A Sincere Faith

A Sincere Faith

 A Sincere Faith | 40 Gifts of Lent | Gift 32

Today’s Reading: 1 Timothy and 2 Timothy

I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, dwells in you as well. 2 Timothy 1:5

I looked at our family genealogy tree, tracing the branches and limbs from generation to generation. I stopped at a large limb with the names of my parents written in bold black ink and in smaller letters, written on thin branches growing from the limb, are the names of their four children, my siblings and me.

My parents modeled a strong faith in the Lord and loved the words in God’s book, taking great delight in reading and thinking about it throughout the day, so much so that God’s words became their language in conversation with us. They demonstrated to us what a sincere faith looks like, not only in how they lived but the way they taught us kids. This is a beautiful legacy to pass on through generation to generation! The roots of my parent’s genealogy tree are spreading out wide and growing deeper into a better story of trusting God.

It’s a beautiful thing to look at our own genealogy tree become deeply rooted in Christ and growing strong limbs of faith…our children. It’s an amazing thing to add small branches, our grandchildren, growing from those limbs and to imagine more grand and glorious trees with roots spreading out wide and growing deeper into a better story of faith in God.

I love that my children are able to talk about the genuine and sincere faith that they remember about their grandmother, my mom and the conversations they continue to have with my husband’s mom. I’m so thankful for the legacy our children have…for all of those conversations that were and are seasoned with grace and the fragrance of Christ.

It is a beautiful gift to watch our tree grow stronger, to add little branches of faith sprouting from those limbs.

A Sincere Faith 1 About 40 Gifts of Lent 

I am anticipating the arrival of Easter and celebrating the most amazingly good gift I’ve ever received. I want to focus my heart on the fulfilled expectation of Christ’s first coming and the glorious expectation of His second coming. To continue reading, please go here: 40 Gifts of Lent

#LentChallenge

Planting and Watering Little Sprouts of Faith

Growing 2

Planting and Watering Little Sprouts of Faith | Gift 25 | 40 Gifts of Lent 

Reflections on I Corinthians 1 – 8

It’s not the one who plants or the one who waters who is at the center of this process but God, who makes things grow  I Corinthians 3: 6 – 7 (MSG)

I finally have a garden. It has taken several years of nurturing the soil and ridding the ground of overbearing thistles with prickly thorns and tap roots very difficult to pull up out of the ground. I had to work hard and steady week after week, staying focused on the vision I had for the garden, to prepare the soil for new growth. Seeing the fruit of my hard work is quite rewarding, seeing God’s handiwork in every glorious bloom.

I Corinthians 3: 6-7 is another gift of hope that I treasure because I am reminded how faithful God has been to our family. There were months and years when our children looked like they were growing thorny thistles with a tap-root trying to choke their faith. My husband and I fought against the fatigue of constantly pulling out the weeds in their lives, turning over the soil once more and planting seeds once again…not to lose sight of the vision we had for our children to produce a righteous fruit, to grow and thrive in their faith in God, by grace alone.

Parenting is the hardest thing you’ll ever do and the more you love your kids, the harder it is. You already realize how much time is involved with planting truth into your kids and to continually fuel their faith but have you considered how much prayer is vital to their spiritual growth?

In the book, Praying Circles Around Your Children, author Mark Batterson exhorts us with a metaphor of praying circles around our children. It simply means “to pray without ceasing.” It’s praying until God answers. It’s praying with more intensity, more tenacity. It’s not just praying for, it’s praying through. [1] That’s when you’ll see the thistles and tap roots of sin in your children’s life replaced with new life mirroring Christ. It’s a beautiful garden!

Praying for our kids strengthened our resolve to stay focused on the vision for them. With your physical eyes, you see who a person is. With your spiritual eyes you see what a person can be. [1]

What vision do you have for your children? What does the garden look like in your home? Planting and watering is knowing your children and knowing scripture so that you can train them in the way they should go. Pray that they won’t just survive but pray that they will thrive. [1] Your family garden will thrive when you saturate your life with God’s word. Read God’s book so you will know what to teach your children and what to pray for your children.

Don’t just pray for them, pray with them. Praying for your kids is like taking them for a ride; praying with your kids is like teaching them to drive. [1] Repeat words from God’s book to your children. Pray those words together. Repeat them over and over again. Your prayer is for your children to use God’s word as their GPS to guide their way.

I remember the exciting days watching our children grow strong in their love for God and the exciting day when they became the drivers of their own children’s faith. Planting and watering little sprouts of faith in the tender hearts of their daughters and young sons.

The effect of planting is faith. The effect of watering is faith. But the decisive cause of faith — the life and growth of little sprouts of faith — is not planting and watering, but God.

 Rise during the night and cry out. Pour out your hearts like water to the Lord. Lift up your hands to him in prayer, pleading for your children.  (Lamentations 2:19)

Growing

[1] Praying Circles Around Your Children by Mark Batterson 

About 40 Gifts of Lent 

I am anticipating the arrival of Easter and celebrating the most amazingly good gift I’ve ever received. I want to focus my heart on the fulfilled expectation of Christ’s first coming and the glorious expectation of His second coming. To continue reading, please go here: 40 Gifts of Lent

#LentChallenge
Coffee-for-Your-Heart-150

An Important Read for Parents: ‘Let Them Come Home’

Bring Them Home

If you are parent, read this and be encouraged, be faithful and never give up on your kids. This article is from www.desiringgod.orgClick on the title to go to the original post.

12 Ways to Love Your Wayward Child

Abraham Piper, desiringGod.org

Many parents are brokenhearted and completely baffled by their unbelieving son or daughter. They have no clue why the child they raised well is making such awful, destructive decisions. I’ve never been one of these parents, but I have been one of these sons. Reflecting back on that experience, I offer these suggestions to help you reach out to your wayward child.

At first I pretended that my reasoning was high-minded and philosophical. But really I just wanted to drink gallons of cheap sangria and sleep around. Four years of this and I was strung out, stupefied and generally pretty low. Especially when I was sober or alone.

My parents, who are strong believers and who raised their kids as well as any parents I’ve ever seen, were brokenhearted and baffled. (See sidebar story below.) I’m sure they were wondering why the child they tried to raise right was such a ridiculous screw-up now. But God was in control.

One Tuesday morning, before 8 o’clock, I went to the library to check my e-mail. I had a message from a girl I’d met a few weeks before, and her e-mail mentioned a verse in Romans. I went down to the Circle K and bought a 40-ounce can of Miller High Life for $1.29. Then I went back to where I was staying, rolled a few cigarettes, cracked open my drink, and started reading Romans. I wanted to read the verse from the e-mail, but I couldn’t remember what it was, so I started at the beginning of the book. By the time I got to chapter 10, the beer was gone, the ashtray needed emptying and I was a Christian.

The best way I know to describe what happened to me that morning is that God made it possible for me to love Jesus. When He makes this possible and at the same time gives you a glimpse of the true wonder of Jesus, it is impossible to resist His call.

Looking back on my years of rejecting Christ, I offer these suggestions to help you reach out to your wayward child so that they, too, would wake up to Christ’s amazing power to save even the worst of us.

1. Point them to Christ.
Your rebellious child’s real problem is not drugs or sex or cigarettes or porn or laziness or crime or cussing or slovenliness or homosexuality or being in a punk band. The real problem is that your child doesn’t see Jesus clearly. The best thing you can do for rebellious children–and the only reason to follow any of these suggestions–is to show them Christ. It won’t be simple or immediate, but the sins in their life that distress you and destroy them will begin to disappear only when they see Jesus more as He actually is.

2. Pray.
Only God can save your children, so keep on asking Him to display Himself to them in a way they can’t resist worshiping Him for.

3. Acknowledge that something is wrong.
When your daughter rejects Jesus, don’t pretend that everything is fine.

If you know she’s not a believer and you’re not reaching out to her, then start. And never stop. Don’t ignore her unbelief. Ignoring it might make holidays easier, but not eternity.

4. Don’t expect them to be Christlike.
If your son is not a Christian, he won’t act like one, and it’s hypocrisy if he does. If he has forsaken your faith, he has little motivation to live by your standards, and you have little reason to expect him to.

If he’s struggling to believe in Jesus, there is little significance in his admitting that it’s wrong to get wasted, for instance. You want to protect him, yes, but his most dangerous problem is unbelief–not partying. No matter how your child’s behavior proves his unbelief, always be sure to focus more on his heart’s sickness than its symptoms.

5. Welcome them home.
Because your deepest concern is your son’s heart, not his actions, don’t create too many requirements for coming home. If he has any inkling to be with you, don’t make it hard for him. God may use your love to call him back to Christ. Obviously there are instances when parents must give ultimatums: “Don’t come to this house, if you are …” But these will be rare. Don’t lessen the likelihood of an opportunity to be with your child by pushing him away with rules.

If your daughter stinks like weed or an ashtray, spray her jacket with Febreeze and change the sheets when she leaves, but let her come home. If you find out she’s pregnant, then buy her folic acid, take her to her 20-week ultrasound, protect her from Planned Parenthood, and by all means let her come home. If your son is broke because he spent all the money you lent him on loose women and ritzy liquor, then forgive his debt as you’ve been forgiven, don’t give him any more money–and let him come home. If he hasn’t been around for a week and a half because he’s been staying at his girlfriend’s–or boyfriend’s–apartment, urge him not to go back, and let him come home.

6. Plead with them more than you rebuke them.
Be gentle in your disappointment.

What concerns you most is that your child is destroying herself, not that she’s breaking rules. Treat her in a way that makes this clear. She probably knows–especially if she was raised as a Christian–that what she’s doing is wrong. And she definitely knows you think it is, so she doesn’t need this pointed out. She needs to see how you are going to react to her evil. Your gentle forbearance and sorrowful hope will show her that you really do trust Jesus.

Her conscience can condemn her by itself. Your role is to stand kindly and firmly, always living in the hope that you want your child to return to.

7. Connect them to other believers.
Obviously, you are distant from your wayward child; otherwise you wouldn’t think they’re wayward. This is another reason why pleading is better than rebuking–your relationship with your rebellious child is tenuous and should be protected if at all possible.

But rebuke is still necessary. A lot of rebellious kids would do well to hear that they’re being fools, but you’re probably not the one to tell them. Try to keep other Christians in their lives and trust God to connect your son or daughter with a believer who can point out your child’s folly without getting the door slammed on them.

8. Respect their friends.
Of course your daughter’s relationships are founded on sin. And, yes, her friends are bad for her. But she’s bad for them, too. And nothing will be solved by making it evident that you don’t like who she’s hanging around with.

Be hospitable. Her friends are someone else’s wayward children, and they need Jesus, too.

9. E-mail them.
When you read something in the Bible that encourages you and helps you love Jesus more, write it up in a couple of lines and send it to your child. The best exhortation–better than any correction–is for them to see Christ’s joy in your life.

Don’t stress out when you’re composing these as if each one needs to be singularly powerful. Just whip them out and let the cumulative effect of your satisfaction in God gather up in your child’s inbox. God’s Word is never useless.

10. Take them to lunch.
If possible, don’t let your only interaction with your child be electronic. Get together with him face to face if you can. You may think this is stressful and uncomfortable, but trust me that it’s far worse to be in the child’s shoes–he is experiencing all the same discomfort, but compounded by guilt. So if he is willing to get together with you for lunch, praise God, and use the opportunity.

It may almost feel hypocritical to talk about his daily life, since what you really care about is his eternal life, but be sure to do it anyway. He needs to know you care about all of him. Then, before lunch is over, ask about his soul. You don’t know how he’ll respond. Will he roll his eyes like you’re a moron? Will he get mad and leave? Or has God been working in him since you talked last? You don’t know until you risk asking. God will give you the gumption.

11. Take an interest in their pursuits.
Odds are that if your daughter is purposefully rejecting Christ, then the way she spends her time will disappoint you. Nevertheless, find the value in her interests, if possible, and encourage her. You went to her school plays and soccer games when she was 10; what can you do now that she’s 20 to show that you still really care about her interests?

Jesus spent time with tax collectors and prostitutes, and He wasn’t even related to them. Imitate Christ by being the kind of parent who will put some earplugs in your pocket and head downtown to where your daughter’s CD release show is. Encourage her and never stop praying that she will begin to use her gifts for Jesus’ glory instead of her own.

12. Point them to Christ.
This can’t be stressed enough. It’s the whole point. No strategy for reaching your son or daughter will have any lasting effect if the underlying goal isn’t to help them know Jesus.

The goal is not that they will be good kids again. It’s not that they’ll get their hair cut and start taking showers; it’s not that they’ll like classical music instead of deathcore; it’s not that they’ll vote conservative again by the next election. The goal is not for you to stop being embarrassed at your weekly Bible study or even for you to be able to sleep at night, knowing they’re not going to hell.

The only ultimate reason to pray for them, welcome them, plead with them, eat with them, or take an interest in their interests is so that their eyes will be opened to Jesus Christ.

And not only is He the only point, but He’s the only hope. When they see the wonder of Jesus, satisfaction will be redefined. He Himself will replace the money, or the praise of man, or the high, or the sex that they are staking their eternities on right now. Only His grace can draw them from their perilous pursuits and bind them safely to Him–captive, but satisfied.

God will do this for many. Be faithful and don’t give up.

© Desiring God. Website: www.desiringGod.org

Snippets of Posts and Quotes: Take 1

the-future-is-bright

The following are a few snippets of posts and quotes to ponder that I’ve saved from reading books and blogs. I use Evernote  to save information I collect from books, articles, blog posts and more. Evernote is like a digital file drawer. I wrote a post about being an “Evernote Junkie” and you can check it out here. I clicked through the notebooks in Evernote to select a few that I thought would be worth sharing as you move forward into 2014.  Scroll the cursor over the name of the author for a link to the blog or book.

CHRIST-LIKENESS:

“You will not stroll into Christ-likeness with your hands in your pockets, shoving the door open with a careless shoulder. This is no hobby for one’s leisure moments, taken up at intervals when we have nothing much to do, and put down and forgotten when our life grows full and interesting… It takes all one’s strength, and all one’s heart, and all one’s mind, and all one’s soul, given freely and recklessly and without restraint.”  A. J. Gossip

LIFE:

“Hard stops for prayer, rest so you can have the rest of God. Unplug to plug into your purpose. It’s the everyday, not the every now and then…We are all going to botch it somedays. We all sometimes get the notes wrong. But the song only goes wrong when we keep thinking back to the wrong notes…When a piece starts to fall apart — fall forward. Fall forward into the next bar. Moving forward is what makes music.“ Ann Voskamp

STRESS:

“Stress is the inappropriate response to a stimulus. Do our hearts provide a home for stress? You are no doubt completely aware of the concept of stress in your own life, but perhaps are not looking at its insinuative manner. What idols lie in waiting? I would propose that we sit down, often and for longer periods of time, and let Jesus shine a light in our hearts on the idols we harbor. His love, kindness, and desire for us to be whole will reveal what lies deep within and does not belong. He will haul these idols out and turn our affections toward him.” Greg Gelburd



 

LEADERSHIP:

“The kind of people who oppose things as a matter of course often don’t have an alternative vision…Opponents generally don’t possess a vision for the future, only a vision for the past which is an impossible vision…Leaders who attack people rather than problems are a very different breed. They can leave a trail of bodies in their wake..You will never look back with regret if you remain generous and kind to people who are not kind to you…When you listen to the loudest voices, you miss the most important voices…Decide whether you will focus on who you want to reach or who you want to keep.”  Carey Nieuwhof

FORGIVENESS AND HOLINESS:

“The grace of Jesus doesn’t just work to make you comfortable before God (forgiveness), it works to make you like him (holiness).”  Paul David Tripp

ASTONISHING:

“Never believe anything about yourself or God that makes His grace to you seem anything less than astonishing. Because that’s exactly what it is.”  Randy Alcorn

CHILDREN’S MINISTRY:

“That’s where I met Jesus, Daddy! Can we go to church again sometime so I can see Jesus again sometime?” Quinn, a three-year old

PEACE:

“Whatever disrupts our peace….unexpected news, heartbreak, daily interruptions, or even tragedy, His peace is available and it’s worth fighting for. We can walk through anything and He promises peace in His presence. Breathe in his presence, exhale peace.”  Godschick.net

SPECIAL NEEDS: 

“When the church attempts to function without all of its parts, the body of Christ becomes disabled.Same Lake, Different Boat is a transformational work–designed to renew our minds to think biblically about disability in order that our lives, our relationships, and our congregations might wholly reflect Christ.” Stephanie O. Hubach

PARENTING: 

“God is at work telling a story of restoration and redemption through your family. Never buy into the myth that you need to become the “right kind” of parent before God can use you in your children’s lives. Instead learn to cooperate with whatever God desires to do in your heart today so your children will have a front-row seat to the grace and goodness of God.” Reggie Joiner

WORSHIP:

“It is easy to see that you and I have been created to worship. We’re flat-out desperate for it. From sports fanaticism to celebrity tabloids to all the other strange sorts of voyeurism normative in our culture, we evidence that we were created to look at something beyond ourselves and marvel at it, desire it, like it with zeal, and love it with affection. Our thoughts, our desires, and our behaviors are always oriented around something, which means we are always worshiping — ascribing worth to — something. If it’s not God, we are engaging in idolatry. But either way, there is no way to turn the worship switch in our hearts off…Trying to figure out God is like trying to catch a fish in the Pacific Ocean with an inch of dental floss…God does not regret saving you. There is no sin which you commit which is beyond the cross of Christ.”  Matt Chandler

GRACE:

“As 2014 progresses, open the eyes of our hearts to see all these glorious riches more clearly that we might enjoy them more fully (Ephesians.1:18-19). We rest and rejoice, in your covenant and capacity to keep us from falling. Though we may falter in the journey, the grasp of your grace is steady and secure.” Scotty Smith

 

Halloween, the Princess, and Four Ways to Help your Child Build Self-Esteem

Halloween and the Princess

Halloween

When this Halloween arrived, I recalled childhood memories of walking the streets in our neighborhood with my friends, running up the front lawns instead of using the walkways, racing to the front porch and ringing the door bell…waiting for the door to be opened by someone holding a hand full of candy to toss in my bag while I shouted, “Trick-or-Treat!”

I look at her face glowing with kindness and I smile back at her big smile that is as bright as that carved jack-o-lantern on the front porch.  “Here you go, Princess!” she said, while handing me several pieces of candy.

The Princess

I remember wearing a princess costume that my mother had sewn for me. It was a pale pink color and really puffy…made with yards and yards of itchy tulle that scratched my legs whenever I moved. I disliked the itchy tulle but I loved the feeling of being a princess and felt beautiful and special while wearing it…over a pair of thick tights! Mom made a princess crown cut from poster board and using a plastic bottle of white glue, sketched a design of swirls and diamond shapes onto the crown. She quickly sprinkled multi-colored glitter all over the shapes of glue. Mom said every princess crown should have jewels so she added a puddle of glue at each point of the crown and then poured on red, blue, and green glitter creating sparkling ruby, sapphire and emerald jewels. I thought the crown was beautiful and perfect and I was very pleased. I couldn’t wait to wear the gorgeous princess crown. It seemed to take forever for the glue to dry!

A Child’s Self-Esteem Fluctuates

With rosy cheeks and blue eye shadow, I thought I was dressed in the perfect costume for Halloween.  I was having a lot of fun collecting candy from neighbors and everyone told me I was a beautiful princess. I was feeling very princess-like. That is until I met “Mr. Grumpy.”  There he was, standing under a dim front porch light that cast grey shadows over his face, which only made his snarling expression look very creepy.

With his hands on his hips and with a gravelly voice he asked, “Who are you supposed to be?”  “I’m a princess,” I bashfully answered. “Bah! You’re no princess!”, He said looking down at me. “You’re a mean queen! He tossed some candy in the bag I was holding and I quickly turned to run away. “There goes the mean queen!” I heard him shout with more laughter.

Feeling bruised by his words, I became irritable and disliked the man for ruining Halloween for me. Even though just a few minutes before I had felt very much princess-like, those four words, “You’re a mean queen” was repeated over and over again in my head and soon began to make a negative imprint upon my thoughts and feelings. I returned home only to pout and fume and be grumpy and mean towards my family.

4 Ways to Help Your Child Build Self-Esteem

Identify your child’s irrational beliefs about themselves. A child’s self-esteem fluctuates and is frequently changed and fine-tuned through experiences and new perceptions. For parents, it helps to be aware of the signs of both healthy and unhealthy self-esteem in your child. When your child suffers a blow to his self-esteem, it’s important to validate his feelings; acknowledge that your child was offended by the comment. Be aware if your child has given others the power to shape his or her self-perception. It’s important for you to identify your child’s irrational beliefs about themselves, whether they’re about perfection, attractiveness, ability, or based upon another person’s opinion of them.

Authentic self-esteem should be shaped in the home. Children with a healthy self-esteem place value on themselves that is both positive, and at the same time, realistic. Children with a healthy self-esteem are also able to handle a reasonable amount of negative experience. While some amount of teasing is unavoidable, you have an opportunity to teach your child that their view of themselves should not be shaped entirely by outside forces. An authentic self-esteem is not determined by an outward appearance or by hearing praise or compliments from people.

If a child doesn’t feel accepted by their parents, they’ll look for acceptance from their friends.  Dr. Kevin Leman says, “Your unconditional acceptance of your child means everything in her development.” If you want to send a strong message to your child that he/she is accepted, listen and ask questions to show you care about their interests and feelings. It is the parents who create the foundation for a child’s sense of self through all of their experiences, especially words and actions. Children are far more motivated to learn, cooperate, and be loving when they feel connected, cared about, and valued. Pediatrician and author Dr. William Sears said it best when he wrote, “What children believe about themselves is at the heart of what they become.”

Tell your child on a regular basis that God loves them unconditionally. And tell your children on a regular basis that you love them no matter what. As parents, we are able to stir a change in our child’s heart and thought life by teaching the gospel, modeling the gospel, and centering our homes on the gospel. Another great way to help a child to think differently, is to pray with your child. Talk to God together about the hurt feelings, pray for the offender, ask for God’s forgiveness for having a bad attitude, and especially thank Him that she is a child of the King, a real princess!

What are some ways you have helped your child develop a healthy self-esteem? 

Helpful References:  [1] kidshealth.org [2] askdrsears.com [3] focusonthefamily.com [4] Gospel Powered Parenting  by William P. Farley [5] Building Up Kids Without Tearing Them Down by Kevin Leman [6] yeahyeahoutloud.com