30 Days of Cultivating Thankfulness: Day 24 – Family & Friends

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Inspirational Thought of the Day:

No sorrow in a family is so great that God cannot take that sorrow and create something beautiful in its place.

Scripture of the Day:

1 Peter 2:10

“Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.”

Psalm 68:5

“A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling.”

What a good God Who would provide family. From the beginning He saw that it was not good for man to be alone, so He provided a wife for Adam. The fruit of the union of man and wife is the greatest privilege man is given – to raise children for the LORD.

In His wise design, He provided people to surround us with love and counsel as we walk through the few days we are given in this life. To be loved by my husband has brought immense healing to my heart that seemed irreparably broken. Likewise, it has been the greatest joy to be able to love my children unconditionally and to show them the truth God has revealed to me. Watching them grow up and develop their own relationship with God brings this mom joy inexpressible.

But sometimes in the midst of God’s perfect plan, the institution of the family is attacked. Individual sin, death of loved ones or political agendas threaten to undo what God put in place for our joy and protection.

Families are an anchor for our souls as we travel through this world. They can be a source of the greatest acceptance and comfort or the source of the greatest agony and suffering. What God can do to a family yielded to Him is nothing short of miraculous. While no family is perfect, God’s plan will not be thwarted and ultimately we have a family that will last forever.

In a day and age where broken families are more the norm than families who have not experienced brokenness, there is a family that is never broken – the family of God. If you are alone this holiday, please know that you are not ever alone. Come and join the family. You are loved and accepted – just receive the free gift of a forever family that God has given to you. Join a Bible-believing church and watch how God makes strangers into brothers and sisters making up the body of Christ – a family of friends that reflects His glory.

Lord, I am so very grateful for your redemption and for the precious family that You have given me – in the flesh and in the Spirit. No sorrow in a family is so great that you cannot take that sorrow and create something beautiful in its place. I love, You, Lord. Thank You for being the Abba Father to all. I pray many more will come to accept Your invitation and know the peace of God we can have on this earth, no matter what family we come from.

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

http://www.seeingdeep.com | http://www.denisepass.com

Thoughtful Thursday: Purposeful Parenting

Parenting Purposefully

Photo credits: John Florbant

Inspirational Thought of the Day:

When our children come to know God as their Savior, they understand that walking in obedience is not a punishment, but a blessing.

Scripture of the Day:

Psalm 78: 5-8

“He established a rule in Jacob; he set up a law in Israel. He commanded our ancestors to make his deeds known to their descendants, 6 so that the next generation, children yet to be born, might know about them. They will grow up and tell their descendants about them. 7 Then they will place their confidence in God. They will not forget the works of God, and they will obey his commands. 8 Then they will not be like their ancestors, who were a stubborn and rebellious generation, a generation that was not committed and faithful to God.”

Parenting advice from the Father of all creation is worth listening to. In fact, it was not just advice – but a command. God knew the importance of remembering His activity. We are desperately wicked and constantly need a compass to point us toward Him. Our children are no different. When we remind them of the wonders God has done, we point them to the One Who is greater than us – the only One worthy of worship – Who is able to guide them and be their constant companion through this life .

Worshiping One Who is greater than ourselves keeps us from worshiping lesser things that cannot save. When my children were little, I would read Scriptures to them before they could understand a word. When they were old enough to understand, we began devotions and bible studies together. I was always amazed at how the Holy Spirit would guide me as I taught my children. I did not have to be super organized – I just needed to open His Word and study it with them.

The Lord placed home education on my heart as the means to achieving what He had asked me to do – to raise my children to know Him. Not to be religious. Not to be outwardly obedient and inwardly disobedient, but to know what it meant to walk with God.

I got so much flack raising my children in the LORD; that they were damaged because they were home educated, that they were “missing out”. They did indeed miss out. On a lot of extra junk that would have burdened them. We have enough troubles in this world, let alone ascribing to the belief that parents need to let their kids “figure it out” on their own.

God is telling parents to be purposeful in their parenting, to make sure their children know what He has done for them and this world that He loves – with the purpose of them having confidence in Him. This confidence becomes a living faith that knows God is their ever-present help in times of trouble.

When our children come to know God as their Savior, they understand that walking in obedience is not a punishment, but a blessing. Choosing a life of walking after the flesh only leads to deep sorrows and God wants to spare us that.

Parenting is not for wimps, and God knew we would need His wisdom to be able to raise His children for Him in a way that pleased Him. He also knew we would need to examine ourselves regularly to be able to see clearly enough to recognize sin in our own lives as well as theirs. Parenting a path full of battles when we choose to go against the flesh and raise our children God’s way, but it is a battle worth fighting and He already won the war for us.

Lord, help us to be godly parents who never give up mentoring our children with Your love and truth. Cause the hearts of our children to crave righteousness and may they be faithful to raise their children to love you, too.

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

http://www.seeingdeep.com | http://www.denisepass.com

Mundane Monday: Isolation’s Surprise

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Photo Credit Flickr Creative Commons and loufi.

Inspirational Thought of the Day:

It is in the unlikely places that God reaches His people with His love and grace.

Scriptures of the Day:

Matthew 14:15

When evening arrived, his disciples came to him saying, “This is an isolated place and the hour is already late. Send the crowds away so that they can go into the villages and buy food for themselves.” 15 But he replied, “They don’t need to go. You give them something to eat.”

Matthew 15:33

The disciples said to him, “Where can we get enough bread in this desolate place to satisfy so great a crowd?” 34 Jesus said to them, “How many loaves do you have?” They replied, “Seven–and a few small fish.”

It is sometimes not until we are in a place of want that we understand how blessed we are. Not knowing how the bills will be paid, hoping the debit card works at the register at the grocery store, not being able to afford prescription medication, or even being unable to fix our car – all things I have walked through – taught me lessons I could never have learned when provision was more abundant.

The assumption the disciples made and we often can, too, is that in those desolate places, when we are alone and it seems there is no help, it is not what we have that matters. It is Who we have that makes all the difference.

The disciples did not see how they could help the masses of people. They looked at what they had, they looked at the resources around them and it looked bleak. This makes sense in our practical world. We don’t plan on what might be, we plan according to what is in our hands. While this is a sensible approach when it comes to living on a budget, God’s math does not add up when His children are hurting or in need. In the place of isolation there is a test. A test to see what our response will be. A test of trust.

He loves to demonstrate His care and use us to do so, as well. Jesus looked at their hearts and longed to provide in a way that brought glory to God. No one could take credit for such a lavish feast. People still scratch their heads today wondering how such a miracle could occur, but that is what is so awesome about God’s provision – it always surprises us because it does not seem possible.

Perhaps one of the most overlooked means of God’s provision is us. He blesses us and watches to see how we will be sensitive to see the needs of others. Will we be His hands and feet? God is asking us today, “What do you have?” Phew. humbling. But one of the greatest joys is giving and seeing God at work in the life of the recipient.  Much like earthly parents love to surprise their children with blessings, our God waits to see if we will call on Him and also be used by Him so He can answer in amazing ways.

But perhaps the need and provision are not the most significant aspects of these biblical stories. God is using that need to open their eyes to seek Him, that we might know Him more.

Lord, thank You that You are never far off when we cry out to You. Please help us to be attentive to the needs around us, ready to help, as well.

Truthful Tuesday: Carrying the Torch

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Inspirational Thought of the Day:

We help our children carry the torch of faith by living out our faith honestly and in humility.

Scripture of the Day:

Judges 2:10-12

“That entire generation passed away; a new generation grew up that had not personally experienced the LORD’s presence or seen what he had done for Israel.  11 The Israelites did evil before the LORD by worshiping the Baals. 12 They abandoned the LORD God of their ancestors who brought them out of the land of Egypt. They followed other gods–the gods of the nations who lived around them. They worshiped them and made the LORD angry.

Some have said that the upcoming generation is leaving the church.  The foundation laid is purportedly not firm and the future generation left the faith of their predecessors.

Nothing scares me more than the faith of my children fading and being replaced with a worldly counterfeit.

I have a jealousy for their souls and a desire for them to see this walk with Christ is not mere religion, but a vibrant, cherished relationship with the Lover of our souls.

But I cannot make that choice for them.  They have to pick up the torch and choose to carry it.  As the character Sam Wise said in the movie, “Lord of the Rings”, “‘I can’t carry it for you, but I can carry you.”

Praying for them and daily sharing God’s word and living it out has a much more profound effect than rules aimed at external behavior only.  So it is with us, the predecessors.  We each had to face the poverty of our own souls, grapple with sin and not allow it to master us on the inside.  We still do.

When our children see our need of God, there is no greater demonstration of active living faith.  Confessing our shortcomings yet not yielding to them shows them how to carry the torch.

Ultimately, if the faith of the future generation was dependent upon our perfection, faith would fail.  Thank God that faith is a gift from Him, nurtured with time spent with Jesus in His word and prayer.

Lord, help us to never grow weary of seeking You and discipling the precious next generation for Your glory.  May righteousness sweep across our nation and the hearts of the children return to You.

 

A Season of Thankfulness: Day 6 – Our Sovereign God

Photo Credits: bluecollargospel.com

Photo Credits:
bluecollargospel.com

Job 42:2

““I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted.”

Isaiah 46:9-10

” Remember the former things of old; for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me, declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done, saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish all my purpose.’”

Proverbs 19:21

“Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand.”

People want to be around people of power … if they are in good favor with them.  It is also impressive to be around someone who is extremely knowledgeable, but no one likes a know-it-all.

But being in the presence of God, the only truly sovereign being, is at once humbling and comforting.  He knows us completely, yet He chooses us.  Nothing is Hidden from Him, yet He accepts us.  The plans of this world seem out of control, but He is in complete control of it all.

This is perhaps one of the attributes of God that I am most thankful for.  A King Who rules over all takes time to notice each one of His former subjects who have become His children.  His promises are always kept and His plans are foolproof.

His rule is perfectly righteous and He never wonders whether His decision is the right one, for He knows the end fully.  He is never surprised nor anxious, for He set the world into motion and holds it all together.

In Him coincidences are truly divine appointments and circumstances are designed and orchestrated by Him.  When evil makes its way into our lives, He is sovereign over that, too.  Using all things together for our good and His glory.  What an amazing God!

Lord, thank You for being Sovereign, Holy, Righteous.  You amaze me, God, and are too great for me to fully comprehend.  

Mundane Monday: Plain Beautiful

Psalm 73:7

“Their prosperity causes them to do wrong; their thoughts are sinful.”

Psalm 73:28

“But as for me, God’s presence is all I need.  I have made the sovereign LORD my shelter, as I declare all the things you have done.”

Expenses in life can be so very challenging sometimes.  I confess there are moments when I wonder if it would be possible for some of those pesky challenges to just stop.  Drifting down this line of thinking I ponder what it would be like to have no financial troubles.  It reminds me of the main character, Tevye in “Fiddler on the Roof”, when he said, “IF MONEY IS A CURSE THEN SMITE ME WITH IT”.

Our vehicles are all over 200,000 miles and have each exhibited signs of that wear that keep our local auto center in business.  We want to refrain from going to the doctor because insurance does not really pay anything, anyway.  Each month I hope the cost of the prescription for a skin condition has somehow decreased, but alas, itch I must.  Opportunities that I wanted for my kids that we cannot afford.  Food costs drive you to always choose from the value menu if you go out at all.  Vacations?  Usually combined with larger family gatherings because affording a vacation place would mean fasting for the trip.  Exaggeration for effect here, but you get my point.

I am not looking for sympathy, really I am not.  Because even though in one moment I could wish it was a little easier, in the next breath, I am so very thankful that I have not had everything I have wanted.  Sure troubles can be frustrating, but there is a deep contentment within that fills me with peace when I am tempted to wonder why things are not easier.  I trust my God and He is sovereign and perfect in His provision.

Where it hurts the most is when I would want to do more for my children or other people but cannot. In this, too, I can rest in God’s wisdom and plan.  He is their Provider, and mine, too.  He is the One Who meets our every need.  If He does not use me to provide for someone else’s need, He has someone else appointed.  What I have felt as lack perhaps is not lack at all and can also cause me to get creative and contemplate what I can do with what God has given.

So, without sounding hyper-spiritual, where is the blessing in not having all that I want?  Not having enough of what I thought I needed causes me to ask my Heavenly Father for help.  The hunger for more is replaced with a longing for God and I am always satisfied in His presence far more than the temporary satisfaction of comfort or materialistic goods.

This flies in the face of prosperity theology, which would proclaim that we always have an abundance.  Defining that abundance, though, is difficult to do.  When is enough, enough?  Perhaps what we have is an abundance, already.  Let that sink in.  A home, vehicles, clothing, food, electricity, a garden – sounds more blessed than I deserve.

That is what happens when I enter into His presence.  My perspective is changed and what I perceived as plain and not sufficient becomes more than I could ever thank God enough for.  Perhaps having less than all I want is more beautiful, after all.

Lord, help us to be content when others around us appear to be without troubles and humble enough to help those around us who look at us in the same way. 

The Higher Goal of God’s Deliverance

1 Samuel 1:10

“She was very upset as she prayed to the LORD, and she was weeping uncontrollably.”

1 Samuel 2:1-3, 9

1 Hannah prayed, “My heart rejoices in the Lordmy horn is exalted high because of the Lord.  I loudly denounce my enemiesfor I am happy that you delivered me. 2 No one is holy like the Lord!  There is no one other than you!  There is no rock like our God!  3 Don’t keep speaking so arrogantly, letting proud talk come out of your mouth!  For the Lord is a God who knows; he evaluates what people do. 9 He watches over his holy ones, but the wicked are made speechless in the darknessfor it is not by one’s own strength that one prevails.”

Each day, I am amazed how God speaks to just what I need to hear.  This blog is written directly out of my devotion time, which is from a bible-in-a-year plan.  Yet in God’s sovereignty, He uses right where I am at in His Word to speak to me. What an awesome God.

Hannah’s story has always been special to me.  God sees our longings, but fulfills them in accordance with His will and timing.  Her response is so humble and surrendered to God.  In the face of a rival mocking her for her perceived inferiority because she could not bear children, she cried out to her God.

Don’t we all not measure up somehow, in someone else’s eyes?  Hannah suffered from the onslaught of minimizing, but it was not so much her concern for Penninah’s opinion.  She did not get involved with the small-minded desire to be esteemed by others or to have what others had for vanity’s sake.  No, she longed to be a mom.  The pain and shame of not being able to bear children stemmed from her innate, God-given role as a woman.  God honored this desire.

The sting of a longing unfulfilled can paralyze us if we let it.  But in this beautiful moment of Hannah’s submission to God’s will, she wipes away her tears and trusts in God.  When God granted her request, she praised Him and then gave back this cherished gift to her God.  Our tendency as humans is to want to hold onto God’s provision, but Hannah knew that Samuel, her precious son, was God’s and not hers.  Ultimately, her desire to honor God brought about more blessing for her and five more children.

More than victory over those who would demean her, Hannah had a joy in her relationship with her LORD and had gained something even more precious – character.  Humility gained from other people’s judgment is a reward, too.  It teaches us perspective and guards us from living to please man and reminds us that none of us are without fault.

Overly being concerned with man’s affronts is not righteous.  Jesus modeled this heart of humility when false accusations were hurled at Him and He is the only One in whom there was not a hint of truth in his enemy’s rants.  He was spat upon and murdered and responded by praying on behalf of those who wished Him harm.

Letting go of the idol of currying man’s favor is a beautiful place of peace and freedom.  Hannah was not trying to be glorified by man or be the best at anything.  She was not concerned with other people’s perception of her, and when Penninah’s judgment hurt, she ran to her Father – and He heard.

Man’s opinion is insignificant in the scope of eternity, but our response reveals pride and insecurities or trust and surrender to God.  Hannah chose the latter and glorified God, not herself.  We can, too.  Her “ladder” was leaned against God, not the culture.  Her greatest goal was not being right or triumphing over her enemies, but in glorifying God and being found in Him.

Lord, help us to be in the world and not of it.  May we care more about pleasing you than anything or anyone else.

Unequal “Yokedom” and Keeping Our Children’s Hearts

Photo Credits: My son Sam

Photo Credits:
My son Sam

Genesis 28:1-7

28:1 So Isaac called for Jacob and blessed him. Then he commanded him, “You must not marry a Canaanite woman2 Leave immediately for Paddan Aram! Go to the house of Bethuel, your mother’s father, and find yourself a wife there, among the daughters of Laban, your mother’s brother. 3 May the sovereign God bless you! May he make you fruitful and give you a multitude of descendants!  Then you will become a large nation4 May he give you and your descendants the blessing he gave to Abraham so that you may possess the land God gave to Abraham, the land where you have been living as a temporary resident.” 5 So Isaac sent Jacob on his way, and he went to Paddan Aram, to Laban son of Bethuel the Aramean and brother of Rebekah, the mother of Jacob and Esau.  6 Esau saw that Isaac had blessed Jacob and sent him off to Paddan Aram to find a wife there. As he blessed him, Isaac commanded him, “You must not marry a Canaanite woman.” 7Jacob obeyed his father and mother and left for Paddan Aram.

2 Corinthians 6:14-18

“Do not become partners with those who do not believe, for what partnership is there between righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship does light have with darkness? 15 And what agreement does Christ have with Beliar? Or what does a believer share in common with an unbeliever? 16 And what mutual agreement does the temple of God have with idols? For we are the temple of the living God, just as God said, “I will live in them and will walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people.” 17 Thereforecome out from their midst, and be separate,” says the Lord, “and touch no unclean thing, and I will welcome you, 18 and I will be a father to you, and you will be my sons and daughters,” says the All-Powerful Lord.”

Ok, so we are not cattle and it might seem a bit archaic to still use the terminology “yoked”.  Perhaps another analogy would serve today’s generation better, nonetheless our souls confirm this truth.  It was not a racial slur when Jacob’s parents were opposed to Jacob marrying a Caananite woman.  They knew that Jacob’s heart could be turned away from following the living God by marrying an unbelieving spouse.  This is not just a principle for the Old Testament.  I fear in our day of tolerance and relevance that we have lost touch with the truth that God’s word never changes and His principles still stand, no matter how sophisticated or independent we think we’ve become.

I have three daughters and two sons that God has blessed me with.  Later in life, He also brought a step-daughter into my life.  When God enabled me to be a parent, my greatest heart’s desire was that I would be faithful to raise them in the LORD.  God was seeking godly offspring when He chose Abraham and when He chose us.  These children He has given are truly His.  Being charged with guarding their hearts and guiding them in Christ has been a challenging task, indeed, but it is worth it.

Suitors are now coming to call and the foundation that was laid all of these years is holding, by the grace of God.  It is not easy, and I, too, can easily falter if it were not for the compass I hold in my hand each day – the Bible.  You see, the philosophy of this day and age is to minimize the authority that parents have in their children’s lives.  It is viewed as old-fashioned.  So be it.  The role God gave parents is one He holds them accountable for, and that truth, coupled with the fear of the LORD, keeps me seeking God for His choice, not mine, in my children’s lives.

Worldliness is easy.  It is so woven into all of society, even in Christian places, that we can become dumbed down and not detect it anymore.  It is so hard to keep our hearts, let alone our children’s.  If I put my oxygen mask (the Bible) on each day, I am able to see clearly enough to place it on my children, but this also requires discipline and consistency in my life.

It starts when they are young.  Even when my children were first able to understand, I shared with them God’s word and how it differed from the world around us.  At that time I told them we were not going to follow the customs of the culture around us, including dating at a young age.  The follow up to that standard never relents and must not just be a legalistic mantra.  Godly standards flowing from genuine conviction breathe life, not rebellion.

This morning, my 10-year-old son knew I was not to be interrupted during my devotion time.  It is still so hard for him to not do so. Instead, he got his Bible out and read beside me and drew a picture from his devotion time, which I used for today’s blog. These moments are precious, but we cannot rest in them.  We have to keep building on this foundation and remind our kids that the faith they were taught has to become their own.

Back to my daughters.  Young men are now coming, asking to date or court my two oldest – pesky thing it is, them growing up.  Trying to walk the line of counseling my daughters and letting them make decisions is difficult, to say the least.  True character is shown soon enough, though, whether a young man will respect the parent’s place in the young woman’s life whom he admires, or whether he will secretly attempt to subvert the authority God has placed in my daughter’s lives.

We did not permit dating or courtship until they were 18 and have certainly been judged for doing so.  No regrets here. This past week I had the joy of having a godly young man inquire after one of my daughters.  They have been friends for a year and a half and walked through this process beautifully.  Moments like this make it all worth it.  Suitors can lie, manipulate and couch their professions of love in “Christianese”, but the Holy Spirit is able to guide important life decisions.  We just have to be seeking and listening.  True character is shown in time – we just must be vigilant!

My older son is a couple of years away from adulthood now.  Completely different and also much the same.  The principles of purity and guarding our hearts have been laid as groundwork since before he could first understand those words.  May he and his younger brother continue to walk in God’s ways and seek a righteous wife someday, for even the wisest man, Solomon, had wives turn his heart away from God toward worthless things.

Although Jacob might have easily disregarded his parent’s counsel, he did not.  He chose to obey and was rewarded for it. He had his own past of deceit and maybe learned from it.  My prayer is that my children will continue to choose the path of following God, but that will be their decision.  I am blessed to say that they are walking with God, but the spiritual battle for all of our children’s hearts is waged daily.  We have experienced firsthand how the disobedience of one person caused incredible pain and horrific consequences in our lives.  We do not want to walk that path again.

We never arrive as parents and never are done inspiring our children to love God.  The costs are just too high, and future generations are counting on the faithfulness of us right now.  We cannot become trapped in cultural pressure or fads.  Even terminology can become an idol – dating or courtship.  Choices lie before us all each day.  What we choose impacts those who follow behind us.  I choose by the grace of God blessing and not a curse – walking in obedience over rebellion, life over death.  What say you?

Lord, thank you for saving me and showing me the need for discipleship of the children You have given.  When I fall short, LORD, protect their hearts and enable us to follow hard after You, for You are our life!

All Part of One Dysfunctional Family

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John 1:12

“But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.”

“See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is.”

Ephesians 2:19-22 

“So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.” 

I confess that I used to dread reading through geneologies, but now I cherish reading them, one name at a time.  I know, it must not take much to entertain me, right?  But behind each name is a story, and often one of dysfunction.  Why does this comfort me, you may ask?  Because these names that are a part of the line that lead to our Emmanuel were not perfect families which were a part of God’s background.  The Son of God chose sinful man to be a part of His lineage.

A prostitute, adulterers, murderers, foreigners, deceivers, in-laws, non-biological parents, idol worshipers, and the list goes on and on.  I love when I see families who leave a godly heritage, generation after generation, with no divorce.  I wish that could have been my story, and yet I don’t.  We can still leave a godly heritage to our children when our story has not been perfect.  It is in the scars, in the hurt, in the reality of not being perfect that I was able to be embraced by my Savior, my Kinsman Redeemer, Who makes all things new.  This fallen world and any labels people want to affix to people who are broken by sin’s stain, has no hold on me.  I am a part of God’s family, too.

As a little girl I recall feeling strange as a child of divorce.  Moving multiple times between homes was my newly accepted norm.  When I came to know Jesus in college, I was excited about being in a Christian marriage one day and teaching my children about Jesus’ loving salvation.  I married a Christian man and raised my children in the LORD.  Little did I know the secret my now former husband had, which would break up my “perfect” family.  How could this happen?  How could God receive glory from such sin?  And yet the hand of God guided me and led me to remarry a man who also had his heart broken.  The Brady Bunch, indeed.  So now, where did our family fit in?  With God.

It still amazes me.  Why did God choose us?  To show His great mercy.  To lavish His love upon His children.  To heal.  Whenever we begin to look at ourselves and compare to someone else, we need to remember that we cannot always see someone else’s struggle, and ultimately we are all the same in God’s eyes – all a part of His cherished family.  Whatever you have been through, You belong to Him, and that is all that matters.  The church is the family of God and is full of dysfunctional people, too.  That is why we need a Savior.  If you are a new believer, welcome to the family – love you!  We are not perfect, but we are being made into His image, day by day.

Lord, heal hearts and families today that need to know they are accepted in Your sight.  May You be glorified in our families and our churches.