The real reason that we work

On Sunday I was talking to a very good friend of mine and we were talking about the various things that the lord had been teaching each of us, and how those things had impacted our lives for the good. One of the things that we had spoken about was our general attitude towards tasks that we had to personally do.

Now, it was not long ago that I would mutter under my breath about having to “do this or that” and bemoan and begrudge the whole thing. All the while thinking to myself how unfair it was that I had to do it, and didn’t my family see the load that I was already carrying, and didn’t they understand how hard my life was, and on and on.

I know, I sound like a two year old, but much to my shame I thought that way, often going out of my way to leave things for others to do. I even stopped baking for the family because I did not like how the baked goods would disappear so quickly.

Ah yes, the selfishness of my heart!

Well, as you can imagine, I could see this particular fault in everyone else but myself, it would annoy me to no end when my kids would only do a half job of what I had asked them to do. I would watch them wait for the other person when it came time to do the dishes, just in case they ended up having to do more of the task than the other person.

I would try to discipline and teach them, when these things happened, but alas, it went nowhere; that is of course until the lord started showing me, what was dwelling deep down in my own heart.

Ah! That is all I have to say, it hurts to see that what you have been trying to correct in another person, you yourself are doing.

Matthew 7:1-5

Judging Others

  “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?

How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”

Yes I was being a hypocrite; I was delighting to see what was wrong with everyone around me but myself.

Thankfully God, in his great love and mercy, will not leave us in that state of heart, and he set about changing my heart. At first I did not recognize what he was doing, until later I realized that I had indeed had a change of heart, and this time my change of heart lined up with what the bible taught as a correct behavior and attitude to have in connection to work.

Ephesians 6:5-9

Slaves and Masters

“  Slaves, obey your earthly masters with respect and fear, and with sincerity of heart, just as you would obey Christ. Obey them not only to win their favor when their eye is on you, but like slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from your heart. Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not men, because you know that the Lord will reward everyone for whatever good he does, whether he is slave or free. And masters, treat your slaves in the same way. Do not threaten them, since you know that he who is both their Master and yours is in heaven, and there is no favoritism with him.”

The bible teaches us, that we need to work, and serve others wholeheartedly as if whatever you are doing, you are doing for the Lord.

Now, you would think that I would have known this many years ago, I did, and I even taught it to others, but I did not always apply it to my own life. Father forgive me!

Thankfully, the lord, has been doing a new work on my heart and has been showing me, where my attitude has been wrong, and where I need to choose to serve instead of demand that I be served.

After I had spoken to my friend, I read a devotion out of the Daily Bread, written by Bill Crowder, and it was written on this exact topic. I knew then that the lord was highlighting this to me once again, and I needed to share it with you.

Bill Crowder wrote:

In the Late 1660s, Sir Christopher Wren was commissioned to re-design St. Paul’s Cathedral in London. According to legend, one day he visited the construction site of this great edifice and was unrecognized by the workers. Wren walked about the site, asking several of the men what they were doing.

One worker replied, “I am cutting a piece of stone.”  A second worker responded, “I am earning five shillings two pence a day.” A third, however, had a different perspective: “I am helping Christopher Wren build a magnificent cathedral to the glory of God.” What a contrast in the attitude and motivation of that worker!

If we do our work merely to earn a paycheck or satisfy a supervisor, we will fall short of the higher motivation – doing our best as evidence of our devotion to God.

It was after reading this that the lord confirmed to me the heart change had been taking place inside of me, I had gone from being selfish and self-absorbed in all of my tasks, to taking great joy and having great satisfaction completing tasks set before me, because I did them out of devotion to God.

I have found that now I have more peace about the tasks that I put my hand to, I even experience a new found joy, because I know that even if I am cleaning toilets or sweeping my kitchen for the tenth time that day, I do it all out of a devotion for God.

Let me tell you of the change that has taken place in my household, because of my change of attitude. My children have seen that I don’t begrudge helping and serving them, and they are in turn are learning to work with the same attitude as the lord has helped me to learn.

Please understand, that this attitude has not made me the servant of the household, my children still have tasks that they are required to do, but it has taught us all, that we can have a joy in both the mundane and the bigger tasks that God sets before us to do.

Remember, no matter who signs your paychecks, you are ultimately working for God!

 

 

God showing himself strong

Self-reliance is a deadly trap as a Christian, we often think that by exerting our independence we are conquering the world, but in actual fact we are alienating ourselves from God.

Yes that sounds pretty harsh but it is the truth, you see God wants us to come to him with everything, and for everything, he wants to be a part of the decisions that we make, he wants to help guide us so that our lives will bring forth much fruit.

Jesus taught us in John 15, that if we were to be a friend of God we would need to walk in obedience, and one of the most important things that he has been teaching humanity from the time of Adam, is for us to trust him, to rely on him, to let him show us the way so that it will bring life to us.

Often the case is that we run ahead, and then think of asking him later for help. This happened just recently to me as a matter of fact. My husband and I would love to buy an RV, we love to explore, and we love to camp, but tenting is quickly becoming stale. So we have been looking around for an RV that we can afford.

About a month ago, we found an RV that we could afford, and made an appointment to go and see it. I had to rearrange an appointment I had made, in order to see this RV. Off we went, in the rain, with much excitement and dreaming of how we would camp every weekend, we ran ahead to see the RV. As we were nearing the sellers house we get a phone call, I thought it was one of my children, but it was the seller, informing us that she had sold the RV about 5 minutes before. We were 5 minutes from her house!

Needless to say we were most disappointed, I then asked my husband if he had prayed about this RV before we had left and he said no, and I realized that I had not prayed either. It was a lesson to us, I believe that when we run ahead of God and his plans for our lives, things don’t always turn out for the best. The lord might have given us a feeling of unrest and we might not have sped up there to look at the RV, or he might have shown us in another way that it was not going to work out for us, if we had inquired of him first.

I would love to say that I have completely learnt my lesson, and I will never do that again, but I probably will, but I have learnt that God, is trying to train me and my husband to bring all of our choices and decisions to him, to seek his council on things so that he can show us what is best for us. I believe too that he is trying to show us that we are to trust him, he can see the bigger picture and we cannot.

This morning as I was reading my bible, 2 Chronicles 16:9 really spoke to my heart, and it says:

“For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show Himself strong on behalf of those whose Heart is loyal to Him.”

God promises that he will show himself strong on behalf of those who are loyal to him, to those who seek him out and have a heart that whole-heartedly honor and love him.

This was spoken to King Asa of Judah, he had served the Lord whole heartedly for 35 years while being the ruler and had led the people to do the same, because of that, the Lord gave them peace with the surrounding nations, and prospered the people.

Then King Asa, had Baasha King of Israel come and fight against Judah. Instead of going to the Lord, and asking Him what they should do, he went to a neighboring king and asked to make an alliance with him, so that they would be able to fight against the king of Israel, the king agreed and they started to fight against him.

This made the Lord God angry, as King Asa, had not come to him for direction and help. It was then that the lord sent a prophet to speak to the king and he told him,

2Chronicles 16:7-8

 At that time Hanani the seer came to Asa king of Judah and said to him: “Because you relied on the king of Aram and not on the LORD your God, the army of the king of Aram has escaped from your hand.  Were not the Cushites and Libyans a mighty army with great numbers of chariots and horsemen? Yet when you relied on the LORD, he delivered them into your hand. “

As you can see, the lord takes his responsibility towards us very seriously, when he says that he is our rock, fortress, defender, salvation, hope, peace, provider, he is those things to us, but when we start to trust in our own abilities, or we run to others around us for help, then the lord cannot do in and through us what he desires to do.

2Chronicles 16:9-10

“For the eyes of the LORD range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him. You have done a foolish thing, and from now on you will be at war.”   Asa was angry with the seer because of this; he was so enraged that he put him in prison. At the same time Asa brutally oppressed some of the people. 

As you can see, the prophet said to King Asa, the Lord will strengthen those people whose hearts are fully committed to him, no exceptions, but because the King had already started to rely on himself, his pride rose up within him and he became angry at the prophet and put him in Jail.

I have found myself in that place of anger, when I have not sought the Lord and then things have not turned out the way I thought that they should and when confronted with my folly, my pride rose up from within me and pushed back.

I would love to tell you that this has happened only once to me, but I would be a liar, the truth of the matter is, that I will have a more fulfilling life when I submit myself to the lord, and ask him to help me in the directions that I need to go.

My life will not always be perfect, but I know that if I trust the Lord to show me his path for my life, it will be way better than the path I tried to forge, with sweat and tears, turmoil and strife.

So I think the things that we can learn from this passage of scripture is this,

  • When you walk with the lord and seek him with your whole heart, the lord will strengthen you and guide you
  • When you start to rely on yourself and others to give you advice, direction and clarity in anything, you will find that God will withdraw and you will not get the desired results that you were after.
  • Trusting in the Lord is the only way to lead a successful Christian life.

 What was sad for me about the story of King Asa, is that he never repented of his arrogance and a few years later he contracted a disease in his foot, and instead of asking the lord for healing and relief, he relied totally on doctors for his healing, this eventually led to his death.

 As you can see that when you start to harden your heart toward God, and never repent, it is not long before you are so hard hearted that you close yourself off from God completely.

 If you can relate to any part of this article today, I want to encourage you to take a moment and ask the lord to Forgive you for trusting in everything but him, for allowing your heart to become hardened towards him, and ask him to soften your heart towards him once again, and let him be the one to lead you and direct your life.

 My husband and I have yet to find the RV that will meet our budget and fit our family needs, but I do know that as I walk with the lord and trust him to show us where it is, we will find something that is suitable for all of our needs and will be beyond our expectations. 

 Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters in the Lord, ask the Lord today, to lead you in all of the ways that he has for you, I know that you will find great joy and deeper satisfaction than you ever have before.

 

Steps to Overcoming Fear

Do you find yourself consumed with Fear? Fear of tomorrow, fear of failure, rejection, hurt, and fear of letting go of people and things, fear of the unknown. If you are prone to these kinds of fears, you are not alone; most of the world’s population is tormented by them as well.

For some people it is debilitating, as it has shut them up in their private worlds of terror, for others it is an occasional fear that rears up, but that too can be debilitating and it can completely prevent them from stepping out and doing things.

I was once a person that was caught up in many what ifs and slowly I discovered that 99% of those what ifs are never actually materialized as I thought that they would. I too used to hide away within myself afraid to try anything, in case I looked foolish, or I failed or I got hurt. As I got older, I discovered a vast array of fears that I never thought possible, a fear for my children, that they would be hurt, stolen, die, that someone would hurt their feelings, ahh, it was endless

Is there hope for the nations from this plague of fear?

I believe that there is.

God started to reveal to me some key truths in regard to fear that I needed to not only learn, but make them a part of who I was as a person. So, he of course led me to scripture and started renewing my mind in regards to what fear was and how to overcome it, in His strength.

I believe that one of the first key verses that he showed me on this subject was found in Romans

Romans 12:2

Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is his good, pleasing and perfect will. 

I first needed to learn a whole new mindset about fear, and figure out what God’s will was in regards to fear and its hold on me.

Then the lord brought to mind the fact that he is with me always, I will never ever be alone, he would be there, when I wake up, and when I lie down to sleep, he would protect and lead me all through the day. I had nothing to fear, because he was way stronger than I was.

 Matthew 28:20b

“… And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” 

God then showed me the significance of him being with me always, and that was, that he was the defender of the weak, and the strength to all who cried out to him.

Isaiah 40:29

 He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.

God promises to strengthen us and to give us the power that we need to do what he has called us to do. The next great verse that the lord used to help set me free from the bondages of fear was the fact that I was an overcomer because of Jesus Christ, and his spirit which was now at work in my life.

1John 5:3-5

 This is love for God: to obey his commands. And his commands are not burdensome, for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith.  Who is it that overcomes the world? Only he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God.

Therefore, no matter what the Devil tries to trick me with, because I have Jesus Christ as the Lord and Savior of my life, I will overcome the world. Which means that I no longer have to succumb to the evil that once threatened my very life, but now I can believe God and walk in his perfect peace, free from condemnation and free from fear.

The next thing that the lord showed me that as his child, I have not been given a spirit that was a slave to fear, it was not who I now was. Before I was a child of God, I was at the mercy of all that the devil could throw at me, but now, I was a child of the most High God and God said that he did not give me a spirit of fear!

I have to admit that even though I had read these verses, I still had to choose to put them into my belief system; I had to choose to believe God and his word, over what I felt inside of me. It was a process, of me learning to run to God and telling him that I was afraid, and then Him reminding me that I did not have a spirit of fear inside of me, but I had the Holy Spirit inside of me, and he was not afraid!

 Romans 8:15-16

“For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.”  The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. 

The next step in my recovery from fear was discovering what fear actually was, and the bible teaches that fear involves punishment, and because I am a child of God, I will never be punished for the sins that I had committed, not ever, if I have repented of them, I was free, free to bask in the grace of God’s love and Mercy. I now walked in the love of God, and was made perfect in that love, I did not have to fear that the love would be removed from me, or that I was going to end up with my salvation snatched from me, or that at some point, I would have to try to make amends for my sin. No I was free, free to be a child of God, and free of the death sentence that hangs over those who do not choose God.

I want to encourage you to turn all of your worries, anxieties and fears over to God, let him carry your burdens and start turning those worries into faith practices. Believing that God can and will set you free from them.

1John 4:18

There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.

As you can see, fear involves punishment and as children of God we have been made perfect in love, so therefore it is our responsibility as children of God to submit ourselves to God, and let him lead us out of the bondages of fear that the devil would try to put on us.

The lord promises in his word that if we would submit to God, the devil will flee from us. I have found this to be true, the more I practiced believing God about the fear that I felt, and letting him change my mind and ways concerning it, the more the enemy had to flee and had no power to lie to me.

James 4:7

 Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.

Therefore, I want to encourage you today, that if you find yourself in a place where fear is a constant companion, it does not have to be, Submit yourself to our loving heavenly father, and allow him to help you change your mind, about the power you have within you to overcome all fear, doubt and whatever other lie the enemy can throw at you.

If you believe in Jesus Christ, then you are his child and that gives you the authority and power to overcome all that the world and the devil can throw at you.

So, instead of letting fear defeat you for another minute, start using your sword of the spirit (the word of God) and defeat that devil. Stand firm on the word of God and he will help you to overcome it all.

I want to leave you with one more verse that I know will encourage you as much as it has me, it is found in Romans, and it says that when we are weak and do not know what we out to pray for, the Holy Spirit himself prays for us on our behalf, so even if you are caught in a cycle of defeating fear, ask the Holy Spirit to pray that you will be set free, and over time as you pray and seek the lord on becoming free, you will start to see that freedom become a reality in your life.

Be free, in Jesus Name!

Romans 8:26

 In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express.  And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God’s will. 

 

 

 

 

My Identity in Christ,

 1.     In Christ, I am loved by God, my father

2.     In Christ, I am a child of God,

3.     In Christ, God is my father, I can call him “abba” daddy

4.     In Christ, I am an heir  of God and co heir with Christ

5.     In Christ, I  am God Possession

6.     In Christ, I  have been given the mind of Christ

7.     In Christ I have been justified (declared innocent or guiltless; absolved; acquitted of my sins)

8.     In Christ, I have been glorified (to cause to be or treat as being more splendid, excellent, etc, than would normally be considered)

9.     In Christ, I am an over comer

10.   In Christ, I am more than a conqueror

11.   In Christ, I have eternal life,

12.   In Christ, I have been reconciled to God

13.   In Christ, I am saved by grace (unmerited favor)

14.   In Christ, I am alive in Christ, but dead to the sinful old self

15.   In Christ, I have been anointed by Christ

16.   In Christ, I am the fragrance of life to those who believe that Jesus is the son of God

17.   In Christ, I am the stench of death to those who are dying because of their refusal to believe in Jesus as the son of God.

18.   In Christ, I have been crucified with Christ, I no longer live but Christ lives in me.

19.   In Christ, I am redeemed

20.   In Christ, the Holy Spirit lives in me, by faith

21.   In Christ, I have eternity written on my heart ( Ecc 3:11)

22.   In Christ, I have been called heavenward

23.   In Christ, I am seated in the heavenlies, with Christ, we are raised up in the spiritual realms, we have the same power that he does.  Here on earth, (eph 2:6-7)

24.    In Christ, I am Holy,

25.   In Christ, I am blameless in his sight with out blemish

26.   In Christ, I am free of all accusations, in regard to my sin (Col 1:22)

27.   In Christ, I have the hope of glory, Christ in us (Col 1:27)

28.    In Christ, the fullness of the Deity lives in us, (Col 2:10)

29.    In Christ, I am purified of my sins (1John 1:7)

30.   In Christ, I have every spiritual blessing (eph 1)

31.   In Christ, I have been forgiven of all of my sins (Eph 1)

32.    In Christ, I have wisdom in insight into the mystery of his will

33.    In Christ, I have an eternal inheritance,

34.    In Christ, I have been sealed with the Holy Spirit

35.     In Christ, I have the power and the working strength of God’s mighty power (v 19-20)

36.     In Christ, I am Christ’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus, to do good works prepared in advanced for me to do.  (eph 2:10)

37.     In Christ, I am brought near to God by the blood of Christ.

38.     In Christ, I can boldly enter into the throne room of God at any time.

39.     In Christ, I am sanctified (1 Cor 1:2)

40.     In Christ, we are enriched in every way, in speech and knowledge (1 Cor 1:5)

41.     In Christ, we have been given every spiritual gift.

42.     In Christ, we will be kept strong until the end, when He returns. (1 cor 1:8)

43.     In Christ, we have not received the spirit from the world but the spirit that comes from God.   (this is to understand what God has freely given us)  (1Cor 12)

44.    In Christ, I have the mind of Christ, (1 Cor 2:16)

45. In Christ, I can lay down my past fears and failures, rejections and hurts and press on towards the goal of my salvation, Eternal life.

46. In Christ, I do not have to live like I used to live, but I ama new creation, therefore I can live free from the power of sin and it’s hold over my life.

Trading Independence for Dependence

I have been trained from early childhood to become an independent person, I can dress myself, feed myself, drive a vehicle, cook, clean, shop and think for myself, and I find it hard when I have to rely on others to help me when I could just do it myself.

I find it even harder to have to wait for someone to do something for me, it actually drives me batty, and especially if I know that I can just as easily do it myself.

As a Christian, the bible teaches us that we need to get to a place where we completely trust Jesus Christ to work on our behalf.

Proverbs 3:5-7

 Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight. Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD and shun evil.  This will bring health to your body and nourishment to your bones. 

The lord promises that when we lean on him and not on our own understanding for a situation that he will make our path straight, in other words he will show us the way. Often times though the answers don’t come as quickly as I would like them to.

I have been thinking about this whole concept of what it means to be truly dependent on the Lord and allowing him to work through our lives in spite of our weaknesses and I have come to realize that often times our weaknesses are often blessings in disguise as they make us more and more dependent on Him for everything.

For me personally I know that one of my greatest weakness is my independent streak, as I have a tendency to run off and forget to ask the Lord to direct my steps, I forget to ask him which is the best way and I forget to allow him full reign in what he is trying to do in my life.

But over time the lord is showing me that although it is good to be self-sufficient in some areas of my life, if I will surrender my will to his, he will always show me the best way to handle every situation I find myself in.

I have come to that place in my life where I want his will for my life, more than I want to fight and be fiercely independent, so therefore I am willing to allow this independence within me to be nailed to him so that I will always choose to surrender to him and allow him to work in my life, before I go running off willy nilly.

I have come to realize through this journey that Christ is the very air I breathe and the wisdom that I need as well as he is the Power that I need to propel me forward.

Therefore, the weakness that I find within myself, whether it is physical or emotional, presents a perfect opportunity for God to display his power through my life. I have looked at this independence sometimes as a curse, especially when I know that God wants me to trust him, and yet I trust myself more than him, but I am learning, that if I will let God have that area of my life he will be made strong in my weakness.

He will show me the better way, he will lead me where it is good for me, he will open doors for me that I would otherwise would have stood in front of and banged on. He will work through me to bring life to others around me.

You see the reason that this is important is because as Christians it is sometimes easy to get into a groove of independence and doing life our own way, and then dependence on God becomes harder for us to do.

I am not sure about you, if you fight this same battle as I do, but I do know this, that God rewards us for being willing to lay aside all our weaknesses and allow him to show himself strong to us, and the world around us in the process.

We have a great example of that, right now, in the world that we live in; we have the East and the West.

The West, has had it easy, we have had riches, technology, food, freedom to practice whatever religion we want without any serious repercussions.

The East on the other hand, has had lack, persecution, poverty, corrupt governments and no religious freedom.

Which part of the body do you think is doing better spiritually, I would love to say the rich West but that would be a lie. The truth is, because of all the conveniences and the independence, and self-reliance in the West, the church has forgotten what it says in Proverbs 3, that we are to lean not on our own understanding, but on the understanding of God instead.

The East on the other hand has had no choice but to learn trust God for their basic needs as well as survival. They are thriving, even though it is done in secret.

If you find yourself in a place of fierce independence where you do your own thing, and rely on your own strength and finances and wisdom, you will find yourself eventually in a place of barrenness and far from God, but if you humble yourself before him, and ask him to lead you, to teach you his ways, and to fill your heart with a desire to be surrendered to him, you will live a life that is so rich, and filled with adventure that you will never want to go back to the old way again.

This example might not be your particular weakness that you struggle with in your life, and you might view the weakness in your life as a curse, you might stutter, or be incredibly shy or you might be incredibly fearful.

Whatever that weakness is that stops you from living an abundant life in God, I want to encourage you to ask the lord for him to be made strong in that weakness, for him to speak through you when you are called upon, or to give you courage when you are afraid or boldness to do something you never dreamt of doing. The lord loves you with a deep and everlasting love, he wants to empower and strengthen you to fulfill the plans and purposes that he has for you. He will not reject you when you call out to him, but instead he will come and show himself to you in ways that you never dreamed of.

Sometimes what we see as a curse or an annoyance could actually be a gift from God, through which he will bring blessings and fullfillment to your life. Ask the lord to show you if what you see as a weakness or even what you are gowing through right now, is to be prayed away or are you to take it as a gift to be used for his glory.

So my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ, admit your weaknesses to the lord, and allow him to be made strong in them, and then allow him to work through those weaknesses to impact the world around you.

I pray that the lord will bless you as you seek him out

Ephesians 3:14 – 21

For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom his whole family in heaven and on earth derives its name.  I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge–that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.   Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen. 

 

 

The Battle for Control

 Have you ever found yourself in the middle of a fight with your teen, thinking:  how can we be seeing this so differently?  Why can’t my teen understand that I’m doing this to protect him? 

 Often, when we argue with our teens, we are fighting for two different things.  Parents fight for protection.  Teens fight for control.

 As a parent, we have a tendency to control our kids to protect them.  It makes sense.  We want to ensure that our kids have the best opportunities for life.  But in that protection, our high-control techniques keep them from exercising muscle that will actually strengthen their character in the long run.

 It’s like getting a new car.  When you pull your new wheels into the driveway, it looks gorgeous.  It’s clean, sleek, and perfect.  And then, you drive it.  After you put on a couple thousand miles, it gets dings in the door and scratches in the paint.  The shine wears off.  You have the choice to keep the car in perfect condition, but you would need to keep it in the garage to do so.

 The way we control our kids is similar.  If you keep them away from the world, they won’t experience the pain and hurt that normally comes with everyday life.  But keeping your kids isolated in the garage has an inherent problem:  someday they will be forced to drive out into the world.  Do you really want the first time your child gets hurt or makes a mistake to be when they are away from you?  Whether that’s away at college, or when their primary relationship is with a boyfriend or girlfriend, the mistakes they make will be a lot more costly if they aren’t in relationship with you.

 Adolescence is about the transition teens make from childhood to adulthood.  In order to allow this to happen, they need to have opportunities to make choices in their lives.  Teens really want three things:  to make decisions about themselves, to feel like they’re in control, and to have opportunities to prove their maturity and to show you that they can do it.  It’s not a surprise that they want these things.  When your kids were young, they learned about growing up.  They used you as their model and formed their own hopes and expectations for adulthood on what they saw in you.  Now that they are teens, they are breaking away from having their identity tied so tightly to you as their parent, and because of this, they encounter this struggle for control.

 As a parent, when you don’t allow your teens to have opportunities for control, they can respond with rebellious behavior.  Sometimes, they withdraw from opportunities.  They may become aloof or lazy and will just coast through life.  Other times, teens can fight for control through making choices without your counsel, or will intentionally rebel against how you have counseled them.  At some point, you aren’t going to be able to influence your teen.  Whether your teen is out of the area for college, the military, or a job, your ability to speak into your child’s life will decrease.  When this happens, what you have done up until that point will be the primary source of guidance that your teen will have to reflect on – so it’s wise to make the most of the time you have with them right now.

 If you aren’t sure whether you are controlling your teen’s life, ask them!  Hey, I’m sure your son or daughter will be brutally honest when you simply ask the question.  And an open line of communication is one of the most important things you can do to strengthen your relationship with your teen.  Whether or not your teen thinks you are controlling, give them more things to be responsible for.  Think about chores around the house, and responsibilities they have in school or extracurricular activities.  Every piece of life is an opportunity to give your child a chance to grow his own ability to apply the lessons you have taught them.  If you are controlling every aspect of your child’s life, later on, they will not know how to respond to the things that life throws at them.

 As you give your child more opportunities for responsibility, be ready to support them in both success and in failure.  Having your teen become more responsible may be exciting to you in the beginning, but if you don’t build that sense of trust between you and your teen that you will be there when they fail, the responsibility you give them will end up demoralizing and frustrating them.

 With the right balance of responsibility and opportunity, your child can begin to build a sense of independence and character needed to transition from adolescence to adulthood.  On this weekend’s Parenting Today’s Teens broadcast, we will talk to pastor and father of four, Joey O’Connor.  Joey shares his perspective on this matter and I’m confident you will appreciate his insight.

 It’s hard to think about your teen growing up.  We like the young and innocent phase, and it’s a little threatening when our children begin to emerge as young adults.  At times, when your teen makes goofy choices or makes stupid mistakes, you will be tempted to seize control so that you can protect them.  The secret is finding a healthy balance to allowing freedom while building trust with your teen.

 As parents, let’s do our best to stop controlling and start inviting our teens to greater levels of responsibility.  The rewards will be rich as we watch them develop into responsible and independent adults.

 

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.

 

 

Be imitators of God

It has been a while since I have last written for my website, as I have felt that I needed to have a rest, but just recently the lord has graciously given me the desire to get back into the saddle again.

Therefore, I wanted to write an article that reflected a bit of what the lord has been teaching me lately. That is, to be an imitator of God, as his dearly loved child.

The question I have asked many times over the years is this, how do I truly imitate God so that my life really reflects that he is living within me?

Ephesians 5:1 says:

Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children; and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma.  (NASB)

Well the bible is full of wisdom on how to imitate God in righteousness, but the one issue that the lord has been working on me in the last few weeks has been the power in my tongue.

Yes, I am back to this lesson again, and I believe it is because it is easy to become complacent in the use of that little instrument.

So here are a few of the lessons that I have been learning, and by no means perfected.

  • Proverbs 11:9 With his mouth the godless man destroys his neighbor, But through knowledge the righteous will be delivered
  • As a Christian I need to realize that through my knowledge of good and evil and what God desires from me, I must not use my mouth to destroy the people around me, by speaking ill of them and or even listening to others speak ill of them. I need to keep my mouth from evil.
  • Proverbs 11:11  By the blessing of the upright a city is exalted, But by the mouth of the wicked it is torn down. 
  • I can either be a part of the blessing to others and bring life and joy to a place because of what comes out of my mouth, or I can be like the wicked (non believer) and speak evil of everything and everyone.
  •  Proverbs 11:12 He who despises his neighbor lacks sense, But a man of understanding keeps silent. 
  • I need to understand, that sometimes I just need to shut up!!! I do not need to voice my lofty opinion on every subject all of the time. Especially if it breeds division and slander.
  •  Proverbs  11:13 He who goes about as a talebearer reveals secrets, But he who is trustworthy conceals a matter.
  • I need to remember not to be a gossip, intentionally or unintentionally, what do I have to gain by speaking about something that I have no business speaking about? I must be aware that gossip will not only separate me from the person whom I am speaking about, but it has the potential of wrecking any hope of a friendship between the person that I am speaking to and the person that I am speaking about. Stop while I am ahead, is my new motto.
  • Ephesians  4:29 Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear. 
  • Yes I think the above verse speaks for itself, I need to use my mouth for good and not evil, building people up in godliness and not playing a part in bringing destruction into their lives.
  •  Ephesians  4:30 Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 
  • I will grieve the Holy Spirit, if I continue to act in a way that is evil and useless, and to be honest I really do not every want to do that, so I need to make sure that I put a guard over my mouth.
  •  Ephesians  4:31 Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. 
  • You can see from the above verse that this is the reason for people using their mouths for evil; as sometimes we have allowed bitterness to mature within our hearts, or it could have been some anger that we felt against another person, and therefore feel  justified when we spoke evil of them, or it was out of pure malice that we found ourselves taking actual joy in tearing another down. This must not be, we as Christians, have to lay these old ways down and allow the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts and minds with his love in order for us to love instead of rip others apart.
  •  Ephesians 4:32 Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.
  • This verse I think sums it up, that we need to be kind and tender hearted to those around us, instead of holding grudges and speaking ill of them or allowing ourselves to be caught up in the temptation to listen to others speak ill of them, we need to be willing to forgive them, to love them and to remember that God has through his great love for us, forgiven our sins, through Christ Jesus.

 So where do we go from here?

My prayer for myself and now also for you is that the Lord will reveal to you, and to me when we fall into the temptation to use idle words, words that bring about destruction instead of hope and healing. My prayer is that the lord will put a guard over our minds, mouth and heart, in order that we will only think of things that bring life, and not death, that our hearts would be transformed by the out flowing of the good that is stored there, through the knowledge of what God desires for us, and that our mouths would speak of that good and bring life to all around us.

 If you feel that the Holy Spirit is tugging on your heart right now, because of what you have just read, Yay God!!!!

 That just means that he wants for you to bring out some changes into your life, in your thought patterns and your speech patterns as well as your heart, and what dwells there. There is no time like the present to ask the lord to forgive you, if you feel that you have used your mouth for less than wholesome purposes.

He is always willing to forgive you and bring full restoration into your life.

 As for me, I realize that this is going to be a life time thing, where I will always have to learn how to keep my mouth from evil, but I know with the help of the lord, I can do it and that all is not lost for me, as he teaches me once again, to cleanse my mouth and use it for his glory and not my destruction.

 

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.