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Relationship

One thing the Lord keeps reminding me is the importance of building a relationship with our children.
The Lord is relational the trinity is relational, love is relational. I think about how the Lord parents us and our relationship is with him. He draws us into himself he knows everything about us and invites us to know about himself. He isn’t this big God in the sky sitting and making rules and keeping hands off and until you screw up so he can send down judgement. No, he is a high priest! He understands our suffering he understands our hurt and our pain, he jumps for joy with our triumphs. He has compassion and empathy toward us. He weeps when we weep. There is no need too small for him no concern too little to be brought to him. He wants us to come to him with our little things that are hard so that we will come to him with our big things that are impossible. He isn’t too busy to hear about our days. He doesn’t discipline without encouragement and uplifting us. Always reminding us of who we are in him and that we are not the sum of poor choices but created in him image and made for his purposes.
So, It begs the question does my parenting resemble this loving parenting?
Do I treat my children as a nuisance to my busy day? Do I care to get to know my children for who God made them to be? Do I take interest in what interest them? Do I rejoice in their triumphs? When they hurt do I hurt or do I discount their struggle or emotions as not being much in the scheme of things? When I discipline and have to correct behavior, do I follow up with reminding them of who they are in Jesus and what he has for them?
When we focus on a relationship with our children we indeed are discipling that child to know Christ. When we build relationships we build trust and respect. When we have loving God centered relationships it allows us to speak hard truths in love.
But does this mean that our kids won’t stray? No it doesn’t. God is a perfect and loving father and yet we still stray but he pursues us despite our waywardness. He still holds up his end of the relationship with arms open.
Because of Jesus’s amazing grace and his desire to have a relationship with me (a very sinful person) I am free to go beyond myself and love with that same grace. I can build relationships with my children and with others so that I can better share Gods love for them by my words and actions.

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Grace

What is grace? Is it a fancy bible word that we throw around as if we understand it. Grace is it a catchy word to plaster across shirts and decor.

Grace is it an excuse to be undisciplined and live by our feelings? Do we really understand it? Can we understand it? Do we accept it fully or do we accept it conditionally?

Is grace something that is involved in salvation alone or is it for every day? Where does work and grace meet? How is grace attained? Is it attainable?

Ugh, grace. Salvation through grace…unearned, undeserved blessing,favor and help. What is this? I’m programmed to work. Programmed to measure my output, my productivity, and my worth. Programmed to list my accomplishments and inadvertently my failures. Programmed to measure others to view what their life resumes hold and whether they are a success in this life and grace…what does it do? It dumps it upside down.

Grace…it takes the impossible and makes it possible. It takes the measurable and makes it immeasurable. Grace it frees us from the chains of perfectionism and judgement yet in the everyday day life of events I feel as though I turn from it.

Am I my own savior? Surely not. I cannot save my self from eternal judgement, Christ alone and His perfect grace has done that but what about in my today? Am I the savior of today? Am I the super mom of the week? Can I be enough and all for my family and complete and finish all the jobs that I have been tasked with perfect execution? Of course not! But why do I act as if I can? Why do I believe I have to?

The Lord has called me out into deep water I’m far from the boat of comfort but for some reason when I left or at least when I was walking I found myself starting to sink. How did my eye divert from the only one that holds me up. How did I leave grace in the boat?

Why has grace been defined in my mind as an excuse rather than a reason? The fact is I fall short. I am made new. A new creation but I am still in a sinful corrupt body who so longs to live by the flesh and live by the seen rather than the unseen. Even as I write this I think in my head…”how ridiculous you should know and understand this by now.” Ugh, the inner critic! The judge!

But if grace was so easy to accept so easy to live by all would be doing it but few do. No, grace…it’s a call it’s a gift. It beckons it heaters to a life of freedom. A life of freedom from the the chains of judgement and condemnation. It’s a call to be in the process of perfecting not to be perfect this side of heaven. It stands in the gap from missing the mark to hitting the mark. It shows up where I never could and it produces fruit that I could never produce on my own. It opens the door to take steps through doors that are too much for me. It opens path ways that would have otherwise been closed. It makes my worth measured by an immeasurable God rather than by the measure of man.

So, why do I embrace the chains? Are my chains a comfort? And to leave such chains is to live life trusting that what I do and who I am is not measured here but measured in heaven? Can I take steps to embrace the grace that is freely given to me and listen to voice of God rather than listen to those who measure what I do and who I am based upon a measure they have set?

Maybe grace in my every day beckons me to surrender my measuring stick and trust the Lord to to meet the mark. Maybe grace in my everyday, says I quit on trying to run the rat race of productivity and embrace production of eternal fruit. Maybe grace in the everyday says, I live a life I cannot live apart from God. My life is only livable if Christ lives through me and works through me to accomplish his perfect will.

Grace it’s what makes following Jesus possible.

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To Maintain Stuff or To Maintain Life: That Is The Question.

Lately I have been convicted of maintaining my junk rather than maintaining my life. I have had the overall feeling of being burdened. It’s like a weight on my shoulders I could not throw off and it constantly drug me down and sucked the life out of me.

I’m a homeschooling mom of 5 and my life is always busy and full of work. But our homeschooling and mothering does not feel like burdensome work. It is the constant cleaning and organizing of stuff that is accumulated by so many members that is soul sucking. I have even developed a hatred for throw pillows. I just look at them with complete contempt. The fact is cleaning and caring for a home will always be on the list of things to do but how much of my cleaning is because we simply have just too much stuff?

So after bringing this frustration to the Lord, I asked him what am I suppose to do? He reminded me that work will always be apart of life but I can choose what I work on. I can either choose to work on maintaining my stuff or I can choose to work to maintain a life?

The Lord, has already been changing our families heart on the type of lifestyle that he wants for us. We were born and bred suburban neighborhood dwellers and my idea of the perfect yard was a paved patio. But he is calling us to the right opposite. He is calling us to space and land. He is calling us to garden and farm and we have already been taking steps in that direction. But that lifestyle is not conducive with the time sucking management of stuff. I simply cannot keep a lifestyle of a backyard farm with a life style of accumulation of stuff.

So with that being said the Lord showed me that the two lifestyles produce fruit. The lifestyle of accumulation begets accumulation and the lifestyle of life begets life. When I accumulate, my stuff does not produce anything for me. I do not profit from having more stuff. And the more I accumulate the less I seem to be satisfied with and feel the need to accumulate more. (And no I’m not a hoarder lol). However, when I work to plant a garden it yields a crop. When I raise chickens, they yield eggs and or meat. Even cutting grass and grass clippings can be used to help create compost. This work yields produce that not only I can enjoy but others can enjoy and profit from as well.

Work will always be apart of the equation. But I can choose to work to maintain my stuff that brings no joy in my life and only stresses me out. Or I can choose to work on things that produce a fruit. When I work to maintain a life, then I am passing down a life to my children but if I work to maintain stuff then I pass down a life of excess and burden.

“Someone in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.” Jesus replied, “Man, who appointed me a judge or an arbiter between you?” Then he said to them, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.” And he told them this parable: “The ground of a certain rich man yielded an abundant harvest. He thought to himself, ‘What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.’ “Then he said, ‘This is what I’ll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store my surplus grain. And I’ll say to myself, “You have plenty of grain laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.” ’ “But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’ “This is how it will be with whoever stores up things for themselves but is not rich toward God.””
‭‭Luke‬ ‭12:13-21‬ ‭NIV‬‬

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Why the Children?

Why the Children? Why is it children are being targeted? Why are children murdered in the womb? Why are they being trafficked? Is it because they are just helpless and weak? Or are they precious and valuable to God and are weapons against evil?

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The Platitude of “Everything will be Okay”

As I have journeyed with Christ, one statement has left my tongue, “Everything will be Okay.”

It has left because too many times what this means is that the circumstantial trials we face will somehow become easier and return to normal. It’s this false idea that you will somehow return to a comfort in this world.

I don’t like to say, “everything will be okay, because who can see tomorrow except for God himself.” From my studies, I have never seen him speak, “everything will be ok.”

So what does God say when we are in trials and suffering? What does he speak to his people when are uneasy or when he calls us to follow him.

““Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go.”
‭‭Joshua‬ ‭1:7‬ ‭NIV‬‬

“but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”
‭‭Isaiah‬ ‭40:31‬ ‭NIV‬‬

“Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.”
‭‭Matthew‬ ‭16:24‬ ‭NIV‬‬

““Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.””
‭‭Matthew‬ ‭11:28-30‬ ‭NIV‬‬

“You will be hated by everyone because of me, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved.”
‭‭Matthew‬ ‭10:22‬ ‭NIV
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“Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you.”
‭‭1 Peter‬ ‭4:12‬ ‭NIV‬‬

“Do not be surprised, my brothers and sisters, if the world hates you.”
‭‭1 John‬ ‭3:13‬ ‭NIV‬‬

So do I say this because I want to squash your hope? Absolutely not! I say this, that this time of trial and suffering and unrest should not be a surprise to Gods people. The decay of the world is inevitable and God plainly says it.

“for you know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. While people are saying, “Peace and safety,” destruction will come on them suddenly, as labor pains on a pregnant woman, and they will not escape. But you, brothers and sisters, are not in darkness so that this day should surprise you like a thief. You are all children of the light and children of the day. We do not belong to the night or to the darkness. So then, let us not be like others, who are asleep, but let us be awake and sober.”
‭‭1 Thessalonians‬ ‭5:2-6‬ ‭NIV‬‬

Do not expect this world to become “good” do expect more persecution and more suffering. Do not put your hope in the idea “everything will be okay” meaning that the present sufferings will somehow fade away and we can go back to “comfort.” For our call is to be of sober mind while others are only concerned with comfort.

If this pandemic has done anything, it should have been an alarm clock to the church. A wake up call that we are still moving towards the day of the Lord and we should be preparing. We should be preparing not for “doomsday“ but for a time that we will be called into account for how we lived. We need to prepare ourselves and the younger generations to distinguish from truth and lie. We need to be whole heartedly in scripture testing what is spoken. We should not be relying others to tell us what to do but actively seeking Christ’s direction.

Once again, this is not a post to cause fear, it is not a post to squelch hope but it is a post to help those who seek to be comforted that it is only found in Christ. That everything in the present world won’t be ok but you can have peace in Christ. I tell you these truth not to scare or worry I tell you because I do not want you to be asleep.

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I Surrender All, because of All That I Have Been Given

Where do I begin? How do I start?

The Lord God has a hold on my heart. It’s a hold like I have never felt before. It’s a hold like, “the present danger that you see right now, does not compare to the coming wrath.” “I have CHOSEN you, you did not choose me.” I am humbled to my core. Nothing that I have is mine nothing that I own even my own life compares to what I have been given in Christ. It has put my eyes down cast it has caused a serious surrender. What do I have here in this life, my children, my home, my own life that I can hold up before God almighty and say it’s mine? None of it. None of it compares. Not one thing I have is mine. I cannot protect myself, I cannot protect my family. I cannot even do good, think good without Christ.

All I have I lay down before the feet of Christ because it has been his from the beginning. My heart is stirred. Who am I to be chosen? I am nothing no more than a worm in the ground. Who am I to speak? I am nothing, no qualifications of any sort. In the worlds eyes I am less than. God chose less than and I’m still wondering why? Why me? Lord I am nothing but he is everything. I have nothing, but he gives me everything. And all that I do have he has given it to me and it isn’t even for me to keep but to steward. So everything that I do have that he has given me I lay down in surrender.

My heart is overcome. My mind is overcome. I surrender because to not surrender is to place myself as God and I cannot even see what happens in the moment after next. Who am I to make the decisions? Who am I to choose what is best? I am not capable.

I have been appointed for eternal life. I have had my eyes opened and my heart renewed. With this I sacrifice all. Let the world destroy me because I have already been restored where they cannot go.

What do I do in this present age? What do I do now? I hand over what he has given me because it is His already. I obey his commands. I speak what he asks me to speak. I teach what he asks me to teach. I stand in the gap. I pray on my knees. I become radical in the eyes of the world. I am not comfortable here. This place is not my home. I do not belong here but have work to do here. I train and I instruct those who belong to him not to me. He uses me to prepare warriors for himself. Warriors who will fight a battle that I have not seen so who am I to not lay down my comfort of today for the preparation for tomorrow.

Oh God how merciful you are upon me. How gracious you would choose me. How humbled I am to be in your presence and to be apart of your work. I have been gifted beyond measure. All glory belongs to you.

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Who Can Understand the Word of God:Truth and Lies about studying scripture

What is required to study scripture on your own? Can an average person study scripture on their own and understand it? Do you need to have a degree or seminary background to understand deep theological truths? Is deep bible study just for pastors or theology professors? Are bible study books required to understand truth?

First, what does scripture say about understanding truth?

““I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear. But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. He will glorify me because it is from me that he will receive what he will make known to you. All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will receive from me what he will make known to you.””
‭‭John‬ ‭16:12-15‬ ‭NIV‬‬

““All this I have spoken while still with you. But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.”
‭‭John‬ ‭14:25-26‬ ‭NIV‬‬

According to God’s word, the only thing needed to understand scripture and truth to be revealed is the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is our teacher and our counselor. He will guide us into all truth and he will make known to us what is the Lords. He will bring to mind what we have been taught and will teach us all things.

Not all have the indwelling of the Spirit. It is only those who have received the good news of Christ. That he has come and died in our place for our sins. And that he rose again defeating death and making a way for us to have eternal life with him. When we repent of our sinful ways, accept the truth and believe in Him through faith He seals us with His Spirit.

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
‭‭John‬ ‭3:16‬ ‭NIV‬‬

“Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call.””
‭‭Acts‬ ‭2:38-39‬ ‭NIV‬‬

Now if you have the indwelling of the spirit there is no reason that you cannot study scripture for yourself and begin to have understanding.

The enemy would love nothing more than to convince Gods children to believe that they cannot understand his word. It benefits the the enemy for you to believe that you need special education or degrees to grow in maturity of faith. He would love for you to become dependent upon men rather than the Holy Spirit to tell you what you need to believe. When we place this dependence upon men and never reading and studying for ourselves we can easily be deceived.

If our understanding of scripture begins with sentences of, “Pastor ( ) said, ……..” then we have placed a man as the authority of scripture and not the The Lord Himself.

So with all of that being said, how do you actually study scripture? There are different methods of the mechanics of studying Gods word. They are just practical methods of breaking down text to take one part at a time.

To me for the most basic and most reliant on the Spirit method is this:

1. Choose a single verse, a few verses or a passage to study or seems to be challenging to you.

2. before trying to dissect its meaning: Pray for the Lord to clear your heart and mind of your own way of thinking. Then asking the Holy Spirit to teach you and give you understanding and ask for wisdom and God gives it freely.

3. Read the piece MULTIPLE times. Meditate on what is saying. (Meditate is thinking about the scripture and just rolling the ideas around in your head.)

4. Then start asking questions about that scripture. What are the facts, what are the promises, what are warnings. What are the truths.

5. If something profoundly stands out ask the Lord to reveal what you are to do with that. Ask how do I apply these truths to my life. Is there conviction of sin? Is there a call to surrender or sacrifice? Is there a challenge to change or a need for transformation of thinking.

If we get in a habit of studying God word this way and studying in context of his word he will indeed reveal truths to us and give us understanding.

There are several other simple methods that can help break down the scripture but the real power and real work comes from the Spirit highlighting the truth that He wants to teach you.

So, my challenge to you is this: if you are a believer and have never studied Gods word for yourself I pray that you ask the Lord to teach you how. Take a week to go over one passage and meditate on it and allow the Holy Spirit to reveal the Lords truth to you.

The church was not meant for you to sit in a pew and be fed but be taught how to eat. The church is a school and an equipping ground to teach skills so that we may go out and serve.

“So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.”
‭‭Ephesians‬ ‭4:11-16‬ ‭NIV‬‬

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Only God can fill the hole

I used this imagery to teach the kids about Gods love for us.
When we are born we have this hole inside our heart. It’s a missing puzzle piece. We feel it deep inside and sometimes we can explain it in words and others times it’s a feeling of longing or emptiness. I explained all people want this hole filled but so many people try use many different things to fill it. We use careers, relationships, and things to fill this hole. But all of those other puzzle pieces do not fit properly and the hole is not filled and we are not satisfied.
The hole is specifically a God sized puzzle piece. Anything less than him simply won’t fit and will not satisfy.
The enemy knows of this missing piece and as we search for other things besides God he places lies in our heart.
So if you have an emptiness about you a longing to be whole. Have you turned to the Lord? Are lies preventing you from seeking true wholeness in him?

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Turning away because it’s too uncomfortable.

Y’all I’m just on the preaching bandwagon today. My heart is just overwhelmed and the Lord just reveals things in my heart and I can’t do anything but speak.

This child and sex trafficking stuff has always been on my heart. I have always been so cautious with my kids. But even so I have been guilty of turning a blind eye. Not because I didn’t care but to look upon the evils that would harm children in such a way cuts down deep that it makes me physically ill. I turned because my mind would be overwhelmed and fearful but what I was really doing was turning because it was so uncomfortable to even think about. It hurt so bad to imagine these poor children and what they are suffering.

Over the last few months God has shown me the importance of looking upon the hurt and the pain in me first. I turned a blind eye to words like depression because I couldn’t handle the idea that I was experiencing that. He showed me that the only way I could move past it, is to look at it knowing I was held in the midst of it.

He then started placing trafficking even more heavily on my heart. I have cried out. Tears and snot running down my face for these kids and I knew I could not ignore it and I couldn’t turn away. The fact is as believers to look upon sin and the discomfort and hurt we experience is a fraction of hurt God the father experiences when he sees these things. He doesn’t turn a blind eye. He doesn’t scroll pass quickly trying to find comfort in something good. No, instead he sent his Son. He provided rescue, he provides healing, he provides restoration. As a believer I can’t turn away even though it is painful. I can’t look away and pretend it’s not there.

My greatest weapon I have is prayer. At times I feel helpless to do anything and a deceiving thought enters my mind, “prayer isn’t going to save these kids or it would have already happened.” It’s the enemy trying to beat me down to keep me from fighting. If you look at Ephesians 6 and the Armor of God and after you are completely suited up…the action for you to do is PRAY! “Pray in the Spirit, with all sorts of prayers and requests…” the enemy knows when we are on our knees and praying fervently there is no stopping Gods children.

When we are in prayer we need to remember exactly who God is. There is nothing done in the light or in the dark that he does not see. He knows the deeds of man and wickedness that hides. We are praying to a sovereign God who is over all and who will bring forth his judgement on his enemies. We need to pray for our own hearts to be revealed. To expose the sin in us and for God to correct our own behavior. We need to intercede for the hurting and the lost. We need to ask God his direction. Today it might be praying for the revealing what is done in the dark. It might be a time of fasting and dedicated prayer. It might be some other move he wants you to take in order to be the hands and feet of God. But we cannot do any of this if we remain in the comfort of ignorance and denial. We cannot be effective if we value our own comfort feeling above looking on and praying for those in need.

Praise God he did not look away from me in my most vulnerable and deplorable ways. Praise God he came with outstretched hands to save and secure me. Praise God he did not leave me to the wickedness in this world and even in the wickedness that lived in me. Let me not turn away. Let me not return to comfort while the defenseless is being abused.

“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.”
‭‭Ephesians‬ ‭6:10-18‬ ‭NIV‬‬

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What’s the difference between Bossiness and Leadership?

Oh man, so there is theme within our children lately of working together and playing kindly. It has been a serious struggle.

We have multiple leaders within our kids and they are navigating and learning the difference between leadership and bossiness. There are conflicts between extroverts and introverts some need constant people around other don’t mind to play it solo. The more easy going kids are refusing the follow the leading kids and the leading kids are flopping down and totally distraught at the fact they won’t play with them.

It’s a total mess. But within that mess I can see where God is preparing the leaders to lead in a loving way.

But in my knee jerk reaction to all the conflict and whining makes me want to lash out. In my flesh I want to yell out, “hey you are being a bossy brat! And no one wants to play with you!” quit doing that!

But realizing as a parent it’s my job to redirect and teach my kids and remind them who they are in Christ instead of letting the frustration reign.

I ask the two leaders what is it they really want? Do you care more about the game and someone playing it your way so you have fun? Or do you care more about having fun with the person?

And when confronted with that hard question God revealed in their own heart they were more concerned about themselves. I explained to them that if you play with only you in mind then it will only be you playing. But if we play and are more concerned about the other person then many will be drawn to you to play.

It the moments of frustration I think it’s hard to teach kids. Its hard not to let the flesh take over and yell out things that damage rather than build. The fact is God made two leaders and just like me or anyone else they are learning to become that leader. But since they have a sinful and selfish nature that leadership can turn to bossiness. As a parent I need eyes from to see past the sinful behavior and see the child for who God created them to be. To direct them toward him and cultivate who they are in him.

This is not an easy task. A lot of prayer and a lot of times me asking for forgiveness from my kids because I allowed the flesh to take over. When your children are in the throws of conflict or just simply driving you nuts, take a step back for a moment and ask God to see your child the way he sees them. Then you can direct them to the way He created them to be.