Lifegiving Home

Discipleship: Not a Part-Time Job

momkidsautumnwalk

I remember one summer when my daughters had just returned from a day at a local Vacation Bible School. My youngest, Joy, was one of the "VBS-ers." My older daughter, Sarah, and a friend were helping with the program.

At that time, our church was a small congregation, out in our little area of Red Rocks Ranch and we knew just about everyone in the church. This made for a fun time for Joy, our extravert.

I had a cool summer lunch waiting for my hot and worn-out troops when they returned from their first morning of VBS. While they ate, the older girls chattered on with their observations of the opening events, because Sarah and her friend had been the teachers. Evidently it had started with a couple of hundred noisy kids crowding around until the person in charge yelled above the crowd, "EVERYONE LISTEN! Have your children stand in lines according to their ages!" Immediately diligent parents began dragging their children toward the right lines. One five-year-old had thrown a screaming fit because he didn't want to stand in line. Others hadn't wanted to leave their mothers and protested loudly. Finally the crowd organized, and the children were assembled in their appropriate groups. But the rest of the morning had been fraught with ups and downs and lots of energy expended through the wiggles, giggles, and antics of lively little bodies.

What was Joy's take on her VBS experience? When I asked how the day went, she immediately replied, "Oh, it was pretty good, but I got slapped in the face by the girl in front of me. I also got a neat cupcake that I ate the frosting off of and a neat little truck that runs by balloon power."

"Well, what did you learn, Joy?"

"That Jesus is real powerful and can do almost anything.  We got to yell, 'That's so cool' when anyone said, 'God can do anything.' I think my group yelled the loudest! Also, Mommy, did you know that a polar bear weighs fifteen hundred pounds and will stalk a human being for two hundred miles?"

My older ones agreed that the morning had offered a fun free-for-all for most of the kids there. For me it was like a little day camp for Joy. Then Sarah said thoughtfully, "Mom, if that is the only exposure some kids got to the teachings of Christ, they would indeed have a shallow foundation. It was all pretty lightweight and almost meaningless. It's a good thing you spend time alone with Joy teaching her about the Bible."

Understand that I'm not down on Vacation Bible Schools in particular or children's activities in general. I'm sure over the years that many children have become believers through Sunday school, afternoon clubs, VBS, and youth groups. (My first memory of wanting to know Christ was in a back yard club where I saw the gospel presented on a flannel board.)

In my observation, however, many of these experiences are more like day camps than true discipleship tools. They entertain the kids, and the best of them offer some valuable biblical training as well. Yet I know that the real work of digging deep wells in my children's hearts with Scripture, a biblical world-view, issues of prayer and faith, and Christian convictions is a job for which God will hold Clay and me responsible, not the volunteers at church. And this is a task that is best accomplished day in and day out with our focused attention on each child's heart.

It is not enough to take our children to "Christian activities" or to listen to "Christian Radio" or to read little "Christian books."

Jesus didn't meet with his disciples once a week for Bible study and then say, "I'll see you next week!"

He gave his disciples his whole life. He lived with them, slept with them, traveled with them, and lived out a life of godly maturity before their eyes. Having the personality of the God who created the universe living with them every moment for three years gave them an understanding of his ways that nothing else could do. They observed him in the private times of friendship and eating and sharing and being exhausted and buying and preparing food as well as in pubic ministry—teaching, healing, worshiping, confronting, encouraging. There was perfect integrity between the words He spoke and the life He lived. Thus his disciples could learn what righteousness looked like in all situations.

In the same way, our children will learn righteousness best by seeing it lived out in every possible way in our lives, moment by moment, in the context of normal life.

As we teach our children to "do unto others as we would have them do unto us," they need to see it lived out in our lives so that they will know what it means. When a child breaks a favorite vase and we extend forgiveness and patience, then he will have heard he needs to learn patience and he will have seen it modeled in real life. The first principle of reaching our children, then, is that we have to make the time to be with them. And we need to be diligent to practice what we preach!

“Hear, O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord is one!You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up."

~Deuteronomy 6:4-7

Some of you have heard this scripture so many times you could recite it by heart! But when was the last time you looked at it slowly, pondering its words, and considering what it means in your own life?  Is there an adjustment you might make in your schedule or calendar--or heart!-- today that would help you obey these words more completely?

Training Our Children in Initiative

washingdishes

Initiative: The Power or Opportunity to act or take charge before others do

When our children were young and we were training them to do household chores, often we would come into our kitchen and find a pile of dirty dishes. (Those piles can still be found on occasion today!) When we asked our children why the unwashed dishes were still in the sink, they would say, "Well, no one asked me to wash dishes." To which we would reply, "When you are mature, you will not require us to stand over you to see that you get your work done. You will do it because you see the need yourself, and you will take the initiative with no one even asking you to do so."

It works that way in the Christian life, too. As we mature in our love for the Lord and come to know him better, we will often feel compelled to reach out to others simply because we see the need—and because Christ's kind of love has become a part of us.

II Corinthians 5:14 reminds us that "the love of Christ controls us"; an even better translation is "compels us." In other words, Christ's spirit inside us will drive us to share his love with others, and we will take the initiative to be agents of his redemption. We share the gift of inspiration with our children as they see us reaching out to others and as we involve them in these acts of outreach.

I have found that young children are usually less reserved than adults when it comes to wanting to share generously with others. They are generally not as given to racial or social prejudice as we are. Therefore, as we have prayed for God to use our family in the world, their innocent and giving love has sometimes pulled us into situations that have really stretched us. My children, for instance, love to think they can always bring someone in need to "our house.. .because our mom always helps people when they need it!" This is not always convenient, but it is almost always of God. As we sought to give our children the gift of inspiration, they often gave it to us as well!

All of us long to feel our lives have meaning, there is a sense of purpose for us to fulfill amidst mundane days. I am convinced that our children grew into believing that their own lives mattered, that they had works to do to show His light, His love, His messages. Because we all initiated His ways into the lives of people He brought our way, they have felt a call on their own lives. It has given them strength, inspiration to carry them into a "call" on their own lives.

When we follow in the footsteps of Jesus to reach out in love to those in need, we will ignite in our children the sense that they are worthy to consider themselves part of the solution in meeting people's needs. Patterns of ministry will naturally be caught as they learn from us and from Jesus a new and initiating love. In the process they will be inspired to give themselves in ministry, to become skilled and loving workers for his harvest fields.

When we seek to inspire our children, we need to model for them this initiating principle.

That means we put out our spiritual antennas, so to speak, wherever we go, looking for people in need. Then we take steps to reach out to them in some way, whether or not they are people we would normally feel comfortable with or people we think are good "prospects" for accepting Jesus. Even as Jesus died for us when we needed it, following him means befriending others who, like us, are in need of his grace. Then, once a relationship is formed or a friendship is started, we seek opportunities to share the truth of God's love and forgiveness as gently and attractively as we are able.

"Seeing the people, He felt compassion for them, because they were distressed and dispirited like sheep without a shepherd." ~Matthew 9:36

Each of us has access to those who need to hear a kind word, feel a touch of Jesus, have a meal with friendship as a foundation. Even those different than us. Overcoming passivity to reach out must become a habit of our lives if we are going to be a part of transforming our culture. 

Who are some people in your life right now that your family could reach out to, so that your own children can feel they are a part of giving and initiating to their worlds.

Making a batch of cookies for a neighbor and giving a card with "Happy Autumn" wishes can brighten a day. Making a meal for someone who is ill or has a new baby. Taking flowers and visiting with an elderly person might give children a way to show their love. 

What about those who are different than you and your family culture? Can you think of some fears or prejudices in your life or your particular culture that might keep you or your children from seeing people as Jesus did? (What kinds of people do you tend to shy away from or find it hard to care about?) What might help you overcome these attitudes?

 

We also are happy to announce the winners of Give Your Child the World from last week's giveaway!   Katie L,  Jennifer H,  Mari, Sally Lockett,  Jannette, and Amanda,  would you please email Misty at mkrasawski@yahoo.comasap, and we will be thrilled to have those sent your way!

Loving Like Jesus Did

families dinner

Trying to love people the way Jesus did can be intimidating. It can push us well beyond our comfort boundaries. Yet as we make this effort our children will learn what real love—and real ministry—is all about. The flame of inspiration may well be lit as our children observe our love in action—and begin to see the results in people's lives.

When our family first moved to the Colorado Springs area, we discovered a wonderful little restaurant that served a "proper" British tea, complete with scones and clotted cream. Since "teatime" is one of my favorite experiences, I frequented the little cafe often with my children in tow. Over a period of time, we befriended one of the waitresses who became dear to us. Each time we visited, we learned more about her life. And each time we returned home, the kids would have new excitement about praying for her.

"Mom, maybe we can have her to our house for tea and have a chance to be her friend and help her know the Lord."

The Lord did open up an opportunity for us to share a couple of our books with her, to talk about the Lord, and to become even closer to her before we moved away. And when we drove through the area recently on a trip, we stopped by the restaurant for a surprise visit. Our waitress friend threw up her arms in surprise when she spotted us coming in the door, and she treated all of us to lunch. Tears filled our eyes as she told us how much we had meant to her. I feel quite sure we will talk about our friend and pray for her for years to come.

So often in the context of our family routines the Lord has given us opportunities to reach out to others. It might be a checkout clerk at the store, a lonely neighbor, a nurse at the doctor's office, or a pesky neighbor child who hangs out at our house every day while his mother is at work. Wherever the Holy Spirit places us is exactly where he can extend this special love through us. As we are faithful to take these opportunities to minister, our children will gradually get the idea that God wants to use them, one person at a time, to change the world by reaching out to people who need his love.

Romans 5:8 tells us that "God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." It wasn't while we were praying for him to come or while we were being godly but while we were deeply involved in our particular brand of selfishness and sin that Christ saw our need, reached out toward us by coming to earth, and gave himself up to death for our benefit.

When we seek to inspire our children, we need to model for them this initiating principle. That means we put out our spiritual antennas, so to speak, wherever we go, looking for people in need. Then we take steps to reach out to them in some way, whether or not they are people we would normally feel comfortable with or people we think are good "prospects" for accepting Jesus. Even as Jesus died for us when we needed it, following him means befriending others who, like us, are in need of his grace. Then, once a relationship is formed or a friendship is started, we seek opportunities to share the truth of God's love and forgiveness as gently and attractively as we are able.

"Day by day continuing with one mind in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they were taking their meals together with gladness and sincerity of heart ... " ~Acts 2:47

Can you think of someone who might be in need of your hospitality today?  Invite someone for a meal or coffee, and love the way Jesus loved.

Making Time for Rest and Renewal

In my house and in my life, it's always time for tea!

In my house and in my life, it's always time for tea!

This morning, I am sipping very strong coffee (french press variety) and still in my gown at 11:00 a.m. and taking a few minutes to breathe. Yes, I did have to get up with the dog after having her surgery yesterday and tend to her, met with Clay for almost an hour to talk about life and the wedding coming up, helped Joy find her wallet, talked with Joel and helped him gathered some things before he flew out the door to record a book on tape, and then finished editing one more chapter of a book coming soon.

I just never had time to get dressed. And I knew I needed a 15 minute, one woman coffee time before moving on to the rest of the day's demands.

In today's whirlwind culture, it's become common to feel pressed to "power through" every possible situation in life.  Whether we are ill, exhausted, or dealing with a personal crisis, (or planning weddings in Oxford from thousands of miles away :)), we seem hesitant to take time to refresh ourselves.  Putting on a brave face, taking a deep breath, and drinking yet another cup of coffee may help for awhile, but it isn't the best answer long-term when we realize we're truly exhausted in body, soul, and/or spirit.

Even though I love ministering to and inspiring others to Biblical ideals, I get physically and emotionally drained speaking at weekend seminars. All of my energy has to be focused outwardly, which is not natural to my personality. It's no wonder that as soon as the workshop is over I feel a deep need to get away and be by myself. I am not natural at being in the center of attention, so I have to have time to get back to my personal emotional center. I need reflective time alone to refill my spiritual well. 

It also helps me understand why I need regular time away from my children. As a young mama who chose to home educate my children, I had committed to a life that was not an introverted lifestyle. Four little people wanted my attention every moment of the day, and there were still other big ones standing in line when my children were  through with me! Since it is impossible to find a place or the time to be alone in a house full of people, I have learned to be creative.

When I was 44, and writing my first book, there was a wonderful French bakery about ten minutes from my home that became my private getaway. Just the atmosphere ministers to my soul—French-roasted coffee, brick-oven-baked European breads, a fresh-cut flower on each wooden table, baroque music in the background. It is so reminiscent of the Viennese coffeehouses that Clay and I frequented during our years of ministry in Austria. If I could go there even for just an hour in the early morning, by myself, and enjoy my quiche and coffee without anyone begging for a taste, I come home a totally different person.

I would be newly invigorated and ready for the active life of running after the four always-on- the-go, chattering little squirrels I call my children. One year, I would go for breakfast by myself at least once a week at 6:30 in the mornings. (my children were 13, 10, 8 and 2) Clay would get up with the kids, feed them breakfast and I would be home by 8:00 so that he could go to the office. It was a miracle small retreat for me that changed the days for me.

On rare occasions of personal crisis, I have needed an extended time alone. Several years ago I suffered a serious miscarriage, during which I lost a large amount of blood, leaving me extremely anemic. While I was recovering, my father became ill and died. I was already drained from starting a new mom's group with classes for 120 children and a Bible study for the mothers, and from a broken relationship with another couple at church. I was exhausted physically, emotionally, and spiritually. To give me time to recuperate, Clay offered to take the kids home to Texas to visit their grandmother for two weeks. I definitely needed their time away.

I had in mind that while they were gone I would clean and organize the house, get my files in shape, read a book or two about interests that applied to my parenting and educational goals for my children and to refresh and motivate me. Of course I planned to spend some extended time with the Lord. Instead, I slept a lot, ate my favorite foods, went out to restaurants with my mother who flew in to visit, met a couple of friends for lunch, watched some old movies, and spent some casual time reading my Bible. I accomplished very little while the family was gone, but when they returned I was refreshed, rejuvenated, and ready to get back to real life. I'd just needed some physical, emotional, and spiritual rest--and fun away from all the goals and work of parenting, marriage and motherhood.

Whatever your personality, be sure you allow yourself the time to be refreshed in a way that is right for you. There is no single, one-size-fits--all formula for how and where that happens, but you need enough time with yourself to determine how and where it will happen for you. But when you take care of your personal needs and make time to invest in your own well-being through this marathon of life, you will live a more sustainable life.

Sometimes, the most spiritual thing you can do is take some time alone, eat something delicious and look at something beautiful--and accomplish absolutely nothing visible at all!

Jesus knew his own disciples needed such time.

And He said to them, "Come away by yourselves to a secluded place and rest a while." (For there were many people coming and going, and they did not even have time to eat.) ~ Mark 6:31

Do you need to give yourself permission to rest and renew, friend? Summer is a great time to build in small, personal retreats to give yourself renewed energy for a demanding life.

Owning Your Faith: Planting a Permanent Marker of Your Trust Today (podcast)

NASA

“And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him.” Hebrews 11:6

A few years ago, I was attending a planetarium event with my daughter and her friends. As we gazed at the galaxies and myriad gorgeous, brilliant stars, I had the breath-taking sense of how much bigger God was than I could ever perceive. Oddly, it gave me confidence in His ability to take care of my small needs in comparison to how profoundly immeasurable was his power, his knowledge and His beauty in what He had created. His expansive self is much beyond my ability to comprehend His transcendence, but is a comfort to speak to me of His ability to hold my needs capably in His hands. But I also reflected that His purposes and ways must be way beyond my own tiny perspective.

Daily we are confronted with issues of faith and choices to believe in Him at each point. In this season of Isis, violence in places all over the world, and political and financial unrest globally, I am watching my children prepare to leave to go into very challenging arenas, far from home. Nathan is in New York a totally radical culture from my frontier Colorado home. With 3 children in the United Kingdom, (St. Andrews, Scotland; Oxford, England, and Cambridge, England), I know that if something of world-wide import takes place, I will not be there to help my children. Even though they are adults, Clay and I still want to help them if ever they need it.

Yet, we have prepared our children from an early age to ask themselves, "What work has God created me to complete? How can I serve Him in His kingdom work?" And many years ago, we gave up the notion that we were able or supposed to control their lives. Though I will miss them and be lonely without them nearby, I believe with all of my heart that they are God's, that I will never be able to control them, that they must learn to exercise their own faith muscles to find their own purpose and calling in this world.

Faith is believing that God will be with them, guide them and care for them because His is their heavenly Father. Knowing they have been taught to have beliefs in Christ, to follow the wisdom of God's Word, faith is releasing them follow to His path for their unique lives without fear.

Faith is required at ever juncture of life--at birth of babies, through their years of fragility and sickness, trusting hat we will not mess them up by our inadequacies! During the years they learn to drive, hoping they will be safe. In the season when we send them into a secular world to learn the ropes of wisdom amidst foolishness, and hoping the foundations we laid are strong.

Faith follows us through dark times: a prodigal child, a chronic illness, a disabled child, a failed marriage, an unexpected tragedy. We look to God for His faithfulness to see us through our pain with our vision on eternity where we will know His comfort, peace and full reconciliation personally, His touch of sympathy face to face.

I recall a time when I began to practice actively living day by day into my faith in God. Many years ago, I had two miscarriages in one year, and all three of my children had pneumonia, chicken pox, ruptured ears and encephalitis–all within two months! We had made a move to a very tiny town in Texas and I had no friends, Clay had no job, and we were almost out of money. I was quite tired and struggled with depression but was really seeking answers from the Lord. We lived with my mother-in-law at the time, and going for long walks by myself was the only way I could get away to think and pray.

My circumstances did not look as though God was involved in helping me.

 One day, as I was walking the long, barren country road near our home, and pondering, it was as if the Lord said to me, “Sally, if I took everything away from you that you hold dear, would you still believe in me?” It was suddenly as though God was shining a spotlight onto the deepest part of my soul. And I found at the very bottom of it, that with all the difficulties that a fallen world could throw at me, I would still rather hold on to my faith in God and believe in His love and goodness for the rest of my life, than to choose a life of existentialism and despair. And a realization came to me that this choice would require constant vigilance–that I would have to guard my heart and feed it with the truth of God’s word and His constancy in my life if it were to continue to stand.

 A part of me realized that day that faith was planting a flag, so to speak, in my heart, and deciding to settle it once and for all–that for the rest of my life, no matter what, I would choose to believe in the Bible, to know that Jesus was real, and to trust that God was loving, no matter what! Faith was the assurance of things hoped for but not seen.

Faith was choosing to hope in Him every day, acting on that faith and hope, and understanding that without this commitment of my will to choosing to believe and hope, I couldn’t be pleasing to God or sense His wisdom and hand upon my life.

I would look back on that day as a day which would determine my present and future walk with God.

Making a decision to stand for faith meant many things. It meant I would choose to believe the best, and act in light of what scripture said He was–loving, righteous, good, kind, wise, and so on. I would believe in light when I found myself in darkness. I would believe that love redeemed and was a perfect bond of unity, even when I was confronted with unloving, immature people.

 It meant choosing to believe that God did listen to my prayers and that the prayer of a righteous person avails much–and that in His time, I would see eternal results–even if it wasn’t on my time schedule.

I knew that if every time something difficult happened to me, I put God on trial again, that I would only be unstable and insecure in life–wondering and fearing when the next trial or danger would come my way, feeling that I would need to "take care of the details of my life by my own efforts and works," that I would have to "muscle" it out by spending a lot of effort controlling life.

But I also had the sense that if I built my life on the foundation of believing in Him, sowing faithfulness and goodness, that I would reap the blessing of freedom and peace from sowing on true and eternal principles. And I knew my children would breathe the oxygen of my own trust in Him, and learn to trust Him themselves.

 “Do not be deceived. God is not mocked. Whatever a man sows, this will he also reap.” (Galatians 6:7)

I decided never again to go to the active place of doubt–I would disregard it because of my once and for all commitment to believe in God, period. I wanted to sow faith and reap a life sprinkled with God's fingerprints of faithfulness and love as my heavenly Father. I pictured that in the same way that I made a promise that I would stay married to Clay and choose to love him unconditionally for all of our years, that leaving Him would not be an option, no matter how hard–that I needed to picture my commitment to God like that–forever and final, through all the seasons, difficulties, tests and blessings.

As I look back over the years, my commitment determined my behavior and always gave me direct instructions in which way to go–always to God, always to faith and always to obedience always to the word.

Choosing to Own my Faith has opened doors, provided peace of mind, given boldness in difficulties, established hope in God who does not change and who has proved faithful in every season. And because of His past faithfulness to carry me through all the challenging places of my life, I seek to remember these as I face new pathways of the unknown, and rest in faith that He will once again provide.

But faith and faith living pleases God who delights in companioning us through every season of our lives. Only by faith can we live the story He wants us to tell with our lives. Faith is a choice that maybe no one else will see, but opens our hearts to the blessing and favor of our God who lives to be faithful to us through every season.

To take your study deeper today, take a few moments to complete the reflection and application below.

  • “He who would please God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.” Hebrews 11:6 Have you made a decision to plant a flag of faith in your own life? What challenges that commitment?
  • “As far as it is possible with you, be at peace with all men.” Romans 12:18 Everyone has times of relational difficulty, unless they live as a hermit! Is there someone you should make peace with today?
  • “Ask and it shall be given to you, seek and you shall find, knock and the door will be open for you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks, finds and to him who knocks, it shall be opened.” Matthew 7:7-8 Do you believe that God hears you? That He will answer in time? How can you strengthen your soul in order to continue choosing rightly in the midst of daily challenges?

Hope you enjoy this week's podcast. Share with your friends, discuss a faith life with your family. Choose faith for your circumstances today.

Living a Life Characterized by Grace

Luke 7:36-50 tells us of a time when one of the Pharisees actually invited Jesus to dine with him. I like to think he was still grasping for the true meaning of spirituality and desired in his heart to know the true God. But he failed miserably because he missed the whole point of grace.

During this dinner a woman in the city who had a reputation as a sinner sought Jesus out. She actually came into the Pharisee's home, and she stood behind Jesus weeping, her heart surely broken and contrite from years of guilt and pain. In an outpouring of love, the broken woman began to wet Jesus' feet with her tears and then anointed his feet with perfume from an alabaster vial, obviously a precious treasure to her. This act of worship was from her heart, an expression of deep appreciation that Jesus had loved her and forgiven her.

This "sinner" woman clearly understood what grace was about, but Jesus' Pharisee host didn't have a clue. His heart was too full of judgment to see his own need. "If this man were a prophet," he thought, "He would know who and what sort of person this woman is who is touching Him, that she is a sinner" (7:39).

How interesting it is to see that Jesus knew what the man was thinking. He then told the man a story about two debtors who owed a great deal of money. Both were forgiven of their debts. Jesus then asked the Pharisee, "Which person will love the moneylender more?"

"I suppose the one whom he forgave more," was his reply. Jesus then reminded his host, the Pharisee, that he had not even washed Jesus' feet when he entered the home. But the woman had not ceased to wash his feet and kiss them. "For this reason I say to you, her sins, which are many, have been forgiven, for she loved much; but he who is forgiven little, loves little."

This is an important word to us as parents. Sometimes we feel that we need to play the role of the Holy Spirit in our children's lives and impose great guilt on them so they will be hesitant to sin anymore. But I don't see this in the life of Jesus. Yes, Jesus always called his disciples and followers to the highest standards. He taught that he came to fulfill the law and that all the commandments of God were of utmost importance (Matthew 5:17- 20). And yet, wherever he went, Jesus proclaimed forgiveness and extended his gracious forgiveness to all who sought him—including tax collectors, prostitutes, and even a thief on the cross. He maintained this same attitude of gentle and gracious forgiveness toward the disciples even as they abandoned him at the cross. Jesus took the time to personally talk to them about sin and to offer them grace. And it was this gracious forgiveness, I believe, that opened their hearts so that they "loved much."

Our children need the same kind of gentle graciousness from us if they are to learn to share their vulnerability, to confess their own sin, and to be free to love. If they fear our strong condemnation and possible rejection, they will hide their sin, perhaps even deceive themselves about the nature of it. They will definitely not avail themselves of our mature direction in their lives.

"Or do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and tolerance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance?" ~Romans 2:4

How specifically does God want you to extend his grace to your children so that His kindness, through you, will lead them to repentance?

Precious Redeemer,

Thank you for the compassionate grace you showed in redeeming us and dying for us when we were yet sinners.  Help us to visualize ourselves as extensions of your forgiving and redeeming grace to our children. Please help them learn how to give grace at home, so that they might do the same for the people you bring into their lives.

Amen

Save

Save

Amidst a World Gone Crazy, Speak Noble Things: Build a Godly Legacy

Amormaterno

Amormaterno

Anchise Picchi

"Does not wisdom call,

And understanding lift up her voice?

On top of the heights beside the way,

Where the paths meet, she takes her stand;

Beside the gates, at the opening to the city,

At the entrance of the doors, she cries out:

'To you, O men, I call,

And my voice is to the sons of men.

O naive ones, understand prudence;

And, O fools, understand wisdom.

Listen, for I will speak noble things;

And the opening of my lips will reveal right things.'"

~Proverbs 8:1-6

 What a week this has been, as we have continued to see a world in tumult and grief. I have been heartbroken and so very surprised--is all this really happening? I can't believe the tragedies, and I feel heart broken for my friends of every color, my police friends and all their families, and most importantly, the children involved.

As usual, though, after praying and spending time with the Lord, I feel inspired to do something to help to change hearts and to help build up a broken culture.

Often, people are tempted with hopelessness and fear. Yet, I am reminded this is why mothers were created by God to teach and to call others to wisdom--because it is only when people learn to think rightly, to honor human beings made in the image of God, to weep over the fallen behavior of lost man, that they can move in the direction of redemption.

When I read the above verses, I am reminded once again that women are God's special teachers of wisdom, of perspective, of God's ways. There is something we can do.  When a mother is filled with vision, comfort, wisdom, and truth; when God is the strong foundation of security of her life, she will shape the very soul and faith of those in her household. The world has hope when souls are alive with faith and a valiant, devoted spirit, and when people's behavior is dictated by righteous thinking.

It’s always an adventure when all my children find their way back to the nest, and we are enjoying some of that happiness now as many are home. Seems we have had a constant stream of meals eaten, dishes washed, and then repeating the routines again and again.

Many rousing discussions took place this weekend in our home with many friends who have different opinions about all the issues we see in the news, as well as opinions about movies, politics, church, books, actors, all the disasters that have happened this week, and life in general. More serious discussions have stimulated our ideas as we talked  about how to reach a post-modern culture, about what is really important to the Lord, and what is the balance between ideals and grace, passion and redemption.

It has been good as always for me to enter the world of the insightful thoughts and wisdom of my thinking-and-reading children who are now full-hearted adults,  and see how they process and ponder these issues, and to ask what my part is in offering truth in a way that can be understood. I see all of the input I receive from differing points of view as ways that God prepares me to be a better thinker and more insightful into the souls and ways of people and ultimately as a steward of His messages.

I have spent much time pondering what the role of motherhood has played in the issues that rage in our country today.

We are all busy and live in a hectic, fast-paced culture. Yet, we must take seriously our role in bringing truth and light in the darkness that threatens to overcome our lives. For every “advance” it seems there is a price that must be paid, a cost to battling in spiritual realms, whether we are aware of it or not.

 The vision I see is this: If mothers rise to be the gatekeepers, making their homes places of excellence, cultivating love for each other as well as reverence and worship of God, the future generations will have hope. If we are teaching respect and honor for all people crafted by God's hands, then our children will become protectors and advocates for all people, especially those who are unfairly found victims of a broken, fallen world.

If we are spending personal time teaching and discipling their children by reading the Word of God every day and praying to Him with our children for wisdom and guidance every day, then we will raise a generation of children who will become adults who will depend on God's wisdom, not the wisdom espoused by the internet or the world.

If we take the time to read to our children, to challenge them with great ideas from the most profound writers in history, if we give them the muscle to discuss and discern world views, then we will raise thinking children who can become message makers to give hope to their world.

If we are keeping them from worshiping the idol of television, materialism, the internet, political power or prestige and instead teaching and modeling a servant lifestyle, then our children will engage in visions of life that include their responsibility to serve God and others with their lives.

If we lead them into the ministry of real live people, in our homes as well as in the city gates, and teach them how to engage in culture, then they will perceive themselves as those who will become leaders of ideals in their generation.

If they observe us serving them through this training and nurture and giving up of her own time, there will be hope, that they, too, will become heroes in their own generation who will give up their lives to serve others.

All of these values will become a part of their psyche, their self-image, their self-actualization: "I was made for a special purpose, my life has imbued meaning, I will serve God with my heart, soul, mind and strength."

The shaping of a whole culture happens within the walls where we all live, the space called home--a daily living with ideals, true messages and character building.

Then a civilization will be born where the whole culture will be populated with adults who have great souls, a call to the Kingdom of God, a passion to do what is right, a desire to protect the weak, and an honest moral character that is the foundation of right decisions made in politics, medicine, government, media and the arts.

Yes, it requires great personal sacrifice. But in the battle between evil and good, the allegiance between our commitment to our God or our bowing to Satan has always required sacrifice. Evil is never passive and never takes a break–and neither can God’s chosen ones cease to work tirelessly to be about His business.

And yet, to invest in such a way, a woman must invest in the word of God, in pondering Him, knowing Him, walking with Him her personal life that she may pass on her legacy out of integrity lived day by day.

 When mothers abandon this great and important responsibility, there is a greater tendency for children to become the kind of adults who can be self-centered and self-serving; under-developed and ineffective without intentional training, --those who can overlook unrighteousness without any pang of conscience—because that conscience has never been developed. They become the kind of adults who can passively let others take responsibility for our government and country--to accept and validate those who would promise the moon even though the moon isn’t available in reality. When a person has no convictions, he cannot operate his life in God’s strength. It is moms who help to develop foundations of righteousness in their children’s souls.

 For this gatekeeping to occur there must be hundreds—thousands—of dinners made, laundry loads run, backs scratched and cookies baked. There must be watercolor projects and messes, hikes and games of hide and seek, money spent on wonderful life-giving books and concerts and the theatre. It will not happen in the absence of a cost.

Listen, for I will speak noble things.

Time spent ministering to our children is time well spent because that investment grants us the door to their hearts. When they are soft to us because we have ministered to their needs, their minds and hearts will be soft to hear our values, our convictions, and our guidance. Moms, the way you invest your life today will indeed have a great impact on history. We need to buck up, strengthen the areas that are weak, and decide to accept the work load of small children with joy, as would please our heavenly Father. The cultivating and raising of great souls is of the utmost importance.  Your life is making a difference. Take time in the word, take time to read those books which call you to excellence, spend time praying with friends of like mind–and don’t give up!

“For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God, you may receive what was promised.” Hebrews 10:36

But live into the role, calling out to those who are walking on a path of our world, inviting them to a place we have prepared for them where they can experience LIFE.

Think about a special time you could have with your children that would soften their hearts toward you. What would you want to share with them during that time? Make it a habit to build deeply into the foundations of their mind's ability to think truly, and express their values in a real world.

Your home is a place of transformation, a place where future generations will be shaped in the ways they will live and respond to the world in their lifetime. Spiritual disciplines are not frivolous but essential to every generation--that they can draw from those who have invested in wisdom.Be inspired to build your Own Life Giving Home and raise a strong, confident generation right where you are.

The Lifegiving Home: Creating a Place of Belonging and Becoming" >
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Hope you enjoy the podcast today with Kristen and Me!

SEE MANY OF YOU IN NASHVILLE/BRENTWOOD, TN THIS THURSDAY NIGHT.

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