November 30, 2008

Our children and Truth

God gives us the incredible blessing of putting people in our life to love and to love on us but He will also place people in our lives to teach us to love when they seem almost impossible to love. He will also place people in our lives that will give us the opportunity to grow our faith as well as practice patience.

Lately we have been dealing with neighborhood bullies and my two older boys have had to endure the pain, physical as well as verbal, associated with the typical bully. Eventually the time comes, where as a parent, you must intervene in order to protect your children from those who are trying to harm them. As a mom, loving children who are bullying your own children is very difficult and so through this trying time, God is really testing my faith in this area as well as my patience. I have come to recognize the part that we as parents play in the actions of our children. I truly believe that for the most part, children are innocent and end up being a product of their environment. I have seen in my own children, how my actions and words effect how they behave and respond. I have amazing kids. My kids love the Lord, they are compassionate and tenderhearted and have a desire to love on people and serve but they are also kids. This means that they can be selfish and obnoxious, disrespectful and rude but because I recognize these things, I in turn am given the opportunity to discipline and teach them truth. We should be careful not to walk around with blinders on to the world and in turn, we should be careful not to walk around with blinders on when it comes to our children. Either we can choose to see them and their actions for what they truly are or we can simply choose to dismiss it as "child-like" behavior. I know many who will dismiss the deliberate disobedience of their children as being child-like and because of this; the children are the ones to suffer. God has given us the responsibility as parents to train up our children in the way in which they should go. This means that we are to teach them truth, love, obedience and respect for others. God has placed the responsibility upon us that we should want nothing more than to show our children the love of Christ and what He has to offer to them.

Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.

Ephesians 6:4

November 29, 2008

His Love

Heal my heart and make it clean
Open up my eyes to the things unseen
Show me how to love like you have loved me

Break my heart from what breaks yours
Everything I am for your kingdoms cause
As I walk from earth into
Eternity

Lyrics from the song Hosanna, Hillsong


I am sure everyone has heard the saying that when you pray for patience God gives you the opportunity to be patient. If you pray for courage, God gives you opportunities to be courageous. Along those lines, I prayed the words to the above song over a year ago asking God to teach me to love others the way that He has loved me. In the past year, God did not just give me this kind of love to use for other people but instead He put people in my life for me to love. He brought a complete stranger into my family and in that taught not only myself but also my children how to love someone who was a stranger and different than we were. God places all kinds of people in our lives. There are family, friends, neighbors, acquaintances, co-workers and we tend to put people on different levels according to their place in our life. I have learned over the past year that God intended us to love one another equally and in that He blesses us with relationships, that go deeper than ever thought possible. When we open our hearts, our homes and our lives to people and love them with the love that only God can provide, we create a bond with one another that is insurmountable to anything else we have ever known.

For you yourselves have been taught by God to love each other.

1 Thessalonians 4:9


November 19, 2008

Individual or Team??

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.

Hebrews 12:1


I had a friend ask me the other day if I preferred team or individual sports. I thought for a moment and answered with team sports but after this morning, I realize that I need to change my answer. Now not being particularly athletic I have never really played sports other than a year of softball and a year of soccer, which I hated. I LOVE to watch basketball and hockey but the idea of playing any type of sport does nothing for me. Where is this going you may be asking yourself? Well, I have started running again. When I was younger, I ran just about every day for the fun of it. No one made me I just loved doing it. I loved putting on some music and just running. Running until I could run no more. Two and half years ago I took up running again and was quite consistent with it until I had minor foot surgery and then ended up pregnant with my youngest daughter and never got back into the habit but this past Friday I started running yet again. Now because it has been quite some time since I have done any kind of running, it is more like a run/walk kind of deal because if I ran straight I feel that I would physically die.

This morning, before the sun had even made an appearance, I ventured out into the freezing cold with my mp3 player and took to the pavement. As I was running, I thought about why I prefer individual to team sports and here are my thoughts. You see I do NOT like to have to count on people for things. Partly because I have been let down so much that, it is easier just to do something on your own then to bring other people into it and find yourself disappointed with them. More than once, I have gone into something with other individuals and ended up finishing whatever alone. My reasoning became that of "you can't count on anybody". This in some cases is true. This morning though, as I was running, I was able to pray for each family in our neighborhood twice. While I was praying, the thought also popped into my head that we never really know what is going on inside the homes of those around us. Partly because people just do not open up to one another but instead try to hide their issues. Many times people really just do not make the effort to invest in the lives of others. It may not always be that you cannot count on people. Instead it may be that they are dealing with something that keeps them from following through. As I thought about that, I prayed one more time for the neighborhood as a collective and then for my attitude and myself.

Truth be told though, people will always let us down because we will all mess up at times but the amazing thing is that we each are running our own race in life and though we may choose to do things alone, we can never run our race alone. When Christ lives within us, we are never truly alone. No matter how fast we think that we are running, He is always right there running beside us just waiting for us to trip and fall from our mistakes so that He can pick us up and wipe away our tears. He is always there when we lose our way and find ourselves lost to bring us back home and He is always there to encourage us when we get it right. No matter how much we may want to do something on our own He is there. Sometimes we try to do things thinking that we know better but quickly life will throw a curve ball our way and we realize that only with His strength and direction can we actually hit that ball.

Running requires discipline in order to finish what has been started. This is true with our walk as well. The road under our feet will not always be easy but with focus, determination and discipline we can live a life that is honoring to our Heavenly Father. We have to put into practice not focusing on what is behind us but instead press ahead toward the goal before us, a life that God has planned. We must surrender every part of our lives to Him so that He can accomplish through us all that His plan entails. We must offer true forgiveness that can only come from the Holy Spirit and relinquish our worst enemy over to Him. It all comes down to reaching out and grabbing our Father's hand and allowing the Holy Spirit to clean up our wounds so that we can live out the life that God has for us. It is our choice as to whether or not we will try to run that race on our own or give God the control to take over and direct us so that we can move forward because He will never disappoint us.

November 6, 2008

Joy in God my Savior

Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:
Who, being in very nature
God,
did not consider equality with God something to be grasped,
but made himself nothing,
taking the very nature
of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
and became obedient to death—
even death on a cross!
Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
and gave him the name that is above every name,
that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.

Philippians 2:5-11

As I am writing this, I find myself in the middle of my own storm and am now grasping at straws to find my out. It is amazing to me how easy it is to give advice to other people but how hard it is to heed my own. I hear myself saying things to other people and truly believing it but then find it down right impossible to follow through with it myself. Lately I had found myself disheartened and discontent and nothing brought me any kind of happiness whatsoever. Simply put, I had let go of my joy. It was gone. Lucky for me I recognized that fact and so I began asking myself why? Were there things in my life that did not need to be there or maybe certain people in my life that I needed to distance myself from or maybe rearrange my priorities? This morning I spent hours listening to the playlist that is on this blog and just spent time praising and seeking after God. I spent time acknowledging who He is and what He has done in my life. I spent time confessing and repenting and finally I began to feel true joy in my life, a joy that I have not felt in months.

Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.

Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. Because of these, the wrath of God is coming.
You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. But now you must rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator.

Colossians 3:1-10

The evaluation of one's life can be a humbling experience. For months now, I have been seeking answers and looking for reasons as to why things in my life are the way that they are and how it is that I seem to find myself in the same places. My discovery came down to one simple fact. Self-centeredness and wanting the things that I want and the things that I think are going to bring me happiness instead of those things that God has for me. It is not that I did not want what He has for me but instead I was blind to them because the things of this world, the things that I wanted, were blocking the view of His presence and blessings in my life. I found myself at a distance from Him. It was like being in a very dark tunnel and all I could see was this pinhole of light at the end but the distance was so great that I truly did not think I would ever reach that light. Today I made it a bit closer to the end of that tunnel and began to feel Him stirring my spirit and rejuvenating my life.

I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and his incomparably great power for us who believe.

Ephesians 1:17-19

Now does that mean that all of my worries and cares are gone and suddenly everything is perfect? Absolutely NOT! It does not work that way. Old habits and sin do not just go away over night and at times can lead to places of deep frustration but we have to recognize where our victory lies. We have to recognize that God has given us the strength to overcome all obstacles through His power. It means that my heart has to seek after His and to be in tune with His once again and that only He can be my lifeline and nothing else. He has to be my everything in order for me to find any real joy in this life. He ALONE can only meet my every need and only His love can bring me joy, peace, and true satisfaction in my life.

My desire is to love, honor and bring glory to my Heavenly Father, to make His name known and to be a reflection of Him so that my life may be a light to those around me.

And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord's glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.

2 Corinthians 3:18

In the end, I discovered that I have to let go of my past failures, the sin in my life, take hold of His truth and what He has done for me and then move forward focusing on His face. I cannot strive to live like Jesus but instead allow Him by His Spirit to come and live in me and have full control of my life. I must choose always to rejoice in Him and His work in my life and then and only then will I know the fullness of joy in my own life.

Yet I will REJOICE IN THE LORD, I will be JOYFUL IN GOD MY SAVIOR

Habakkuk 3:18

"Father thank You for Your faithfulness in my life and for not letting go of me when I let go of You. May my eyes stay focused upon You and my heart beat in tune with Yours. I give You control of my life and will choose to rejoice in You always."

November 4, 2008

Joy of the Lord

"Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength."

Nehemiah 8:10

Such a simple verse but often times we totally lose sight of our joy and find ourselves weak and vulnerable to the woes of life that surround us. Many deal with financial issues or failed marriages and often times just want to walk away thinking that things would be so much easier. We all at one point or another deal with things like sickness, death, disappointment, a broken heart or betrayal but we choose whether we will use these things as an excuse to remain frustrated and troubled or rejoice and allow God to grow our faith and trust in Him.

According to Paul, we are to rejoice always and not just when things are going our way or we feel like it.
"Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!" Philippians 4:4
Of all the fruit that the Holy Spirit offers to us joy is the easiest to lose for when we face discouragement and trials we quickly find ourselves down and out in the midst of a storm. We must choose to rejoice and when we choose joy, we are given the strength to endure another day of hardship and pain. We cannot live off the joy we experienced yesterday and use it as our joy today. God knows that we are not always going to feel like rejoicing but in order not to lose strength to fight, we must rejoice always.

Scripture says that we are to consider it pure joy when we face trials. (James 1:2) Joy is not happiness. Happiness is the result of things happening around us and it is based on our circumstances but joy comes from an attitude of gratitude and love from wanting to praise our Creator for all He has done. When we find ourselves in the midst of a trial, we choose to find joy in that trial so that we may in fact endure that storm. We should have the mindset that we will have victory over our circumstances to overcome instead of accepting them and surrendering to defeat. When our attitude is that of gratitude for the many blessings in our life it becomes much easier to rejoice in every circumstance. Even when we feel like nothing good is happening in our lives, we always have a reason to rejoice.

"Yet I will REJOICE IN THE LORD, I will be JOYFUL IN GOD MY SAVIOR"

Habakkuk 3:18

This world will often try to steal our joy and Satan will always be there to attack but he has no power to rob of us our joy. When we have the Holy Spirit living within us, we are given His joy and it is always there to bring us strength when we choose to rejoice in Him instead of succumbing to the attacks of Satan. When you find yourself feeling beaten and abused just turn your eyes upon the One who loves you and gave His life for and there you will find the only reason needed to rejoice.

May we always find our joy in God our Savior and rejoice in who He is in our lives. May we choose to rejoice always in our circumstances and draw our strength from the unending joy offered to us from our Heavenly Father.