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: Freedom in Yielding

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Inspirational Thought of the Day:

When we yield to our Creator’s will and plans, we become what we were meant to be.

Scripture of the Day:

Jeremiah 18:4-6

“Now and then there would be something wrong with the pot he was molding from the clay with his hands. So he would rework the clay into another kind of pot as he saw fit. 5 Then the LORD said to me, 6 I the LORD, say: “O nation of Israel, can I not deal with you as this potter deals with the clay? In my hands, you, O nation of Israel, are just like the clay in this potter’s hand.”

My youngest child still loves to play with clay. The delight shown on his face by a new creation made according to his specifications is felt by those around him. The clay responds to his touch and yields to the form the creator is making. If it were made of another material that was less pliable, it could not do so.

So, too, when we yield to our Creator’s will and plans, we become what we were meant to be. But when we fight His working in our lives, we do not rise to our God-given potential.

There are many ways a lump of clay can resist the work of God. We might look the part on the outside, but on the inside we resent the work being done. Instead of yielding, we can inwardly seethe and doubt God’s goodness when we would rather be left alone.

Or perhaps we can compare ourselves to other vessels and wonder why their process of being shaped seems easier. We wonder what the purpose is in it, anyway. It might seem mundane or perhaps cruel, this shaping of our wills in which our flesh has to die so our spirit is made alive.

But when we resist the shaping of our lives because it hurts, we do not recognize that we are in fact harming ourselves. Protecting ourselves from God’s work on our hearts is only impeding the progress He is making. The tools might seem crude or unnecessary, but our loving God sees the complete design. His character is revealed in the fruit of the work He is doing, and His grace is sufficient to enable us during the process.

There is hope in the knowledge that God’s work is always redemptive and for our good. It is in fact in yielding that we taste of the freedom of being a child of God. Free from the shackles of sin, at peace and free to be what He intended in the first place.

The joy my son has in displaying his creation reminds me of the joy of the Father, delighting in His children. He is glorified when we surrender our lives to Him and let Him work in us. Patient perseverance develops us, changing us from the inside out. The end of His labor is a beauty to behold – forever changed into His image, made to be more like Him!

Lord, help us to trust Your working in our lives and to yield to Your purposes, even when they do not make sense to us.

Denise Pass Promo Pic

Denise Pass  •  www.seeingdeep.com  •  www.denisepass.com

Author | Worship Leader | Singer/Songwriter | Speaker

Mundane Monday: The Struggle is Real

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Inspirational Thought of the Day:

Struggling is an indicator of an ongoing fight – we have not given up. When we keep up the fight of faith and struggle toward righteousness, leaning on God and His word as our light, we are becoming more like Christ, our LORD.

Scripture of the Day:

Ephesians 6:12

“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world rulers of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavens.”


Spoken often in jest, we confess with our mouths about the struggle of living in a chaotic world, yet we are often unaware of the real struggle lying underneath. The Prince of the air is busy – constantly striving to steal, kill and destroy. Ignorance is not our friend, no, we perish for our lack of understanding.

Blaming a devil behind every evil is not the answer, but seeing the influence this evil is waging on us and those around us is paramount. This influence might not be as obvious as acts that we see which can be clearly understood. The power of the enemy can be borne out in our thoughts, attitude and behavior.

When we perceive that someone does not like us or we feel negatively toward another person ourselves, these pessimistic thoughts have but one source – the pit of hell. Judgment, shunning, gossip, deceit, superiority, self righteousness, unkind remarks – all have a common root of flesh affected by enveloping darkness. We who are in Christ are given a great gift of recognizing this evil and turning away from it.

Filtering our thoughts and actions through the Bible and prayer instructs us on how to live and how to discern things outside and inside of ourselves. True freedom comes from recognizing that our flesh does not desire conviction but then yielding that flesh to Jesus, anyway.

While we will never arrive on this earth, we can know that Jesus knew we would struggle and He loved us so much that He made a way out. We do not have to be imprisoned by the negative influence all around us, but can cry out to God for understanding and choose to obey Him, instead.

Even though the struggle is indeed real, whether or not we perceive it, we are not without hope. Struggling is an indicator of an ongoing fight – we have not given up. When we keep up the fight of faith and struggle toward righteousness, leaning on God and His word as our light, we are becoming more like Christ, our LORD.

Jesus, thank You for opening our eyes to see sin in our own lives. When we see demonic influence in other people’s lives, help us to pray for them and not judge them. Help us to examine ourselves for worldly influence that we might be a faithful witness for You – testifying and living for Your glory alone!

Denise Pass Promo Pic Denise Pass – Seeing Deep Ministries – http://www.seeingdeep.com

 

Author | Singer/Songwriter | Worship Leader

Mundane Monday: Mission Possible

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Inspirational Thought of the Day:

It is when I praise God in the fire that gratitude fills my heart and displaces all the other attitudes that were threatening to steal my joy.

Scripture of the Day:

1 Peter 4:12

“Dear friends, do not be astonished that a trial by fire is occurring among you, as though something strange were happening to you.”

A sterile doctor’s office and an unexpected diagnosis. A sudden tragic circumstance. Broken hearts and hopes crushed. What do all these have in common? An opportunity to go on mission with God.

I know, I know. A little skeptical on such an optimistic perspective, right? But sometimes it is in the moments of the unexpected when we are stretched far outside of our comfort zone and are able to see our circumstances are not just about getting to the other side, but about choosing to be on mission in the midst.

Fear, pain, anguish, despair, anxiety and discouragement are all valid feelings and to feel them is part of being human. We do not have to stay there, though. These feelings can be a catalyst to draw us nearer to God and help us to see what we are blind to in the land of comfort.

Somehow in the suffering we see our Savior and are no longer repulsed at having to walk the same path, but instead are grateful that He is in the valley with us, asking us if we will accept the mission at hand.

Each bump in the road is a challenge. The main question to consider is whether we believe God is Who He says He is. If we trust His character, then we can resist the urge to complain and accuse God or others for the hardship we are in and choose an alternate route instead that makes the enemy flee – praise.

As a worship leader, it is when I praise God in the fire that gratitude fills my heart and displaces all the other attitudes that were threatening to steal my joy.

Seeing unpleasant or harsh burdens as an opportunity to serve God has rocked my world and changed my viewpoint radically. It does not mean I do not feel or long to be delivered by my great God, but it means I choose to accept what He has allowed into this life He has given and choose to let Him use me in every situation.

Instead of the default pity party, God gives grace to us so we can ask what He wants us to do in our new assignment. Instead of fear, there is an astonishment that God will somehow supply sufficient grace for anything we face.

To walk in His steps means to embrace every part of life that comes our way. Truly living is to feel pain and joy in life and be grateful for it all, and God uses it all for greater purposes. But more than that, when we walk through the deep waters, Jesus longs to be our Comforter and to use that thorn in our flesh for a greater goal – death to self and alive in Christ.

Lord, You are sovereign and good all the time. Help us to trust You when things seem uncertain, and to rely on You in every situation.

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

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

Mundane Monday: Hope in Affliction

No Grit No Pearl Blog

Galatians 4:13

“But you know it was because of a physical illness that I first proclaimed the gospel to you.”


Being sick is no fun. I ought to know. Diagnosed with multiple autoimmune diseases, I have had to learn that delicate balance of trying not to do too much to push myself into a flare up but also challenging myself to live a full life.

Ironically, I have a very full plate and do not even like to look at all God has me doing. But there is a difference when it is not in fact you doing it, but Christ doing it through you.

As much as these illnesses have been a source of discouragement, they have also been my greatest joy. No, that was not a typo. How could infirmity and weakness be something that leads me to joy? It is because in those moments of pain and sorrow, I cried out. I drew nearer to my God and it flowed out into the formation of this blog and encouragement of others, as well as myself.

Paul wanted his “thorn in the flesh” removed, and so do we all, but he also recognized how God would use for the benefit of others what most look at as a handicap and a burden.

God does not look at things as we do. Where we see inconvenience God sees opportunity. Where we see pain God sees character and where we feel sorrow and burden, God wants to be our joy.

Sometimes I have wondered why God could not impart deep truths without the suffering. It would be a lot easier to write songs and sing them from a place of physical strength, I reasoned with the LORD. But perhaps living a perfectly comfortable life would not enable us to have the depth of understanding needed to go deeper.  God gets our attention with afflictions so we can remember what is really important and stay on mission.

A little pain causes us to either want to escape it or to give in to the pain and let it defeat us. It was not until I was hospitalized for 9 days with pneumonia that I realized this illness could be an opportunity to impact those around me more than a moment of self pity. The suffering was great, but my God was greater. My greatest triumph was rising from my bed to write the Scripture of the day on the dry erase board. My greatest joy was giving away the flowers given to me to everyone up and down my hall who had no gifts. My sweetest moment – fellowship with the LORD in that place and a nurse who rededicated her life to God. Character earned – hubby told me I had “true grit”.  🙂

Everything in this life is not about us. Surrendered to God in whatever curve the road takes us on, we begin to see that afflictions, blessings, joys, sorrows – all come through His hand with the purpose of more people knowing the goodness of the LORD at all times. The beauty formed in each vessel that allows the grit of life to work in them for God’s glory is irreplaceable and not found anywhere else.

We are not forgotten in times of affliction, no, instead we are remembered. Jesus understands. He walked that road of affliction first. 

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Worshipful Wednesday: Our Generous God

God is generous

1 Corinthians 1:5-7

For you were made rich in every way in him, in all your speech and in every kind of knowledge– 6 just as the testimony about Christ has been confirmed among you– 7 so that you do not lack any spiritual gift as you wait for the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Psalm 25:14

“The LORD’s loyal followers receive his guidance, and he reveals his covenantal demands to them.”

We worry about provision in a world system that requires payment for everything. Yet God says that if he takes care of the grass, flowers and a small sparrow, He will provide for us, too. Trouble is, flowers don’t spend well in our economical system and sometimes we don’t know how God is going to do it, but He always comes through.

His provision is vastly more than we could ever imagine and lasts for all eternity. What kind of God is that? The richest person in the world according to the world’s riches could not compare with the riches God has for those Who would call upon His name and be saved.

We were (past tense) made rich in EVERY way – but it might not always appear to be the case. Man looks at the outward, but inwardly God is at work in amazing ways. We received everything we needed when we were saved, but sometimes we do not perceive it.

When my kids were little, I wanted to instill in them a love of learning.  I wanted them to treasure knowledge and wisdom, for wisdom opens our eyes to see the truth, and knowing God and His truth is the greatest gift of all.  When other kids were getting electronics, my kids got books. When I would come back from Homeschooling convention, they would run up to me and wonder what devotion or new journal I got them.  I pray that sticks with them their whole lives through.  Knowing God is our greatest treasure.

When we don’t understand, we can come to Him and He will generously give us wisdom without finding fault. When we lack faith, we can run to His Word and to Him and He will give us hope.  When we are weak, we can cry out to Him and He will strengthen us. When we are depressed, He gives us the gift of joy.  When we are hurt, He comfort us. Once again we come back to the word, “relationship”.  Access to these precious gifts He has bestowed is given when we come to Him and He does not withhold.

Lord, thank You for giving us everything we need, and most importantly – the gift of Yourself and Your only Son.  Help us to be a grateful people, recognizing your generous provision for your children.

Mundane Monday: Imitation Invitation

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Inspirational Thought of the Day:

Copying someone worthwhile is one of the most worthy investments we can make.

Scripture of the Day:

1 Corinthians 11:1

“Be imitators of me, just as I also am of Christ.”

Philippians 3:17

“Join together in following my example, brothers and sisters, and just as you have us as a model, keep your eyes on those who live as we do.”

1 Thessalonians 1:6

“You became imitators of us and of the Lord, for you welcomed the message in the midst of severe suffering with the joy given by the Holy Spirit.”

1 Corinthians 4:16

“Therefore I urge you to imitate me.”

“Mom, he is copying me again!  He is eating the same thing I am!”  What a crime, right? Why is our flesh bugged when someone wants to do the same thing we do? Imitation is said to be the sincerest form of flattery, but maybe to some people it is just being competitive.

Name brands and generic brands vie for the same consumer. The imitation brand might not be the same quality, but it serves the same purpose.

Doing the same thing over and over again is B-O-R-I-N-G, yet the consistency gives a stability and a peace.  We know what to expect. The disciplines of the Christian life are precious tools that help us to walk faithfully before God.

When Paul told the believers to imitate him, he was not talking about his style, preferences or food choices.  Each one of us is uniquely gifted from one another and we are not mean to be carbon copies.  Paul was talking about us following his passion and love for Christ and His service for the Kingdom of God.

Asking someone to emulate us is humbling.  Not one of us is perfect, but Paul knew that. He did not allow his weaknesses to disqualify him – he boasted in them, for then God received all the glory.

We are who we surround ourselves with. People can influence us and we can influence them.  Imitating excellence is one step closer to greatness, just as mindlessly following bad examples brings us down. We are either impacted by the culture around us or affecting our culture for Christ.

It might be easy to follow someone if they seem blessed, but following an example of suffering is another matter entirely. There Paul sat in chains, appealing to us to follow him. Seems crazy at first, until we see things beyond the surface.  Sometimes walking with Christ will bring persecution, but the treasures we gain in the midst are priceless.

When Paul was inviting us to imitate Him, He was inviting us to die. Sweet death that brings true living, though. To follow after and hunger after God is one of the hardest things we will do.  We have to resist the flesh and seek to do what is completely contrary to it. God help us to be mindful of who and what we are following – our decisions today may very well affect all of eternity.

Lord, help us to seek to be like You. When the world tries to lure us to be comfortable and apathetic, help us to never grow weary in well doing – for is due time we will reap a harvest.

Holy Week: “Good” Friday

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Matthew 27:45-46

Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land until the ninth hour. And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” that is, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

1 Peter 2:24

He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed.

Not every culture refers to Good Friday as “good”.  To the casual observer, God being crucified cruelly on a cross is not a good thing.  The day when God the Son chose to be rejected by God the Father in order to save the entire world is not adequately described by the word “good” either.

In His justice and righteousness, our Holy God exacted a punishment and a consequence for sin.  The wages or cost of our sins was death.  We were in need of an intermediary, but the perpetual slaughter of animals could not cleanse us of our habitual sin pattern.

In the middle of that desperate need, God provided Himself as the sacrificial Lamb. Bearing all of the abuse, infirmity and suffering in all the world, He, for the “joy” set before Him, chose to pay our debt.

How is it that we should obtain such grace?  That the One Who made us and saw every sinful inclination of our hearts would look on us with love and choose to die, knowing we were enemies and cheering on His death?

One of my biggest pet peeves is fake people – when people pretend to be my friend but talk about me behind my back or secretly plot harm against me.  They think I do not see. Christ was not fooled, either.  We are all just as guilty of unfaithfulness before our God Whose costly sacrifice was given on our behalf, even while we faltered in our devotion to Him.

Jesus did not entrust Himself to any man, but He gave Himself for every man.

The most powerful Being was the most humble, lavishly loving those Who were not worthy of such love.

With such a sacrifice offered for us, may God help us to die, too – to sin – and live Holy lives to bring Him glory and others to salvation.  His death seemed like an end, but Christ conquered death in dying when He overcame the cross and the grave.  Now that is not just good news, but the best news ever.

Lord, thank You for dying for us.  We can never thank You enough.  Help us to live grateful lives, spent sharing the message of the cross and the empty tomb.  You are Good, God, and all You do is good.

Flourishing Friday: Bloom Where You are Planted

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Inspirational Thought of the Day:

Bloom where you are planted – others around you need to see you thrive.

Scriptures of the Day:

Isaiah 32:15

“This desolation will continue until new life is poured out on us from heaven. Then the desert will become an orchard and the orchard will be considered a forest.”

Isaiah 35:1

“Let the desert and dry region be happy; let the wilderness rejoice and bloom like a lily! 2 Let it richly bloom; let it rejoice and shout with delight! It is given the grandeur of Lebanon, the splendor of Carmel and Sharon. They will see the grandeur of the LORD, the splendor of our God.”

Ok, I know.  I can be corny sometimes, but I like alliteration and every Friday has a different theme in my mind.  Today is the beautiful imagery found in the book of Isaiah.

There in the middle of the desert, where there is seemingly no nourishment around, a blossom forms and a lily thrives.  Stubbornly it stands, defying all odds.  Alone it is a witness that the harsh realities surrounding it have not snuffed out its life.

I enjoy gardening (well, sort of), and truly feel sad when one of my seeds becomes a seedling then fails to survive.  Next to another seedling that grew into a might plant, I wonder what the difference was.

Now plants can’t feel, but the analogy to me is beautiful.  The word, “Let” strikes me in the above scriptural passage, almost signifying a request or a choice.

When a plant is not thriving, sometimes we can try to transplant it to a more fertile area. The root system can be easily damaged in this procedure and the weak seedling withers. But maybe the answer was to remain.  To stay where there is seemingly no support or life and choose to add things to our environment that produce life.

Such a decision requires a choice.  Not to depend on those around us for life, but to find it within.  Not to allow toxic substances nearby to poison or embitter us, but to choose to feast on God’s truth found in His Word and let that life flow through us, instead.

Sometimes it hardly seems worth the fight.  So many around us can want us to fail, but perhaps what they need more than anything is to see us succeed; to see that God is enough.

It is not easy to choose joy and life when faced with the opposite and we can feel foolish to hope, but it is the seed of hope that becomes a reality of a longing fulfilled for those who wait on the LORD.

Lord, thank You for the grace to live an abundant life not dependent on circumstances or provision, but on You alone.  Help us to thrive for Your glory.

Mundane Monday: Enigmatic Salvation

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Inspirational Thought of the Day:

Salvation is given not just to those who don’t deserve it, but to those who did not want it in the first place.

Scripture:

Romans 11:7, 26-27

7 “What then? Israel failed to obtain what it was diligently seeking, but the elect obtained it. 26 And so all Israel will be saved, as it is written: ‘The Deliverer will come out of Zion; he will remove ungodliness from Jacob. 27 And this is my covenant with them, when I take away their sins.'”

How is it that God’s people could seek Him and not find Him?  It seems futile or unfair. And yet their temporary blindness resulted in salvation for all.  God’s wisdom and ways are not ours.  The election of gentiles ultimately provokes a jealousy in the Israelites to receive this same salvation.

This covenant with God’s people demonstrates His kindness and faithfulness to finish the work of salvation for those He has chosen.  A perfect, Holy God with a righteous standard violated by His creation chose to pardon those who broke that standard.  Wow.

The law awakens our need for salvation and reveals our sinful condition, yet this Almighty God chooses to pay that sin debt and remove sin’s stain permanently – to those who did not even seek Him.

This grace of God is befuddling, completely undeserved.  Surely no one can boast.  What a beautiful promise that our Deliverer will remove ungodliness from us!  Although we might not appreciate the sanctification process by which God makes us into His image, taking a step back we see His faithfulness to complete the work He began in us and the miracle of His opening our eyes to understand so great a salvation.

Lord, thank You for Your mercy.  I cannot comprehend fully how I came to know You, but I thank You and pray that all reading this post will also see their need of You and accept the free gift of salvation you have given.