack of thankfulness.  Help us to trust Your provision and to recognize the everyday graces you bless us with and to have an attitude of gratitude and humility all for Your glory!