Category Archives: Growth in Parenting

“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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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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Bridle that Tongue!

Have you ever been on the receiving end of a comment that left you with a cold, aching, hatred in your heart?  Have you ever muttered words that left another feeling the same way?  I am shamefully guilty of this, and I have felt the sting of the repercussions on both ends of the hurtful words.  The way we speak to one another can get out of hand at times due to lack of concern for the other, pride, hatred, hurt feelings, selfish gain, and many more factors.  The mouth is such an important part of our lives, but it can turn ugly quick when tempers become aroused.  Psalms 34:13-14 states “Keep your tongue from evil, and your lips from speaking deceit.  Depart from evil and do good; Seek peace and pursue it.”  The bible also tells us that “Whoever guards his mouth and tongue keeps his soul from trouble.” (Proverbs 21:23)

Guarding our tongues from speaking evil of others is such a daunting task at times it seems.  As humans, when we become hurt, it is in our nature to justify our pain, and out of that pain flows words uttered about another that are so hard to erase.  As Christians, it is our obligation to seek peace and pursue it.  The book of James gives us some insight on our words in chapter three.  It explains how little things make a big difference.  He gives us two examples of small tools used to maneuver larger items, and compares them with our tongues controlling our whole bodies.  The horse is given a small bit that is places in its mouth, in order to turn its body in the way the rider wishes to go.  A large ship contains a small rudder to steer it wherever the pilot may want to go.  In the same way, our tongues are very small members, and can steer us in many different directions.  When used wisely, out tongues direct us closer to others and to our Father and Creator.  When used foolishly, our tongues spark a wildfire destroying fellow Christians, and as stated in verse 6, an unruly tongue sets us on a course to destruction.

As we read further in the text, we see how we use our tongues to glorify and bless our Father, and in the same breath, may curse others.  The writer warns us that we should not make this so in verse 10.  He explains how a fresh spring cannot also create stagnate water from the same opening and a fig tree can only bear figs.  In this same manner, we must show consistency with our words.  If we are to wise on this earth, we must show good conduct and bear words that flow wisdom through meekness. (vs13)

I believe the main driving force behind the fire we cast out of our speech sometimes comes from our own selfishness, we seek our own will against the will of others, and if that will is threatened, we tend to lash back with hurtful comments.  The author of the book of James challenges us to purse an active faith which will produce changes in one’s conduct and character.  We must challenge ourselves daily to continue to live lives of purity and self-control while seeking peace with others. We must attain Godly wisdom to control things such as the tongue from ruling our lives.  When your tongue speaks of lies or deceit with another, correct it immediately, we  know that the hurtful things  said in the heat of the moment tend to take years to heal.  Search the scriptures daily so that you may have His word in your hearts every moment,  and in this way, it will be much easier for us to speak well of another out of our love and respect for the Father and His word.  Pray to the Lord that He may help you bridle your tongue in your times of distress and seek peace with others.   I understand that this is such a hard trait to obtain, but I believe it can be done.  I continually struggle with my words and my tone with those who are closest to me at times, and I believe that at the end of the day, if I try my hardest to correct the wrong, pray for forgiveness, and let those whom I hurt know of the love I have for them in my heart, then I will live to fight another day with the battle of the tongue, and my brothers and sisters in Christ will encourage me on as I fight the battle.  I believe this is true for all of us as well.  “For where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing are there.  But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy.  Now the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.” James 3:16-18  May we all seek righteousness and peace with all, and continue on with the task of controlling our tongues out of love for the Father and love for another.

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Ode To Stretch Marks

My heart was filled with joy as the one line turned to two,

My husband and I began to spread the word of the baby who was due.

As days went on the pregnancy glow soon lost its shine,

My whole body was swollen, my fingers, face, feet, even my behind!

My skin felt so tight, so itchy, and so stretched,

I became  more clumsy and ungraceful; I began to stress.

I applied the fancy oils, the lotions, and the creams;

In hopes of boasting “No stretch marks!” Which the thought of made me scream.

I woke up one morning and what do you think appeared?

Long red and purple icky lines inching down my ever-widening rear!

I shuddered at the sight and gloomily went on about my day,

When undressing I was embarrassed, I ordered my hubby to look the other way.

Soon, the blessings of the baby came, and years after her two more,

The love in my heart was spilling over for the children I adore.

I get lost in the love of those kids when they offer me their embrace,

I reflect on bringing them into the world, and how the stretch marks, aren’t that bad of a disgrace.

The scars were formed upon my body so I could be a mother,

To share the special bond with my children, to show how to love one another.

As children do, they grow with time and with it memories are made,

The scars upon my skin have silvered and softened, time had made them fade.

The fading reminds me of how quickly time seems to disappear,

It seems like yesterday I was holding a newborn with fresh stretch marks on my rear.

The day will soon come when they go out on their own to make  their own start;

I will be at peace at home, forever thankful for the stretch marks on my skin, and the stretch marks on my heart.

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Growing Pains

Growing pains.  Everyone has experienced these funny little things during growth spurts in our childhood, but I want to share this concept in a different way.  Think for a moment about your Christian life as a mother.  Many of us are right in the middle of a phase in our lives where we are wrapped up in toddlers, preschoolers and grade-schoolers begging for guidance and correction.  Getting through the formative years in our children can be a challenge, but it allows growth for the child and for you as a parent.  I feel as if the formative years of our children are growing pains on a spiritual level as well.   At times, we find ourselves begging to the Father for guidance in raising our children during this difficult time in their lives.  We pray for their character as adults, for their safety and health, and for the correction that you administer to them to actually work!  We even beg the Father for patience, knowing that you really do not want Him to give you help in that because you know that obtaining patience involves opportunities to display patience.

I feel my growing pains the most as a mother in the winter time.  It is always a hard season for me, the cold brings sicknesses that get passed around to all three kids and then to myself and my husband, then back to the kids again.  The temperatures drop and the kids have to stay inside.  It is during this time, my patience and understanding gets stretched.  The kids get tired of each other and tired of being stuck in the house.  They fight, whine, cry, throw temper tantrums, and disobey just for the sake of disobeying because they are bored.  I begin to run out of ideas and places to go to keep them entertained, and most days I feel stress oozing out of every pore of my body.  Growing pains.  Each day has its own challenges and it own successes, but in the winter, it is more challenging.  I still, wearily press on because I know that is what God demands of me.  To be an example to my children, and to shape them into God-fearing adults, no matter how many times they try to resist.

I have always prayed for my children, and lately I found myself praying for their character more than anything else, I have been praying for it with an aching in my soul.  I beg the Lord for progress, for the knowledge of what I am doing is worth it, that it is working, and that I am a good parent.   I admit that I get weary with the duty of guiding, shaping, and disciplining my stubborn, strong-willed little ones, and I am sure that many of you can relate.  I get small glimmers of progress, every once in a while that like a shooting star appear, then vanish in an instant.  Then sometimes, like today, I get to experience prayers answered, and lives being formed just the way I had envisioned them to.  Days like today bring me the strength to pray more fervently for my children and the strength to continue to guide them on a Godly path through our growing pains.

Today was beautiful.  The warm sun was shining through the windows begging me to come out to feel and enjoy its warm glow.  I had so many things I had to get done, but I dropped them, got my two youngest ones, got into the car, and headed for McDonalds.  We got lunch then brought it to the nearby park to enjoy the day.  Just being outdoors and hearing the laughter of my children was soothing to my soul.  They didn’t whine, fight, or cry.  During our picnic they expressed their gratitude; they shared food with each other and even sat still.  The things we had been working on were in were in action and they were doing beautifully.

After lunch, we hit the walking trail for an adventure.  During that time, I witnessed the character traits that I had been praying for and building on in each of my children.  Zeek was a wildman; he couldn’t stay on the trail and had to take the path less traveled while keeping a safe distance.  He ran, marched, jumped, and twirled all around Kadence and me.  He would wrap his little fingers around mine and guide me to and fro.  He picked up rocks, leaves, sticks, dirt, and pinecones.  He smelled each of them, and even tried to eat a few things too.  He was not afraid to say “hi” to everyone who passed, and he would even walk beside them, chattering away to them.  All of this he did with a smile on his face and wonderment in his eyes.  He was showing passion, courage, and leadership, which for all of these things I have prayed so many times for.  I have prayed for Jesus’ passion, David’s courage, and Paul’s leadership to be instilled into his character for when he became a Christian man and today, I experienced these principles in full action through the wobbly steps of my two year old son.

Kadence’s steps were slow and steady.  She stayed on the path and quietly took in all of her surroundings.  She would pause and stand with her head tilted back, eyes closed, so she could feel the sun on her face.  She picked flowers and examined and admired them in their beauty.  When Zeek fell, she rushed to him, picked him up, dusted him off, and kissed his forehead assuring him he was alright.  She showed patience with her little brother because of the extra time it took with his small, wandering steps.  My little girl was exhibiting a gentle and quiet spirit which is so precious to God.  She was showing a motherly type of love with her brother, and she was exercising patience which has been such a hard concept for her to grasp.  I prayed for all of these things to be at work in her life as a Christian woman.  I got to enjoy seeing these things at work in her life at that moment.

Through the task of shaping our children, we must make opportunities such as these available to them so they can demonstrate what they have learned by allowing them to have special time with you, out of your daily routines.  We must allow them to show you the growth that they personally have experienced through your love, discipline and prayers.  Prayer changes lives, prayer molds lives, and the fervent prayers of a righteous “mother” avails much.  Do not lose heart ladies, because even as I am writing this now, my children are in the other room fussing at each other.  Hold on to those shining moments of obedience and good character that your children demonstrate, they will help you get through those not-so-good moments.

Leaving the park and reflecting on the trials of winter boredom that we had overcome, I was reminded of the passage in 2 Timothy 4:7 which states, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.”  In your life as a mother, fight the fight to raise your kids as holy, set apart.  Finish the small races that you get into so often with keeping the course, and pray in faith that the Lord will guide you and your children through your growing pains.

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Lord, Hear my Cry

It is 3:00 AM and I am in a deep, hard-earned slumber, when, all of a sudden, I am awakened by my middle child crying out to me from the other end of the house.  The instant I am yanked out of my dream and plant my feet on the floor, I am back to reality.  I run to her room, trying not to step on any stray toys along the way.  I know that scream- I could tell what was wrong as soon as I heard her cry out, she had a nightmare and is scared and needs my comfort. I go into her room, hold her, and console my frightened child.  She does not need anymore than that; she just needed to know I was there and to tell me about what she saw so I could make it go away.  I check under the bed and assure her the monster is gone, tuck her back into bed, and kiss her goodnight.  Before I leave her room, I turn to check one more time at the door and she is already fast asleep.  Parents can always tell what is wrong with their children by the tone of their voices and the way they cry.  They can also offer unique comfort to their children that make cares vanish instantly.

Our Heavenly Father knows His children’s cries as well.  He has the ability to reach down inside of us and see exactly what we are feeling.  He can see the emotions that our human minds cannot  begin to express.  He can also take those emotions from us and give us peace.  I am reminded of this and comforted by the passage in Romans 8:26-27 that reads, “Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses.  For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groaning which cannot be uttered.  Now He who searches the hearts Knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God.”

A great example of a deep, prayerful relationship with the Heavenly Father is the story of Hannah.  This woman came to her Father’s throne with her heart wide open when she prayed.  We see in 1 Samuel 1:13 that Hannah spoke in her heart to the Lord.  She understood the power of the Heavenly Father and allowed Him to search her as she prayed.  She laid her hurt, pain, and sufferings at His feet and then walked away from them, fully convinced that he heard her and would take care of her.  She had that childlike trust, the kind of trust that allowed her to be consoled and forget the cares that were so heavily burdening her heart.  It is so imperative for us to understand that the avenue of prayer is a refuge, a safe house, and a comfort.  We must understand that the Lord expects us to leave our cares at His feet so He can take them over for us.

Take comfort in knowing that your Heavenly Father knows you and can understand what you are feeling, even if you do not understand it yourself.  The Holy Spirit dwells in us as Christians and when we need him, He can take over and explain the hurt, pain, fear, joy, or thankfulness that we cannot express to our Father (Romans 8:26).  When you pour out your heart before the Father, do not forget to leave those things with Him.  For a child, all it takes is a cry out for the parent to know what is wrong.  All it takes is a hug or a kiss to make the things go away.  As children of God, all it takes is a cry from within no fancy words or expressions, no elaborate prayers.  All it takes is us pouring out our souls in prayer and being confident that when the burdens have been layed down, we do not have to look back or carry it any longer.  Our Father in Heaven will take care of the worries and we can enjoy the “peace of God which surpasses all understanding” (Philippians 4:7).

published in the March 2010 issue of Think magazine

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Walking in Momma’s Shoes

I often wonder if God uses my children to teach me lessons about myself and my role as a mother.  It seems like they say or do the most profound things when I am at my wits end.  During these situations, I usually end up laughing at myself and hugging and thanking my children for the lesson they just taught me!  In their innocence, my children become my teachers.  Through their eyes, things are seen with simplicity.

My family and I were  getting ready for church on a Wednesday night.  I was rushing around the house trying to gather my purse, the crock pot, the kids, and the Bibles.  The time came to hit the door and my daughter, Rylee, was still in her closet trying to find the perfect pair of shoes.  She made her final selection and raced out the door to meet the rest of us at the car.  I remember saying a small prayer in the car asking, “Lord, please help me slow down so I can focus on the rest of this day.”  When we arrived , my husband, Jake and I delivered our “Do not act up” speech to our girls before we got out of the car.  As Rylee walked up to the building, I noticed she had a green flip flop on her left foot and a pink flip flop with a butterfly on the toe of her right foot.  I pulled her aside and crouched down to her level and with all of the calmness left within me I asked, “Rylee, why do you have on two different shoes?  You had plenty of time to find a pair of shoes!”  Then my sweet little girl looked up at me with her great big beautiful chocolate brown eyes and said, “But Momma, I just wanted to be like you!”  I hesitantly looked down at my own feet and to my surprise; I had a green flip flop on my left foot, and a pink flip flop on the right.   At that moment, figuratively speaking, my foot was right in my mouth, so, I did the only thing I could think of, I took Rylee in my arms and we sat in the grass and laughed.  It was a good laugh, one that brought tears up that were hiding from the frustration of the day.  Time seemed to stop for just a moment, so I could hold my little girl and appreciate her and her innocence. Rylee reminded me right then that she watches my every move.  She pays very close attention to the things I do because she wants to be like me.  She even went as far as looking a bit goofy because her momma looked that way.

Looking back on that moment, I feel God was showing me that my children look up to me and imitate my actions, no matter how careless they may seem to be.  This thought brought up a question I believe every parent should ask themselves, “Is it safe to tell my children to imitate me?”  In 1 Corinthians 4:16 (NKJV) Paul says, “Therefore I urge you, imitate me.”  Paul explains earlier in verse 14 that he feels the members at Corinth are his “beloved children”.  He demonstrates paternal care and tells them to imitate him.  He guides them through the ways in Christ through his love, words, and actions.  He also tells the saints in Philippi to follow his example in Philippians 3:17.   Are we walking our Christian walk in such a way that we can tell our children to imitate us?  The fact is our children are going to imitate us whether we are prepared or not!  As mentioned earlier, Rylee imitated my actions as closely as she could even though she knew I was frazzled.

Think for a moment about what David wrote to God in Psalm 27:11 (NKJV) “Teach me your way, O Lord, and lead me in a smooth path.”  Can you hear that coming from the simple mouth of your child?  “Teach me your ways Momma and Daddy, lead me in a smooth path.”  David hungered for God’s guidance and tried to follow Him closely.  Our children hunger for our guidance and try to follow us closely.  At an early age, our children learn about God’s love through our love as parents.  It is imperative that we imitate Him closely for our children’s sake.

I can say I felt humbled when my daughter imitated my not-so-stylish choice in footwear. I can also say every please, thank you, selfless act, and prayer recited by my children gives me joy as a parent.  I encourage you to be on the watch for little moments to learn from your little ones.  You can count on them to lead you in their love as you do your best to lead them to Christ.  Show them His love through your love in everything and remember, they are watching you carefully.  Lead them carefully, and be the devoted parent that can confidently hold your child close and without waiver be able to say, “I urge you, imitate me.”

Published by Christian Woman in the May/June 2009 issue

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Let Me In!

My daughter, Miss Kadence Lynn, decided she was going to lock herself in the Ladies Restroom at an Areawide Teen Gathering.  When I discovered her after 5 minutes of searching that seemed to have lasted hours, I knocked and spoke through the other side of the door asking her to unlock it.  I stood there knocking and waiting for her to open the door.  She cried out to me saying “Mommy I cain’t doo it,  you come in here and get me out!”  I responded to her cry for help through that two inch thick locked door saying, “I can’t Kadence, you have to let me in.”

Jesus stands at the door of our hearts and knocks waiting for us to open the door and invite him inside.  He says in Revelation 3: 20 “Behold, I stand at the door and knock.  If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him and he with me.”  We may feel trapped trying to figure out how to reach relief and yet, he waits, patiently for us to open the door and welcome him in.  Do not struggle within thinking one can find peace elsewhere.  Peace is an open door by which our savior can enter in.  Are we trying to find a way out?  We have to let him in.

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What’s in Your Dish?

After supper, my daughter went outside to get the white casserole dish that the dog had licked clean.  She carefully placed the dish into the sink and exclaimed that she thought the dish was already clean because the outside of it looked “shiny,” but the inside of the dish was dirty.  I looked at the casserole dish, sitting in the sink, and sighed. The dish still had tough, baked on “goop” that seemed to take forever to scrub off.  As the warm, soapy water started to fill the sink, a passage from the Bible started to fill my thoughts.  I remembered reading in the gospel of Luke, chapter eleven, verse 39 where Jesus rebuked the Pharisee for pretending to be neat and clean on the outside, but full of greed and wickedness on the inside.  I shared this story with my daughter as we cleaned the dish.  I explained to her that our Heavenly Father can search our hearts and tell if they are clean, or dirty. We discussed how important it is to look nice and take care of ourselves, but that we must spend more time taking care of our heart and keeping it free from sin.   As we finished our conversation, I drained the sink, and she rinsed off the casserole dish.  She examined it, and said “that it wasn’t dirty anymore. We washed it and made it clean just like Jesus makes us clean when we ask for forgiveness.”  She gave me the dish and jumped off her stool and started to run out of the kitchen.  Before she left, she turned to me and said, “Man, Momma, I am so glad that my soul is clean!”

Today, we are spending too much precious time trying to make ourselves “look the part” of a Christian.  Before worship, we find ourselves frustrated because our dress does not fit as well as the last time it was worn, and grumble that our hair is not doing what we want it to.  Where is our focus?  The Pharisees’ main focus was on their outward appearance rather than God.  The Pharisees were acting the part.  I feel we are getting caught up in something similar as we attend services with a smile on our face and in our “Sunday best” so as the rest of the saints can see how “perfect” our Christian walk is.   We can be in our best outfit and flash our brightest smile, but at the same time, our soul can be soiled, wrinkled, and blemished from the sins we are trying so desperately to hide.  Let us put the focus back on preparing our hearts for worship.   We must take the time to clothe ourselves with Christ.  We must keep our heart pure and free from sin and ask the Father for forgiveness.  We must not allow ourselves to become as the Pharisees who placed too much importance on how others were to perceive them.

Christian women are familiar with the message in 1 Peter chapter 3 which states that beauty comes from within and how it is precious to God.  We are to keep in mind that beauty is not about the way we style our hair, or adorn ourselves with costly jewelry and clothing.  We must not fall into the same dangerous trap as the Pharisees.  God saw them as dirty, greedy, and wicked.  Society saw them as giving, honorable, and worthy of attention. The Lord Jesus thought it was foolish of them to think that God only looked at their outward being.    We must not get entangled in this foolishness.  As we prepare ourselves for worship with the saints this next Lord’s Day, start within. Let us take the time to beautify our soul with prayer and meditation, and take the time to reflect on Jesus’ cleansing power and ask him to restore our soul to an unblemished state.  When we, as Christians, practice this, we will not worry about hiding behind our outward appearances, the love of Christ will shine through, beautifying us, and we will be able to worship Him in spirit and in truth, clean and unblemished. “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1John 1:9)  We must take a look at our soul daily and ask ourselves this question “Is my soul clean today?”

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Ask Questions!

We were trapped, riding in the car, as Rylee started playing 50 questions with her daddy.  She was letting them roll, asking another question, as soon as her daddy could get the answer out, to the previous one.  My husband was growing weary from all of the questions and asked her why she had to ask so many questions.  Without hesitation she replied, “Well, daddy, I just wanna be as smart as you!”

Oh, to be as a child at the foot of our Father’s throne learning from Him!  I couldn’t help but wonder how the Christian relationship could be with the Heavenly Father if we seek Him and inquire of Him as a wide eyed eager child.  Somewhere between the bliss and wonder of childhood and the shaky journey into the unknown of adulthood, we tend to loose our eagerness and our willingness to inquire and to learn.  We must never forget that there are countless lessons that we can benefit from ,in God’s word.  Knowledge of the word is a treasure.  For it is written in Matthew 6:21 “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”   Therefore, we must make God’s word our treasure and seek it with childlike wonderment.

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