Category Archives: Growth in Challanges

The Predator and the Prey

My Dad called me the other night to talk about a traumatic experience he had just witnessed.  He was driving his ATV to the mailbox, when he heard the faint cry of a small kitten.  As he approached the tree line, he found two baby kittens, perched high atop a pine tree.  He said he stayed under the tree for almost an hour, trying to coax the kittens into his arms, so he could take them home, feed them, and care for them.  With each soft, comforting word, one of the kittens slowly began to trust Dad enough to come down.  She was solid grey with bright green eyes, scraggly and scared and wanting comfort.  She made her way down to the lowest branch, within reach of my Dad’s arms.  As he was gently guiding her, a though crossed his mind, “Oh please little kitten, jump into my arms, not the ground, you will be safer with me.”  His dogs had come along for the ATV ride and were going crazy barking and jumping at a chance to sink their teeth into the small kitten.  She made her move, and instead of going to Dad, she jumped the other direction, and was instantly attacked.  Dad said his bulldog wrapped his jaws around the kitten’s neck and shook her violently.   Within seconds, she was dead, and the dogs began to tear away at her little body.

My Dad felt so helpless and guilty for trying to get the kittens down from the tree.  He said, “All I wanted to do was take care of them, not have one killed!”  I told him that it was ok, and that the kitten made her choice between the dangers of the ground, and his arms.  This caused a thought to stir within me.  As I tried to comfort my Dad, I said, “You know this makes me think about our relationship with God.  We find ourselves ‘up a tree’ sometimes in life, and needing someone to rescue us.  All the while, God is waiting, calling for us with his arms opened wide, waiting for us to jump into them.  But sadly, we often decide to go the other way, and jump into dangerous situations, while getting ripped apart by the decision to go it alone, without His help.”  Dad kind of laughed, and said, “Yep, Leena, I guess you are right about that.”

Where are you today?  Have you jumped into your Father’s arms, or have you made the decision to navigate this world without Him?  When trials and temptations put you into a corner, do you turn to Him, or to the world?  God is the ultimate source of comfort and strength and the very constant that will sustain us in this life and the next.  If we choose Him, He will heal us from the damages caused by this world and be our Protector when faced with trials.  Psalm 18:2 states: “The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.”  I know that so many of us are hurting right now through death, divorce, illness, marital issues, money issues, family troubles, and just the day-to-day temptation to veer off of the path of righteousness.  We are over-worked, and over-stressed, and can’t find enough hours in the day to sit down and reflect on Him, talk with Him, and read into His promises through the Word.  Take comfort in knowing the Lord will guide you through these things if you allow Him to do so. 

He is always there, waiting to give you His divine power to sustain and refresh you, but it is up to you to seek Him out.  “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.  For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened.”  (Matthew 7:7-8).  If we do not seek the Lord, Satan will devour us. 1 Peter 5:8 tells us, “Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.”  Satan preys on each and every one of us, aching at the chance to pull us away from salvation.  The ones that he cannot gain full access to are the ones who are in the refuge of the Father.  We are told to submit ourselves to God.  Resist the Devil, and he will flee from you in James 4:7.  If we do not submit to the Lord, we are as the kitten, on our own, out in the open, easy prey for the predator.

 “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”  Matthew 11:27-29

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Restless Souls…Restless Nights

“When I remember You on my bed, I meditate on You in the night watches.  Because You have been my help, therefore, in the shadow of Your wings I will rejoice.  My soul follows close behind You; Your right hand upholds me.”  Psalm 64:7-8

I came across this beautiful piece of scripture while flipping through my Bible this morning.  It made me picture myself, all warm and cozy in my bed dozing off peacefully in the middle of my nighttime prayer with God. I wondered where David was when he wrote this Psalm.  I imagined him curled up in his bed with the finest linens draped across the great king; in a peaceful state with no worries to plague his thoughts as he drifted off to slumber.

This piece of scripture was written by David when he was in the wilderness of Judah, or the forest of Herreth. (1 Samuel 22:5)  It was right after his tearful goodbye with his best friend Jonathan as he was fleeing from the wrath of King Saul.  Before going into the wilderness, David came to Nob and met the priest Ahimelech.  Ahimelech helped David by giving him some holy bread to eat, and the sword David took from Goliath when he slain him.  From there, he flees to Gath, then, by the words of a prophet, he was told to go into the wilderness because Saul was hot on his trail.  While in the wilderness, Saul came to the priests and slain every one of them because of the help that they gave David.  David was soon to hear about this grueling fate of his allies, and though troubled greatly for the death of holy men on his account, David is seen comforting Ahitub, the son of Ahimelech who had escaped and fled to David to tell him the news.  In 1 Samuel 22:23 he states, “Stay with me; do not fear.  For he who seeks my life seeks your life, but with me you shall be saved.”

Not what I had imagined at all.  David was fighting for his life, trapped in a forest awaiting news as to what to do next as he could almost sense the very breath of Saul creeping down his neck with every turn.  He had just given up a deep bond with a very close friend, and was feeling the weight of the priests slain on his account every time he looked into the eyes of Ahitub who was now looking to him.  Through all of this, we see David so confident in the Lord’s provision that he tells Ahitub to stick with him to be saved.  I don’t know about you, but after seeing your father and others slain because of their alliance with David, it would be pretty hard for me to believe that with him, I would be safe.  Ahitub did.   But why?  I believe it is because he saw in David a “peace with God, which surpasses all understanding”.  He saw confidence in the Lord, and I am sure that Ahitub had this same confidence as well.  It was this confidence, this peace that allowed David to remember the Lord on his bed, made by the resources he found in the wilderness, and to meditate on Him in the night watches.  Terror was trying to creep into his heart in the black of night while surrounded by the forest of Hereth, but David felt the shadow of the Lord’s wing, he felt His right hand guiding him steady.

David felt the need to rejoice while entombed in the forest, because his hope rested in the Father.  Do we feel this as well?  Are we resting peacefully at night amidst the enemy trying to destroy us?  Are we rejoicing in the fact that we too rest in the shadow of our Father’s wing?  Are we so confident in the Lord during our trials that we offer a safe haven to other’s experiencing the same thing?

Let us all learn from this example of peace in David’s life as we hit the pillow at night.  Most nights, it is easy to utter the words of David as we remember the Lord upon our beds and meditate on Him.  Other times, it may not be as easy.  We have bills to pay, children to raise, work to find, a budget to adhere to, and a lost family member or friend.  We are stricken with illnesses, debt, guilt, sin, death, greed, lust, and pain.  It is during these times, we must meditate on the Lord and see His provisions through the burdens.  During these times, our souls should be thirsting for God, seeking Him, longing for Him (Psalm 63:1).  Our souls should follow close behind Him, and in doing this, we will rejoice, knowing we are tucked away under our Father’s wing, safe and unbound from the burdens of life, and our souls satisfied.  

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Reader’s Block

For the past month, I have done little else but read a three part series set of books.  Books.  In the morning, when I would wake, I would grab my Kindle and head for the kitchen table to continue the reading from the night before.  When the kids played, I would curl up and read; I would read while they napped, and sat on the porch and read while they played outside.  We would go to the lake,  but there I would sit, on the beach blanket…reading.  I got lost in the fictional story that was set just 40 something years after the death of Jesus.  The turmoil surrounding the fall of Jerusalem and the gruesomeness of the games of the gladiators whisked me away into that time, and lured me into each character’s story.   There was love, hate, faith, forgiveness, hope, evil, good, mercy, justice, danger, war, and grief all wrapped into this amazing story.  I marveled at the way the heroine in the story kept scripture so close to her heart and would keep it running through her thoughts with every situation that she found herself in.  How did this become possible?  Her father taught her the law as she was younger, and she would attend the secret meetings held with other Christians and take in every word of the letters written to them by Paul, Luke, and John.  With every trial and with every joyful moment, scripture would fill her thoughts and come forth from her mouth.  Reading the story, I became somewhat jealous of this “ready recollection” and wanted the same for my life.  Then, at the end of the last book, it hit me.  How can I ever obtain this kind of wisdom with my time consumed with this reader’s block I have placed myself in?  How am I to allow the Word to affect my heart in the way it effected the characters if I was not in it?  Sure, I was filled with its power when it was laced throughout the series, but was that enough?  I was more caught up in what was going to happen next with the characters.

I reflected back on my own Christian life after the book was over, and I hate to say it, but I have not picked up my Bible and read from it outside of worship services since beginning the series.  I set a huge stumbling block before myself, and didn’t have the self control to get out of the fictional book, and into the living, breathing book of life.  I felt ashamed, I feel ashamed.  I know that curling up with a good, clean book is not wrong, but when it consumes you as much as it has me, I believe it can be.  So what are we to do?  We must find a balance.  Now maybe your time consuming weakness isn’t a book, but it could be TV, Facebook, Twitter, your job, your hobby, even the work you are doing for the Lord may take you away from his word.  Distractions from learning and growing through reading the word are tempting, but can be overcome.  Listed below are some great tips that I collected from the characters in the series.  Their determination to keep the faith and share it with others kept me drawn in as a reader, and gave me good tips on strengthening my faith as the characters had strengthened theirs.

Start each morning in prayer

The more experienced Christians started each and every morning in a prayer of thanksgiving, and requests to God along with the newer Christian.  Their steady and peaceful habit rubbed off on the new Christian and helped him develop a deep, meaningful prayer life with the Lord.  As you wake each morning, put everything else aside running through your mind, and focus on God first making each and every request known to him each day.  “Seek first the kingdom of God..” Matthew 6:33

Bind the word on your heart

It was amazing how in whatever circumstance, the Christians in the series kept the word alive and in their hearts.  The word was so precious to these people that upon hearing the word, they treasured it up in their minds and memorized each and every letter they could get their hands on so they could be filled with the life that the words brought.  Are we seeing the Bible as precious?  Are we craving what our Lord wants us to hear and reading it and meditating on it?  Deuteronomy 8:3 tells us “but man lives by every word that comes from the mouth of God.”  Where is his word in your life?  Is it alone, unopened, abandoned like I had let it, or is it alive, flowing from the pages, and into your heart.  We must get ourselves back into the word daily, and let it nourish us with its truths.

Let the scriptures speak for you

Often, instead of offering their own words of advice, the characters would speak to others with scripture.  Again, the word was alive and in their hearts, so they were able to share it with others in varying ways and in different circumstances.  They also used the Psalms in their prayers of thanksgiving and praise.  In struggles, they replayed encouraging words from the letters and used these words to comfort themselves as they spoke with God.  Matthew 12:34 warns that “for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.”  Is your heart filled with scripture?  Share it, allow it to flow from you as you communicate with others.

Stand firm flee the Devil

The anguish and the temptation to go back to the old self was a strong presence in the books.  Some characters struggled with it more than others, but each of them choose to flee from the temptations set in their paths.  Some choose to remove themselves from things they knew would drag them down, and others stood firm when their beliefs were in jeopardy of being compromised.  Are we doing the same?    We are told to resist the devil  (James 4:7) and that the battle belongs to the Lord (2 Chronicles 20:15).  When faced with the temptation to put the word aside to perform other things are we fleeing from the thought or allowing Satan to give us reasons why we can get to it later.  If there is a stumbling block in the way, ask God to remove it, give the problem over to him, and flee the temptation to put it back into your path.

I hope these tips serve as a reminder as to why we must allow the Word to rule in our hearts.  Let us all start each day we have been blessed with speaking with God, and reflecting on his promises in our lives.  Let us set aside the time given to us to bind his words in our hearts that they may speak for us in our lives.  Resist the temptations to set your Bible aside and discipline yourself into reading from it with an open and willing heart to do the things it commands us all as Christians to do.  Happy reading!

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Restoring Relationships

Restoring a broken relationship is one of the most difficult things we go through.  As humans, we struggle daily with selfishness and putting others first.  This inner battle seems to rage at insane levels when we feel hurt, misused, or underappreciated.  In the heat of the moment we blast others with painful looks, paralyzing comments, and hurtful actions.  As Christians, we are called to put such things behind us, and strive to place God first, and others second in this life that we live.  We tend to throw these values out of the window when a relationship is threatened and we feel the need to bow up and stand our ground.  Some have mastered the technique of proper ways to handle confrontation, and handle issues with grace and humility.  For others, like me, we say things we shouldn’t, or give looks we shouldn’t give, and a relationship suffers because of it. How do we mend the hurt we have caused while we work at bettering our attitudes during confrontations?  Listed below, are some wonderful tips I came across several years ago that are excellent ways to mend relationships that have felt the wrath of our selfish ways.

Talk to God before you approach

James 4:1-4 talks about the pride of a person and the strife they cause because of their own desires.  At the end of verse 4, it is written “you do not have, because you do not ask.”  If we want self control to resolve the conflict, we must ask of it through prayer.  We must ask for forgiveness for hurting our fellow Christian, and ask for the wisdom and patience to resolve the conflict.  Prayer is a calming conversation with our Creator.  Take pleasure in knowing that he knows you best and that after lying your burdens down at His feet, He will guide you on to the next step of resolution.

Take the initiative

After tempers have settled through prayers for control, we must take it upon ourselves to mend the conflict.  Job 5:2 states “Resentment kills a fool, and envy slays the simple.”  Take the initiative and set aside any resentment or envy as to clear your heart from these emotions that block our view to peace.

Sympathize with their feelings

“Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.” Philippians 2:4  This truth will be able to keep us out of most conflicts if we practice it.  If in a conflict, listen to the others feelings of hurt and relate to what they are going through.  We can’t understand the pain we have caused if we do not listen to the one who has been offended.  Listen with an open heart and an open mind, so you both can move on to healing.

Confess your part of the conflict

1 John 1:8 states, “ If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.”  This is the hardest part, admitting our wrongs.   I had rather jump off into an icy cold pond than admit I am wrong at times.  Being in the wrong hurts, it hurts our pride, and it hurts our very being.  It makes us feel inadequate and not in control.  Confession frees us of any guilt associated with the wrong and heals the heart of the brother or sister that has been offended.  It also heals and humbles our hearts as the offender.

Attack the problem, not the person

“A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” Proverbs 15:1  We all too often put a face to the problem, and that face is often the person who has offended us.  We have heard the expression, “hate the sin, not the sinner” and this little saying should be at the forefront of our minds when we are hurt.  If we attack the person and not the problem, we are fighting against any type of constructive resolution.

Cooperate as much as possible

Romans 12:18 “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.”  Some problems we find ourselves in are just devastating and difficult, no matter how we look at it.  Using the tips mentioned above is a great way to keep yourself from being angry without sin, but the same may not be true for the other party involved.  They may not hold to these standards of living and that can make reconciliation tough.   We must posses the wisdom and love to keep our heads on straight, even if the other person is flying off the handle.  Do what you can in love, and brace yourself for any unforeseen issues that may develop while trying to resolve issues.

These tips are wonderful ways to keep our cool when we find ourselves in difficult situations.  Resolving conflicts is all about the relationship you are trying to restore.  We must emphasize the fact that we are looking for reconciliation with the person first, and a resolution to the problem second.   Reflect on God’s instructions as to how we are to treat others and when in a difficult situation, go to his word, and adhere to the tips stated above from scripture to live at peace with others, and with ourselves.

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Rise Up and Build

AP Photo/ Sue Ogrocki

As my life disappears with each setting of the sun, I come to realize, that I really am not as in control as I think I am.   This realization hit me pretty hard today as I stood in the middle of a dirt road with the cold wind tearing through my jacket as I gazed upon the eerie scene of a tornado zone.  The smell of fresh “cut” pine was in the air, and as far as I could see, debris and crumbling structures encompassed my vision.  I found myself sifting through rubble in a pasture thinking of the little girl that may have been missing her Ballerina Barbie that was lying at my feet.  I saw pictures of strangers scattered about the tall grass, shoes, books, blankets, and pieces of intricately hand-carved wooden legs splintered and misshapen, drowning in the mud.  Frightened horses were neighing and scuffing their hoofs against the floors of the trailer they were being placed into for safety.  Several families were scattered about trying to dig up familiar pieces of their “homes” really not knowing where to begin.   I too, did not know where to begin.  I became lost in thought, trying to imagine loosing it all, and wondering where I would try to begin.

I spoke with my husband that night about how I could encourage people to rebuild their homes and lives in a Godly way.  He pointed me to the book of Nehemiah, and explained to me how the people of Judah had lost everything during their time of captivity by the Babylonian empire.  This empire completely wiped out the city of Jerusalem, and left nothing but rubble and ashes.  The book of Nehemiah speaks of how they began to rebuild their faith, their homes, and the wall that would protect their city from another invasion.  Everyone pulled together during the time of rebuilding, and everyone was dedicated to a specific task concerning the construction of the walls.  But more importantly, during this process, they took time to pray to God, ask for forgiveness and guidance, reflected on who they were as a people, where they had been, and where they should be going.  The chain of events that took place, made these people turn back to their Creator, and set them once again, on the right track with their worship to Him, as well as fortified the city of Jerusalem.  This book shows how a people rescued each other from ruin and despair, and started a new walk with God.

Surveying the damage and mourning the loss

In Nehemiah chapter one verse three, we see men who had escaped the captivity report to Nehemiah that upon returning to Jerusalem, they found the city to be destroyed, the walls of Jerusalem were broken down, and the gates were destroyed with fire.  The walls of Jerusalem were the people’s protection from the world surrounding them.  It was their comfort, and their place of refuge.  Today, this wall, so to speak, could be defined as our Christian home.  We work to keep our home a refuge from the worldly things around us spiritually, and it serves as a protection from the ailments physically.  We put a lot of love and care into our homes.  We furnish it with mementos and keepsakes from times past, and fill it with love and laughter, opening our homes to those we love.  The tornado that rumbled through Tushka, Oklahoma took many peoples homes away.  With every board and every piece of furniture stripped away and destroyed, so did these peoples memories, and sense of security.  For the people of Jerusalem, the walls that were destroyed left them open and vulnerable, and today, the victims of the tornado feel the same way as well.

Upon the news of the destruction, Nehemiah took the time to weep, mourn, pray, and fast for several days (Nehemiah 1:4).  The book of Ecclesiastes tells us that everything has its season, and a time for every purpose under heaven (Ecclesiastes 3:1).  We are told there are going to be times to break down (vs 3), and a time to mourn (vs4).  During a time of complete and total loss, we must all take the time to place ourselves in solitude, and allow ourselves to mourn over those things we have lost.  When we mourn, all too often, we find our knees on the floor, with earnest prayers for healing being sent up into the heavens.  Survivors of the storm must take the time to experience this all too important time of healing, because it clears our minds, heals the hurt, and points us to what we should do next.   In chapter one verses five through eleven of Nehemiah, we see the prayer of a man dedicated to pick up the pieces and implored God to put His grace into the situation, and redeem them with His great power and strong hand.

 Rise up and build

Nehemiah was given permission to go to Jerusalem and oversee the rebuilding of the wall.  He took the time to inspect the damage that was done and in doing so, devised a plan and solicited help to get the job done.  In chapter two verse eighteen, Nehemiah tells the people who had come to help that the hand of God would be with their efforts and that they, as a people should “rise up and build”.  In hearing this, the people set their hands to the good work.  Nehemiah was not afraid to reach out and ask others for help, there were many I am sure, ready and willing to rebuild their homes, and were just waiting for instruction as to where to get started.  Nehemiah kept God in the rebuilding plan and had faith that God would see this plan through.  For those of you who are rebuilding your lives, remember to ask God often to keep His hand in your work.  God has stated in Jeremiah 32:27, “Behold I am the Lord thy God of all flesh, is there anything too hard for me?”  There is nothing that can be done to any of His children that He cannot heal; all we have to do is ask for this healing.  We must “rise up and build” as Nehemiah put it, beginning first with the healing of our hearts while we confess our sins, cry out our hurt, and lay our burdens down at His feet. Then, we can move on to the construction of our earthly homes with a clear head, asking God to place His peace and mercy on each task that we are able to perform.

Remember what brought you to this point

In chapter twelve of Nehemiah, we see him dedicate the walls of Jerusalem after the construction had been complete.  During the time of the rebuilding, the people continued to rebuild their relationship with God, and with each other.  They all worked diligently until the task had been complete, and celebrated the wall’s completeness.  They sang songs of thanksgiving and held a feast and worshipped the Lord.  They shared what they had with others, and reformed the stale state of worship they had been in.  Chapter 13 goes on to tell of the way they reflected on what brought them to this point, and the thankfulness they had for surviving.  They rededicated their lives to God and committed themselves to reach forward in their faith all the while remembering what brought them to this new awareness.  For you who are picking up the pieces now, it is going to be a tough journey to wholeness.  Reflect on that journey as you go through it, remember the humility you are feeling, and the hope you have for your future.  Allow others to help you, pray with you, and weep with you as you re-establish your homes.  When the work is done, celebrate with those whom worked alongside you and remember to give thanks to the Lord for “the Lord is good to all, and His tender mercies are over all His works.” (Psalms 145:9)  Reach forward in your faith and share your experience with others.  Remember how you lost your earthly things, but how you gained patience, humility, friendships, stronger faith, and commitment from everyone who loves you.  Hold fast the promise of eternity, and rejoice in the eternal home you will one day possess in Heaven if you are found faithful.  When your home is complete, dedicate it to the Lord again, and keep His name and His word alive in it.  Make it a strong fortress, impenetrable by the enemy lying in wait, just as the walls of Jerusalem were purposed to be.

Want to help?  Email me at ashdhud@gmail.com and I will get you in touch with people who can point you in the right direction
Proverbs 3:27 Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due when it is within your power to do it.
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“To Spank” (Published on Come Fill Your Cup)

This entry was originally published for Come Fill Your Cup at www.comefillyourcup.wordpress.com Please, check out this amazing resource for Christian woman!

To Spank, or not to Spank.  Why is it even Questioned?

Oh the joy of having someone tell you that your parenting skills are controversial. It has been a challenge for me, some days I was able to gracefully handle the concern, and other times, I just walked away without a word, fearing the angry words that would come out of my mouth.  I think it is just one of those things we, as parents, will encounter as we raise our children.

I recently submitted a quote from my son, Zeek, to a parenting magazine for the “Funniest Quotes by Kids Ever” section. (The quote is located on the bottom of this article. Wait! Don’t look now, entertain this thought first.)  It was about something he said right before I had to discipline him with a spanking.  Ohh, there it is, the dreaded word, spanking.  Yes, I spank my kids.  I love them so much that I administer painful swats on their bottoms to remind them of the consequences of wrong choices.  Some call me cruel, one lady at the supermarket called me out on child abuse, and one of my parents, who spanked me as a child, calls it mean.  I was contacted by the editor, saying that this form of discipline was too controversial for their audience, and they could not submit it.  Are we as Christian parents controversial for spanking our kids?  Absolutely!  How can we, as Christian parents stand up for this type of discipline, and protect our choice to do so?

 

We must acknowledge that our choice to spank is not cruel, its biblical

As Christians, we are called to live our lives by the Word.  We have been given this Heavenly wisdom, and should use it while raising Godly children.

Proverbs 29:15 states, “The rod and rebuke give wisdom, but a child left to himself brings shame to his mother.”

Proverbs 13:24 explains, “He who spares his rod hates his son, but he who loves him disciplines him promptly.”

Proverbs 19:18 says, “Chasten your son while there is hope, and do not set your heart on his destruction.”

The passages in Proverbs 22:15, 23:13 &14, also instruct us on using this form of discipline as well.

 

We must exercise discipline in ourselves when we rebuke our children.

To lovingly and correctly rebuke a child, we must be able to discipline ourselves first.  We must strive for Godly wisdom in parenting, and always practice patience and self control in all aspects of our parenting, especially when spanking.  We must imitate our Father’s own grace and compassion with us, to our children.

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.”  Galatians 5:22-23

“The Lord is gracious and full of compassion, slow to anger and great in mercy.”  Psalm 145:8

 

We must not conform to the worldly views on discipline.

The world now holds spanking children, as a cruel, and unusual punishment.  Most people think that Children should be free to experience life however they want to live it, and that parents should let them have this freedom.  As Christians, we have freedom in Christ, but we were also bought at a price.  We are instructed on how we are to behave in the world and our children should be taught in this same manner to prepare them for their own Christian walk.

Romans 12:2 reminds us, “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”

 

We must have faith in our instructions on rearing children

I do not like spanking my kids.  I cringe every time I have to do it, and sometimes, I give them one too many chances than I should to pry my way out of having to discipline them.  I believe this is where our Faith in the Lord and His promises must come in.  We are told that if we live by the Word, we will survive this world, and be with Him someday in Heaven.  This Faith in that promise gets me through the days when it feels as if all I do is spank.  I have Faith that the discipline is working, because God says that it will.

Proverbs 22:6 says, “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.”

“You shall beat him with a rod, and deliver his soul from hell.”  Proverbs 23:14

By living as a Godly example for our children, we are told that we will be able to deliver them from darkness.  Our All-Knowing Father loves us enough to discipline, and correct us, and we must give this same kind of love back to our children.  We must not feel ashamed for the discipline we give, and we must not conform to the world in this matter.  Our children’s souls are at stake when we toy with worldly views on parenting.  It is my prayer that we all continue on this blessed journey of parenting with Godly Wisdom and Instruction to carry us through.

I sent my three year old son, Zeek, to his room to await the spanking he was about to receive.  As I entered the room, I asked him if he was ready for his spanking.  He innocently replied, “Oh yeah Mom, give me just a second!”  He dug into his toy box and retrieved an army helmet, placed it on his head, fastened the chin strap and bravely said, “Ok Mom, let’s do this!” (and yes, I still spanked him, because I love him that much)

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Procrastinating Salvation

I hate to admit this, but most of you who know me can attest to the fact that I am a bit of a procrastinator.  I can almost say that most of us are in some aspects.  I pick and choose things to procrastinate on.  If I am working on a client’s photo-shoot,  I  get the pics whipped out in a few days, eager for them to behold my creation.  On the other hand, on days like today, all dark and dreary, I wait until the very moment I know that my kids may be late for school to get up from my cozy bed all snuggled next to my warm husband.

Contained in the book of Acts, we are introduced to a man named Felix in the 24th chapter beginning in verse 3.  In this account, a man named Tertullus is found accusing Paul of creating dissension among the Jews because he was speaking of Christ and his resurrection (5).  He and others brought Paul before the governor, Felix, to be examined, and they hoped for him to be imprisoned, or worse.  After Tertullus made his case, Paul made his, and Felix decided take a few days to make a decision regarding Paul, and in the meantime, allowed Paul to go back among his friends until Felix sent for him.

After a few days, Felix, with his Jewish wife, Drusilla, sent for Paul, and Paul began to speak of his faith in Christ, and in the resurrection.  Paul was sharing with this couple the gospel message that we are all to proclaim to all people as instructed in Matthew 28:19-20.  Felix was a man who had accurate knowledge of the Way (22) and as Paul told the exciting news, Felix reasoned about the Christian characteristics we as Christians are to have which were righteousness, self-control, and he even pondered upon the judgment to come for all when Christ returns.  Amidst all of the emotion, and the Truth being revealed to this man who was needing the Gospel message, we see in verse 25 that he tells Paul to “Go away for now; when I have a convenient time I will call for you.”

This is where our story with Felix ends, he left Paul bound for 2 years, until someone else succeeded him.  He was given the most important, life-changing story of his life; he was given the Truth and the Way, and was instructed on how to obtain this hope of heaven for eternity, and he procrastinated.  He left his salvation in limbo, and as we are able to look into his brief account, we are left wondering if he ever made the decision to become a part of Christ and his Church by putting him on in baptism (1 Peter 3:21).

This story applies to our lives in two ways; one, are we procrastinating our salvation because we are too stubborn as Felix to accept this new teaching and live a righteous life?  And two, are we procrastinating teaching others to take hold of their salvation and encourage them to live a righteous life?  Both of these statements are stumbling blocks to all who encounter them, but we can overcome them.  For those who have never accepted the message, the book of Acts is full of examples of people who did, and then took  steps to obtain their prize and live a life faithful to the Lord (Acts 2:37-38, 8:36-38, 9:18, 16 : 14-15, 30-33).  Change is hard, admitting we were wrong is even harder, especially when we think what we have been doing was right. Without  humility for our Savior, and for the way we are to become a part of him, we are in danger of never obtaining salvation.  For those of us who have humbled ourselves to His way and the Truth, are we procrastinating sharing this hope with others?  Do we tend to shy away from the message because of our own insecurities, or our lack of faith in the power of the Gospel message?   The Truth saves lives and softens hearts (Acts 2:37) all we have to do is share it and live it as a testimony to others (Romans 12:1-2).

Procrastination is always going to be a battle for us, and we must try each time we are tempted with it to overcome the urge and be fruitful.  Our salvation and the salvation of others should never be spun within the web of procrastinating, for if we do this, salvation may never get a chance to make it into our hearts, or into the hearts of those in whom we love.

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Love in a Juice Box

She walked through the doors of the  children’s cancer ward in a Nicaraguan hospital feeling helplessness with an overwhelming sense of sympathy and compassion.  Paint was peeling from the walls that were barely holding up as a shelter for the patients, and a musky, “sick” smelling odor was hovering in the air.   She roamed the halls looking for a certain young man that she hoped to bring joy to, but as she turned every corner, she found even more young souls desperately seeking comfort and peace during their fight with cancer.  Her emotions were running wild within her being.  There was so much she wanted to say, so much she wanted to do, but standing there with her arms full of juice boxes, she felt small, and somewhat useless in the situation.   With every child she passed, the urge to do more to help grew within her soul.  All she had to give was a smile and a tiny juice box, and that is just what she did.

With each child that she passed, she offered the juice boxes, and they were received with the best smile that the sick and hurting child could give her.  She yearned to do more, but at that time, in that moment, the juice was all she had to give.  And so, as they made their way through the hospital, she gave what she could, she gave all that she had, and she poured all of her love and compassion into the little juice boxes that she gave away, hoping that somehow, the gesture would make a difference, even if it was just for today.

This was the scene that played through my mind as my friend, and sister in Christ, shared one of her stories from the last trip she had made to Nicaragua.  As she read through the thoughts that she had written down from the experience, I could hear the helplessness in her voice as she explained her visit.  I could almost hear a bit of well intended sarcasm as she explained how the children were so sick and in need and all she had  to give were juice boxes.  I saw more than that.  I saw a greater plan in motion, I saw a Heavenly Being working on her heart and in the hearts of those children and the people that tended to them.  To her, it was just a juice box, to them it was hope, it was nourishment to their bodies and to their souls.  To me, it was a man and a woman who continually give beyond their means.  I saw everything behind this act of kindness.  The year of planning the trip, the money spent, the hours of prayer, the time given, the safety compromised, and the energy expelled, all to hand out juice boxes to the sick.  I saw love knowing no boundaries, and compassion.  In this act, the Lord peered down into her soul and felt her burning need to show her love to the children.  I had pictured the moment the juice box left her hand, so did every emotion she had stirring with in her and somehow, with the Lord there in their midst, that raw and blameless act of kindness was felt deeply within the heart of every child she met.  There was a language barrier hovering over them, but each and every one of the children understood that her act was one of love and service.  They may not  have realized it yet; why she was doing what she was doing, or who she was serving, but she knew, and her Father knew, and in that very act of kindness, she was able to worship her Father in heaven in a new way, and be a blessing to all that she had come into contact that day.

Gail’s story had a deep effect on me.  It is funny how a simple thing can do that.  To her, she was just re-telling an incident that had impacted her, but unknowingly in the process, just as the juice boxes, she had an impact on me.  It made me re-focus on the small act of service I do every day, not knowing how to exactly show the love behind each act.  My small acts entail watching over my family and making sure my children and husband find a peaceful within me and our home.  I have to say, I am not that “peaceful rest” half of the time, but I want to be.  With every piece of clothing folded, and with every toy and shoe I find misplaced, I try to  think of my family, and pray over them as I fold their tiny little PJ’s.  I pray over our meals as I prepare them in hopes that it will bring nourishment (even the meals that come from fast food bags).  Our greatest command is to love one another.  Sometimes, we make this command so difficult.  We turn it into something so hard and unattainable.  As Gail spoke of her trip to Nicaragua, I yearned to go there and help out as they do, and felt guilty because I couldn’t.  We mustn’t do that to ourselves.  Opportunities are all around us, and if we focus on what we can do, and not on what we cannot do, we will be more effective in our everyday ministries.

I used to have a T-shirt when I was in Jr High from my FFA program that said “Do the best with what you have, when you can, where you are.”  Today, dig deeper into the mundane tasks that you perform.  If you are writing a note of encouragement, or a get well wish, take the time to say a prayer for the person whom you are addressing.  If you are ironing your hubby’s clothes for work, pray for him.  With every meal cooked, and every dish washed, get into the habit of saying a prayer for those whom you are washing or cooking for.  In the workplace, take the time to offer up a prayer on your lunch break and be an example to your co-workers that you are different, that you were “called for a higher purpose.”  It may not seem like much, but the prayers will be heard by our good and gracious Father in heaven, and He will bless you, and those that you pray over.  Find your juice box moment, and just pour your love into it, and be the example that God has called you to be.

For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me,  I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’  Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’

Matthew 25:35-40 (ESV)

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Do Not Grow Weary

As a mom, I perform many day to day tasks that seem unending and mundane.  I always have laundry to fold, dishes to be washed, floors to clean, mouths to feed, and places to go.  Most of the time, when the cleaning and upkeep tasks are being done, I find myself grumbling most of the time wishing we had a maid so I could get on to more “important” things.  As I sit here now, I have a full sink of dishes and a kitchen floor that desperately needs to be swept, and a few hours later, I will have to sweep it again.  My role as a wife and mother have many many benefits, but some of the duties I must perform seem to have none.

2 Thessalonians chapter 3 verses 6-15 speak about the dangers of idleness, and how we are to toil and labor for everything that we are able to call ours.  I believe that in this passage, Paul is encouraging us to find the purpose and value in the day to day tasks that we all perform and by doing so, set an example to others around us.  As  Christians, If we slack on the work that needs to be done whether it be in the home, or in the workplace, we are in danger of setting a bad example to our family and co- workers.  We are all called to a higher purpose in everything that we do, and our Christian character can always be evident if we put forth every effort to show our dedication and willingness to serve. As a mom, if I allow someone else to perform the duties that are my responsibility in the home, I am missing out on an opportunity to serve my family and be blessed for that service.  I am also missing out on the opportunity to show my children that when I tend to the needs of others, in the form of cooking, and cleaning, and mending, I am tending to the needs of my Lord.  Likewise, if those of you in the workplace do not give 100 percent to your jobs, you are missing out on an opportunity of service, and setting a bad example to others around you.

I believe that Paul understood the tasks that we perform can seem to overload us all at times.  In verse 13 it states, “As for you brothers, do not grow weary in doing good.” In the passage before this, Paul says, “…we command and encourage in the Lord Jesus Christ to do their work quietly and to earn their own living.”   As you set out to perform the tasks that you must do today to make your living, or serve your family, remember that we are doing what the Lord commands us to do, and in doing so we are providing for our families and setting an example to those who see us work diligently, and quietly.  I can honestly say that I am not jumping out of my seat right now to fold the massive pile of laundry on the floor, but I can say that I will do it in service to my family and in service to the Lord.  When I put tasks such as these in that kind of perspective, it makes the tasks just a bit more bearable, and helps me to be a little less weary.

 

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The Great Comforter

As a Christian, I feel as if it is a bittersweet duty to bear one another’s burdens in Christ with those who are in the brotherhood.  I have found myself over the past few days in fervent prayer to my Father on behalf of a vivacious pre-teen teetering on the outcome of a test.  Tonight, my worst fears were realized as I received the news that the tests reveled our precious Maggie to have cancer.  The word ate through my heart, and left me scrambling for my own children, just to embrace them and thank the Lord for their health. I feel helpless, and a bit angry at the circumstances surrounding this amazing family, and I have been searching as to where to go from here now that the news has been spread.

I believe that this trial in the small town of Madill, Oklahoma can first begin its healing through the Great Comforter.  I believe that just the simple fact of Christ’s love and death for us and the hope of heaven for those who are in him will help us all face even our darkest hour.  I believe the healer of our hearts will shine light through any circumstance, and he will guide us and protect us in this life.  I also believe that we have a mediator to our Heavenly Father who murmurs for us the feelings we do not even know how to express.  I believe in the healing power of prayer and the holy and majestic will of God, and I believe that whatever His will may be, His strength will guide us through.

The trials and temptations we face in this life do not have the power to defeat our souls.  God’s Word explains to us that He is with us always, we are to be strong and courageous with no fear, and that the peace of God will rule in our hearts.  We will be comforted and protected no matter what the storm, and God’s peace will guard us from the burdensome waves.  I have faith that good will come of this trial Maggie, I have faith that God will see you through it every step of the way, and that He has never left you, nor will He ever.  “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” (Hebrews 11:1)  By faith simple men have done great things and by faith we are going to look ahead and hope for the plans the Lord has for us which are unseen.  It is my prayer that His healing hand of mercy and comfort are on all who have been affected by this news.    It is my prayer that the Lord’s will be done and that we all receive His peace and strength as we strengthen each other, and carry one another’s burdens to Him in prayer.  It is my prayer to you Maggie, Pam, and Sheridan that the “Lord bless you and keep you, that His face may shine upon you and be gracious to you, the Lord lift up His countenance upon you and give you peace.” (Numbers 6:25-26)  It is my prayer that all others reading this will lift this special family up in your prayers daily as they fight this new battle that has been placed in front of them and that the Great Comforter will see the battle through.

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