Decision-Making Muscle Building

Are you helping your teenager build decision-making muscles, or will they be as weak as children when they leave home?

 Teens need to be allowed to make more and more decisions, but as they do they will naturally make mistakes.  It’s a messy process!  The real problem comes when parents don’t allow them to make decisions.  That may be easier and less stressful on the parents, but it isn’t doing the kids any favors. In fact, it leaves kids weak and unable to make good decisions after they leave home.

 Here’s how I see it.  In the younger years, parents mostly need to stand in front of their kids to prevent them from taking a dangerous course of action.  As they grow older, parents should gradually move along side their kids, encouraging smaller decisions.  But when the teen years come around, parents need to mostly get out of the way when it comes to decisions that aren’t of a permanent or life-altering nature. Getting out of the way will be a first step toward strengthening a teenager’s decision-making skills for the rest of their life.

 Change your teaching style.  The way you interacted with your children when they were young was needed to keep them safe, but a wise parent will shift their style (not their beliefs and convictions) to match the age and maturity of their children.  The learning and thinking styles of kids change as their brains change, and they develop the ability to reason.  That also means shifting from demanding to coaching, from managing to mentoring, and from commanding to imparting wisdom. However, it doesn’t mean backing off.  In fact, more than ever, parents need to be vigilant, watchful and strong in the teen years, because errors in judgment need to be pointed out and dealt with.

 If  how you successfully parented before isn’t working now, or if your teen is frustrated and showing some signs of rebellion, it’s time that you make a change.  In fact, it’s far beyond the right time.  You’ve had your opportunity to instill values; now it is time for those values to be played out in your child’s decisions.  Then, when they make a mistake in judgement, the consequences you enforce will teach them. And knowing these consequences in advance helps a teen weigh their decisions, so they can choose properly.

 Know what’s going on.  Can you list the four or five major challenges your child is facing right now?  I can’t tell you how many times I have heard a parent say something like, “I never saw it coming.  I didn’t expect this.”  Be actively involved in your teen’s life so that you can be there through the problems they face.  Let me say this to parents of younger teens—the problems are going to come…they’re already hitting your child.  Seventh and eighth grade is where most of today’s challenges start.  It’s a transitional time, and you need be “in the game” and up to speed with what they’re dealing with.  If you think they are too young to be talking about and doing what would be considered “adult” things–you’re wrong.

 Share your own mistakes.  Frequently parents ask me how much they should tell their teens about their own adolescence, especially mistakes that they made.  My answer is that kids need to know that their parents weren’t perfect.  That helps them understand that it is possible to make mistakes and still recover.  Sometimes they get the message that we expect them to be perfect and that’s a pretty discouraging standard to set up.  If you tell them honestly how you struggled and learned from your mistakes, you’re giving them both hope and wisdom—and it’s far better for them to learn from your mistakes than to make those mistakes themselves.

 Don’t sheild them from external consequences.  One of the tools God has given to teach wisdom is the consequences of our actions.  Proverbs 15:31 calls those consequences “life-giving rebukes.”  Many times well-meaning parents will step in and protect their kids from external or natural consequences that they have brought upon themselves, but that keeps them from learning.  Sooner or later they’ll make the same mistake, or one even worse, and you’ll not be able to correct it this time.  It’s better that they learn the big lessons from the smaller mistakes. Allow consequences to happen.

 When you don’t know what to do, go to God.  The Bible says that when we lack wisdom, we can get it from God. (James 1:5)  It’s okay not to know all the answers and struggle with what you should do.  It’s important for parents to be receiving wisdom in their own lives as they work to communicate to their children.  The Word of God and a good church are great resources for you.  And no matter how bad things seem today, you don’t have to give up; there is help available.  The power of prayer is something that you are going to need as the parent of a teenager.

 Keep an eye on the long term.  There may be times when you feel like nothing you are doing is working.  Your attempts to help may be met with loud voices, slammed doors and worse.  Don’t give up!  I was talking last week to a young man who is with us at Heartlight.  As we talked, I was struck by the conciliatory tone of his voice.  So I asked him, “It almost sounds like you’re grateful that your Dad didn’t let you get away with what you were doing, even though I’m sure it made you mad at the time” and he said, “I am.”

 Wisdom only comes through long and patient work.  Keep doing what you can to speak wisdom to your child and trust God to bring a harvest from the seeds of truth you have planted in his or her life over the years.  Stay engaged in their lives, and keep praying.  There is hope for your teen, no matter how they are acting today.

 We talked about this issue in depth on our radio broadcast last weekend titled “Wisdom in a World of Foolishness.”  To listen online look for the program dated September 24, 2011 at http://www.parentingtodaysteens.org

 

Copyright 2011 Mark Gregston (www.markgregston.com). Post text may be reprinted without permission if used in full, including the credits and copyright, except for use in a book or other publication for rent or sale. Photos are copyrighted and may not be used separately.

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This morning as I sought the Lord, I felt an urgency in my spirit to pray for President Obama. Yet, while I do pray for him daily, I also felt that my prayer was intercepted by my concerns with some of his policies and appointments. I honestly had to pray through my own disappointment to get to the “mercy seat” of God’s presence. Later this morning I read Victoria Boyson’s message. Victoria and her husband Steve are friends we have known for years; both have supported me in ministry at various times. Her word is a confirmation to the urgency I felt to pray for the president. Weigh this teaching for yourself, but also do not let your prayer be intercepted by a critical attitude.

 Our Nation’s Crisis: Stand and Pray

By Victoria Boyson

Back in the winter of 2008, the Lord spoke to me and told me that our city, Cedar Rapids, IA, would flood. I took His warning in stride and thought, “Okay, we’ve flooded before and been alright. A few flooded basements and swampy yards, but we can deal with it.” I prayed a prayer of protection over the city and thought nothing more about it.

 Then, in June of that year as the melted snow and ice from Minnesota and Wisconsin starting coming down the rivers our way, it looked like a much worse flood than I’d anticipated. Cities north of us had bad flooding, so we began preparing for what we thought could happen to us.

 But as the flooding reached our rivers, it started to rain, which greatly escalated the threat. It rained and rained and RAINED! It seemed like it hung over our city and just poured.

 Suddenly, the reality of the disaster that was occurring hit us – the rain just wouldn’t stop and the river that runs through our city could not contain it. We began to pray and to take the situation very seriously: our prayers echoed the fear in our hearts. I felt the level of intercession in the city heightening. We were finally taking this threat seriously and, through prayer and intercession, the rain stopped and the flood began to recede. But it took too long for us to react.

 It flooded our downtown and many homes and businesses were destroyed. Those who could afford it, rebuilt, but many businesses closed for good. Thousands of people were suddenly left without homes, clothing and food, struggling for the basic necessities of life.

 Our Nation’s Crisis

That fall, our nation started experiencing the first of a series of birth pangs starting with the stock market fiasco. Then, the night before the elections of ’08, the Lord showed me a vision. In it, He showed me a great wave coming against the United States, but this wave was made up, not of water, but of people. Our country’s governmental leaders were picked up and carried by this wave. Specifically, I saw President Obama picked up and taken where he did not want to go. He had no control of what was happening to him or the nation and could do nothing to stop it.

 I then saw President Obama in the White House on his knees crying out to God in prayer begging God to help him, because he knew nothing could stop what was happening but God. I saw the glory of God surrounding him as he prayed. I knew this part of the vision would occur only if we, the church, prayed – its occurrence hinged solely on our taking it seriously and interceding for the President and our nation.

 I saw in the spirit thousands of people all over the Earth praying for President Obama – beseeching God for him and his leadership of this nation. Whether you like him or not, he’s the only President we have. If we pray for him and bless him, we will be blessed, but if we curse him, he will be a curse to our nation. That’s why God commands us to pray for our leaders (see 1 Timothy 2:1-4).

 The Watchmen’s Response

I had this vision a year and a half ago and, even then, I felt that whatever the wave was, it would happen about half way through Barack Obama’s presidential term; that would be somewhere in the next six months.

 What I learned from the flooding in Cedar Rapids was that, had we taken it seriously and pressed in much sooner, we might not have sustained such devastation. At anytime, we could have chosen to stand against it.

 We, as the watchmen of this great nation, need to take seriously the threat that’s quite obviously coming against us. We must stand for our nation against the enemy who would destroy it with the same unbending ferocity our founding fathers did in fighting for it.

 Many Christians act as if they would prefer God to come down and destroy our nation through His judgment. Yet, it is the church that is responsible for the stewardship of the nation He’s given us. We inherited a Christian nation from our forefathers and it’s up to us to appreciate it and defend it.

 Our enemy is neither democrat nor republican or any government official. Our enemy is much more sinister and covert and he wants to keep our anger and frustration focused on a person or group. Satan is not out for control of this nation – he’s seeking its total annihilation.

 BUT!

You are here in the United States of America and abroad for such a time as this by God’s design. Little ole you is the secret weapon God has planted here on Earth to take down the enemy, prayer by prayer and tear by tear – on your knees pleading for God’s help.

 Though you may seem weak, though you feel unimportant or even invisible, though you may be from the most forgotten region on the globe, YOU are God’s remedy for the chaos of the world.

 Gideon stood before the Lord as He sent him out to conquer the Midianites and asked the Lord how he could defeat his enemy since he was from the weakest family in the weakest clan in the weakest tribe of Israel (see Judges 6:15). The Lord replied, “I will be with you, and you will destroy the Midianites as if you were fighting against one man” (Judges 6:16). All you need to remember is, God is with you and you will be made fearless by His power.

 We cannot continue to take the threats of our enemy lightly. As a church, as intercessors and children of God, we must wake up as a city being flooded and intercede. There is no other answer – no political or military group can help us – God is our only answer. We must humble ourselves and find our destiny in the difficulties we’re facing and stand against Satan.

 Always remember the greatness of our God! We must remind ourselves daily of His goodness and greatness. As His church, we should decide that we will fear nothing but Him, for as Psalm 9:3 says, “My enemies turn back; they stumble and perish before you.” Nothing is greater than our God! NOTHING!

 We are called to speak into existence the will of our Father as carriers of His presence on this Earth.

 Please stand with me and pray for our President and our nation. Thank you and God bless YOU.

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With the Glance of Your Eyes

“Who is this that grows like the dawn, as beautiful as the full moon, as pure as the sun, as awesome as an army with banners?” —Song of Sol. 6:10

In spite of all the controversy and strife in our world, regardless of the clashing opinions in today’s religious wars, the focus of Christ still remains upon His bride. It is our quest to fix our gaze upon Him.

Most of us sincerely love the Lord and are thankful for all He has done. However, too many are more comfortable celebrating what Jesus has done than accepting who He desires to be to us. We sing of His victories and teach of His mercies, yet rarely do we quiet our hearts and surrender to His presence. We want Him near enough to protect us but not so close that our consciousness is captured by His presence.

 As awesome and liberating as it is to know what Jesus has done for us, until we actually surrender ourselves to Him, our religion will be hardly more than a “history lesson.” Religion is not enough. It satisfies neither us nor Christ. Jesus wants to also know us.

 You say, But He does know us! In His omniscience, He knows everything.

 Yes, but in His love He seeks to know us as His bride living in unbroken union with Him. Because He purchased us with His blood, He has the right to our souls, our secrets, and our dreams. He wants the person we are when no one else is looking. Yet, He will not force Himself upon us. This is not the way of love.

 In truth, we love because He first loved us. We become committed to Him because of His commitment to us. This inter-penetration of our lives with Christ’s – this oneness born of love – is the only destiny for the church for which Christ is content. At the end of the age, nothing short of oneness with Christ will sustain us.

 God is Love

I know the fear of the Lord and that it is the beginning of true knowledge. I delight in the fear of the Lord. Yet, like the apostle John, I have too have “come to know and have believed the love which God has for us” (1 John 4:16). God is love. Let us consider that the apostle who fell before Jesus as a dead man on the Isle of Pathos later wrote, “There is no fear in love” (1 John 4:18).

 The Lord knows our holy fear is a strong deterrent from sin as well as a powerful ally in walking uprightly. Yet, to draw near to Him we must know more than the fear of God; we must believe in “the love which God has for us.” It is this perfect love from God that “casts out all fear, because fear involves torment” (v. 18). It is this love alone that can bring the bride of Christ into her destiny.

 The Heart of God

You may be reading this article and the thought of seeking God, of drawing nearer to Christ, may have triggered an initiative to do so. Yet, when the thought first awakened within you, urging you to enter His presence, something also quickened in the heart of Christ. He says,

 “You have made my heart beat faster, my sister, my bride; you have made my heart beat faster with a single glance of your eyes” (Song of Sol. 4:9).

 Your glance, even if it was no more than the briefest anticipation of being with Him, made His heart beat faster. The King James Version reads, “Thou hast ravished my heart.” This is how the heart of Christ responds

to our desire to be with Him.

 Jesus is not returning simply to destroy wickedness; He is coming for a bride. At the end of the age our task is not simply to prepare for the rapture or the tribulation but to prepare for Christ Himself!

 “Let us rejoice and be glad and give the glory to Him, for the marriage of the Lamb has come and His bride has made herself ready” (Rev. 19:7).

 You see, our preparation is for Christ. The bride isn’t wallowing in fear at what is coming upon the world; she is swallowed up in love at who is coming to this world! We are not being prepared for a date, but a marriage! There is nothing more important to Jesus Christ than His bride, the church. For her He died; for her He lives to make intercession.

 His love proved itself capable and worthy of winning our full redemption. Our most noble task is to fearlessly surrender to Him whose heart beats faster with the single glance of our eyes.

 Lord, I confess, I’ve been distracted and anxious with my many tasks. Indeed, even my duties on Your behalf have, in a way, taken the place of Your presence. Master, beloved lover of my soul, I repent. I desire to know You, even as You have known me. Lord, I come.

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Copyright (c) 2011

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Unless otherwise stated, all Scripture quotations

were taken from the NASB.

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The Seeking God

Question: What will happen if, in your spiritual walk, you turn lukewarm instead of steadfastly seeking the Lord? The answer is, nothing will happen. Meteors won’t fall from the sky and hit you. Nothing that is not common to man will happen to you. You will simply remain the same as you have been: unchanging. An unchanged life is judgment enough.

 If we don’t steadfastly walk with God, we simply cannot be transformed. Yes, one’s spirit can still be saved even if we have built our lives with “wood, hay and stubble” (1 Cor. 3). But we will have accomplished little toward our eternal destiny. The glory awaiting us will be barely noticeable, a flicker, compared to those who embraced their transformation on earth and now, in eternity, “shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father (Matt. 13:45).

 The Almighty doesn’t demand we change. True, He will convict us of sin and push us away from a slope into hell, but He isn’t going to dominate our will or make it impossible to disobey Him. Convictions and warnings from the Spirit will help save us from hell, but they won’t equip us for Heaven.

 My point is this: our pursuit of the Lord cannot be motivated simply by fear or relief from a present conflict. The treasure of God’s Presence is the extreme value in all the universe. He must be sought for the incomparable worth of knowing Him for Himself. For this goal we seek Him.

 Yet, He also seeks something from us. Does He simply enjoy watching, year after year, billions of humans feeding incessantly upon temporal realities? Or is the Most High seeking something more profound in His creation of man?

 Here’s what Jesus taught about the nature of God. He said that the God of creation is a seeking God: He seeks that which was lost; He seeks true worshipers, and He is “like a merchant seeking fine pearls” (Matt. 13:45). We need to understand this about the Lord: He is not seeking the typical, but the valuable. It is in His nature to seek people who, having accepted Christ, now pursue conformity to Him as the central passion of their hearts..

 He tests the sincerity of their commitment: will they offer their precious lives to God as followers of Christ? Though they rise and often fail, they do not withdraw. They have purposed to offer to the Father hearts made pure in the fire of His love.

 Is this not what the Father should expect, especially since the actual Spirit of His Son dwells within us? Though many are called and few are chosen, yet from those who respond does He not anticipate a reward for His sufferings? That reward is this: that He would see replicated within us the same faith, love, and redemptive nature that Christ Jesus Himself manifest. This is what the Father seeks.

 Trained Not Just Saved

“By this we know that we are in Him: the one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked” (1 John 2:5-6).

It is one thing to believe in Christ, another thing to believe like Him. Jesus said that His goal with us is not only to save our souls, but then to “fully train” us until we are actually “like [our] teacher” (Luke 6:40). This is the holy quest of God; it is the first and eternal purpose of creation: to make man in the image of God (Gen. 1:26).

One may argue: well, I tried to follow Christ but I was hurt (or, I didn’t agree with my church’s doctrines; or, I faced a battle greater than I could handle).

Yes, but without such challenges how will the nature of Christ develop within us? God put us in impossible situations specifically to accommodate our transformation – where we would learn to draw upon the grace and power of His Son. The journey toward Christlikeness will, inevitably, compel us beyond the boundaries of our human nature, and so it should be.

The Father found one pearl of great price in His Son. Yet His heart searches still to see His Son revealed in a many-membered body. He continues today seeking for true worshipers whose hearts stay soft even when conditions are hard. He seeks the precious value of a redeemed people who, when faced with injustice, find greater manifestations of Christ’s love by which they respond. Their hearts are steadfast regardless of delays or trials.

There may be just one individual in a neighborhood or just two in a city that are truly seeking hard after Christ, but these worshipers have attracted the attention of God. They are the salt of the earth. They pursue sonship. They are the focal point of the seeking God.

In my forty plus years of ministry I have seen many who began the race well, only to stumble over the issues of life and go spiritually dormant. Yet among those who stumbled, there are true sons and daughters, and Jesus promises that a “bruised reed He will not break and a dimly burning wick He will not extinguish” (Isa. 42:3). God is calling them back. In spite of their failures, He intends to use them: they will showcase Christ’s grace. For those who have been forgiven much, love much. They will reveal the wonders of Christ’s glory.

A service of Frangipane Ministries, Inc.

Copyright (c) 2011

All rights reserved.

Unless otherwise stated, all Scripture quotations

were taken from the NASB.

Please visit our website  for additional messages and resources.

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Removing the Burden of Regret

 “Why did I disobey the Lord?”

“If only I had kept my mouth shut.”

“If only such and such hadn’t happened, my life would be so much better.”

Regret. The gift that keeps on giving. Nothing so chains us to our past failures like regret.

I know too many Christians who were running well, yet at some point fell into sin. The worst thing is they knew better. They were not ignorant of Satan’s devices yet they fell. The outcome of their failure was that, in the very place where their joy once shone brightly, now a wearisome oppression exists. This oppression looks like an aspect of repentance, but it is not. It is demonic. It is a vision-stealer forged in the fires of hell.

I’m not saying that we should never have regret or that regret doesn’t have a legitimate place in our contrition. Yes, we should have remorse and godly sorry for the things we have done wrong, but there is a difference between godly sorrow and demonic oppression. If we have repented for our sins, and if we have truly grieved over them, there is a time to cast the burden of regret onto the Lord. It is time to let it go, even as the Scripture commands us to cast our care upon the Lord “for He cares for you” (1 Pet. 5:7 NKJV).

Let us never forget: Jesus is not just the Savior of new converts; He remains our Savior, committed and faithful throughout our lives.

To Set the Prisoners Free

Still, we cannot allow regret to become a demonically manipulated weapon used against us. It will paralyze our walk with God. I’m thinking of parents who feel they failed in raising their children or church or civic leaders who have stumbled and fallen into sin. There are great people who have fallen—who have been buried spiritually under the weight of self condemnation and regret.

Christ came to set captives free, even when those captives have created a mess of themselves. Consider King David who, in reflection upon his life, wrote, “I have been young and now I am old, yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken . . .” (Ps. 37:25). Remember, this is the same man who, between the seasons of having “been young” and now becoming “old,” committed the most heinous sins of adultery with Bathsheba, and then, to cover his sin, he ordered the murder of Uriah, her husband.

Yet, looking back on his season of repentance, David realized that, though disciplined and judged as he was, he was not “hurled headlong.” Through it all the Lord had held firmly to “his hand” (v. 24). Consider: even in David’s sin, the Lord did not him let go!

Instead of rejecting David, the Lord worked to restore him. Yes, there were consequences. The Lord warned that because of David’s sin “the sword shall never depart from [David’s] house” (2 Sam. 12:10). Evil would be raised up “against [David] from [his] own household.” (v. 11). This was fulfilled by David’s son Absalom who committed his own crimes against David.

Yet, even as David fled Jerusalem, even in his brokenness and grief and being cursed by his enemies (2 Sam. 16:5-15), we see a remarkable quality to David’s heart. Grieved and humbled before men, David strengthened himself before the Lord. In his cleaving to the Lord, he wrote a song that was full of confidence in God. For all the struggles and pain that he brought upon himself, here was a man who sinned but was not living in the grip of regret.

The subheading of the third psalm tells us it is “The Psalm David wrote when he fled Absalom.”

O Lord, how my adversaries have increased!

Many are rising up against me.

Many are saying of my soul,

“There is no deliverance for him in God.” Selah.

But You, O Lord, are a shield about me,

My glory, and the One who lifts my head.

I was crying to the Lord with my voice,

And He answered me from His holy mountain. Selah.

I lay down and slept ; I awoke, for the Lord sustains me.

I will not be afraid of ten thousands of people

Who have set themselves against me round about.

Arise, O Lord; save me, O my God !

For You have smitten all my enemies on the cheek ;

You have shattered the teeth of the wicked.

Salvation belongs to the Lord;

Your blessing be upon Your people! Selah.

A New Covenant of Grace

When we come to Christ, we come to One who has promised to never leave us nor forsake us (Heb. 13:5). You and I, even as Gentiles, have been chosen by God who personally promised to rebuild and restore the tabernacle of David (Acts 15:15-17). For those who are in Christ, He promises “I will give you the sure mercies of David” (Acts (13:34 NKJV).

I’m saying it is time to rise back up – wiser, more discerning, but completely free of the chains that have bound us. I’m thinking also of Naomi, the mother-in-law of Ruth, in the genealogy of David. Naomi suffered the loss of so much, yet in her latter years, she found again the blessing of the Lord so that the women praised the Lord as Naomi’s redeemer and prayed, “may he also be to you a restorer of life and a nourisher of your old age” (Ruth 4:15).

And this is my prayer for you as well, that the Lord would be a “restorer of life” to you and One who is your “nourisher,” even in “your old age.” Even as you grow wiser and more humble, may the Lord remove from you the burden of regret.

In my forty plus years of ministry I have seen many who began the race well, only to stumble over the issues of life and go spiritually dormant. Yet among those who stumbled, there are true sons and daughters, and Jesus promises that a “bruised reed He will not break and a dimly burning wick He will not extinguish” (Isa. 42:3). God is calling them back. In spite of their failures, He intends to use them: they will showcase Christ’s grace. For those who have been forgiven much, love much. They will reveal the wonders of Christ’s glory.

A service of Frangipane Ministries, Inc.

Copyright (c) 2011

All rights reserved.

Unless otherwise stated, all Scripture quotations

were taken from the NASB.

Please visit our website for additional messages and resources.

If you wish to contact us with comments or questions about this email, you may do so by writing us at comments frangipane org.

 

Who really holds your future?

I saw a status today on face book that said, “If you listen to the news today, well, it just doesn’t sound like a good day anywhere. Thankful that even though I don’t know what the future holds, I know Who holds the future”

The world is in turmoil; everywhere we look people are frightened, there are wars raging, people starving, and children being traded like cattle to satisfy perversion. The world economy is steadily collapsing, and the governments are rumbling with things like, “One world government, one currency”

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran is screaming for the annihilation of Israel and death to anyone else who does not subscribe to his way of thinking. What is the world coming to?

Hurricanes, Typhoons, Earthquakes, Volcanic Eruptions, Tsunami’s, flooding, tornadoes and massive wildfires have ravaged the earth over the last 9 months. What are we to think?

I drive around our friendly neighborhood, and see many houses up for sale, some with for sales signs on their lawns for almost a year.  Are people still moving and buying houses anymore?

Babies aborted by the hundreds of thousands, and no one says a word, children abused by close relatives and no one says a word, God’s Holy Name is used like a common swear word, both by children and adults alike, and the world does not even blink. What in the world is going on?

People get passionately upset when an animal has been cruelly abused, but turn a blind eye to that young girl or boy on the street who sells their bodies, because they ran away from abuse at home.  Where is the logic in that?

People apologize to others for a little Christian influence at an event, but gladly embrace anything that is ungodly. I don’t understand?

Why don’t people like the truth, why do they reject God, why are they God haters?

I think that the root of it, is simple, they would have to admit first of all that there is a God, and that He is Holy, then they would have to admit that their lifestyle, attitude and actions do not measure up to his holy standard.

People are quick to embrace lies, but often reject the truth out right!

This got me thinking, with all of the chaos that is happening around us today, do I have a safe harbor? Do I have a place of safety amongst the turmoil of the world around me? If I do, what is it?

I am pleased to tell you that the bible teaches us that in the midst of chaos, unrest and upheaval, Christians have a safe place to go to. That safe place is called Jesus, the Christ, the Messiah, and the Holy Son of God.

He is a strong tower for us to run into, a shelter in the storm. Psalm 91

He is our rock and redeemer, Psalm 19

He will never ever leave us, and nothing will ever be able to separate those whom he loves from his hand.

Romans 8:38-39

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. 

He knows the beginning from the end and because of that; I can trust him to get me to the end of my life successfully. I need not be afraid of what tomorrow will bring, because I know that regardless of whether I live or I die, my heart and life is secure in him!

Ephesians 1:13-14

And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession–to the praise of his glory. 

You too can have that peace of God, knowing that God is your rock and strong tower to run to when things around you are scary, overwhelming and out of control, the bible teaches us that when we come to God he will never turn us away.

If you would like that assurance today, that you not only have an earthly security but an eternal security, take a moment and pray this simple prayer with me.

 

 

 

 

Dear heavenly father,

The world around me is in Chaos, you say that you are a rock and fortress to all those who trust in you. Lord, I need you; I need you to be my strength, my rock, my help in times of trouble. Thank you that you are all of that and more.  Amen

 

The Seeking God

Question: What will happen if, in your spiritual walk, you turn lukewarm instead of steadfastly seeking the Lord? The answer is, nothing will happen. Meteors won’t fall from the sky and hit you. Nothing that is not common to man will happen to you. You will simply remain the same as you have been: unchanging. An unchanged life is judgment enough.

If we don’t steadfastly walk with God, we simply cannot be transformed. Yes, one’s spirit can still be saved even if we have built our lives with “wood, hay and stubble” (1 Cor. 3). But we will have accomplished little toward our eternal destiny. The glory awaiting us will be barely noticeable, a flicker, compared to those who embraced their transformation on earth and now, in eternity, “shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father (Matt. 13:45).

The Almighty doesn’t demand we change. True, He will convict us of sin and push us away from a slope into hell, but He isn’t going to dominate our will or make it impossible to disobey Him. Convictions and warnings from the Spirit will help save us from hell, but they won’t equip us for Heaven.

My point is this: our pursuit of the Lord cannot be motivated simply by fear or relief from a present conflict. The treasure of God’s Presence is the extreme value in all the universe. He must be sought for the incomparable worth of knowing Him for Himself. For this goal we seek Him.

Yet, He also seeks something from us. Does He simply enjoy watching, year after year, billions of humans feeding incessantly upon temporal realities? Or is the Most High seeking something more profound in His creation of man?

Here’s what Jesus taught about the nature of God. He said that the God of creation is a seeking God: He seeks that which was lost; He seeks true worshipers, and He is “like a merchant seeking fine pearls” (Matt. 13:45). We need to understand this about the Lord: He is not seeking the typical, but the valuable. It is in His nature to seek people who, having accepted Christ, now pursue conformity to Him as the central passion of their hearts..

He tests the sincerity of their commitment: will they offer their precious lives to God as followers of Christ? Though they rise and often fail, they do not withdraw. They have purposed to offer to the Father hearts made pure in the fire of His love.

Is this not what the Father should expect, especially since the actual Spirit of His Son dwells within us? Though many are called and few are chosen, yet from those who respond does He not anticipate a reward for His sufferings? That reward is this: that He would see replicated within us the same faith, love, and redemptive nature that Christ Jesus Himself manifest. This is what the Father seeks.

Trained Not Just Saved

“By this we know that we are in Him: the one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked” (1 John 2:5-6).

It is one thing to believe in Christ, another thing to believe like Him. Jesus said that His goal with us is not only to save our souls, but then to “fully train” us until we are actually “like [our] teacher” (Luke 6:40). This is the holy quest of God; it is the first and eternal purpose of creation: to make man in the image of God (Gen. 1:26).

One may argue: well, I tried to follow Christ but I was hurt (or, I didn’t agree with my church’s doctrines; or, I faced a battle greater than I could handle).

Yes, but without such challenges how will the nature of Christ develop within us? God put us in impossible situations specifically to accommodate our transformation – where we would learn to draw upon the grace and power of His Son. The journey toward Christlikeness will, inevitably, compel us beyond the boundaries of our human nature, and so it should be.

The Father found one pearl of great price in His Son. Yet His heart searches still to see His Son revealed in a many-membered body. He continues today seeking for true worshipers whose hearts stay soft even when conditions are hard. He seeks the precious value of a redeemed people who, when faced with injustice, find greater manifestations of Christ’s love by which they respond. Their hearts are steadfast regardless of delays or trials.

There may be just one individual in a neighborhood or just two in a city that are truly seeking hard after Christ, but these worshipers have attracted the attention of God. They are the salt of the earth. They pursue sonship. They are the focal point of the seeking God.

In my forty plus years of ministry I have seen many who began the race well, only to stumble over the issues of life and go spiritually dormant. Yet among those who stumbled, there are true sons and daughters, and Jesus promises that a “bruised reed He will not break and a dimly burning wick He will not extinguish” (Isa. 42:3). God is calling them back. In spite of their failures, He intends to use them: they will showcase Christ’s grace. For those who have been forgiven much, love much. They will reveal the wonders of Christ’s glory.

A service of Frangipane Ministries, Inc.

Copyright (c) 2011

All rights reserved.

Unless otherwise stated, all Scripture quotations

were taken from the NASB.

Please visit our website for additional messages and resources.

If you wish to contact us with comments or questions about this email, you may do so by writing us at comments frangipane org.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Yard sale time!

Have  you ever had one of  those moments where life is going by and you feel like you are sitting on the outside looking in. Maybe you’re a fly on the wall and just watching your own life go by. Thankfully those moments don’t last too long and you can usually get back into the flow pretty easily. But, there are times, when those moments seem to last a bit longer than you are used to, or than you’d like it to.

 I have been having one of those moments;  it’s been about 6 mos. now.

I feel like my whole world has been turned upside down, and all the things that I once believed in are being challenged, once again. This happened about 15 years ago, and it’s happening again.  I suppose every 15 years is a good time to take inventory of your life and get rid of the things that are bogging you down. I now need to decide what to give away, what needs to be thrown away, and what’s to keep.

It’s yard sale time!

You know when your house is getting too full of all those things that you just-HAD-to-have, but, they have served their purpose.  They have seen a better day. All that they hold now are memories of another time and place. It’s time to clean house. It’s time to get rid of what I don’t need.

So, when I realize that things are building up, I get some boxes. I label them. “Throw away,” “Keep,” “Give away,” “Sell.”

I go through, not just the things I’ve been tripping over for weeks, but, I also go through the places I can’t see. I go to the closets and cubby holes and the secret places that no one knows about.

Things that seemed so important at one time and have spent the better part of their lives on my shelf now need to go, or do they?

We finished building our house only one year ago and realized we really needed some space in the basement. The problem was that the basement was filled with everything imaginable. We have no garage, so all the more stuff was stored there. Seasonal things, like lawn furniture and bikes and Christmas boxes and trees. Every season held some fascination with a corner of storage.

Everything came up from the basement. Soon the dining room disappeared under a mountain of perceived important boxes. Once the dining room was filled, literally from floor to ceiling, it flowed out, into the hallway and right into the office.

 I knew there was a problem when I had a 2ft. path from the office door to my computer chair. There had been a window in the office that gave some nice morning light. Now it was covered to the point where my office was being a literal black hole.

OK. This shouldn’t take long. I kept comforting myself with the fact that, “It won’t always be this way.”  I sure wished I was a fly on the wall; on the outside looking in.  But, NOOOO I had to live it.

 

Sure enough, what seemed like eternity, was actually only 2 months later we signed the dotted line. The basement was finished. What a relief. Wipe my hands, and think, “Whew, that’s done!”

Only to turned around and notice, that although the basement was completely finished with a 22×16 media room, an office, a 4 pc bath and 3 rooms of storage, there was still a LOT of work to be done! EVERYTHING was still in my dining room and main floor computer room! Sigh Not only is everything still upstairs, the entire house is covered with a fine layer of dust!

Is there no end? Let the games begin!

I don’t know about you, but, it seems that my spiritual life often is a reflection of my physical life.

How many times are our lives like renovations?

 We realize that life is not simple as it was when we were younger. We’ve added things and people to our hearts and lives. Over the years we have collected so many things.  Now it becomes apparent that we need to make some renovations.

There are some walls that need to come down, and believe it or not, some walls that NEED to go up!

We find some good people who can help us with clearing out the basement. All too soon we realize that they are not very helpful in the preparation stages. There are some things that we have to work out for ourselves; or with a little help from a strong man.

 In the case of our hearts and lives, Jesus would be about the strongest person I know to help with stuff like this.   Although our friends are great to have around, the renovations themselves have to be done by the Professionals.  Who is more knowledgeable about our lives than the very One who is our Maker, and Master Builder.

The moving begins. The revisiting of the old.  The realization that maybe, just maybe I don’t need all this stuff in my life. That maybe it’s not the STUFF that I need after all. As it’s been down here for a year or many years and I’ve never looked it or used it or needed it. I have to ask myself the question, “Why am I holding on to it?” 

At this point I wish I was that fly on the wall…I’d much rather just sit here and observe, thank you very much!

I believe that God is taking me through that same process, only in the rooms of my heart. Seems HE wants to do a renovation in the basement of my heart and is moving things around. Stirring up the dust and showing me some stuff that I haven’t looked at for years.

I hear Him asking me, “Why are you holding on to this?”

I wait. I’m hoping it’s a rhetorical question and I don’t really have to answer. But, in my favor, He is more patient than I, and He can out wait me any day. He holds up the first item and waits for my answer. “Why am I holding on to this?” Well, it had a good purpose once upon a time.

Umm…ok. “Why am I holding on to THAT?” That was what my brother gave me. Remember when…

And we go through the list. 

Oh, this item helped me in a nasty situation!

That, Oh, yes, I remember that. I used that when my kids were little. But, have since learned that that wasn’t the most productive thing, so I put it away. What? You want me to get rid of it? Are you kidding!? My kids remember that! What will they say if they found out that I don’t have that anymore? It’s a part of who I am. It’s how some people know me. What will I look like without it? How will I know how to act if I get rid of it?

It’s a scary place to be. Things that have been with us for so long end up taking up too much room in our lives and cluttering our hearts.

It’s time for me to go through my heart and seriously pick up one thing and look at it and ask myself, is this item useful? Is this item beneficial to my life right now? Can someone else use it? Is it old junk? Can I live with myself if I get rid of it? “How is it working for me?” as Dr. Phil would say. Can someone else use it?

There’s lots of useful stuff here. Poems. Thoughts. Things that may become a book someday. I may hold onto some of that. There are other things here in the basement of my heart that I will have to look good and hard at and consider getting rid of. Such as that memory of the girl who hurt my feelings.

Maybe I don’t need to hold onto some religious mindsets, either. When I was a kid bowling and going to the movies were BAD things for Christians to do. Those are some things that I need to pull out of the box and ask, “Why am I holding on to this?” Is this TRUTH? Is that what the Bible says? What does that Bible say about these things?

My Throw pile seems to be getting bigger and bigger, and my Save pile? Well, I’m sure I won’t have a completely hollow and empty house when we’re done. This whole process will need to be revisited periodically throughout my lifetime. I’m sure the Save pile will be just fine.

It’s the Give pile that I’m having the hardest time with. Some things I need to give are good things. Like time. I have time, and I can give that to some friends in need. There are some other things in the Give Pile that will be harder to give. The suggestions of well-meaning people. I need to give them back. They don’t necessarily need to know that I am not keeping them. I just don’t need those things right now.

Beliefs.  Where do they go? Do they get thrown away? Is this a case of throwing away the baby with the bathwater?  I have to look at them all over again.  What shape are they in? Did they get warped in the packaging? Or in the storage? What does the original look like? Does it line up with the Word?

The part I hate the most about this whole process is the fact that it has to be done at all.  Can’t we just leave well enough alone?

 

 

There are a lot of other people a lot worse off than I am!  The bottom line is: I don’t like pain.  I avoid it at all costs. 

Then, I watch the show HOARDERS and think…O.k.  Just pull a truck up to the back door and we’ll just throw EVERYTHING out!

They tell me that that’s not a sane option.  We know something has to be done.  The house has to be cleaned up once in a while, because people live here and life gets messy.  We collect things and don’t even realize that some things have snuck in.

Some things have become such a part of the house, that I don’t know if I should give it, throw it or keep it. Fear has a way of lurking around the corners and hiding behind the boxes. I am always trying to get rid of it, but, it’s like the dust.

In a renovation, no matter how many times you dust the whole house, and try to keep the basement door shut, that fine layer of dust seems to coat everything. At first you don’t notice, but, when you go to wipe ONE thing, it becomes so apparent that there’s no recourse but to finish dusting the whole item. Next thing you know, you’re working your way around the room, and just when you think you’re done, you notice the trim and borders around the room, and ceiling fan. It hides everywhere. It seems you’ll never totally get rid of it; and if you ever do, the workers will show up again, sand a certain piece of a wall, and Voila, you have DUST again!

 Fear works the same way. Hiding right out in the open. Just when you think you’ve got it all, it shows up again in another place.

Sometimes you can be in denial, and it’s not till someone takes their finger and wipes it across the desktop of your heart and you see the true color that you can admit, there’s a fine layer of fear there.

So, we allow the renovations. The disruptions of our lives take over and we hope and pray that when it’s all done, we’ll be better for it.  The trial was finished. What a relief. Wipe my hands, and think, “Whew, that’s done!”  Only to turn around and notice that although the renovation God was working on me was finished, there is still a lot of work to be done.

God only has our best interest at heart. He, who began a good work in me, will be able to complete it! Philippians 1:6

God is not like a human contractor who will take your money and do a half job, he has a vested interest in completing the job, He completes it because he lives there!

Written by:

Sharon Macdonald

What is Normal?

 For a Christian that is a great question, what is our normal compared to the normal of the world around us.

It got me thinking, what should our normal be and where do we get out normal from? I know, it is early in the morning!

I believe as a Christian our normal comes from what we find in the bible, which is our standard for living, and our moral compass in the world that we live.  I thought I would take the liberty and write down a few of the normals I believe that we as Christians need to live by.

Normal Christian living means

  • …….getting up in the morning with a heart of praise and thanksgiving to God our Savior.
  • ….. Saying yes to the Lord and laying your life in his hands.
  • ….. dying to my selfish desires and saying to God, your will O lord, not mine.
  • …… that I choose righteous living over the old way of doing things.
  • .… not leaning on my own understanding of how things are, but asking God to show his way of doing things.
  • ...  That I guard my heart from evil and wicked influences, that would cause me to sin
  • ….. That I care for others, and love them deeply from the heart.
  • ….. That I do not accept the practices of the world around me but that I ask God to show me his way instead.
  • …. That I care for the widows and orphans around me
  • ….. That I love unconditionally
  • ….. That I use my mouth to encourage and bring life, instead of death and destruction to the people and situations around me.
  • … That I stand up for truth, regardless of the consequences.
  • ….. That I give and share generously not only my money, but my time as well.
  • …… That I walk in obedience to all of the precepts in the bible, not just the ones which please me.
  • ….. That I share enthusiastically all the greatness of God with others.
  • ….. That I come along side others who are in need of love and care, and truly love them by sharing the truth of God with them
  • ….. That I am not ashamed of the gospel and the power it holds for those who walk by its precepts.
  • …… That I Believe in Jesus Christ the son of God, sent to earth to point the way back to God for all mankind, and then became the ultimate sacrifice for the sins of all the people on this earth.
  • ·         …..That  I believe that there will be a day in the future, where God will judge each person according to what he/she has done.
  • ….. That when God judges, with justice, those who chose to walk in obedience to his word and accepted his son, will be given eternal life.
  • …. That when God judges, with justice, those who chose to walk in disobedience and rejected his and his world, will be judged and sent to Hell, with the devil and his demons.
  • …. That, the harvest field is full of people who are in desperate need of hope and love, and that we as Christians have been given the ability to show them the way back to God.

What is your normal?

 This article, though brief was inspired by a friend of mine who asked this question this morning, What is normal? I could go on all day about what our normal could and should be as a Christian, but I will leave it where it sits for now.

 My prayer for you is that if your normal is in any way different that mine, I pray that you will consider today giving your heart and life over to God, he created you, he loves you and he sent his son to die for you.

  Why would you need someone to die for you?

 The bible says that everyone in the world falls short of God’s Holy Standard, and therefore sin rages in our lives. We cannot even begin to live a good life without God’s help through his Holy Spirit. Jesus died on that cross, as the final and best sacrifice for the sins of mankind. The debt was paid in full and mankind once again had free access to God.

  We could do good things for people, but our hearts remain unchanged, and the same sin still lurks there, so if you want to have a new kind of normal in your life, take a moment and pray this prayer with me.

 Dear Lord Jesus

I realize that I am a sinner and I need a savior to save me from my sin. Please forgive me today and accept me as your child. I ask that you send your Holy Spirit to live in my life and so that I may learn from you a new kind of normal.

Thank you Jesus

Amen.

 

Misbehavior Can Be Sparked By Loss

Loss in the life of a teen is like is an empty space in their heart aching to be filled. It can range from their loss of popularity to their loss of a parent.  It can be an adopted child’s loss for not knowing his or her birth parents. If a teenager is working through the pain of loss, it will likely affect their behavior. Trying to fill that void with something other than what they really long for won’t work, even if what you have to offer is better. What’s necessary is to understand and to help them work through it.

 Think about a child who has lost a parent through death or divorce. The child feels the loss of that parent. If the other parent has remarried, there may be nothing wrong with the replacement. But your child’s longing is to not have that loss, at all, and every time they are around their step-parent, they are reminded of what they no longer have.

 If your child is adopted, then every normal family is a reminder to your child that his is a “different” kind of family. It doesn’t matter that you are a good parent and your family is supportive and loving. You remain a constant  reminder that his birth mother gave him up, which is not what your child may have wanted. He may never have wanted to be adopted. These feelings won’t be there all the time, nor will they start until the child is a little bit older.  But they can be intense when they do occur, and they can last a few months or a few years.

 Losses tend to control teenagers by the needs they create. They can be either real or perceived. I describe loss as, “Not getting what I want, need, or hope for, or that which I am deprived of, that which I am unable to keep, that which I am unable to find, that which I fail to win, or that which once was, but now isn’t.”

 Let me give you some examples. Loss can be felt from: missed opportunities, unmet parental expectations, bad decisions, an inability to do what I think I should be able to do, the loss of a parent or the cohesion of the family through divorce, or even the loss of one’s self-respect or sexual purity. Or perhaps your teen has experienced the negative effects of unmet expectations, not being heard or understood, not being loved and cared for, or not feeling valued or esteemed. Maybe your teen has unfulfilled dreams, has missed goals or opportunities, or longs for something unattainable. Or maybe they feel loss from uncontrolled happenings, a medical problem, something about their appearance (too thin, too fat, too tall, too short, etc.), or where they live bothers them.

 The intensity of teen misbehavior or depression can grow as their losses build up in their thinking in the introspective teen years. And outside of true psychological or physical issues, a child rarely behaves abnormally without first experiencing some kind of loss. So, it’s very important for a parent to understand and begin to deal with the losses in their teen’s life if misbehavior is showing it ugly head.

 Every child is unique in the way they respond to their losses. But let me list four of the most common responses to loss:

 Anger. Anger is the emotional response to a teen not getting what they want. It is the number one response to loss. When teens perceive a loss, the resulting void is often filled with frustration or anger. The more intense the loss, the more desperate their behavior, and greater their anger. When you intervene in the life of your child in order to curb their inappropriate or unacceptable behavior, they can become even angrier. Identifying that the anger is resulting from a loss is imperative to getting to the bottom of it.

 Minimizing.  “It’s not that big of a deal.” Minimizing on the part of the teen reduces the importance of their loss so it won’t demand anyone’s attention. Or, they may act as if it didn’t happen, and convince themselves that everything is really “okay.”  When a teen minimizes losses, it can build up in their life and come out in other ways.  If you know your teen has experienced a loss, it is critical to find a way to get them to talk about it — if not with you, then with a counselor.

 Guilt. Another common response to loss is guilt. Teens can have an ongoing sense of regret, and feel terrible about something that’s happened, or something they’ve done. They avoid dealing with it, especially if they were part of creating the loss to begin with. Underneath this thinking is the belief that dealing with their loss may cause something else in their life to fall apart, resulting in additional loss. When one domino falls, it knocks out the rest of the dominoes too. Instead, they just feel guilty and it can come to the surface in their behavior.

 Shame. ”I’m embarrassed that I couldn’t handle it.” They may wonder why they aren’t equipped to just deal with it, or why they didn’t see what would happen before it happened. Underneath this thinking is a belief that they should be able to take care of everything on their own, and know what to do every time trouble appears.

 Fear. Fear is a strong emotion. Fear and anxiety grows significantly as losses occur in a teen’s life that can undermine their future or their relationships, especially as they get closer to the time they’ll be expected to step out on their own.

 Uncovering Your Teen’s Losses

As the parent of a teen, you are in a unique position to help your child by looking beyond they way they are behaving, and examining their needs and understanding their losses. Sometimes that requires a good counselor.

 I remember counseling a 16-year-old boy whose behavior had suddenly changed.  His parents were worried, so they contacted me. After a short time talking with him, he told me that he was having a sexual relationship with his high school teacher. His parents were shocked when they learned of it. They knew was something was wrong, but attributed the trouble with their son’s behavior to raging hormones and normal teen angst.  They had no idea that the son was dealing with loss in the form of guilt and shame. Bewildered at finding out the truth, the parents asked their son, “Why didn’t you ever tell us what was happening to you?” Their son simply responded, “Why didn’t you ever ask?”

 Parents often don’t like to ask such tough questions as, “Has anyone ever said or done anything that was inappropriate to you?” Parents often focus on their teen’s behavior, not what’s causing it.  They can overlook the obvious, or attribute their teen’s bad behavior to other things like bad friends, problems in school, experimenting with drugs, even outright rebellion.

 Do your parents know everything that happened in your life during your teen years? What makes you think you know everything that is happening in your own teen’s life?

 If you see a drastic change in your child’s behavior, something else is going on, underneath it, fueling it. It’s important to ask, and keep asking until you are satisfied you understand what is happening in the life of your child. It may not be sexual abuse, but it may be something else, just as traumatic to your child’s unique soul.

 Our role as parents is two-fold: Truth and Grace. There is a tough and tender side to being a good parent. Sometimes the truth is painful, but your child needs you to be strong enough to give it to him. The graceful side of parenting means you understand your child longings, and move toward him with compassion during the tough times.

 During adolescence, teens are caught in the “Muddle in the Middle.”  They begin thinking like adults in a discerning way, but they don’t know what to do with the resulting feelings. And understanding that God promises to help recover a person from loss is not something they can fully comprehend until they are adults. Parenting a child who has experienced deep loss is a matter of helping the child to work through the loss and the resulting feelings, and also waiting and watching for God to use every situation for His good in both your life, and the life of your child.

 We talked about this issue in depth on our radio program called “Dealing With Loss.”  To listen online look for the program dated September 10, 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.