Just LEAVE ME ALONE!


Have you heard those words …  from one of your kids?Leave-Me-Alone-I-Know-What-I-m-Doing-T-Shirts  How about from your spouse?  Maybe, you said them.    It’s a cry of , “I don’t want to deal with it.”  Sometimes we think ignoring something will make it go away.  Sometimes dealing with an issue is worse than the issue.  Kind of like the old saying, “the cure is worse than the illness.”

Matthew 8:33-34 NASB  “The herdsmen ran away, and went to the city and reported everything, including what had happened to the demoniacs. And behold, the whole city came out to meet Jesus; and when they saw Him, they implored Him to leave their region.”

They were comfortable with their lives.  They did not want them interrupted.  Some people will not hear the Lord, because they are afraid of what they’ll have to give up to live for Him.   Many accept Him and then hold back parts of their lives, not willing to give up what is “theirs”.  Truth is, it’s all His … holding back just keeps you from getting what He has for you.

Are you comfortable with your sin?  Do you want God to leave you alone?  Deal with it now, because until you do God will keep nudging you.  He chastens you much like you do your children to clean up their room, do their homework.   You do so because it is good for them and because you love them.  God will keep after His children to mold them as they “grow up” as well.

Hebrews 12:6 NLT “For the LORD disciplines those he loves, and he punishes each one he accepts as his child.”

He loves each and every one of us.  He never stops loving you and will never stop loving you.  It is safe to turn over everything to Him, every little corner.  If you do not, you still have a toehold on your life, and so does satan*.  You will never be satisfied with your life as long as you are in control, and neither will He.

Is God satisfied with you?
*satan, devil – I know people capitalize the “S” or “D” but, I don’t.  I refuse to give him any status of importance.  He’s a snake, so satan, devil, etc. are lower case, as he is one.

Pick Your Battles!


Is that what God is asking parents to do?  Pick the battles?  Are not all battles HIS?  Which means the victor is decided, so why not fight the battle?  So by picking your battles are you not just really choosing which ones not to fight?  Really?  Leaving them for satan* to claim without a struggle?  Hey, it is your child, not somebody else … certainly not satan’s* (although I have heard parents say their child is the spawn of satan* in jest.  Sad, right?)

Acts 9:1-21 ~  God turned Saul into Paul.  Saul saw Jesus …  Paul praised Jesus.  Jesus brings change.  There is no child that cannot be made into a child of God by Jesus.  Show them Jesus in you.   Be careful what they see, hear and say.  It is a parent’s job; not the churches, not the schools.  They can only reinforce.  If God made you a mother or a father, then be the parent.   PARENTS decide.  You do not lord over them, however, you set the parameters, the borders in which they live their lives.   You cannot ‘pick’ battles.   They are all battles that God has won. If something they are doing is really bothering you then sit them down and tell them what it is, why it is wrong and why it is not going to be allowed.   Don’t wave it off because you don’t want to ‘fight that battle’.  Realize that the thing that is bothering you is the Holy Spirit telling you to be the parent.

Let me give you a couple of recent examples:

 Mom comes into store and asks for some HipHop/Rap artists.   She says she doesn’t know what to do.  She hates the music, cannot understand it and doesn’t want it in their home.  She says she hopes the words are okay, it’s hard to understand and is so loud.  Then she says, “What are you to do? You have to pick your battles.”

Another mother walks in with her preteen and teen daughters.  Mini-shorts would be longer on these girls.  Cheeky is an understatement.   She sees the eyes of women around her and sighs, “What’s a mom to do? At least I know where they are.  You have to pick your battles”.

Neither of these are picking battles, nor are they parenting.  They simply do not want confrontation.  The truth is, if Jesus is not seen in their child, they have handed the battle over, that Jesus has already won, to satan*.   If the Message cannot be discerned in the music, if it cannot be understood, then it is just noise.   If the appearance is not modest, if it implies you are anything but a Christian, then it is not for your darlings.

You do NOT pick your battles.  You can choose what IS a battle.  Let me assure you, the Holy Spirit will let you know where to draw the line.  Ignoring it is NOT PICKING YOUR BATTLES.   Where problems arise is when parents never set boundaries.  When they are little you teach them to dress as Christians.  That does not mean they are in long robes, unfashionable, etc.  It means, you teach them their Christian character must show through the clothes.  When my girls were toddlers I would lay out clothes for the day from which they could choose.  They did not pick pj’s to wear to church (as I have seen done) simply because those were not within the boundaries for that day.  When they were old enough to help choose the clothes they wanted to wear, I would scout out the store if possible before hand.  If not, as we walked through I would point out areas they could choose from.  When they started wearing makeup they were taught that if someone says, “nice eye makeup, love the eyeliner,  or nice lipstick, ….”  instead of, “you look nice”, then they had on too much of the item.

In other words, making something stand out overwhelms the total person.  They never wore words on their backsides.  Never understood why parents would want everyone walking by to stare at their daughters backside.  Just think about it.  Seriously?  And cleavage?  Seriously?  The current fashions include showing your boxers, your bras, …. seriously?  THOSE ARE BATTLES.  God holds you responsible for your child’s testimony.  There is no way that people are looking at your child and thinking wow look at that testimony for Christ.  If their appearance causes lust, you are responsible before God.  Women and their daughters baring shoulders, thighs, anything that would cause a man to stumble in church just blows my mind.   How are they going to stand before God and say, “I was just picking my battles.  They were in church weren’t they?”

It is your job to teach your son and daughter to walk, talk and look Godly, not worldly.  They can be very fashionable within parameters set by His word.  They do not need to be social outcasts.  Parents that succumb to their kids dress wishes, music wishes, curfew wishes have long ago allowed the child to be the parent.  Taking back your role as parent will not be pretty, battles never are.  Jesus won that battle, ask Him how to proceed.

1 Thessalonians 2:12 (NASB) “that you would walk in a manner worthy of the God who calls you into His own kingdom and glory.”

Ephesians 4:1-2 (HCSB) “Therefore I, the prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk worthy of the calling you have received, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, acceptingone another in love…”

*satan – I know people capitalize the “S” but, I don’t.  I refuse to give him any status of importance.  He’s a snake, so satan, devil, etc. are lower case, as he is one.

” O be careful little mouth what you say…”


 
O be careful little mouth what you say
O be careful little mouth what you say
There’s a Father up above

Pretty is as pretty does

And He’s looking down in love
So, be careful little mouth what you say
 

I was walking in the parking lot and I heard the most profane comments, including the Lord’s name linked to profanity.  The voice was young.  I stopped and turned around.  Three girls and a boy were  walking behind me; none over 15 years of age.  I looked at the girl with profanity flying off her lips and wanted to tell her how pretty she was … until she opened her mouth.  Her words made her ugly.  Not cool, cute or popular.  They made her ugly.  You can dress up like a princess all day long, but one flow of inappropriate words will destroy that image.

The woman pushing the cart in front of me was on her phone talking loudly.  “Now this is between just you and me.  But, she ….”.   Really?  There were about ten others in earshot listening to her gossip.  If she had been quietly shopping others would have thought her to be a diligent mom out shopping to feed her family.  Her words made her a gossip and she spewed hurt and shame on an unsuspecting audience that may or may not know her victim.

I hear so many words coming out of mouths that grieve the spirit within me.  Parents to children; children to other children.  People lying, calling others names.  Gossiping, half-truths … words, words, words.    I think Christians need to be very cautious in this area and not fall into the world’s standard of speech.  God’s word has a lot to say about our words:
James 1:19 
“Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger;”

James 1:26
“Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless.”

James 3:6
“The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.”  (You should read all of James 3:1-9).

Ephesians 4:29 
Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.”

God expects us as parents to make sure our children hear the correct things to say.   The shows, video games, computer games that they watch, influence their speech.  In our house I did not allow my girls to call each other stupid, idiot, jerk or other demeaning terms.  We do not say shut up.  Speech is important to developing a Godly character.  Sadly, some parents think it is not anything to worry about.  However, speech is a sign of respect.  God thinks a lot about the words we say.  The verses above are only a sampling of how He wants us to guard our speech.

If we are not guarding our speech then we are not guarding their speech; we are not guarding their minds.  If we are not guarding their minds, we are not guarding their souls.   What they think to say becomes their speech.  Their speech reflects in their actions, their actions in their character.  It all starts with a word … then more words.

“O be careful little mouth what you say …”

Soul Safe … “It is WELL with My Soul!”


Grieving over the recent death of their four-year old son to Scarlet Fever, the family was further devastated by the Chicago fire of 1871 that destroyed much of  their holdings.  The father decided to get away with his  wife and four daughters on a ship back to England where they were to join up with Moody in his evangelistic meetings.  At the last-minute the father had a business complication and sent the wife and daughters on ahead.   Their ship collided with a French ship killing 226 on board.  Nine days later Horatio G. Spafford received a telegram from his wife that read, “soul survivor”.   He booked passage  to join his grieving wife and while passing over the spot where the ship had gone down with his daughters, he penned the following hymn that we sing.

Soul Safe

When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou has taught me to say,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.
It is well, with my soul,
It is well, with my soul,
It is well, it is well,
with my soul.
Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,
Let this blest assurance control,
That Christ has regarded my helpless estate,
And hath shed His own blood for my soul.
Refrain
My sin, oh, the bliss of this glorious thought!
My sin, not in part but the whole,
Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more,
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!
Refrain
For me, be it Christ, be it Christ hence to live:
If Jordan above me shall roll,
No pang shall be mine, for in death as in life
Thou wilt whisper Thy peace to my soul.
Refrain:
But, Lord ‘tis for Thee, for Thy coming we wait,
The sky, not the grave, is our goal;
Oh trump of the angel! Oh voice of the Lord!
Blessèd hope, blessèd rest of my soul!
Refrain
And Lord, haste the day when my faith shall be sight,
The clouds be rolled back as a scroll;
The trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend,
Even so, it is well with my soul.
Refrain

There is nothing new under the sun … nothing has changed since Job’s time in the Bible … day in and day out good people suffer.  Our children should be raised to know that no matter WHAT happens, once we are Christ’s, “it is well with our soul”.  NOTHING can take that away from them … from us .. EVER.  And that is all that matters.

This was true for Job, it is truth on which we can stand.  The Psalmist penned:

Psalm 46: 1-3  ” 1 God is our refuge and strength, a helper who is always found  in times of trouble. 2 Therefore we will not be afraid, though the earth trembles and the mountains topple  into the depths of the seas, 3 though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with its turmoil. Selah”

What happens when you cannot see the light at the end of the tunnel?  When the end is not in sight?  When it DOESN’T get better.  How fair-weather is our faith?  Is our faith dependent on our circumstances? 

Twice yesterday I heard “It Is Well With My Soul” played on the radio.   And then at church we sang, ” Great Is Thy Faithfulness” .  The Chorus of this great hymn is also a truth on which we can stand.

Chorus
Great is Thy faithfulness
Great is Thy faithfulness
Morning by morning new mercies I see.
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided;
Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me

Our needs are provided … the problem we have is that we let our wants get in the way.  Acceptance of Christ =  SOUL SAFE.  That alone is all anyone needs. God, however, provides our needs.  When you look at your life, and when you teach your child to look at their life, each of you realize that you have your needs met and provided for … Know Christ = it is well with YOUR soul.

Persistent Perseverance Payoff = Patience


NEVER pray for patience unless you are willing to learn no matter the cost.  It is a valuable character trait.  However,  most humans I know are not patient.  That is probably the reason that patience lessons are the hardest.  I think God does not enjoy teaching us patience but, knows we need to learn.  It is a struggle, something we must learn (and re-learn) daily.

As parents we need to learn patience and we need to teach patience.  God patiently teaches us patience, although I know we are very trying at times (well, most of the time).

So how do you learn patience? How do you teach it to a child?  Persistence and perseverance come to mind.  When I was raising my daughters we had a rule in the house, if you started something new, you had to stick with it a year before you could quit.  Gymnastics, swimming, horseback riding, flute, French Horn, cheer-leading, track, tennis, tap, clubs, band, voice … piano.  You name it they took it or joined it somewhere along  the way.  I wanted them both to learn piano.  I knew it would teach them eye-ear-hand coordination and self-discipline, not to mention the added advantage that music training increases ones spacial learning which results in stronger academic achievements.  So I decided that piano they did for me.  I would let them join, take lessons, etc.  anything within reason as long as they studied piano.  My oldest started at six and my youngest at four.  I was persistent and they persevered.  We all learned patience.  The result was that they became well-rounded in many areas, successful academically and wonderful musicians.  My oldest is beginning to teach her daughter, age 4, piano and my youngest graduated with a music degree and has her own web page promoting her voice and piano lessons.  They learned self-discipline through their perseverance.  As adults they can stay the course and complete multi-tasking goals.

Our spiritual life is to be the same.  We are to be persistent in prayer, persevere the day-to-day trials and tribulations, allowing God to work patience in our life.  Toddlers can be taught patience through persistent instruction and discipline through love.  Just as we teach our young, God is always teaching us.

In Genesis 31:38-42 we read o f Jacob’s diligence and his patience.  In Proverbs 21:5 the scriptures tell us that hard work pays off.  In Mark 15:47 we are told that diligence allowed them to see Jesus.

Do not be passive parents.  Parenting is a participation action not a spectator one.  Get involved in the lives of your children at an early age helping them to set a goal they can achieve.  Encourage them, praise their work, guide them and keep them on task and rejoice with them as they achieve.  Every little goal accomplished teaches them.  Those goals become more complex as they grow.  When they are teens and young adults, they will be able to set achievable goals and accomplish much.

Allow your children to see you set goals and your persistence in accomplishing those goals.  Make sure they observe your perseverance and see you grow in patience.

Then, when trials and tribulations come your way, your patience and spiritual growth will help you face life.  Remember, life is 24/7/365 and we must have a spiritual focus on God our hope.  Defeat is when our spiritual feet are mired in the mud of life and sin and our focus is on our circumstances instead of Christ.

?? What IF? ??


 

IF?

 

What IF?  I had a teacher that instilled in her class to ask, “What IF?”.   Basically, she was teaching us to ‘think it through’.  There are those that say, “if only I had”, or “if things were different”, etc.   But, what she wanted us to learn was to weigh the consequences.  God’s word has many ‘ifs’, too many to list in a short space like a blog.  But, here is the idea …

2 Chronicles 7:14

IF my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”

“IF” … “then”.   That is a cause and effect.  Throughout the Bible God says, “if” we do something, “then” something will happen.  Society has forgotten there are consequences.  God expects us to teach our children to THINK through, to be responsible, to understand consequences.   This was one of my favorite object lessons in classes at the high schools where I worked.  There were teenagers following the crowd, the media, Hollywood.  They were not thinking for themselves.   IF only their parents had taught them to ‘think through things’, in scenario form, THEN maybe these students would have been making wiser choices.   Of course I was not allowed to teach morality.  BUT, I was allowed to teach them to think.  In fact I was encouraged to engage students in thinking as part of my job.

In almost every class somewhere during the day, students would get into an ‘current issues’ debate.  While I could not instigate the debate or ‘throw’ in my views (unless specifically asked), I could interject “WHAT IF?”   That would always get things going.   Their first question back would always be, “what if WHAT?”   At this point I would look at both sides of the discussion and ask them to explain, “what if you are WRONG?”  Here are some  brief examples from some of the classes to show you how we started (the discussions were much longer of course and they really had to think out why they believed what they believed):

ABORTION:   “What if you are wrong?”
ProChoice: “Then they have murdered innocent lives.”  ProLife:  “A baby will be born”.
JESUS IS LORD:  “What if you are wrong?”
Atheist, other religions: “They are going to hell.”  Christians: “They have lived a life of service, love, and good.”
PREMARITAL SEX: “What if you are wrong?”
Believe it’s ok: They are adulterers, fornicators, guilt, health risks for nothing etc.
Abstinence until marriage:  “They have purity, no guilt, little health risks.

Starting children when they are young to ask “what if they are wrong”, will help them as pre-teens and teens to handle peer pressure and to think on their feet.  It will help them as adults to make important decisions, especially when satan* is making everything ‘gray’.   When your little one is thinking about doing something wrong and you see them, do not yell “DON’T”.   Instead, use our Heavenly Father’s model.  “If” …. “then“.   (Now obviously, I am not talking about when they are about to reach for a hot curling iron, are touching a sharp tool, or doing anything dangerous.)   It is important to instill in them the ability to reason, to question, to make good decisions … to think on their feet.    So look at them and tell them they have the opportunity to make a decision like a big boy or girl … tell them to make sure it is a good decision and ask them, “what if you are wrong?”

Use every opportunity you can when your child is disobeying to look at them and tell them they are making a decision.  Make them aware of their actions.  Tell them IF they continue to not listen and to disobey, THEN you will have to punish them.  IF they obey, THEN they reap the good consequences.  PLUS, most little children like knowing they pleased their parent.   Children like to know their parents are proud of them.  Make sure you acknowledge their good decisions and tell them how proud you are of them.

As an adult this should ring true in your life.  Daily, we have decisions, choices … some we rationalize and make gray when they are not.  God’s word says “IF” … “THEN“.  We have decisions to make and God has filled the Bible with the wisdom we need to make those decisions.  Yet, like children, many times we CHOOSE to disobey willingly and then whine when we receive the punishment and consequences.  Why?  WE chose them, not Him.  He told us what would happen.   God’s word says in Isaiah 5 (and so many other passages) ‘woe be unto you’ when you make wrong choices.   Wrong choices, a.k.a. SIN.

Do you have a decision to make today?  Talk it out in front of your child.  Use it as an opportunity to teach them how to decide.   Take every opportunity to show your child and let them watch you asking yourself, “what if I am wrong?” … ‘what if I am right?”

*satan – I know people capitalize the “S” but, I don’t.  I refuse to give him any status of importance.  He’s a snake, so satan, devil, etc. are lower case, as he is one.

Green Eyed Monster


Jealousy

It is so interesting to watch children at the beach.   While playing with my granddaughters this week, I have noticed several times when the ‘green-eyed’ monster came to play.  Jealousy, it is only natural in humans.  It is our response to it that can be sad.  When the green-eyed monster rears its head with the grandchildren their parents teach them to share toys and attention.  Not every parent heeds the onset of the monster and because it is allowed to grow, it becomes a true monster that follows them throughout life.  My four-year old granddaughter was playing with a raft in the pool and when she got off to get back on a different way, another child took it away from her.  The child’s parent immediately talked with her daughter and had her give it back and apologize.  Good parenting.  Too many parents ignore what their children are doing and/or pass it off as ‘kids will be kids’.  To which I respond, “only if you let them”.  Parenting means you are constantly raising them to be adults.  Too many parents step in during the teenage years to make them young adults after ignoring them over the previous 12 or so years.  That is a little late.  Everything our children need to know we teach in the first few years of life along with how to walk, feed themselves and potty training.

One of the first words children learn is ‘mine’.  Many parents typically respond with teaching them to share.   But, then they stop.  Every truth you teach your child about getting along with others need to be continued in their spiritual life as they are learning about God.  Otherwise, as they grow up, they will deal with the problem over and over.  I think if we are honest, most of us in retrospect will realize that as adults we still deal with the issue of ‘mine’ in some areas.

As my husband and I have gone unemployed during these hard economic times, we face the reality of loosing everything we own.  I will be honest, it has been hard to look at my ‘treasures’ and realize they may have to go.  Not just the house, but furniture, great-grandmother’s china, etc.  When people lose their house in a flood or fire they lose all the photos, heirlooms, etc.  As I think through all the memories and realize I may have no place to store them I had to be honest with myself and admit that I was still in the ‘mine’ mode as an adult.  Of course satan wants to jump right in and try to make you be angry and jealous of those who are doing so well and seem to have no struggles.    In truth, everything I have is from God above and His to take.  We often hear you cannot take it with you, but the truth is, there is no guarantee you’ll keep it while you are here either.  Job 1:21

Your children will have this same problem as they lose things or see other children get their ‘wants’ while your child does not.   It is important they learn that God gives us what we need when we need it and not our wants.  The desires of our heart are given to us when we delight ourselves in Him, but only He knows what the true desires of our heart are.

Psalm 37:4
Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart.

As you are teaching your child the concept of ‘mine’, sharing, and about the green-eyed monster of jealousy, teach them along the way that God is giving them everything and He has the right to give and take as He sees fit to mold us into His image, not our idea of what that image should be.