Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Teenagers ~ Welcoming Them Home

Yesterday I wrote a post about my son and how God is showing me that I need to let go of him so that God can truly work in his life.

This morning in my quiet time my devotional took me back to that scripture with a focus on when the son returned home.  I had just been praying for my son, before I opened my devotional book. This was a wonderful, confirming word to me from the Lord that not only will my son return to the Lord, but when he does it will be a great celebration & I better be celebrating too or I will miss out on a wonderful blessing.

Luke 15:17-20 says, "When he came to his senses he said, 'How many of my fathers hired men have food to spare, and here I am starving to death!  I will set out and go back to my father and say to him; Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son so make me one of your hired men.' So he got up and went to his father.  But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him."

That is the best part of the story right there.  The son expected to be punished and put with the hired men, but rather the Father threw a party for him.  I'm so ready to throw a party for my son because he has come to his senses.  Notice that the father doesn't take the son aside and say, Son, we must have a talk.  What you did was very wrong. Blah Blah Blah."  The Father knew the son knew he was wrong by his repentance.  No other reprimands were needed.

  This is how Jesus takes us back when we have sinned and walked away from him.  He welcomes us back with open arms and a forgiving heart and this is how we should welcome our children also.

Colossians 3:13, Forgive as the Lord forgave you.

Lord, I praise you & thank you for your redeeming promises from your Word. I love because you first loved me and I forgive because you first forgave me.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Teenagers ~ Letting Go So God Can Work

There is a great parable that Jesus told about a son who left home.  He decided, I guess, that he didn't need his father anymore so he asked for his part of the inheritance and left.  Reading through that passage again (Luke 15: 11-32), I noticed the wisdom of the Father in letting his son go.  It doesn't say that he tried to reason with his son, he didn't refuse to give him his part of the inheritance.  He just did what the son asked and let him go.

As parents we hope that our child will follow God with his whole heart and not rebel.  But many do anyway.  We pray for and with the child.  We teach them what the Bible says about how we should live.  We try to live so that we are good examples, but some will turn away from that teaching anyway.

We have a teenage son like this.  He is a believer, but he struggles so badly with his decisions.  He loves danger and excitement.  He reminds me a lot of Apostle Paul in the Bible.  Paul fought his fleshly desires constantly.  He knew what he should do, yet his flesh would win over again.  God used Paul in such a giant way in the history of the church and Christianity and God knew that in order to shape Paul into becoming usable, Paul would have to suffer.

I think my son will have to suffer greatly before he truly understands the grace of God and falls deeply in love with him.  As a mom, my natural reaction is to protect him from this suffering, but I have to be as the father in the parable & let my son go.  That doesn't mean that I just let him do what he wants.  I must still guide him in the ways of the Lord.  My love for the Lord will create a natural outpouring of mercy on my son.  He must still know that no matter what, we love him and we will fight for him.  He still has to accept consequences for his bad decisions.  Some consequences are from his parents, but most are natural consequences that God placed there.

So what do I do?

I pray.  I pray like I have never prayed for a child before.  I ask for guidance and wisdom in the training of my son (and all of my children).  I ask that my son will get caught in his sin and found out.  I ask that God make him totally miserable until he becomes desperate for God.  I ask that God would place a hunger for Him in the heart of my son that will create a giant void that my son cannot get rid of without Christ.  I ask that God will help me to get out of the way so that He can work in the life of my son. 

I touch. When our children are little they love to be hugged.  I have a son that hugs me about 10 times a day.  He needs that physical touch from me.  But for some reason when they get older we don't touch them as often.  They still need our physical affection.  If they don't like hugs just rub them on the back or hold their arm while you talk to them.  Pat them on the shoulder as you walk by.  Touch them in a gentle and affirming way.  It makes a difference.

I listen.  This is really hard for me.  I'm a talker.  But it is so important that we shut our mouths and just listen to them, not advise or instruct, just listen.  Many times my kids, when we talk together, they figure out what they need to do by themselves through telling me what the problem is.  They just have to say it all out loud with out interruption.  If they need help working through something, we can do that, but I wait for the invitation from them to help.  Sometimes I will interrupt if I can tell that they are working off their emotions & not about to make a wise judgement, but not very often.  Listen to them.  If you don't, they will find someone else who will.

I look.  I have to work really hard sometimes at looking for the good things my son has done.  It seems that all he does is get in trouble, but I know that he has done something good.  If all I do is point out the wrong things he has done, then he just begins to feel as though he is a failure.  I pray & ask God to show me the good and positive things that he has done.  I know they are out there & often it takes someone else to point them out to me.  Look for the good in your child and then tell them what you see.  Compliment them...a lot!

I believe.  I believe that God is God, not me.  I trust that he really does know what he is doing in the lives of my children and I need to get out of the way and let him work.  I believe that he has my children's name engraved on the palm of his hand.  He has a plan for them & it is not my plan.  I don't know what the plan is, I may have a little idea based on their desires and interests, but I don't know what all of it is.  I must believe that he is guiding them through whatever they need to go through and experience in order to accomplish his plan. Believe that God is at work in your child's life, it will change your whole perspective.

 

I hope that if you have a child like I do that you will ask God to guide you and give you the wisdom you need to train and nurture them in the ways of the Lord.  When we have children who disappoint us in their decisions(and they will), we really need to go back to the Lord for mercy and understanding.  Many times my son has really embarrassed me.  I don't want my friends to know that my child has done that!  It makes me look like I'm not raising him right.  If I had done things differently, then he would be different.  That is pride & false shame & don't fall for it!  It is of the enemy.

14Our job is to seek the Lord with our whole heart, mind & soul.  Follow Him and live like Him.  If we are doing that according to what the Lord has commanded then we will raise our children according to God's plan.  I didn't say that they would all turn out the way we want them to, I just said that we will raise them according to Gods plan.  When my son was born, God knew that he would rebel.  He placed in him a desire for excitement for a reason.  It is there as a part of his life plan.  As a parent, I have to trust the Lord to help me guide my son to learn to use that desire for God's glory not his own.  Only the Lord can help me with this, I really mess things up on my own.

 

Lord, I ask that today you would help me to trust you with my children's life.  Help me to know when to let them go.

Friday, July 11, 2008

The Greatest Love Ever! part 2

Over the past year or so, I have been on a spiritual journey of realizing the greatness of God's love for me.  It is so easy to say and we grew up hearing it, "God loves you.".  It is on pencils, notepads, balloons, hats, posters.  It is everywhere.  But do we really realize just how much he loves us? 

Mark 9:7, This is my son whom I love.  Listen to him.

Jesus was God's son.  I don't think any believer doubts that at all.  Any need that God had for a child was fulfilled through his only son Jesus.

When a man and woman want a child, but cannot have children themselves they adopt.   They do not feel complete until they have a child.

But God already had a child, Jesus.  He didn't need anymore.  He is God.  He is complete, lacking nothing. He is Elohim, Creator and El Elyon, The God Most High.  He needs nothing.  He doesn't need us.  He can function just fine with out us and his purpose would still be fulfilled, yet he created us anyway.  He loves us that deeply. 

He chooses us.  He picks us out.  He has adopted us into His Kingdom.  How much greater can a love be for us than that?

1 Peter 2:5, But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.

We are royalty, only because he has chosen us to be so.  He loves us so deeply that we cannot fathom how deep.  C.H. Spurgeon said this,

Our adoption therefore, is not for His gain, but for ours; it is a matter of divine charity, arising out of the spontaneous love of God.

Father, I praise you and thank you for choosing me to one of your own.  I thank you for your love for me and ask that you would teach me to love in the same way.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Longest Texan Marriage!

I know that I don't normally post things like this, but I just had to post this!  It has no great spiritual meaning to it, but that is o'k, this couple has over come many great odds & stayed together through them all.

NAMES: Melvin and Minnie Lou Scott | AGES: 101 and 100 | HOMETOWN: Frankston, TX | QUALIFICATIONS: Married eighty years ago on November 11, 1927 / The first of five living generations (one son, three grandchildren, four great-grandchildren, and two great-great-grandchildren)

• We married at a traveling marvel show. It was like vaudeville, in a tent. They wanted somebody to marry onstage, for the crowd, of course, and they were going to pay $25. We were gonna get married anyway, so we just got married like that. That’s how silly we were.

• With the $25 we bought our bedroom suite, our dishes, and a cabinet for the kitchen. We’re still eating out of the dishes we bought, and we’ve got the cabinet in our kitchen right now.

• We married in November, and that December we built our house. We’ve been living nearly 79 years in this same house. When we bought the lot, it was $50, and to build the house cost $1,000. We had to build on a loan because we didn’t have the money, but we made sure it was the very best lumber.

• We were making it all right until that Depression, and then you just couldn’t get any work. That was pretty rough going. Melvin had to go to Texas City, where he loaded stuff on ships to Japan for 35 cents an hour. That was the highest wage then. We just worked and did the best we could.

• Every occasion, every birthday, is a big to-do these days. It’s rare for two people to live this long together.

• We’ve outlived four doctors. Melvin has never been sick enough to go to a doctor, except for the pacemaker. He didn’t know there was anything wrong with him or think he was sick, but when they took his pulse at the hospital, it was 34. They put a pacemaker in, and it lasted six years. Then, about a month ago, they had to put a new pacemaker in because the battery was obsolete. He’s healed up just fine.

• We have biscuits and eggs and bacon just about every day. Sausage or whatever we want. Most people are on a diet or something like that. Even our son is, because he has high blood pressure. Neither one of us has stuff we can’t eat.

• We don’t know why the divorce rate is so high these days. Perhaps it’s stress. Things are so different now; there’s a lot of pressure on young couples. But you can’t just leave, like what people do now. That’s not quite necessary.

• We used to do a lot of fishing together. We would fish every day.

• Being married eighty years doesn’t seem like a big deal to us. We don’t have enough sense to think about it like that. But we don’t know anyone who has been married this long.

• We just never thought about anything else but staying married. We never did think about separating or anything just ’cause things weren’t perfect. All you can do is make the best of it.

 

Interview by Andrea Valdez

Photo by; O. Rufus Lovett

Texas Monthly Magazine

The Greatest Love Ever!

Can you imagine a love greater than the love you have for your child?  Do you think anyone else could ever love your child as much as you do?  Of course not!  You carried that baby in your womb for almost a year and when that baby was born you were the one who fed him and walked the hallways at night with him.  but, even if you didn't do all of that.  What if you adopted your child and missed out on all of the "fun stuff" in the beginning...how deep is your love for your child?  I have several friends who have adopted their children and I can tell you that they do not love their children any less than I love my children.  Their love is just as deep and unconditional as though they carried that baby in their womb.

May your unfailing love by my comfort, according to your promise to your servant.  Psalm 119:76

David was in love with his God, but he knew that his God loved him far more than he could ever love him back.  David's love was a failing love.  It was not unconditional.  He still sinned against his God.  But he knew that it was the unfailing love of God that kept him from destroying himself with his sin.  It was the unfailing love that was his comfort when all seemed to turn against him. 

 

We are much like David.  We are not capable of loving anyone with the kind of love God has for us.  We come very close in the way we love our children, but it is not the same perfect unfailing love our God has for us.  Our sin keeps us from loving with the same magnitude that God loves.

Who will experience God's unfailing love?

For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him. Psalm 103:11

How long will it last?

Give thanks to the Lord for his love endures forever. Psalm 118

It is because of this steadfast, unfailing love that we have salvation and can experience a new day today.  We do not deserve a new day, we deserve death.  Our hearts are wicked and of no good, but because of his love towards us, he allows us a new day to experience his mercy and grace.

Praise the Lord today and thank him for giving you a new day to experience his grace and mercy and everlasting, unchanging, steadfast, unfailing love.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Is Your Heart Steadfast?

 

David wrote:

My heart is steadfast, O God; I will sing and make music with all my soul.

 

This word steadfast is to me a very spiritual word.  We don't use it in our everyday conversations. What does it really mean and can my heart be described as steadfast?

First it means to be immovable, firmly fixed in place(Merriam Webster Collegiate Dict, 11th Ed)  Some more meanings from the Hebrew word is prepared, established, appointed and formed or developed.

A person who is steadfast is not a wishy washy, undecided, has no idea what they doing, kind of person.  They are confident in what they know and believe and they know why they believe it.  If you are having heart surgery, you want a doctor who is steadfast in his knowledge of the heart and what your heart needs in order to work properly.

In this verse, heart, could also be stated as the mind  The Hebrew meaning here is, inner man, mind, will, heart.  Is your mind steadfast?  Another reference also says,

the source of life of the inner person in various aspects, with a focus on feelings, thoughts, volition, and other areas of the inner life *

In what is our heart to be steadfast?  Well, David was worshiping God for the great victories over their enemies.  David had seen first hand the power of God.  He was confident in the ability of God to overcome.  David had felt the love and mercy of God in the forgiveness of his sins.  His knowledge and understanding of God was immovable and firmly fixed in place.  No one could convince him that God was a fraud.  David was free to worship God with all his soul and glory because of his steadfast heart.

If we have doubts about God.  If we are not fully trusting him this limits our worship.  We are not free to praise him for all that He is.  If we still think we can handle a particular situation better than he can, this limits our worship.  It is not until we are fully and wholly surrendered to God can our heart, mind and spirit worship God the way He says to worship.

Also, when our heart is steadfast, we are prepared when adversity comes.  We know that it is part of the life of a believer.  But we know that the refining of our soul is necessary so that God can create in us a pure heart.  We are confidant in our understanding that God gives us the strength we need.

We live in a day and time where if your heart is not steadfast, you will become confused by the false teachings that surround us.  Each day we live brings us closer to the day when our Savior returns in the clouds to take us home.  But in those last days, there will be many who will try to convince you of alternative ways to Christ.  Be steadfast in your knowledge that there is ONLY ONE WAY!  Through Jesus Christ. 

Jesus answered, I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.  John 14:6

God is steadfast in his love and devotion to his children.  Why should we not be steadfast in our love and devotion to him.  I once had a very wise woman tell me when I said to her that I was trying to trust in God to handle a particular circumstance, "Why shouldn't you trust him?  What has he ever done to you that he didn't promise to do? "  Her words have stayed with me.  My God has never let me down.  He has never promised me something, but never followed through.  He is steadfast.

I pray that you will examine your heart and ask God to show you where that you are not steadfast.  He is constantly showing me ways in which I am not steadfast in my faith and love.  I am a constant work in progress as we all are.

 

O Holy God, I ask that you will examine my heart and show me where I am not steadfast in you.  You are my Elohim and my El Shaddai and in you are all good things. I long to worship you with all my soul and mind.  A~Men.

*(Swanson, James: Dictionary of Biblical Languages With Semantic Domains : Hebrew (Old Testament). )