To Attain the Fullness of Christ

There is a new stirring from the Holy Spirit. The Lord’s goal is for us is to abide in Jesus. John taught, “The one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked” (1 John 2:6). If we truly abide in Him, we will walk even “as He walked.”

 The first-century saints had the words of Jesus and they had the Spirit of Jesus. In that simplicity the church enjoyed unsurpassed greatness and power. We also are becoming true disciples, seeking to walk even as Jesus walked. This is the singular essential requirement in unifying the church: we each desire for Christ’s image to be established in our hearts.

 Is this possible? Are we being reasonable? Listen to what Jesus taught. He said, “He who believes in Me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go to the Father” (John 14:12). Again, He taught, “If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it shall be done for you” (John 15:7). When we are aligned correctly to God’s will, we will indeed have the life of God manifest in our lives.

 Here is the vision and prayer of Paul for those in pursuit of Christlikeness. He wrote:

 “That you may have the power and be strong to apprehend and grasp with all the saints [God’s devoted people, the experience of that love] what is the breadth and length and height and depth [of it]; [That you may really come] to know [practically, through experience for yourselves] the love of Christ, which far surpasses mere knowledge [without experience]; that you may be filled [through all your being] unto all the fullness of God [may have the richest measure of the divine Presence, and become a body wholly filled and flooded with God Himself]!” (Eph. 3:18-19 Amplified Bible).

 Beloved, this is not New Age religion or false manifest sons theology; it is the truth of God proclaimed in the Sacred Scriptures. It is God’s will that we, Christ’s church, be filled through all our being unto all the fullness of God, that we each become a body “wholly filled and flooded with God Himself!”

 Let this become both our immediate and our long-term goal: to see Jesus Christ revealed in His fullness in the church!

 —Adapted from Francis’ book, When the Many Are One

A service of Frangipane Ministries, Inc.

Copyright (c) 2012

All rights reserved.

Unless otherwise stated, all Scripture quotations were taken from the NASB.

 

 

 

 

 

Who do you say God is?

I have recently been doing a bible study and the author has a chapter that is dedicated to the subject of, God is who He says He is!

Some people think to themselves that God does not even exist, so they cling to flimsy theories, like evolution and a cosmic power, or they even say that it is the Universe who does things for us. Some even worship the Universe. Others worship statues like Buddha and the other eastern “gods” that were made by the hands of man and hope that because they said it is a “god” that it now has powers.

They try to squeeze him out of their lives and society, all in an effort to fit their desire to not have to face the fact that they would have to be accountable to someone for the sin in their lives.

As for me, I believe that there is a God, who created the Universe and everything in it. Right down to the smallest cell within the human body. I believe that in order to live life here on this earth for the time that we have been given, we need to live it in a way that honors God.

So what does the bible say about who God is?

Romans 1:20

 For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities–his eternal power and divine nature–have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.

Psalm 19:1 -11

 For the director of music. A psalm of David.

 The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.  Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge.   There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard. Their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world. In the heavens he has pitched a tent for the sun, which is like a bridegroom coming forth from his pavilion, like a champion rejoicing to run his course.  It rises at one end of the heavens and makes its circuit to the other; nothing is hidden from its heat.   The law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul. The statutes of the LORD are trustworthy, making wise the simple.   The precepts of the LORD are right, giving joy to the heart. The commands of the LORD are radiant, giving light to the eyes.  The fear of the LORD is pure, enduring forever. The ordinances of the LORD are sure and altogether righteous.  They are more precious than gold, than much pure gold; they are sweeter than honey, than honey from the comb.  By them is your servant warned; in keeping them there is great reward. 

Isaiah 45:5-8

I am the LORD, and there is no other; apart from me there is no God. I will strengthen you, though you have not acknowledged me,  so that from the rising of the sun to the place of its setting men may know there is none besides me. I am the LORD, and there is no other.  I form the light and create darkness, I bring prosperity and create disaster; I, the LORD, do all these things.  “You heavens above, rain down righteousness; let the clouds shower it down. Let the earth open wide, let salvation spring up, let righteousness grow with it; I, the LORD, have created it.”

As you can see, the bible teaches that not only are God’s invisible qualities seen throughout the whole earth, but they are there so that man will have not excuse to deny that he is actually God and the creator of all things.

If you are a person, who has struggled with the concept of there being a creator of all that you see, I want to urge you to take a serious look around you, to really look at all that you see, feel and touch, and even examine your own breath, in doing so you will come to the realization that it did not just all evolve or magically appear, it is all there because of a loving creator, who wants to have a relationship with the people whom he created.

So where do you go from here?

Romans 3:22

 This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.

Every person that has ever walked this earth, has had sin separate them from God, but because God wants to restore the relationship between us and him, he has given us grace, and promises that all who believe in God through having faith in Jesus Christ, his son, will be given the gift of eternal life.

Therefore,

Romans 10:9 – 13

 That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.   For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved.   As the Scripture says, “Anyone who trusts in him will never be put to shame.”  For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile–the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him,  for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

Therefore, when we confess that Jesus is lord, and believe it in our hearts, we will never be put to shame, nor will we ever be separated from God.

If on the other hand we continue in our unbelief the bible is pretty clear about the consequences for those who reject God

Jesus told this parable to the people so that they would understand that there would be two places where people would go at the end of their lives. Either you would go to heaven or to hell. There is no other option for the people of this earth.

 

 Matthew 13:24-29

Jesus told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field.  But while everyone was sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away.  When the wheat sprouted and formed heads, then the weeds also appeared.   “The owner’s servants came to him and said, ‘Sir, didn’t you sow good seed in your field? Where then did the weeds come from?’  “‘An enemy did this,’ he replied. “The servants asked him, ‘Do you want us to go and pull them up?’   “‘No,’ he answered, ‘because while you are pulling the weeds, you may root up the wheat with them.  Let both grow together until the harvest. At that time I will tell the harvesters: First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles to be burned; then gather the wheat and bring it into my barn.'” 

The explanation

Matthew 13:36 -43

 Then he left the crowd and went into the house. His disciples came to him and said, “Explain to us the parable of the weeds in the field.”  He answered, “The one who sowed the good seed is the Son of Man.   The field is the world, and the good seed stands for the sons of the kingdom. The weeds are the sons of the evil one, and the enemy who sows them is the devil. The harvest is the end of the age, and the harvesters are angels.  “As the weeds are pulled up and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of the age.  The Son of Man will send out his angels, and they will weed out of his kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil.  They will throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.  Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears, let him hear. 

If you have never considered a relationship with God as important, my prayer for you today is that you would reconsider your position.

God is the creator, he is a Holy God and he wants to have a relationship with those whom he has created. Sin has separated us from him, convincing us that we are not in need of him any longer. That cannot be furthest from the truth.

My prayer for you today, is that you will make an eternally altering decision today, and have a different future than what you might be heading into.

 

Healing the Wounds Surrounding Cutting

When the pain in life gets too hard, too overwhelming, teens may take it out on themselves with drastic measures.  While many kids will respond with symptoms of low self-esteem, depression, or withdrawing from the family, other teens will try to mask the pain by cutting, a form of self harm.

 In my ministry at Heartlight, I have seen dozens of self-inflicted injuries.  Some have used a razors to make slices in their arms.  Others use small pieces of glass or even paper clips to “scratch” themselves.  I’ve seen some rub their skin with an pencil erasure till it bleeds and others use a curling iron to burn themselves.  Whatever method they choose to employ, it’s usually very painful.

 Tragically, in our culture today this type of bizarre behavior is no longer a rare occurrence.  While it used to be considered a sign of mental illness, now kids openly talk about it with one another.  For any parent with a child who chooses to inflict this kind of self-pain, the question is obvious:  what can we do about it? 

 Causes of Cutting

 This world is difficult for our kids.  They are bombarded by so many conflicting messages and pressures that they have a hard time coping with daily life.  And when the anxiety, emotions, and tension go up, teens look for a way out.  When adequate coping skills are absent, Often, that way out is through self-harm.

 I’ve always believed that all behavior is goal-oriented.  If they’re doing it, they’re getting something out of it.  What we need to focus on is finding out why the teen is cutting so that we can focus on the real issue.  Teens inflict harm on themselves for a couple of primary reasons.  One is that they are dealing with bigger issues.  The other is to get attention.

 Some teens use cutting as a distraction from other problems in life.  They think:  If I cut, I can focus on that greater pain, and the pain I am feeling from another side of life won’t seem as painful. 

 Another reason teens cut is to get rid of boredom or create excitement.  Today’s teens are more bored than ever before.  With every kind of technological entertainment at their disposal, they are lost in a state of monotony.  So, kids are really pushing the envelope to create some kind of thrill.  They love an adrenaline rush.  They look around and see what their peers expect of them, and they fall into conformity, even if it’s painful, because they want to be accepted.  They may also try it just to show off or shock somebody.  Cutting is one way they think that they can get the attention and acceptance they crave.

 Some teens will cut just because they’re curious to find out how it feels and what the infliction will evoke with their parents and friends.  I’ve noticed that those that show off their markings or scars are usually ones that “show” as a badge or an expression of need for attention.  Those that hide their self harm usually “cut” or “burn” out of escalated emotion, then hide their deeds because they’re embarrassed that they couldn’t adequately “handle” the situation.

 Other teens may be using cutting to punish themselves.  They do so to discipline themselves for stupid or foolish decisions, as a way to purge themselves of the feelings of self-contempt.  It can also be a symptomatic sign of mental illness.  This is one reason why it’s so important to understand why your teen is cutting – so that you can address it appropriately and get the help you need.

 Intervening

 If a teen is cutting for show, they can quit right now.  I’ve always said if you scratch yourself and it hurts, then don’t do it.  Pretty basic stuff.  For example, there have been times when I wanted to smash my fist through a wall out of anger.  And if I did it, I’d feel better.  For a moment.  My hand would be broken, but it felt good to release all that emotion for a minute.  But if a child is cutting because of a deeper issue in their life, you’ll need to address it because no brief exhilaration will ever be enough to disguise their emotional pain.

 Parents, if your teen is cutting, don’t panic.  It’s hard to see your child inflicting these injuries on himself, but seek counsel before over- reacting (unless they need medical attention, then get it right away of course).

 Take the time to get to the root of the issue.  Don’t pretend like the problem isn’t there, or make light of it.  Find a counselor who has dealt with cutters.  Make sure that you work through the issues with your teen, but be sure to spend time together that’s not focused on the issue, either.  Don’t forget that cutting is indicative of something behind the scenes that you cannot see.  You have to stop the cutting issue, but you also need to address the deeper issue.

Cutting tends to grow into greater problems, and can even become addictive.  This e-newsletter article only serves to introduce you to the basic issues behind cutting.  If you’re in a situation that needs to be addressed right away, I implore you to find professional help.

You can also find out more about Heartlight or request the booklet “The Phenomenon of Cutting” at 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.

 

 

Rejoicing in the Lord Always

I am really excited to share with you today a truth that is starting to settle in my spirit. That truth is that we as children of God should delight ourselves in the Lord Jesus Christ always.

No matter what the circumstances are that we find ourselves in, we can still take delight in the lord. So how is that possible when the storm is raging higher than what we can comfortably stand in?

It is possible because delighting ourselves in the lord is not a once off thing, but a continuous appreciation for all that he has done in and for and through us.

For instance, when I was younger I had a very low self-image and as a result had a very negative outlook on life, I wanted to be different but did not know how. It was not until I had invited the lord Jesus Christ into my life that He started to change my outlook and my self-image.

I can tell you first hand that because I know from where I have come, I can delight in the lord wholeheartedly because I know longer look through the wrong glasses.

God taught me, that because of Christ, I had been given a new identity,

2Corinthians 5:17

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!

God also taught me that because of his great love for me and all of mankind that he has blessed us with all spiritual blessings in the heavenly realms, and that he has chosen us before the creation of the world to be Holy and Blameless in his sight. That means that even though I sinned enough for 10 people God says that I am Holy and Blameless, when I accept Jesus as my lord and Savior. In this I can delight in the Lord.

He also predestined us to be adopted as his sons and daughters through Jesus Christ, (this is most definitely something to delight in) and we have been redeemed by the blood of Jesus when died on the cross. Another thing to delight in is that our sins have been forgiven, and will not be held against us, oh what glorious joy and freedom and delight that should bring to our souls.

Another reason to rejoice in God is that he made know to the world that he would be sending a savior that would set people free from their destructive lives and from the sin that so easily entangled them. God has chosen us, and predestined us to be his precious and beloved children, as we are a part of his wonderful plan for all mankind. Your life is part of something way bigger than you can ever dream or imagine.

Brothers and sisters we were created and chosen to be for the praise of the Glory of God. That all of mankind will see and know that there is a God, who loves the world and is passionate for the people who live here.  This I believe is another great reason to take great delight in the Lord God, He loves us, and everything that he does, and he does it with the motivation of his great love for the people.

To be honest I think one of the most precious verses that are in the bible have to do with the fact that because of our belief in Jesus Christ as our lord and savior we have been given the Holy Spirit and  we are sealed in him.

Sealed, completely air tight, nothing gets in and nothing gets out.  I delight in the fact that nothing in all of creation will ever be able to break that seal. I belong to God and because I do, I can take great delight in him. The best part is that I have an eternal inheritance that is waiting for me one day when I get to heaven. This too makes me extremely excited to delight in the lord. I praise him that he has given me all of these things before I even knew that he existed.

Ephesians  1:3 – 14

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.  For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will– to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves.  In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding.   And he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, to be put into effect when the times will have reached their fulfillment–to bring all things in heaven and on earth together under one head, even Christ.  

In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will,  in order that we, who were the first to hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory.   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. 

Therefore, I can say to you today that it is good for us to rejoice and take delight in all that the lord has given to us. With a grateful heart we can thank the lord for his great love towards us.

Philippians 4:4

 Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! 

If you are a believer in Jesus Christ, and are tempted to see the world through dark colored glasses, I want to encourage you to remember the blessings that the lord has given to you, and determine in your mind and heart to think on things that will bring life to your situation and not death.

 Philippians 4:8

 Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things. 

I realize that sometimes life and it’s circumstances can leaving you wandering how on earth will you survive, but I have come to understand that taking delight in the lord always, regardless of our circumstances and praising him for all that he has done for us already and all that he has promised to us, bring about a deep peace and joy within our spirits.

Therefore, I would like to encourage you to assess your situation and see how you can take steps to rejoice and delight in the lord today and from this day forward, being thankful and grateful for all that he has done for us, all that he has given to us, and all that he promises us for the future.

My prayer for you today is this:

Ephesians 1:16 – 23

 I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers.  I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better.

  I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints,  and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is like the working of his mighty strength,   which he exerted in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every title that can be given, not only in the present age but also in the one to come.  And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way. 

 

Wandering Off the Path

Do you ever look across the room at your teen and wonder, Who is this kid?

When living with teens in the home, most moms and dads come to a point of confusion when they wonder how their child veered off track and became a virtual stranger.  You can’t figure out what happened to your sweet, compliant fun-loving child!  Sound familiar?

As parents, we have the responsibility and privilege to teach our children how to move from dependence to independence.  But when we allow our kids to make grown-up decisions, they might not always make the right ones.  It shouldn’t shock us when our child experiments with newfound freedoms and struggles to balance successes and failures.

Every child is faced with distractions, temptations, and choices they aren’t prepared to make.  This leads them away from the path we taught them to follow.  And when that happens, they get lost.  Our role as parents is to teach them how to find the way back home.

Families rely on one another.  They look out for one another.  And you can’t have one person in the family lost while the rest of the family is thriving.  It just doesn’t work that way.  Instead, the entire family feels the strain when one member is struggling.  In those moments, families have three options:  to ignore the situation, wait for the teen to find his way back on his own, or go after that teen like a search and rescue team.

So let’s deal with this important reality.  Teens make mistakes.  They’re going to get off the path.  In fact, when I’m driving I get lost all the time, but I have a GPS that helps me get back to the route that leads me to my destination.  Parents, you are that GPS to your kids.  You have the perspective, the sophisticated wisdom, to guide your child safely to their destination.

Unfortunately, very few kids are told how to get back on course.  Instead, parents tend to ridicule, rebuke, or micro-manage a straying teen.  But none of that is very helpful.  When a teen is lost, he or she truly does not know how to get from point A to point B.

When’s the last time you have heard a teen say:  I want to be messed up.  I want to be on the wrong path?  When teens are really lost, deep down they really want to be found.  They are looking for direction, even when body language and attitude doesn’t reflect it.

Rarely, if ever, will a child ask for help when he’s lost.  Sort of like the husband who doesn’t want to pull into the gas station for directions on the family vacation.  Pride keeps us from admitting that we’ve lost our way.

In like manner, the lost teen is afraid of being chastised or having their faults pointed out by friends and family.  They already know their faults.  What our teens need, instead, is reassurance that they can come to you for help to find their way back.

This is what makes your relationship so important.  Parents, even when you are frustrated with your child’s behavior, they need to know that you want them back.  And more than that, they need to know their failures are not a barrier to coming home and talking to you.  In fact, they want to know you will come looking for them with a spirit of compassion, not because of anger or frustration.  Families care about one another, and these are the times they need to know they can be rescued by those they love.

Wandering is not just difficult on the child.  Parents feel it, too.  It’s painful to watch your teen suffering with the consequences of his own poor choices.  When you’re waiting for your child to come home to you, or to come back to the path that is right for his life, it can feel like an eternity.  In those weeks, months, and years, it’s helpful to gather with a small group of parents who understand.  They can reinforce your convictions and share the burden that weighs heavily on your heart.

Eventually, the straying teen begins coming to his senses.  When things don’t materialize for him, the journey home begins.  It always happens in small steps.  So it’s important he sees you as a safe place.  Your family may be the only beacon of hope in his life, and it will allow you to welcome him back and support him through the long journey ahead.

When your child returns, his issues aren’t fully resolved.  The Scriptures say train up a child.  Your child needs boundaries and structure to help him succeed, so if this has been an issue before, you may want to build some new boundaries around him that will help him stay on the right path.  Help your teen understand the boundaries you are setting, as well as the consequences he will face when he chooses not to stay within those boundaries.  There’s a reason why this is a discussion instead of just a list of rules that you give to him.  The relationship of trust you’re building will be one of the key elements for success.

Teens don’t want to be lost.  They want to be found.  Our job as parents is to help our teens know how to find their way back and to embrace them when they return.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR 

Mark Gregston is an author, speaker, radio host, and the founder and director of Heartlight, located in Hallsville, Texas.  For more information and helpful resources for moms and dads, check out our website.  It’s filled with ideas and tools to help you become a more effective parent.  Go to www.heartlightministries.org.  Or read other articles by Mark, at www.markgregston.com.  You can also call Heartlight directly at (903) 668-2173.  Hear the Parenting Today’s Teens broadcast on a radio station near you, or download the podcast at www.parentingtodaysteens.org.

 

 

 

Modeling Kindness in an Unkind World

Our world is confusing place for kids.  Nearly every day, our sons and daughters are confronted by some form of bullying, disrespect and a complete disregard for authority.  These conflicting elements create an environment that makes it tough for teens to be kind.  It’s hard to be gentle and meek when you’re constantly fighting against cultural trends and peer pressure.

If you’re like me, you can still remember bad stuff that happened from your teen years.  I was bullied by a group of guys, and whenever the projector of my memory rolls the film on those ugly encounters, I still get emotionally wrapped up with anger.

As a parent, you might be the only authority in your child’s life to model how to engage in kindness.

Good parenting requires weaning our kids away from their childish dependence on us.  It’s a long process of gradually taking away the creature comforts we once provided in order to force our teen to begin operating independently from us.  Whether it’s drawing boundaries for them or coming to their rescue when something goes wrong, as they grow older, we need to employ an intentional plan for creating autonomy.

But when it comes to bullying, we need to take an active role of both protecting our teens and helping them understand the power of kindness and respect.

People in today’s society respond differently to failure than people have in previous generations.  One reason is because we have greater access to information now than ever before.  Technological advancement can be a good thing, but in this regard, it tends to be used for bad things.  When someone fails, whether that’s a friend, a politician, an actor, or someone else, failure is instantaneously broadcasted over the World Wide Web.  Any misstep, miscue, or hiccup can go viral in just a matter of seconds.  Facebook alone allows for one negative comment to be shared with pretty much everyone in your social circle.  This can be devastating for teens, and can cause them to lash out in a similar manner.

The benefit of these methods of communication, though, is that the same can happen with positive comments.  As parents, we have the power to teach our teens how to show kindness in all of their interactions – both online and in person.  The best place to start with this is in our home.  Mom, dad, are you treating one another with love and respect?  How are you showing kindness to the neighbors and others in your community?  How are you treating your kids when they come home from school?

When your teen comes home from school and lashes out at you, it’s generally not disrespect.  It’s spillover from their awful day because our kids don’t have a coping mechanism for what they experience on campus.  When they show frustration, the best way to respond is with respect.  Instead of shooting them down and correcting their actions, ask them to put words to their feelings.  The biggest mistake we can make as a parent is to somehow telegraph to our teen some form of shame for the way they feel.  We cannot change their feelings.  Feelings are feelings.

If your teen rolls his eyes at you, ask him if you did something that caused frustration.  Start a dialogue.  Find out what motivated your child to do something disrespectful, and in doing so, you will accomplish two things.  First, you will identify the root of the frustration, and second, you will model how to deal with conflict and frustration.

This doesn’t mean you are okay with your child showing you disrespect.  I’m not saying you need to become a doormat for your child’s vitriol.  I’m suggesting that you take a deep breath and try to drill down to the root of the problem without letting your own emotions escalate to a point where you cannot have a meaningful exchange with your child.

By showing genuine interest in the cause of their angst, you are surprising your teen with kindness and modeling how to have an adult conversation.  Teens won’t expect you to move closer to them when they act disrespectful to you.  They will expect your relationship to weaken.  But when you engage them in relationship by talking calmly with them, you continue the opportunities to teach them kindness by showing them kindness.

Be prepared.  When your teen finally opens up to you in a safe place, it won’t be easy to hear.  Parenting teens is rarely a tidy process and usually a messy one.

If they blew up and showed disrespect to you, all that pent up emotion came from somewhere.  When you successfully open up the lines of communication, your teen will take advantage of that open door in the future and they will begin to put words to their frustration.  Once they get these emotions off their chest, you can objectively talk about the root cause of their disrespect, and this gives you an occasion to describe appropriate ways to show their feelings to you.

Remember, raising a child who is gentle and kind doesn’t mean we are creating a generation of wimps.  Real men show respect.  Real women are kind.  And a mature teen should never be the recipient, nor the perpetrator, of bullying.

Our teens are heavily influenced by the culture that surrounds them every day.  As parents, we have the golden opportunity to build a culture of kindness and respect in our home that will serve our teens for years to come.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR 

Mark Gregston is an author, speaker, radio host, and the founder and director of Heartlight, located in Hallsville, Texas.  For more information and helpful resources for moms and dads, check out our website.  It’s filled with ideas and tools to help you become a more effective parent.  Go to www.heartlightministries.org.  Or read other helpful articles by Mark, at www.markgregston.com.  You can also call Heartlight directly at (903) 668-2173.  Hear the Parenting Today’s Teens broadcast on a radio station near you, or download the podcast at www.parentingtodaysteens.org

 

Rest for the Weary

Rest, what does that mean, in this fast paced world that we live in, with appointments, expectations, face book, twitter, cell phones, television, ipad’s, computers, how on earth are we supposed to rest. People work long hours, doing jobs that most hate, just to make the ends meet at the end of the month.  There is running after children, who are in many different activities, supper to cook, housework to be done, television to watch, home work to help with, laundry and a vast number of other things that demand our attention.

Where is there time for family, friends, or even for ourselves and how on earth do you find rest in the midst of all of this chaos?

One solution is to sell it all, and go and live in a cabin on a mountain somewhere, but this is neither a good solution or viable for most people.

So what drives us to perform so hard? Why do we need all of the latest gadgets and toys on the market today? Why do we need to upgrade vehicles every two to three years even if there is nothing wrong with it? Why do we need to live in the best house, have designer furniture and clothing? What makes us so discontent that we drive ourselves crazy in the pursuit of it all?

I think one of the answers to all of the above questions is Greed and a Lust for More.

Yes it is true; we have this insatiable appetite for all that we do not possess. We then work harder, and longer, to possess more of what we do not have right now.

The end result is that we are ticking time bombs, for disease, heart attacks, and pure exhaustion.

I have had the privilege of being a stay home mom for all of my married life, the lord has blessed the work of my husband’s hands. We have not had a lot of money, but we managed to have a comfortable lifestyle.

Having said that I tend to be the kind of person that whatever I put my hand to, I also engage my full heart to it as well, which has created a bit of a monster in my life, I work myself to the bone doing all things as well as I can.

So, when a few months ago, my husband of 19 years was diagnosed with Lymphoma, my natural instinct was to pray harder, to work harder at tending to his every need, to ensure that my kids were walking through this ordeal reasonably well. I tried to put some control back into my rapidly spiraling out of control life.

Then I felt the lord say to me, that I needed to learn to rest in him, let him take care of my husband and children throughout all of this process and let him take care of me.

Rest for the weary!

This was then confirmed to me, by a few other people who had been praying for me, and also felt that the lord wanted me to rest.

My question was how? How do I go from being over active in the care of my family, and my friends and all whom I felt God had called me to minister for this season, and give it over to God and learn to rest in Him?

This friend was no easy task, and I am still learning how to do it. The first thing that I had to do was to actually ask the lord to forgive me for trying to play super Christian and God in everyone’s life. Ouch that one hurt!

When I played God in their lives, I did not leave room for God to work, as I was trying to control and manipulate all that happened for them.

Next I needed to recognize that I was not responsible for their care, God was, and he was a way better care taker of them, than I was.

Then I needed to learn that sometimes it was ok to go for a walk in the middle of the day, when the snow was falling or the sun was warming everything up. It was ok to read a book that had nothing to do with anything, just for the pure enjoyment of it.

I needed to learn that if I was tired, that taking a twenty minute nap to perk me up was ok, and I did not need to feel guilty about it.

 I also needed to learn that I was my own worst enemy when it came to resting and really enjoying a moment that I had been given.

Instead of fretting about all the things I had not done yet, I could take a moment and thank God for the sun that was shining and the beauty that surrounds me. I could praise him that I had a house to live in and food to eat, clothes to wear, and that my children were well and safe. I could find rest in the fact that he had blessed me with a wonderful husband, who loved me, because I was me, not for anything I could do for him, or anything else, I could just be me.

There is rest and comfort in knowing these things.

Then the lord taught me, that I could even find rest in the work that he had given me to do, whether it was writing or quilting or caring for the needs of my family, I could rest in the knowledge that he was helping me to fulfill all of the tasks before me.

If I asked him, he would give me great ideas for meals, creative ideas for quilting and writing, and he would enable me to do it all without much effort. There is rest in that knowledge.

Something that has evolved out of this journey is that my husband and I purposely take an hour each day to have lunch together and enjoy each other’s company and we have chosen a day of the week to go and play. We don’t do anything very spectacular, but we do something  that we would not ordinarily do, like go to a restaurant that we have never tried before, or look around stores that we had never ventured into before, or even have a nap together. It does not matter what we do, it matters that we take the time to unplug from the world around us and allow ourselves a moment to rest.

I praise the lord that he has been teaching me this lesson, as I was way to up tight for too many years, but now I can honestly say, that the more I learn to rest in the lord, and his provision and promises for me and my life, the more joy I feel bubbling up from deep within me. The more hope I feel for the future and the more satisfaction I get from the work I do have to do.

The lord says that if we come to him and give him our burdens then he will take them upon himself and give us rest.

Matthew 11:28 – 30

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

My dear friends, this is so very true, Jesus does indeed take on our burdens, worries and concerns, he takes our stress and in the midst of it all, He gives us rest.

If you find yourself on the same treadmill of over achievement and burnout as I did, why not take a few moments right now and ask the lord to teach you to rest in him. Your rest may look different to my rest, and that is ok, but remember this, God did not make us to run around like crazy people, always working and striving and being miserable.

He wants us to rest in the knowledge that he will take care of us, refreshing us and giving us the right priorities so that we do not wear ourselves out.

Father,

I pray that today, you will teach each one of us how to truly rest in you and your ways for us, help us to get off the treadmill of overachievement and allow you to show us your perfect way for us. Thank you that you desire us to work as well as enjoy our lives while we are on this earth. Bless the work of our hands, O Lord, and strengthen us today. Lord, we surrender our whole lives to you today and ask that you will lead us into your rest. Thank you heavenly father,

Amen

 

Independence and Rebellion, are they twins?

I have been thinking about the above statement recently due to recognizing this not only within myself, but also within my own children.

When my kids were little I basically got to control their lives, I told them when they had to sleep, eat, get up, change their clothing and everything else in between. At that age it was acceptable for me to do that, in order to teach them boundaries and proper skills to navigate in the world around them.

I felt a sense of wellbeing when my kids behaved appropriately, and when I did not have to apologize for them being on this earth, or that I had given birth to them!

As they got older, I let out the “leash” a bit, and allowed them more and more freedom to explore the world around them, but not too much freedom as I did not believe that it would be too good for them. They thrived under that system and slowly grew up into wonderful teenagers who knew the boundaries, and comfortably lived within them.

I have noticed though, that within each of us is this underlying rebellion and desire to do things our own way, in our own time, and no matter the good advice that is given we continue to do it our way, regardless of the consequences.

That is where the theory of Independence and Rebellion comes in.

My children are reaching the age where they will soon be leaving the nest, and so I have seen more and more of the “independence” starting to rise up within them.

Please do not get me wrong, I want them to grow up and leave the nest and start their own lives, but I want them to do it wisely.

That is why I think that the lines may have gotten a bit crossed for them, as I see them wanting to sprout their own wings, but it has come with an element of rebellion attached to it. I am convinced that at this time, they are unclear that what they believe is their “independence” is actually rebellion rising up within them.

It has come with a, “I am old enough now, and you cannot tell me what to do anymore, and even if you do tell me what to do, I won’t listen as I want to forge my own way.” Even if the advice given is for their good it does not matter, they will choose to do it their own way.

This is a bit disconcerting for me as a mother, as I have tried to teach them to be wise, and to choose wisdom, over “I know what I am doing thank you very much!”

Independence is a good thing, and I want my children to be independent and be good citizens but I think sometimes the line between wanting that independence so badly causes a shift towards the rebellion.

I have come to realize though, that my desire for them is that they will not choose rebellion over wisdom. Thinking that their rebellion will make them free, when all it really does is sets them up for further rebellion and the hardening of their hearts.

I realize that as adults we are no different, we think that our independent streak “Doing things my way, by myself and you cannot tell me any different”  is actually working to our benefit, when in fact it is detrimental to us as it leads to bondage and a hard heart.

God desires that we find our independence in him, and that independence actually takes on a whole new look, it is a look of dependence. Surrendering to God and allowing him to teach us the best way to live our lives while we are on this earth.

Job 22:21

 “Submit to God and be at peace with him; in this way prosperity will come to you.”

Proverbs 1:7

The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline. 

Dependence on God teaches us, that choosing righteousness is far better than evil and rebellion, because it leads to a life of peaceable living.

Choosing dependence on God will teach us his wisdom, and it does not include us sticking out our tongues saying that we can do it better, but it does show us, that hardening of our hearts will have long term consequences. It does reveal that if we want to live well, then we need to ask God for help and direction.

Wisdom says that drinking too much alcohol will bring you to ruin and if you lie and cheat and steal you will not only face the wrath of people here on this earth, but that God will have to discipline you. Wisdom says it is wiser to not fight and quarrel than it is to go into a situation with both fists swinging; wisdom says that in order for you to maintain a good standard of living, you should work hard and not be lazy.

So I have come to the conclusion that it is easy to mistake being rebellious with independence, as we all have that desire to be free and to live our lives the way we see fit, but I have to admit that I have found more freedom in living my life being dependent on God, than I ever did when I was trying to sail my own boat.

I believe that the way out of this rebellion and into a place of true freedom and dependence upon God, is for us, as believers in Christ Jesus, to first of all repent for the rebellion, then take definitive steps of guarding your heart. The bible teaches us that it is very important to do this as it teaches us that the heart is the center of all that you do, and choose.

Proverbs 4:23

 Watch over your heart with all diligence, For from it flow the springs of life. 

My prayer for my children is that they will learn that true freedom comes from dependence on God and does not lie in rebellion.

My prayer for you is that if you have found yourself in a place where rebellion comes more natural to you than dependence does, that you will take a moment and ask the Lord to forgive you.

Remember always, God who has made us and knows our future, knows what is the very best for us; he has plans for our lives that will bring about great satisfaction for us, and glory for Him.

Why not try today to lay aside the rebellion of self, and ask the lord to help you walk into the freedom of dependence on him.

 

 

Dancing with Angels

My soul is lifted to a higher plane

So beautiful words can’t explain

In the glow of an emerald bow, my spirit is at home

 

I’m dancing with angels, twirling across the crystal sea.

I’m dancing with angels, so happy just to be

Dancing before my king

 

Enveloped in his glory, surrounded by his love,

His perfect peace is enough.

No wants, no needs, no fears, all things have become clear.

 

I’m dancing with angels, twirling across the crystal sea.

I’m dancing with angels, so happy just to be

Dancing before my king

 

In awe of his majesty, I sway to the melody

As the heavenly choir sings Holy, Holy, Holy, my spirit flies free

every movement is praise to his name, because he delights in me

 

I’m dancing with angels, twirling across the crystal sea.

I’m dancing with angels, so happy just to be

Dancing before my king.

 

Dressed in flowing robes of white

My steps painting rainbow pictures of light

Effortless movement as light as the beams of the sun

I give thanks to the Holy one.

 

I’m dancing with angels, twirling across the crystal sea

I’m dancing with angels, so happy just to be

Dancing before my king.

 

Although angels can’t comprehend God’s great love for man,

One day I’ll take you by the hand,

and you’ll dance with me and I’ll show you how wonderful it can be…

 

To dance with angels.

 

Written by Lorraine Jacyszyn

Dedicated to my wonderful mother Marion Omilusik who is dancing with the Angels