Give them Grace!

Give Them Grace: Dazzle Your Kids 

with the Love of Jesus

Sarah Markley over at The Best Days of My Life posted a wonderful story about how we are called to respond to our children For the Times We Don’t Have Any Idea What We Are Doing.  If you are a parent, this is a must read blog.

From her story and insight I would swear she was a fly on my wall just last week. I have a wonderful daughter who is approaching the teen years, and as emotions and hormones clash with immaturity, the resulting product has been some rather significant altercations between the two of us. Last week, I called my husband in desperation, frustration, and fear and exclaimed “I don’t know what else to do with her.”

The very questions I was asking last week, Sarah addressed in her blog. As parents, how do we deal with a child who still sees life “darkly” and through the veil of inexperience and immaturity? How do we get them to make wise decisions, weighing the consequences of their choices versus the effect it will have in their life long-term? I appreciated Sarah’s challenge to respond in the following way  “When we don’t know what to do, forgive. When we don’t know how to move forward, love. When we don’t know how to fix it, seek to reconcile and redeem.”

The Lord is amazing and He also led me to a book titled Give Them Grace: Dazzling your kids with the love of Jesus. This book was recommended to me by over half a dozen godly, veteran parents. My book arrived yesterday, and I dung into it today and my spirit was encouraged. I was blown away by the wisdom and truth found in just the “foreword.”

Here are just a few nuggets from the beginning of the book:

“It may come as a surprise to you, but God wants much more for your children (obedient life, polite, no vulgar language, no addiction to porn, good job, great marriage, not caught up in really bad stuff) and you should too. God wants them to get the gospel. And this means that parents are responsible to teach them about the drastic, uncontrollable nature of amazing grace.”

“The irony of gospel-based sanctification is that those who end up obeying more are those who increasingly realize that their standing with God is not based on their obedience but in Christ’s.

“The law of God shows us what God commands, which of course, is good but the law of God does not posses the power to enable us to do what it says….the law guides but it does not give. The law shows us what a sanctified life looks like but it does not have sanctifying power…The power to obey, in other words, comes from being moved and motivated by the completed work of Jesus. So while the law directs, only the gospel can drive us.

If that wasn’t a bucket load of truth to feast on, I don’t know what is!!! In a world where 60%-88% of young adults are walking away from the church, and God, the call to Dazzle Our Kids With the Love of Jesus isn’t just a quaint suggestion, it is our calling and duty.

I would like to present what I think is one of the most important giveaways I have ever offered. I will be giving away 2 copies of this book. You can receive multiple entries by sharing this blog via any social media outlets you frequent (I have FB, Twitter, Digg, and a few others listed below) and by visiting Sarah’s blog and reading her sage advice on this topic. Just return once and in the comment field let me know what ways you shared.

As a parent, my children’s lives and spiritual health are a great burden to me. I would lay down my life for them if I could, but “no man can give a ransom for the life of another, for it is precious in the sight of God” and His alone to save. We would jump in front to take a bullet in the chest to save their lives, but so often neglect the gritty, day-in-and-day-out duties and sacrifices needed to protect them from the spiritual bullets satan is hurling at them. Often it is because we are lazy, selfish, or spiritually not where we should be either. Would you join me and  take up the challenge to “Dazzle your kids?”

Drawing will be held Friday, July 13th, so stay tuned

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Learning to live with a heart that is broken but a life is not.

Living with a Heart that is Broken, but a life that is not!

Beth Moore at Living Proof Ministries is hosting her women’s summer Bible study. I signed up at Women’s Bible Cafe to join over 600 women who will participate in this study via online and community small groups. We are studying the book of Nehemiah and using Kelly Minter’s book Nehemiah: A heart that can break. 

There is still time to join over 600 dear, like-minded, passionate “Siestas” in Christ. You can follow along personally, join a virtual small group (what I am doing), or hook up with a group in your area. Check out any of the above links for information.

Brokenness isn’t an activity your normal human being would sign up to experience. Everything about the word screams run, but when we are straining to “see the unseen”, and to live for the “Eternal” versus the temporal, brokenness should become our hearts desire and aim.

Over the next few weeks I will post thoughts and insights gleaned from this study. My heart has all ready been blessed as I have joined in prayer with women I have never met, yet feel great love and compassion for. What a powerful image six-hundred women, on their faces before the Lord, crying out for brokenness, evokes!

To ask the Lord to break my heart with the things that break His, is a daring prayer. It is not a self-seeking desire to suffer for the purpose of winning the praise and accolades of man, nor is it an attempt to obtain righteousness through works. The desire to have a heart, broken by God, is a desire to see and feel as He sees and feels. It is a prayer to have myself moved out-of-the-way so I can see and be moved by the pain, suffering, need, and hopelessness of man. A heart, broken by the Spirit of the Living God, is to posses a heart that mourns over the destruction that sin is wreaking in the hearts of fallen man.

 

Today, as we studied the prayer and heart of Nehemiah found in chapter 1:1-5, A verse kept coming to mind:

Psalm 17:15

15 As for me,

I will behold thy face in righteousness:

I shall be satisfied,

when I awake, with thy likeness.

I believe this desire should be the heart and sum of all we strive to do and be as children of God. A broken and contrite heart He will not turn away! Would you be daring enough to embrace the cry, “Lord break my heart?” Can you utter with me. in Your brokenness, let me become Your likeness, and in Your likeness there let me dwell satisfied?

The truth and reality of the fallen world we live in is  that everyone we will be broken.  The question we must ask ourselves is what will we allow to break us, sin or a Savior?

 

Matthew 21:44

And whosoever shall fall on this stone

shall be broken:

but on whomsoever it shall fall,

it will grind him to powder.

The world will crush and break us ruthlessly, our Heavenly Father breaks us with love, compassion and a divine, God glorifying purpose.

Only One can promise fulfillment with abandonment, and bring beauty from ashes. Only one Master can satisfy and fulfill the desires and yearning of the yielded and broken heart.

Lord God Almighty, posses and reign my heart and life. Make is soft so that it weeps when you weep, delights when you
delight, and breaks at what breaks yours. O Father, I shall be satisfied only when I awake with your likeness, when there is less of me for the world to see. Amen

My Prayer for you: Truth

Truth….will set you free

Truth:

We are told to acquire it, no matter the cost, and to never relinquish it once it is in our possession.

Proverbs 23:23
Buy truth, and do not sell it; buy wisdom, instruction, and understanding.

God delights in the man who posses it.

Psalm 51:6
Behold, you delight in truth in the inward being, and you teach me wisdom in the secret heart.

God is near the man whose conversation is guided by it.

Psalm 145:18
The LORD is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth.

True worship requires it.

John 4:23
But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him.

It brings freedom.

John 8:32
“and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

A relationship with the Father is made possible by it.

John 14:6
Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

It brings sanctification and cleansing.

John 17:17
Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.

It holds our faith and everything we believe and confess together.

Ephesians 6:14
Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness,

He demands that truth resides in our inward parts because He is the Truth, and the center of our life is where He delights to dwell. For the lost, afflicted, weak and needy, no other word contains greater meaning, power, hope, or reward? Jesus Christ the Way, Truth, and Life purifies the sin afflicted heart and unshackles the weary and groaning prisoner. Once given free reign within the heart of man, the liberating power of truth ignites the irrepressible worship of the redeemed.

Truth may be intangible and unseen, but it’s fruit and the effect of its presence upon the heart and life of mankind is not. I praise the Lord, because we have seen the truth, and felt its imprint seared eternally upon our hearts, life, and marriage. My prayer for you today has been that you would be empowered by the truth that  brought you liberty, and that you would cherish the truth that transformed your life. I pray that you would cling tightly to it, be guided by it, and live your life according to it. May you weigh every thought, impulse, and decision with the light of Truth. May He guide your heart and mind today and as you seek truth may you find the sweet presence of He who is Truth!

My prayer for you: Taste and See

My Prayer for you: That you might see

Psalm 34:8

In scripture we find numerous paradox’s. We are admonished to “see the unseen” and we strive to do so because we know that one day the physical realm we live in will pass away.  The paradox of living for the unseen and eternal versus the physical and temporal is a hard concept to grasp and implement in our lives, but it is a discipline we endeavor to master because it has significant and eternal ramifications.

With this in mind, this verse has always intrigued me. John 4:24 states that God is a spirit and therefore must be worshiped in spirit and truth but in Psalm 34, David encourages us to taste and experience that God, a Spirit,  is good.  Our relationship with Christ affords the amazing opportunity to meld the spiritual with the physical.

God the Father sent His Spirit to dwell in the souls of redeemed man and because the Spirit of the Living God dwells within me, I can abide and walk in the spirit. It is truly amazing to be able to experience “The Truth” dividing asunder the cords that once imprisoned me, and to see His Spirit at work in my life.

My prayer today has been that together,we would walk in the power of the Spirit. My prayer is that as a couple, unified by the Spirit, we would experience and taste the very real and present goodness of God as He works in our lives to draw us to Himself.

May you Rejoice!

I Chronicles 16:8-12
Oh give thanks to the Lord; call upon his name;
make known his deeds among the peoples!
9 Sing to him, sing praises to him;
tell of all his wondrous works!
10 Glory in his holy name;
let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice!
11 Seek the Lord and his strength;
seek his presence continually!
12 Remember the wondrous works that he has done,

There are no other memories I cherish more than the moment I first caught sight of my husband-to-be, nervously waiting for me at the altar.  That surreal moment in time represented the culmination of so many hopes, dreams, and prayers. My job of “Watering the camels” had come to an end, and if you could have looked inside my chest, you would have seen my heart leaping in sheer joy as I made my way down to David. Every ounce of my body, soul, and spirit exalted and rejoiced as I made my way to the God-given answer to years of waiting and hundreds of tearful but resolute prayers for a husband and companion. Had there been time that day, we could have spent hours recounting the most amazing story of God’s guidance, protection, mercy, and provision in our lives. Our story was a testimony of His glorious faithfulness, as He patiently worked and moved to intersect our lives and hearts to become one. On that day, we Rejoiced!!!!

Today my husband, I am giving thanks to the Lord for you. Our lives are beautifully marked with the fingerprints of the Holy, Righteous, Living God. Every page of our story contains the unmistakable bold, rich, strokes of His abundant mercy, love, and grace. My heart rejoices as I think back over the past 10 year and my spirit exalts as I look ahead with curiosity to the future that has been set aside for us since the beginning of time.

My prayer today is that He would bring to mind the innumerable moments in time when He demonstrated His love, compassion, and faithfulness to you. May your heart be overcome with a sense of awe and wonder as you recall precise Divine interactions with Him. May these moments wipe away any doubt or fear of His love, presence, power, or favor for you! My prayer is that the 33 years of His presence and work so clearly evidenced in your life would be a source of joy. May His deeds in the past be a cause for you to rejoice today regardless of the pressures and trials you face. He has loved you with an everlasting love, revel in His love, and the endless provision of power and grace evidenced in your life.

 Photo Credits: http://www.halbergphotographers.com/blog/2011/04/

My Abba, Papa, Daddy Father

Romans 8:15 

For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear,
but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons,
by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!”
When I think about adoption, I envision an eager husband and wife nervously awaiting for the arrival of the child they will soon call their own.


The journey they have taken to get to this point involved mounds of paperwork. They have made innumerable sacrifices both physically and mentally in order to obtain the right to call another’s baby their own. They have endured a grueling waiting game filled with unexpected twists, turns, and disappointments. Soon they will take that special child in their hands and walk away not just husband and wife but mother and father.


I can’t fathom the feelings or emotions parents experience when they have literally laid everything on the line in order to adopt. I am humbled by the testimony of men and women who have sought out not just the abandoned and orphaned but also the sick, diseased, and “unwanted.”

 


Recently, I stumbled upon a site seeking parents for “unwanted” foreign children. All the children on this site had health issues ranging from mild to severe, but the profiles that broke my heart were those of older children who were months away from being removed from the adoption agency’s system. These orphaned children were painfully aware that if no one came forward, their next birthday meant an end to their hopes of ever finding parents and becoming part of a real family. Age thirteen wasn’t a day they looked forward to because t didn’t mean a driving permit, but rather that an institution or street would soon become their new permanent home.


While I can not fathom the feelings, emotions, or pain of these children, in a spiritual sense I am not unlike them. The amazing thing about my story is that when the Lord formed me, chose me, and called me to Himself, I was not a beautiful, innocent,or lovable infant, I was sick and marred by sin.  I was unlovable, “Father”-less, and destined for a life of depravity on the “streets and institutions” of this world. My prospects weren’t just a life of hopelessness but of judgment and death.


Then the Lord of the Universe stepped in. Christ didn’t just collect money to purchase the right to adopt me, He didn’t fill out paperwork in order to declare Himself worthy to redeem my life, He did something infinitely grander. He became my Abba Father through the blood of His son.


If led by the Lord, it would not be hard to exhaust our life savings or make the required physical sacrifices necessary to adopt a baby, but never in a thousand years would I consider sacrificing my own beautiful children in order to adopt and redeem a diseased, mentally broken vagrant living in jail.


As we celebrate Father’s day, and as I reflected upon the blessing my father and my husband David has been to me, I want to take a moment to reflect upon the one who has given and sacrificed infinitely more for me. He is my Papa, my daddy, and He delighted in me when there was nothing to delight in. He loved me when I was unlovable, sacrificing the priceless for the worthless.


Thank you Father for your grace and mercy, and for your unspeakable love for me. You have withheld nothing from my life except the judgment I deserve.  All I have ever needed you have bountifully provided. May I walk worthy of the new name I bear, and may my life be a living example of the liberating power of a loving Father!

My Prayer for you: Quietness

Quietness

Isaiah 32:17
And the effect of righteousness will be peace,

and the result of righteousness, quietness and trust forever.

One of the most mind-boggling fruits of a life yielded to Christ is the ability to be at peace and to have a quite spirit in the midst of great turmoil and pain.

Peace and quietness stands in glaring contrast to a world ruled by chaos. Quietness shines like a brightly lit neon sign stuck smack dab in the middle of black nothingness. It draws others to itself like moths to a lit bulb. Quietness and peace boldly proclaim a message of hope to those who are being crushed under great burdens of grief, anxiety, fear, and guilt. Quietness meekly whispers, there is something bigger than your pain, and there is someone stronger than what afflicts your soul.

Today my husband I am praying that the power and strength of the Lord would anoint you as you relax and recover from a long week of stress, turmoil, and physical exhaustion. My prayer is that as He transforms and strengthens you with might in the inner depths of your heart, soul, mind, and spirit, that a quietness and confidence would shine loudly from your life. May you humbly seek His face, openly be weak in His presence, and allow His Joy to shine from your life. May your ability to be quiet in the face of turmoil, pain, weakness, and need be a bold and powerful testimony of His power and ability to redeem sinful man. May peace reign in your heart today my husband, may His righteousness be your confidence.

 Isaiah 30:15

For thus said the Lord GOD, the Holy One of Israel,

“In returning and rest you shall be saved;

in quietness and in trust shall be your strength. “

Photo Credits:quietness http://tonchee.deviantart.com/art/quietness-113749145

My Prayer for you: Perserverance

Power

Isaiah 40:28-31

28 Have you not known? Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God,
the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He does not faint or grow weary;
his understanding is unsearchable.
29 He gives power to the faint,
and to him who has no might he increases strength.
30 Even youths shall faint and be weary,
and young men shall fall exhausted;
31 but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength;
they shall mount up with wings like eagles;
they shall run and not be weary;
they shall walk and not faint.

I am not sure why, but when I think of the word power, the first image that comes to mind is a pink bunny with earphones and a drum. I am sure glad that in real life, my confidence and source of strength and power doesn’t come from a man-made consumable battery or bunny for that matter.

God isn’t just powerful, He is power. The ability to create the universe by commanding it into existence is sheer, raw, unparalleled power! I can barely keep my head from popping off when all three kids clamor at the same time for my attention, yet the God of the Universe can listen intently, personally, and intentionally to every prayer being uttered, by every soul crying out to Him, while at the same time holding all things together by the “Power of His word.

This is my Papa, my Advocate, my Benefactor, my source of Strength and Might, and according to His Word, Power endues to His Children power,  so that they can be renewed, mount up, soar, run, and walk.

Today my Husband, I am praying for the anointing of the power of the Lord upon you. Weather He asks you to fly, run, or simply walk, may you draw upon His Power. I pray you do not get discourage by your own weaknesses and limitations, for in those moments of God ordained humility, His strength flows freely and His grace will rest firmly upon you. I look at you and wonder what the Lord has in store for you, for us. No matter that He asks of you, and where He calls us, His Power will be present. May you follow hard  and finish well, and may your life bring glory and honor to Him as His power is made perfect. Amen

Credits:
Image Credit: M16, the “Eagle nebula”  NASAESA, and The Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA)

My Prayer for you: Opportunity

Opportunity

Joshua 8:7
Then ye shall rise up from the ambush,

and seize upon the city:

for the LORD your God will deliver it into your hand.

War is flat-out scary, dangerous, and filled with uncertainty and the unknown.  When an army engages in battle, they can’t predict how long they will have to fight, how many lives will be sacrificed, or who will win in the end.

I have heard harrowing narratives by WW2 veterans who stormed the beaches of Normandy. They speak of the gut wrenching terror that enveloped them as they approached the beach and the imposing stronghold of the German Army. As their water-crafts slid across the frothy green ocean,  they waited with dreaded anticipation for the moment when the ramp of their personnel carriers would open exposing them to the merciless torrents of enemy gunfire. In those moments, their biggest challenge was simply to clear the ramp and escape the motorized metal coffins that carried them to the front lines. Many never made it off their boats, and of those who did, thousands still paid the ultimate sacrifice , dying on the sandy shores of Normandy, painted red by their blood. Some never even fired a single shot.

Can you imagine what it would be like to ride into battle with a guarantee that you would not only win, but that the enemy would be delivered over to you by the hand of God Himself? Israel had been rescued from the bondage of Egypt, they had crossed over the Red Sea on dry ground, they drank water from a rock, were led by a pillar of fire and cloud, and they ate food sent from heaven. They personally experienced the power, wrath, and mercy of Jehovah. The God who spoke to them and cared for the like no other pagan god had or could, had given them their marching orders, but along with the command to go to battle came the guarantee of victory through Divine intervention.

Now that is the kind of battle I want to fight, and it is the kind of battle I can fight every day. Today my prayer for David is that he would see and seize every God ordained opportunity for victory. My prayer is that he preserver, endure, finish well, and revel in the wealth at the end each every battle and challenge he faces today. No temptation is too strong, no customer too unreasonable, no burden too heavy to carry. God has called him into the arena of life and through the Blood of His Son guaranteed him the victory.

Father, anoint my husband with your Spirit, the quickening Spirit of the Living God of the Universe. Be his desire, his Rock, his deliverer. Let his passion for you empower and drive him with courage and expectancy into the battles he will face today and let him seize hold of every opportunity to subdue, conquer, and overcome. Let him experience the sweet taste of victory and reap the deserved rewards of a battle well fought. Let no blessing or opportunity to fight, win, grow, and establish his faith and love for you pass him by. Amen

Credits: http://www.ddaymuseum.co.uk/d-day/d-day-and-the-battle-of-normandy-your-questions-answered
Photos: Jaws http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Into_the_Jaws_of_Death_23-0455M_edit.jpg

My prayer for you: Numbered Days

Psalm 90:12

 So teach us to number our days,

that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom.

There have been moments in my chaotic life when I have dreamed about the extraordinary lives of the pioneers who traveled across the vast expanses of our country. While these families endured extreme hardships, suffering under conditions  that would bring many of us soft, spoiled, Americans to our knees, their lives were simple. There weren’t TV sitcoms, internet, Facebook, Twitter, gym memberships, practices, and even blogs, to occupy every waking moment, just life and living. Their daily schedule went something like this – Do what you have to do to survive or you will starve and your family will perish.

Today we don’t just work to put food on out tables and clothes on the backs of our families, we have careers. We hang titles before and after our name to identify who we are, what we have, and what we want to accomplish. We have collections that identify our passions and gym memberships to increase and showcase our physical prowess and abilities. We no longer number our days, but rather the activities we can pack into them.

Jobs are necessary, and fun activities that keep us healthy and bring our families together are not a sin, but often times we forget why we are here and more importantly where we are going. Somehow scrambled among the necessities and excesses of life is the secret of true significance and balance and we have to find it, strive for it, esteem it and live for it. Today my prayer for David is that He would be able to walk through the day with an “Eternal”  “Forever” perspective.

Father, you would not ask us to see with eyes we are not capable to possessing. You have told us to strain for the sweet glimpses of the unseen and Eternal. Truly our days are numbered, our opportunities waning. Give David the wisdom to live in the present life and physical world you have placed him in, but let his gaze be fixed upon the you, and your Eternal purpose and plan for his life, family, and business. May the passion that drives him each day be the desire to see and proclaim the Glory and power of your Name! As David deals with physical people, schedules, deadlines, money, bills, needs, and blessed fruit of his labor, keep his head clear, his sight sharp, his heart pure, and his desire for you burning like a devouring flame. Help him prioritize not only his schedule but also his goals, relationships, aspirations, dreams, and desires. Give Him wisdom and lead and guide Him through his days. Amen