Living to Please God

I have recently been reading a book about believers in a country whose government tried to close the doors to Christianity. What struck me about this book was the pure passion and determination of these believers to share their faith with those around them. It  was often dangerous for them as they could lose their lives, but they were so filled with the power of the Holy Spirit that they did not care what happened to their lives, they just wanted to share the love of Christ with everyone around them.

It got me thinking about my own walk with God, my own passion for the things of God and my convictions about my faith.

 Where do they measure on the scale of the faith of the believers that I have just mentioned. I would love to say that I have that same burning passion all of the time coursing through my veins. I would love to tell you that I would gladly lay down my life in order for others to know Christ, but I would be a liar. Physical pain of any sort turns me into a baby and I just cannot focus on anything.

So what is the difference between my faith and theirs, yours and theirs? Why would they risk  their lives, and the lives of their family in order to share the message of God’s love with those around them?

I believe we can find some clues to this in the bible. The first clue I believe is important is that they understand and know without a doubt that if their physical bodies have been destroyed, they have another waiting for them with God, it is not built by human hands but by God.

With that confidence, they truly can face their lives being taken from them, as they have a different confidence, one not found in their flesh, but found in God.

2Corinthians 5: 1

Now we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands.

The next clue I believe that we can look into is the fact that the bible says that those who belong to God, live by faith, and not by sight, in other words they live by a knowledge and belief in God and his promises to them. They don’t doubt his existence, or disregard his word, spoken through the bible. They believe it, because he spoke it.  Therefore it is with that confidence in God, through the power of the Holy Spirit, that they are able to confidently share him with the people around them.

2Corinthians 5:7 – 10

We live by faith, not by sight.  We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord.  So we make it our goal to please him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it.  For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad. 

 Are these promises only for those believers or are they for all of us? They are for all of us, God is not into exclusivity, what he promises (Eternal life, His Holy Spirit, abundant life, freedom from the power of death and sin, a personal and intimate relationship with Him, His wisdom and power, and many more) he makes available to everyone of us.

God wants to do this in your life as well, he wants to pour out his spirit into your life in a very real and personal way, he wants to let you experience all that he has for you, he wants to so fill you with his passion for the people around you, that no matter what the cost of sharing your faith, you would be willing.

 Another clue that I believe that we need to look into is this, when God promised the believers that they would be filled with the Holy Spirit and his Power that is exactly what they got.

 The Holy Spirit is the very spirit of God, living and working within us to enable us to do all that he has asked us to. The Holy Spirit comes with power, power to overcome sin, fear, hopelessness, feelings of abandonment and not being good enough. He enables us to truly do all that he asks us to do, even if it means laying down our very lives to share the good news of his great love with other people.

Brothers and Sisters in Christ, I don’t know where you are on your journey with the lord, but I do know that Jesus wants to flood you with his Holy Spirit power, he wants to fill you abundantly, in order that you will leave your old, sinful ways behind and instead desire his righteousness and love. He wants to transform your thinking and your heart in order that your priorities and desires would line up with his plans and purposes for your life. He wants you to carry with boldness, his message of love and reconciliation to all those around you.

If you have never asked him for a greater passion and infilling of his Holy Spirit, why not do it now? Pray this prayer with me, and as we seek him out together, I know that we will be amazed at all that he will do in and through us.

Dear Lord Jesus

I come before you today and ask that you will fill me up with a fresh anointing of your Holy Spirit. I pray that you will give me a passion for you and your righteousness, I pray that you will fill me with your love for my fellow man and that I will possess your boldness to share your great love and mercy with the people I encounter in my daily life.

Father, let me not grow weary in doing good, as you promise in your word that in due season I will reap the reward of spending myself on behalf of others. Help me to be generous with my life as I pour more of you into them. I ask this all in Jesus precious name,

Amen.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Commitment of an Intercessor
Then Moses returned to the Lord, and said, “Alas, this people has committed a great sin, and they have made a god of gold for themselves. But now, if Thou wilt, forgive their sin—and if not, please blot me out from Thy book which Thou hast written!” (Exod. 32:31-32)

The prayer of Moses is remarkable. Moses was not only the leader of Israel, he was an intercessor as well. Ultimately, an intercessor gives up all personal advantage for the sake of those for whom he prays. Moses knew he personally had favor with God. Yet he presented himself as a remarkable portrait of one irreversibly committed to Israel’s transformation. He said, “If Thou wilt, forgive their sin—and if not, please blot me out from Thy book.”

Moses said, in effect, that he was not serving for individual gain or glory – this was not about him, but about the people he loved and served, rebellious as they were. The soul of Moses was bound together with the future of Israel. Similarly, we must see ourselves irreversibly bound together with the lives of those we pray for, both family and friends, as well as our community and nation. Moses would not be blessed, honored or pleased apart from the fulfillment of God’s promise to the Hebrews. If God would not forgive them, He could not have Moses either. Israel and Moses had become a package deal.

Have you struggled with situations in your personal life in which you cannot seem to break through? Perhaps you are spending too much time on your needs and not enough time praying for others. Make a prayer list of people with desperate needs, and as you intercede for them, see if the Holy Spirit doesn’t break through for you, too. Indeed, include your enemies and those who have hurt you. Remember the story of Job. When he prayed for his friends, God healed him (see Job 42:10). Intercession not only transforms the world, but also transforms us.

Lord Jesus, I am awed at Your willingness to show mercy. You actually changed Your mind about judgment on sinners because of one man, Moses. Lord, in my world and times, let me be that one who so delights You, who is so intimate with You, that my prayer for mercy outweighs Your judgment to destroy the disobedient. May the favor You have given to me be multiplied to those who yet do not know You, and may it spread until all the earth is filled with Your glory!

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Recently updated and revised, The Power of One Christlike Life carries a cargo of gold from the heart of a man after God’s heart. If you have never read this book by Pastor Frangipane, it contains the nectar of his walk with God. This book is freighted with revelation about the nature of God in Christ, and how the key to everything spiritual is found in the pursuit of Christ’s likeness.

Available in paperback for $9.75 (retail $13.50)
or
eBook for $6.75 (retail $7.85)

Limited time offer.

Visit our Specials page for more information

 

Faithful Friend
By Asher Intrater

One of the most important characteristics of a godly person is to be faithful. That means to be faithful to your friends, a faithful friend. The edition of our book “Covenant Relationships” in Hebrew is called, “Faithful Friend.” Yeshua said that the ultimate goal of discipleship was to produce friends for Himself (John 15:15).

“Pursue love” – I Corinthians 14:1

To pursue love means to pursue people by means of love. Being a faithful friend demands initiative and effort. It does not just wait for someone to come along. It reaches out to demonstrate faithfulness to others. Saul (Paul) blessed Onisiphorus because he searched and found Paul when he was in prison (II Timothy 1:17). Paul also rejoiced to do the same thing; he left a successful ministry opportunity to search out his friend Titus. Finding Titus was considered a greater “triumph” than success in ministry (II Corinthians 2:14-15).

“He loved them to the end” – John 13:1.

Yeshua loved His disciples all the way to the end. Being a faithful friend involves a process. It is a series of tests. It has a price to pay. That price increases along the way until it demands faithfulness even unto the death (Revelation 2:10). Faithfulness is a long path of dialogue, confrontation, forgiveness, disappointment, pain, and sacrifice. To be faithful is to go all the way with another person.

“If your brother sins against you go to him and rebuke him between you and him alone. If he hears you, you have won your brother” – Matthew 18:15.

This verse more than any other describes the process of covenant dialogue from a faithful friend to another when there is a problem. The purpose is not just moral confrontation but an effort at restoring relationship. To be faithful you must continually enter into honest loving conversations to correct problems and restore relationships. There is no such thing as human relationship without problems.

If you love Me, keep My commandments” – John 14:15 (13:34; 15:9; 15:10; 15:12; 15:16).

Love is something we are commanded to do. It is based on obedience, not on emotions. Love has emotions but is not dependent on them. It is not even dependent on other people. Trust is dependent on others’ trustworthiness. However, we can love people before they are trustworthy. Yeshua loved the whole world (John 3:16), but He trusted no one (John 2:25).

All people are basically unfaithful in their “human” nature, but God is faithful to us in spite of our unfaithfulness to Him (Romans 3:4). Likewise to be faithful to someone is a unilateral decision on our part. Be faithful even if no one else in the world is. Choose to walk in loyalty and integrity; in humility and grace.

A good relationship demands the mutual faithfulness of both sides. However, your being faithful to that relationship is your side alone. A good husband will decide to be a good husband to his wife regardless of what kind of wife she is (and vice versa). We do what is right “as unto the Lord (Ephesians 5:21, 22; 6:1, 6:7).”

“A brother is born for adversity” – Proverbs 17:17.

To be faithful is to be aware when a friend is in need or in trouble. That is the time to run to be close. It is hard to demonstrate faithfulness when everything is going well for the other. When the going gets rough is when we get going to help. Those are the choice opportunities.

“Make for yourself friends through unfaithful mammon…” – Luke 16:9.

Yeshua emphasizes here the simple point that friends are more important than money. He does not mean to “buy” friends in a manipulative, controlling manner. Rather, money can be a tool in building relationships. Anything you can buy with money is less important than friendship. Everything in this world is temporary. Only faithful relationships are eternal.

Money is not a means to purchase goods for ourselves, but a means to bless people. People are often in financial need. Money can be used to demonstrate faithfulness. When you use money to help others, you raise the opportunity to develop trust.

“Many a man declares his own loving-kindness, but a man of faithfulness, who can find?” – Proverbs 20:6.

In this world today, many people speak of love, but a person who is faithful to his friends is a rare commodity. Let’s be one of them.

Recently updated and revised, The Power of One Christlike Life carries a cargo of gold from the heart of a man after God’s heart. If you have never read this book by Pastor Frangipane, it contains the nectar of his walk with God. This book is freighted with revelation about the nature of God in Christ, and how the key to everything spiritual is found in the pursuit of Christ’s likeness.

Available in paperback for $9.75 (retail $13.50)
or
eBook for $6.75 (retail $7.85)

Offer expires July 20, 2011

Visit our Specials page for more information

 

Teens Need to Belong

One of the most powerful influences on young people today is their need to belong—to fit in and to be accepted by those they consider to be their peers.

Research shows that the need to belong is growing as our culture fragments into smaller and smaller pieces and divorce fractures family units. Belonging can’t be bought, it can’t be forced, but it can be taught, nurtured and modeled. Why should a parent nurture their teen’s sense of belonging in their own family? Because if they don’t, the teen will go on a quest to find belonging in all the wrong places.

While the powerful drive to belong can be a force for good if their peers are of good character, all too often it can lead a teen to emulate the more popular kids who are “characters”. Teens may simply not know how to achieve a sense of belonging in a healthy way. They think they want an in with the “in” crowd, so they act and look just like them. It’s an odd combination, because at the same time they also want to be unique and independent.

As adults we tend to forget how important it is at that age to fit in. So, we might focus on the negative external representations of the teen’s need to belong — their anger, changed demeanor or misbehavior — rather than on what is precipitating it. The result is a lot of battles. But that just adds to their feelings of not belonging anywhere, even at home. And if your child isn’t feeling a sense of belonging at home, they will seek it somewhere else, regardless of the cost. We call such kids “at-risk” because they will do anything to fit in or to feel an intimate closeness to someone of the opposite (or same) sex.

I’ve worked with literally thousands of teenagers over the years, and I’ve only seen a handful who were genuinely rebellious. Whether experimenting with drugs, promiscuity, reckless behavior, or even attempting suicide, in almost every case the bad behaviors were expressions of a loss or deep need for belonging that was unfulfilled. Yes, they were going about finding belonging in the wrong way, but let’s not forget that the outward expressions aren’t the real issue. Parents need to dig beneath the surface and try to find what their child is seeking or covering up through their misbehavior. The kids aren’t just going against everything you’ve taught them for the sake of making you angry, they are seeking to belong somewhere, or they are using their behavior to covertly raise a red flag saying, “I don’t know how to get out of where I am at.”

Uncovering the cause may be something you can do yourself, or with the help of a counselor if things have progressed too far such that your relationship has been damaged. In any event, begin to ask questions about their feelings and needs and don’t judge the answers they give. Don’t tell them what to think or how to feel; just let them talk. It may take a little while to convince them that aliens haven’t taken over their parents and replaced them with strangely talkative being, but keep at it. This isn’t a one-time thing. Do it next week…and the week after. And keep on doing it. You’re building a valuable and meaningful connection and also a feeling of belonging, right at home, so they don’t have to seek it elsewhere.

A teen’s drive to belong will never be so severe if they feel as though they completely belong in their own family and find safety and comfort in their own home. A sense of belonging in the family comes from unconditional love and acceptance and encouragement, but it can also come from simple things, like:

  • Parents being respectful of their children’s opinions and not cutting them down
  • The whole family attending events where one child is performing
  • Celebrating successes of the children and holding them up by having a trophy wall or case
  • Having lots of photos of the kids around the house
  • Having certain things that each child is depended on to do in the home — something they can take pride in
  • Listening carefully when the child speaks
  • Not being overly critical about the kids or your spouse
  • Having a pet for each child to love and be responsible to take care of
  • Allowing the children to help plan family events or how to redecorate the house or their bedroom
  • Never talking negatively about one child to another (they will eventually know you re doing the same about them)
  • Pulling the whole family together to make major decisions or announcements
  • Having family traditions and special times together that can be looked forward to
  • Respecting the teen’s age and allowing more freedoms (with boundaries), usually before you think they are prepared for it
  • Building up the child’s pride in the extended family or heritage, not dragging it down with gossip about relatives
  • Spending one-on-one time with each child daily (for a shorter time) and weekly (for a longer time).

Some parents make the mistake that if they allow their teen to do just about anything they want to do, they will have a better relationship and the child will feel more like they belong. But just the opposite is true. Kids need to know they have a mom and a dad, and everything that represents–including discipline and rules. That adds a sense of belonging in the home and in the family. Unconditional but responsible love from parents is the only stability in their otherwise unstable and unreliable world.

It’s difficult to have a meaningful sense of belonging without also having a meaningful sense of self-worth. And self-control is a byproduct of self-worth. So one of our most crucial jobs as parents is to help our kids come to an understanding of who they are. There are lots of voices telling them to be like this or be like that (even their leaders at church), but we need to ground them in a sense of purpose and meaning that tells them, “I am this person, not because of what others think or say, but because of who God made me to be. God has a special plan for me.” It’s also helpful to set standards that the whole family believes in and stands by so that when the teen is encouraged to do wrong by their peers they will immediately know, “This goes against my family’s values.”

Every day you have an opportunity to invest in your teen in a way that gives them a sense of belonging in your family. Every day that you take advantage of that opportunity, you strengthen their self-worth and self-control, and help prepare them for a successful future. Let me suggest that you start that process today. There really is no time to waste!

We talked about this issue in-depth on our radio program last weekend called “A Teen’s Desire to Belong.” To listen online look for the program dated July 16, 2011 at http://www.parentingtodaysteens.org.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Mark Gregston is an author, speaker, radio host, and the founder and director of Heartlight, a therapeutic boarding school located in East Texas. Call 903-668-2173. Visit http://www.heartlightministries.org,  or to read other articles by Mark, visit http://www.markgregston.com.

 

 

Backyard Musings

 I live in a region of a country that is prone to extreme temperature fluctuations, and as I sit on my back deck the temperature is currently 28 degrees Celsius. Yes I have to admit that I much prefer the heat to the cold and dreary days that I have experienced. I prefer to walk around with no shoes and a tank top than having just my eyes poking out from my hat and scarf when it is minus 40 degrees Celsius. As I said extreme temperatures is a common thing where I live.

 These temperatures have got me thinking about the extremes that we experience in every day life, like hate and love, cold and hot, dark and light, bitterness and forgiveness, joy and sadness, the list is endless for all of the extremes that we experience in our daily lives.

 I have been reading about King David recently and he was a man of extremes, he had extreme highs and lows on the road to becoming king of Israel. He experienced the anointing of God, only to be hated by most men around him. They were jealous of him and his abilities, his strength and power.

 But as you read in the book of Psalms David had a heart that was open and honest with God, he held nothing back from God, his fears, hopes, dreams, reliance on God and his deep knowledge that God was the one that was leading and directing him to become a King.

 King David was a weak human like you and I but he turned his heart towards God all of the time when he was being pursued by his enemies, when he sinned against God he repented, when he was sad, he expressed it, when he felt joy he practically sang it in his writings and when he knew that he needed strength to conquer his enemies, he turned to God, whom he said, was his Rock and Salvation, the God in whom he could trust.

I love the Psalms as it is a place that I have found much love and comfort and encouragement over the years, as I have explored them, I have discovered like King David did, that God is our rock of refuge, that his love is everlasting and passionate towards us.

I have discovered that God is my help in times of trouble, my hope when all seems lost, my anchor to my soul, the song in my heart and the joy that floods my heart when I am sad. I have discovered through the Psalms that God is indeed all that I need to strengthen me, to help me to live a life that is righteous and brings Glory to God.

 I would like to share with you a couple of my favorite Psalms; I know that they will encourage you as they have me over the years.

 The first that I want to share with you is found in Psalm 91.

This Psalm speaks of God’s strength, his protection, and his great love for me, I have read this Psalm so many times over the years and each time I read it, I discover a new nugget of truth in it.

Psalm 91      
1He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.   
2I will say of the LORD, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.”     
3Surely he will save you from the fowler’s snare and from the deadly pestilence.     
4He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.     
5You will not fear the terror of night, nor the arrow that flies by day,     
6nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness, nor the plague that destroys at midday.     
7A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come near you.     
8You will only observe with your eyes and see the punishment of the wicked.     
9If you make the Most High your dwelling— even the LORD, who is my refuge—     
10then no harm will befall you, no disaster will come near your tent.     
11For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways;     
12they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.  13You will tread upon the lion and the cobra; you will trample the great lion and the serpent.     
14“Because he loves me,” says the LORD, “I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name.     
15He will call upon me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him.     
16With long life will I satisfy him and show him my salvation.”

 Like I said, this Psalm has really ministered to me a great deal over the years, my prayer for you as you read it, that you will realize that when we make God our shelter, and when we trust him with our hearts and life, he will indeed protect us from all harm.

 He will be your shield and shelter and there will be nothing that can harm you. Yes there are bad things that happen to us, but when we take that moment and remember that God is our strength, that he is the one that will use every bad thing in our lives to strengthen our relationship with him and our dependence on him, we can go through whatever trial we may be facing in confidence, knowing that he has us and that we will be strengthened and not crushed by the experience!.

 God’s love for you is so passionate and he will do all that is necessary in your life to get your to a point where you are as passionate for him as he is for you, if you have never trust God as your savior before and would like to do that today, all you have to do to have a relationship with God, and be saved and set free from the penalty that your sin will bring you is to pray this simple prayer with me.

 Dear Lord Jesus

I acknowledge that I am in need of a savior for my sins; you came to this earth to be that savior. On my own I do not measure up to the righteousness required by God to enter into his presence, but by your sacrifice on the cross for my sins, I can ask God to forgive me of my sins, and come freely into his presence.  Forgive me today of my sins I pray. I believe that God sent you Jesus to die for my sins on the cross and that you are the son of God. I thank you that I am now your child. Please teach me how to live according to your ways, In Jesus name,

Amen.

 

 

 

 

 

The Over-Involved Parent

One of the most difficult things about parenting is to keep your level of involvement in balance as they get older and need more independence and less controlling.

I get asked a lot, “Am I doing enough for my teen?” “Am I doing too much?” “How do I tell the difference?” When it comes to parental involvement, there are two extremes.

On the one hand we have “helicopter parents.” These parents hover over their children so much that it can keep them from growing up. This is usually done with the best of intentions and motives, but not only does it hinder the maturing process, it frustrates the children as well. Helicopter parenting sends an inescapable message, “You are incapable of making good decisions, so I’m going to do it for you.”

It’s natural for parents to want to protect their children from making mistakes. None of us want to see our teens hurt by bad choices. The truth, though, is that mistakes are a vital part of growing up. Kids need to make mistakes, because they mostly learn by the consequences of those mistakes. It is tough for most parents to allow their children to experience any kind of pain from consequences, but it’s vital if the child isn’t learning and maturing any other way.

Of course, the opposite problem is when parents are under-involved. But even though “absentee parents” can scar their children’s psyche and self-image, I’ve observed that their kids tend to be pretty good at making decisions and taking responsibility—they’ve had to. I came from a home like that, at least as far as my dad was concerned; he wasn’t very involved in my life. As a result, I was forced to learn a lot for myself. I missed out on some things that could have helped me be a better man, and I spent years struggling with notions that there must be something wrong with me that my dad didn’t want to spend time with me—but I did mature.

So, you might ask which of these two extremes is “better” for teens. As I’ve said, neither extreme is good; balance is the best form of parenting. But if you need to know, I’ve discovered that the vast majority of kids who have been brought to me for help have come from over-involved parents; parents who tend to revolve their own lives around their children. It seems counter-intuitive, but it is true — over-involved parents often produce under-mature and frustrated teens who act out just to force their independence.

Why do some parents become over-involved? It’s usually more about the parent’s insecurities and fears than it is about their teenager’s actions.

To prevent mistakes. Some parents adopt the mistaken notion that they can control their children into doing right. That may work (at least to a degree) while the kids are in the home, but what will happen when they leave home? You know what will happen. Like a slingshot, they’ll try on everything their parents sheltered them from. I can name a string of the most outrageous and influential cultural icons and entertainers today who came from strict homes like that.

To extend neediness. Some parents struggle with the notion that their teen can make good decisions on their own. Rather than a validation of the job they have done to prepare their teen for independent living, they fear they will no longer be needed. So, they force being needed. Seeking personal validation by forcing your child to need you is an inappropriate and selfish way to parent.

To alleviate fears. As the saying goes, “It’s a jungle out there.” The more we know about the challenges and dangers that face our teens, the harder it can be to let them ever leave the safety of the zoo (our home). But a wise parent will trust in God and in what they have taught their child. They’ll allow them to begin making “survival training” forays into the jungle. How else will they learn to live  in that jungle?

Because it has worked pretty well for over decade. Mostly, parents got into the mode of being in complete control when their kids are young children, and they fail to realize that they need to gradually back off such controlling when their children reach the teen years.

Telling your teenager how to feel, what to think, or what to wear (within reason) are all signs of over-involvement. These are signs that you are probably doing too much for them at their age. Again, this could be done with the best of intentions, but it produces damaging results —  just the opposite of what you are trying to accomplish. If you shelter your kids too much all of their lives, they aren’t going to be prepared to respond properly to the real world on their own, so it will likely consume them.

It’s also important to remember that your level of involvement is also almost certainly going to vary from depending on their age. Some children need more guidance, direction or freedoms than others. Even so, I encourage parents to err on the side of trusting their kids a little more than they think they should, rather than a little less. Be sensitive to the way each individual child responds, and tailor your level of involvement accordingly.

The bottom line is this; we need to strike a balance in how involved we are with our teenagers. We need to live our own life, and allow our kids to live theirs. Of course, certain boundaries must be observed, obvious dangers avoided, and regular check-ins made, but outside of that, simply find ways that you can enjoy and celebrate life together.

Above all else, let me encourage you to maintain a strong relationship with your teen. It doesn’t mean hovering over them and controlling them, nor does it mean it’s time for you to hang up the parenting hat and retire. It means intentionally having fun together and getting to know the adult that is growing within them. It means being a head coach, encourager and sometimes a cop and judge, but never a nanny or their shadow.

If your child knows beyond any doubt that you love and trust them, it changes the way they view every interaction with you and their world. If they need more time with you, be sure to notice that and respond to it. If they act like you’re too involved, then back off, but never so much that you lose touch. Trust what you have taught them and the principles you have sown into their hearts and minds. And remember that the goal of parenting in the teen years is not to make them perfect kids, but to become successful, responsible and independent adults.

We talked about this issue in-depth on our radio program last weekend called “Parents Who Are Involved.” To listen online look for the program dated July 9, 2011 at http://www.parentingtodaysteens.org.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Mark Gregston is an author, speaker, radio host, and the founder and director of Heartlight, a therapeutic boarding school located in East Texas. Call 903-668-2173. Visit http://www.heartlightministries.org , or to read other articles by Mark, visit http://www.markgregston.com

 

 

King David inquired of the Lord

 Recently I have been reading about the life of King David, he was a fascinating man who loved the Lord God Almighty and had a heart that was willing to be led by God.

 To be honest, I have never fully understood that passion and devotion that one could have for God, until a few years ago, when the lord started to reveal himself to me on a more regular basis.

What do I mean by that? Well the more that I read the word of God, the more I wanted to know, the more I wanted to know the more I prayed and asked the Holy Spirit to teach me and lead me into the whole truth of God. It was like a circle going around and around, I hungered for more of God, he revealed himself to me through his word, prayer, books, and insights and the more that he did that, the more I wanted to know him.

What I did not realize was that he was establishing me in his word, filling me with his wisdom, and giving me a passion and desire for his way of righteous living. I felt like very dry sand, and every time he would reveal something to me, I would soak it all up. I must admit that I still feel that way.

That is why the life of King David fascinates me as much as it does, because here was a young man who at the age of about 15 was anointed by the Prophet Samuel to become king over the nation of Israel.  He was 15, and wet behind the ears when it came to life, but God looked at David’s heart and knew that he could mold him into becoming a great king one day.

Then the training began. David faced Goliath, and won. He faced Saul who tried to take his life, he faced many other trials, tribulations and disappointments on the way to becoming the Shepherd King of Israel. All of these things did one thing; they built David into a man who sought the Lord God Almighty.

David had been filled with the Holy Spirit, one of the few people in the Old Testament to have that happen to them, and so he knew that for him to survive those years on the run from Saul and countless other terrifying enemies, he would have to inquire of the Lord to know what and how to handle it all.

I don’t know about you, but that gives me great encouragement, that even though David faced all of those terrifying situations in his life, he sought the Lord and the lord gave him the needed directions in order to overcome the enemies that he faced.

In 2 Samuel 5, we read the account of David finally been installed as King over both Judah and Israel, the northern and southern kingdoms. Because of all that David had gone through to get to this point, and all of the times he had sought the Lord and had overcome his enemies, he knew that when he captured Jerusalem and took up residence in that city, “that the Lord had established him as king over Israel and had exalted his kingdom for the sake of his people Israel” David knew!

Some of you reading this may have had a word from the lord years ago about what he was planning on doing in your life, and are yet to see it come to fruition. I want to encourage you today to take a lesson from David, in all that time that had passed from the first anointing to when David actually took the throne, God was preparing him to become king.

 God does that with all of us, he calls us and when we respond to him, he sets about developing our relationship with him. He builds our trust in him and at the same time he develops our character in order for us to handle the tasks that he sets before us to do.

 King David, allowed the lord to be his teacher and he asked the lord for directions for the next steps. By including God in all of his decisions, the lord was able to establish David as king, bring about the unity of the nation of Israel and have them all under one leader again.

 David wanted to please God, because he knew that he had been called by God to a specific purpose, that calling was strong and even though he did not get to walk into it right away, he still wanted to live his life in a way that would bring about God’s will for the nation of Israel.

 I know that in my own life, when the lord had told me many years ago that he was sending me to a new country with my husband to do the works that he had prepared in advance for me to do, I did not jump into that work immediately. Trust me, I thought I would, and I thought that it would be a breeze, but the reality is that it has taken many years, many tears, many growth opportunities and much seeking the lord to bring me to the place where I am even now.

  Have I fully reached all that God has for me here, no I do not believe so, therefore I realize that I will have many more opportunities to grow and hone my skills, but I do know that the lord has established my faith in Him. He has established my love for him and his righteousness and he has established and set me on the path that will not only bring me great joy and character development, but it will bring him much Glory as I reflect him to others in my life.

If you are at a point in your walk with the lord, and think that maybe he has forgotten about you or you are no longer useful or that you are not yet doing what you know he has placed in your heart to do, take heart, The lord, through the Holy Spirit is teaching, developing and growing you into the role that he has prepared for you.

Continue to pray, read your bible, and seek the lord, he will without a doubt fill you with a deeper passion for him, and he will show you where your personality, skills and character, will be the most beneficial to the purposes of the kingdom of God.

I am sure that King David felt impatient with the process some days, just wanting to walk into the role that God had said was his, but because he remained teachable to God’s ways he was able to become a mighty King and be used greatly by God.

God wants to use you as well, enjoy the process, allow him to work in and through you and you too will be used in a mighty way by God.

 Blessings to you.

7 Pillars of Healthy Conflict

When we’re in the middle of the struggle with a teen and the emotions are raging, it’s hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel—or if we do see it, it may look a lot like an oncoming freight train.

In fact, nothing can be more disruptive in the home than a teenager going through a period of intense conflict with their parents. My dear friend, James McDonald says, “There’s no pain like family pain.”  Yet despite the troubles it can bring, conflict can be helpful and strengthen your relationship if it is handled right.  It is not a sign of disaster and failure—it’s a necessary part of progress toward maturity.  So, don’t back away from it…welcome it!

Let me share with you my Seven Pillars of Engaging in Healthy Conflict:

I. Look at conflict as an opportunity

Conflict presents an opportunity for both you and your child to learn and grow.  There are lessons in the struggle you are facing, and if you don’t learn them, you are probably going to have to repeat them until you do.  Conflict and struggle can bring us together and deepen our relationship with our teens.  When you come out on the other side (and remember—you will!) you will find yourself and your child in a much better place if you use the conflict to grow and develop into a better parent.

II. Focus on the big picture

There’s an old saying that goes like this: “When you’re up to your armpits in alligators, it’s hard to remember why you’re in the swamp in the first place.”  You didn’t know what you were getting into when you signed on to be a parent; none of us does.  But those day to day details and arguments can overwhelm you so that you forget what the main purpose is.  We’re preparing our children to function as responsible, mature, independent adults.  Conflict is part of the preparation process, not a diversion from it.

III. Make changes in yourself

The only person I can change is me.  I can work with my child to encourage and help them, but I need to make any necessary changes that God has revealed to me through the conflict and trust Him to change my child.  Of course we all want to “fix” our teens.  It is a parent’s job to guide them.  But nagging, fussing, fighting and yelling isn’t going change behavior for the better.  The temporary trials that we are facing are part of God’s plan to instruct us and help us learn perseverance.  If your trouble making you a better parent, a better spouse, a better person, a better Christian?  Don’t miss the opportunity you have to grow.

IV. Guard your marriage relationship

So often trouble with a teen, especially if it has escalated into serious conflict, can drive a wedge between mom and dad.  Blame can get thrown around and disagreements over how to respond to the problem can cause tension.  Remember this—long after your teen is grown and gone, you’re still going to be together.  Don’t allow today’s problem to rob you of that vital relationship.  Another great benefit of sticking close together is that you can provide encouragement and help and support to each other.  It’s far easier to go through a hard time when you have someone to help.  It reminds me of what Benjamin Franklin told the delegates to the colonial Continental Congress. He said, “We must hang together, or we will hang separately.”

V. Talk, talk, talk

Now, when I say “talk” in this context, please understand that I’m not including yelling, arguing, correcting, lecturing, berating, or condemning; I’m talking about a two-way conversation.  That kind of open communication builds relationships that can withstand the storms of conflict.  Take the time to sit down and converse with your teen.  A young lady who is living with us at Heartlight told me about a recent phone communication with her father.  We allow the kids thirty minute phone calls, and she was giddy that she had just spent 23 of those minutes on the phone with her dad…it was the longest conversation they had ever had!  When she told me that, there was a sparkle in her eyes and hope in her voice.  I knew things were getting better for them, and they will for you as well if you make real conversation a priority.

VI. Give your child hope

We’ve been talking about hope primarily as it relates to parents, but it is vital that your child knows you believe in them.  Perhaps the single most damaging thing parents say to their children is, “You’ll never change.”  That kind of negativity and hopelessness is devastating to a teenager.  Your hope and belief in them is fuel for the engine of change.  They need to know that there is a way out, and that you aren’t going to give up on them.  That will help them continue on the path to positive change.  I can’t overemphasize how important this is.

VII. Remember that you’re not alone

I hear it frequently when I talk to parents after I speak somewhere.  They will say something like, “I thought I was the only one who had that problem with his teenager.”  It’s the best kept secret in your church and community.  But it doesn’t have to be so.  If you are struggling with conflict with your teen, I encourage you to seek out other parents in a similar situation, for support and encouragement.  There may a small group at your church, or some organization in your community (and if there isn’t maybe you can start one) where you can find friends who will pray for and encourage and counsel you.  When you struggle together, you get through it stronger.  Instead of waiting until everything’s perfect, find other parents right now and be a help to each other as you go through the process together.

Psalm 27:13 is one of my favorite verses.  It’s as though it was written for parents of teenagers.  It says, “I would have despaired unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.”  It’s easy for us to become skeptical and think that things will never get any better when we have ongoing conflict with a teenager, but take heart.  When you don’t feel like God is there, and you feel like everything is dying around you, you will see the goodness of God if you look for it.  That oncoming light isn’t a train; it’s the light of hope that will draw you to a better place.  You don’t have to hold on to despair.  A good day is coming.  I encourage you to not give up, but to hang on and hang in there until you see it come to pass.

We talked about this issue in-depth on our radio program last week called “Hope in Conflict.”  To listen online look for the program dated June 25, 2011 at http://www.parentingtodaysteens.org.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Mark Gregston is an author, speaker, radio host, and the founder and director of Heartlight, a therapeutic boarding school located in East Texas. Call 903-668-2173. Visit http://www.heartlightministries.org, or to read other articles by Mark, visit http://www.markgregston.com.

There is nothing worse than living with a teen spinning out of control, and no worse feeling than the hopelessness parents experience in the process.  If you are such a parent, we invite you to come to our next Family in Crisis Retreat, July 14-16, led personally by Mark Gregston.  Learn more here:  www.familycrisisretreat.com