Spittin’ Image


As I show my grandchildren and children’s pictures, different ones comment on whom they “see” in a child’s image.  One of my granddaughter’s bears strong resemblance of my father.  Another granddaughter looks just like her dad.  My two girls look like their dad (or me depending on who you ask).   No matter what they do to themselves, they still bear the image of their ancestry.  That is their physical inheritance. It is in their genes.

spittin' Image

Image is everything in the world’s eyes.  Clothes, hairstyles, types of cars, houses … “make the man”.  But, when you take all that away you are left with just a human being.  What they are really made of is all that matters then.

A young man I know is contemplating a tattoo, putting a name of God on his arm.  I asked Him why and he said, “to remind me of who God is to me.  It won’t show.  But, I’ll know it’s there and when I see it I will remember what He has done for me.”  I thought about that for a while.  The young man is not even the ‘tattoo’ type.  But, we are in a culture where that is the way things are expressed.  But, if it is not seen, then what is the point?  Image.  Take away all the “decorations”, what is left.  The person …. then what do you see?

2 Corinthians 5:17 (HCSB)                                                                                                                                                                                                                   Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away, and look, new things have come.”

Galatians 2:20 (HCSB)
“and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.”

When a child is born, their image is defined by their genes.  You can tattoo yourself, dye your  hair, sunburn (tan) the skin, use contacts to change the eye color  … but, the image remains the same if you remove all the “world”.

Genesis 1:27 (NASB)                                                                                                                                                                                                              “God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.

When a baby is born into this world the parents (or whomever takes them to raise) has an intended plan for them, a hope, a purpose.  Sometimes though, the child takes control and goes their own way.  Expressing their personality and style is acceptable in today’s world and explains some of the outrageous “looks” we witness daily.  But, when you remove it all you see what they were intended to be.

God created you in His image … it was His intended plan, for a hope and a purpose.  We do not need to tattoo our body, wear an emblem, sticker our car to remind us of Him, especially if that is all we do.  He created all creation as a reminder of who He is … we only have to look.  We are part of that creation.  People look at us daily.  Is there anything about us that screams “His creation … in the image of God”?

1 Thessalonians 2:12 (ESV)                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  “we exhorted each one of you and encouraged you and charged you to walk in a manner worthy of God, who calls you into his own kingdom and glory.”

Now, “momma” says, go polish that image, the world sees the outside before they see the inside (exercise,  brush your teeth, comb your hair) …. 😀

Strip yourself down to His image, glorify Him today in your talk, your walk … if necessary your dress.  Do people see a rebellious image?  Do you express an image that you do not care for His creation by the way you care for yourself?  Are you taking the best care of  His image?  Are you giving the appearance of slothfulness or a fashion snob? What does your image scream?   Is His image presented in modesty?  Can the world get pass your image to see His?

There is so much to consider when you remember that you are in HIS image.  Need a fashion change?

Celebrate Life (*IMHO)


Life Is Precious - Treat with Awe

We just celebrated our victorious child’s 24th birthday Friday.  She truly was a victory.  After five very difficult pregnancies she was born.  We first found out we were expecting her because I was being treated for bronchial pneumonia.  Due to the meds I was on that ‘could’ leave her brain-damaged, the other bad pregnancies and health risk to me and the fact Phil had lost his job, the doctor advised abortion.  I was not new to this advice.  I received it with my second pregnancy while in the hospital during a miscarriage.  I actually lost a twin, but still had one baby.  The doctor cautioned and suggested I go ahead and abort her.  After all, she had about  a 10% chance of living, ‘probably’ was brain-damaged and was a high risk to my health in my current condition.  I did die on the operating table with our oldest, but God had other plans.  Both of my girls are gifts from God and He knew when the doctors did not.  God IS the master physician. Neither was brain damaged, in fact just the opposite.  Both are college grads, married and mothers (Victoria is expecting her first within a month).

I named our oldest Rebekah Kristen (rebirth in Christ) as both of us were given a second chance at life.  I named our youngest Victoria Paige (victorious child) as she truly was a victory against all odds.  Naming your children is very important.  That is why God gives so many examples of why people were named what they were in the Bible.  (Gen 35:10; Gen 5:29; etc.) Equally important is raising them knowing WHY they were given their name.  It builds character and purpose.

When Victoria was in high school, she had to write a ‘persuasive essay’ for English.  Since abortion was controversial many students wrote on that subject.  The teacher had already read them so she knew Victoria had taken the narrow path and had her present her’s last.  Not only did she state the facts about how it is used as birth control and that the statistics of its ‘need’ for mothers at risk, rape, and incest (which are extremely rare – less than 1%); she told them about my decisions with her sister and her births.  Most of them did not know the facts and most of them were just parroting the popular voice.  Some argued we would have felt differently if she HAD been born deformed or brain-damaged.   She was able to tell them that we refused the amniocentesis test that would have shown such conditions as our resolve in accepting God’s will no matter the outcome.

So how did the world get to this state about human life?  When did we lose the awe over creation?  In my opinion it has been subtle.  I believe we as Christians are as much to blame as anyone.  We have treated motherhood as common and become flippant in our approach.  Why should the world treat life sacred and with awe when we have joined their ranks in the treatment of motherhood?  I truly believe that if we want the public to treat an unborn baby as a baby then we need to be the first to do so.  I firmly believe that if we as Christians do not change our treatment of motherhood and birth to align with God’s word and then raise our children with the same teachings, then we can see life treated with less and less respect.

Birth is about a living soul, created by God.  God knows us from before we were born.

Jeremiah 1:5 “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.”

He does not label us as a ‘pea’, a ‘kidney bean’, a ‘peanut’ or a ‘bump’.  He would never treat us so trivial.  He would not focus on the mom and her physique and draw attention away from the awe of birth.

1 Peter 3:3 “Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel;
4 But let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price.”

I believe the Bible means we are not to be worldly and take on the worlds displays of dressing and that includes motherhood.  We have become flippant and tolerant of the world’s views on life.  Women are drawing attention to themselves and referring to their ‘bumps’ instead of their child given by God.  I am sadden by some Christian women who would never wear a bikini to the beach yet place photos of exposed stomachs on FaceBook.  Birth is NOT a celebration about a woman’s body, but a celebration of a new life.  How sad that we have misplaced the focus and missed all these opportunities to testify to God’s wonder and miracle of birth to the masses.

So the next time you defend Pro-life and anti-abortion views, make sure your actions are not treating that life flippantly and worldly.  The world watches actions. It’s not a bump, it’s a baby, a miracle created by God.  Handle with care.

*In My Humble Opinion – I know this is not going to be a popular post but, I believe that we as Christians need to check our actions against our words and views and His word.  How do we as Christians expect the world to view life with reverence if we treat it worldly ourselves?

Will They Be Like You?


Focus

We recently learned that our youngest daughter is expecting a boy in December.  We have two wonderful granddaughters by our oldest daughter so this will be the first grandson.  Well of course I had to go walk through the baby department to see what is out there for boys.  As I was browsing I heard this loud voice and I looked and there was this very tall, athletic man on a Blue-tooth talking away.  He had a little 7-8 year old girl tagging behind.   They were in the little girls department next to infants so I could hear and see the whole incident.  Obviously dad had her out to look for things for her.  Maybe mom had the little one’s at home, maybe it was his weekend … it really did not matter, it simply was not ‘her time’.  The conversation went like this, “yeah man, it was like that game when the Bucs (Tampa Bay’s football team) played … you know, the year before they won the Superbowl”.   OK, time reference here … the man is discussing a game circa 2001.  His little girl probably was not born.  I wanted to shake him and say, “look at her face … see your child … what are you doing?”   I wanted to go to the little girl and tell her to pull up Harry Chapin’s “Cat’s In The Cradle” and play it for her dad.

Where is your focus?  Children know when they are not getting your best.  God’s word says in Matthew chapter 6, that He loves us and cares for us.  He knows our every need and want and He takes care of us.  As Christians we are to mirror God’s parenting as we parent our children.  I do not see God with a cell phone in His hand, watching His favorite TV show, or reading a book.   He is not out playing some sports game, or going to some event at our expense.  Our children get their value of themselves from us.  We tell them by our actions how valuable they are.  There is absolutely nothing wrong with doing things for yourself as long it is not at your child’s expense.  No matter if you chose to be a parent at this time or not, you are the parent.   The child comes first.

I remember growing up watching a relative with their kids and comparing them to my parents in my head.   If there was a cake to be divided that parent would always make sure they got a piece,  the biggest piece.  Yet if there was dessert on our table, my mom (who LOVED dessert and would eat it at the beginning of the meal  if she could) always made sure we got some and then if any was left she had some.  One time  my dad gave mom the money to go buy herself a new coat, TWICE.  After she returned from the store twice with things for all her five children, the third time dad drove her to the store and stayed until she bought herself a coat.  She taught us how valuable we were.  It was not just ‘things’ either.  She spent time on her knees for us; she made our favorite foods; she went to the school events; was PTA and band booster presidents.  She invested her life in us.  She was a mom first, and “Gwen” … well, after all others’ needs were met.

My goal was to grow up to be a mom like her and to raise children that felt loved and valued and then they would pass it on to the next generation.   Throughout the Old Testament (like in Leviticus and I Samuel) there are stories told of ‘sins of the fathers’ being passed on to generations.  Basically, this means sin begets sin.  A drunk raises drunks; a thief raises a thief, a liar a liar …  an adulterer raises an adulterer; and an inattentive and unloving parent raises another generation of inattentive and unloving parent.  The cycle stops when someone in the chain makes a conscious decision to repent of the pattern of sin in their family and chooses to move forward in God’s strength leaving the past sins of the father’s behind.  Then and only then, will God heal the family.

Leviticus 26:39-43 (New International Version)
39 Those of you who are left will waste away in the lands of their enemies because of their sins; also because of their fathers’ sins they will waste away.
40 ” ‘But if they will confess their sins and the sins of their fathers—their treachery against me and their hostility toward me, 41 which made me hostile toward them so that I sent them into the land of their enemies—then when their uncircumcised hearts are humbled and they pay for their sin, 42 I will remember my covenant with Jacob and my covenant with Isaac and my covenant with Abraham, and I will remember the land. 43 For the land will be deserted by them and will enjoy its Sabbaths while it lies desolate without them. They will pay for their sins because they rejected my laws and abhorred my decrees.

Your kids, they’re going to grow up to be just like you!  Scared?

Growing Up Too Fast


Growing Up Too Fast

I was almost run over today at the mall by a 10-year-old followed by a 6-year-old on her heels and a frazzled grandmother dragging behind.  My daughter and I were at the mall looking for shoes for her two daughters.  I have not been to a mall in many, many months and was way behind in my people watching, so as they shopped … I watched.

The grandmother looked frazzled, the two girls bored.    Both little girls were dressed very cute … for teenagers!  Dressing up is fun and there is a time and place.  But, this was not dress-up.  This was ‘who they were’.  It was a statement.    They had the lace fish net gloves heels (I could almost hear the pediatricians groaning over damaged growth plates), bootie shorts (yes, their little cheeks hanging out)  and accessories.   The 10-year-old was on her cell phone talking to a friend and it went like this, “yeah, I can’t wait for you to see the new shoes I got.  Yeah and I got a new outfit …”.  I think you get the picture.  It certainly explains the grandmother’s face.  Everyone that knows me knows I would have sent them in to change before going to the mall.  I often wonder why people want their children to grow up so fast.   The only thing that I think is worse is when their mothers dress like teenagers.

Sometimes I feel this generation has lost so much simplicity and innocence.  Remember Jesus said,

Mark 10:14 “Suffer the little children to come unto me and forbid them not, for of such is the kingdom of God.”

and in

Matthew 18:3  “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”

I wonder if He is sadden that the children are not children any more?  I think as Christians we are expected to shield them from the world and to help them make the decisions of being …

a ‘peculiar people unto the Lord’

Deuteronomy 14:2 “For thou art an holy people unto the LORD thy God, and the LORD hath chosen thee to be a peculiar people unto himself, above all the nations that are upon the earth.”

“while walking worthy of their high calling.”

Ephesians 4:1-2 “I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, entreat you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing forbearance to one another in love…”

Children can be raised IN the world and be successful, well liked, accepted and even popular without being OF the world.  I am not sure if the parents are so wrapped up in being successful themselves that they translate that into their children’s lives, or if they expose their children to much older environments and simply let them have their way when they want to act older.  You may recall a few months ago a heated controversy over moms and dads defending their little girls dance costumes and dance moves (click on the word ‘moves’ if you have not heard).  It is unbelievable how much denial is going on of parents over their parenting.  There is nothing wrong with trendy and cute but, giving up age appropriateness and rushing them into adulthood is not what God planned for our children.  Jesus wants us to become more like children as we turn to Him.  How can we explain our turning little children into mini adults? Why is everyone trying to copy Hollywood’s parents, lifestyles, etc. when they are all failing at everything but making money?  You will not be the most popular parent sometimes, but God did not put you here as a parent to be popular, or even well liked.  He put us here to be parents … good parents … examples for the worldly parents to follow, not for us to follow the worldly parents.

Consequences


Actions = Reactions

I am amazed at the lack of ability for people to see that their actions affect anyone other than themselves.  Consider the angry driver that speeds out of sight as the two cars they swerved through head for ditches; the over-eating, over-drinking or over-smoking family member that says it only hurts them; or the teenage who swears it is their life to mess up and none of your business. As you are reading those scenarios you can easily find the consequences.  Yet, everyday we act without seeing the long-range effect on those actions.   The ‘lecture’ on consequences is one of my most discussed with students.

Children often need to be reminded that their actions have consequences, good ones and bad ones.  It is important to give them examples of both so they know it is good actions that everyone benefits the most from.  In teaching this concept you can take a  bucket of water, a tub, pool or lake and hand them something  to toss in the water.  Ask them to toss it in so that the water cannot be disturbed.  Impossible.  No matter what they do, they will not be able to pass the object through the water without disturbing the surface.  The bigger the action, the bigger the reaction, or consequence.  Choices, we make them everyday and our actions always have reactions or consequences.   What defines our actions?

  1. What we read, hear, see = our thoughts
  2. What we think = attitude
  3. Our attitude = character
  4. Our character = actions

If someone’s actions are negative they cause negative reactions which means we must change what they read, hear and see.  It is important to show the flip side of the coin by praising positive actions that equaled positive reactions.  For example, studying, doing homework, etc. = better grades.  Or, showing respect and consideration = receiving respect and consideration, which results in more privileges and responsibility.

Unfortunately, we are in a world ruled by sin.  Sin is a huge pebble thrown in the pond and its ripples are the consequences that are far-reaching, even into the next generations.  In 1 Samuel 3 the Bible tells of Eli’s penalty for not stopping his sons’ actions.  Eli paid the price of ‘in-action’ over his sons ‘actions’.

11And the Lord said to Samuel: “See, I am about to do something in Israel that will make the ears of everyone who hears of it tingle. 12At that time I will carry out against Eli everything I spoke against his family—from beginning to end. 13For I told him that I would judge his family forever because of the sin he knew about; his sons made themselves contemptible, and he failed to restrain them. 14Therefore, I swore to the house of Eli, ‘The guilt of Eli’s house will never be atoned for by sacrifice or offering.’”

Eli’s sin was allowing desecration of the house of the Lord.  He knew about what his sons were doing and did nothing.  Makes you wonder doesn’t it?  I know parents who have thrown in the towel over their minor children and said, “what can I do?”.  EVERYTHING you can, is what God expects.  God holds mothers and fathers responsible for how their children act, what they read, hear and see.  The problem is, parents allow things to slip by until the children are so out of control it will take a war to win.  Some say they pick their battles, but that usually means they finally exit the war.  Raising children is spiritual warfare and the other side is not sitting idle.

Inaction IS an action.  I recently heard two boys discussing hitting back over a senseless killing.  I could have kept walking the class room and ignored them.  Trust me, it is easier.  However,  1) I knew they saw I heard them, and 2) that ‘feeling’ you get inside when you know you are supposed to speak and want to choose not to was choking me to get out.   So I went back and looked at the young man and asked, ‘What will that do’?  He said, “It will get even, I can’t just do nothing”.  I looked at him and said, “You cannot throw a rock in the water and not expect a splash.”  Blunt statements that seem senseless usually get their attention.  I then asked him, “What if they get even and ‘hit’ you back?”  He said, “We all gotta die sometime.”  Death is not a feared consequence any more.  We have desensitized a whole generation.  I asked him if he thought someone would get even for him, he thought they would.  I then asked him, “What if it’s your grandmother, or your mother, or baby sister they hit next and how will those left behind feel then?”  I had his attention.  First, death is not the end of anything, even if you do not believe in afterlife.  Second, there are those left behind after a shooting, suicide, death or self-inflicted cancer.  Even if you die, someone is forced to live with your action’s consequences.

The Bible says in Matthew 7:16-20 ,

16By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thorn bushes, or figs from thistles? 17Likewise every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. 18A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. 19Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.

Your actions define what kind of tree you are.   What will your actions cause today?

Nobody’s Business


No Body's Business

What Are You Telling Your World?

Once a week we try to go to the beach to enjoy peace and quiet and unwind a little.  We choose a beach that is ‘smoke free’, has a life-guard (keeps the noise down of wild partying) and one that has great fishing and shelling.  Yesterday when we arrived there were less than 1/2 dozen people on the beach.  We settled in about 10 feet from shoreline for the view.  The birds were singing, waves lapping and a nice gentle breeze had the trees whispering.  That lasted maybe an hour before a woman settled in between us and the shore.  I never have understood why when there is a whole couple of football fields of beach to choose from, people set right down on top of you.  She not only was blocking the view, but she proceeded to light up (smoke free beach) which meant we had to ask her to put it out.  The signs are everywhere, however, we are the bad guys?   Then her friends showed up to give her some beers.  They did not stay long so she was left with her beer and nothing to do with her hands but use the cell phone.  She  pulled out her cell phone and began to talk and drink her beer.  The more she drank the louder she became.  The beach had added a few more families by this time but, she did not mind her conversations or language around these small children.  Her business became everyone’s as we had no choice but to listen to all her personal calls to her friends.  I do not understand why people forget that when they are in public talking on their phone, others are listening, even if they do not want to.  Her first call began with her congratulating her friend on being added to the list of  ‘his exes’.   Evidently children were involved because she continued to tell her to explain to them they were a ‘dysfunctional family’.   The details she exposed us all to were unbelievable.  She continued down her list of friends to call and went over a myriad of soap opera scenarios.  This woman was probably in her late 50’s or early 60’s.  You would think she would know better than to ‘air the dirty linen’ as our generation was supposedly taught.  I am sure I will be accused of stereotyping, but you can just see this woman in her living room with her beers, cigarettes and tabloids while watching her soaps.  All of these reference materials make her highly qualified to be handing out advice it seems.

There is a time and place to discuss situations and none of those involve strangers.  Talk shows and yellow journalism have done away with any sense of discretion.  They have coined phrases to use as crutches like “dysfunctional” and “ex”.  The generation being raised in the shadows of all these public disclosures are being so conditioned and desensitized to sinful lives that they are not going to know sin when it slaps them.  God says we are to guard our speech and our minds.  (Colossians 3:2Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.”) As parents we need to teach our children as we raise them about guarding their minds and their speech so that when they are grown it will be automatic.   We have become a world of gossiping and everyone believes they have the right to know each others business as well as share theirs.   The Bible says in Matthew 12:35-37, 35 The good person out of his good treasure brings forth good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure brings forth evil. 36I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak, 37for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.”

What ‘business’ are you sharing?

But, I want it NOW!


It is no secret that we are earnestly praying for Phil a job.  For 19 months we have prayed, and prayed and prayed.  I was raised by a praying mom.  My girls were raised with prayer is the answer to all of life’s problems.  You would think I would have learned all there is to know about praying by now.  But, something occurred to me today.   Something I want to teach my girls (even though they are grown).  I was checking in with my sister in KY via a phone call and during the conversation she reminded me of the following story.

The little boy asked his mother to buy the used bike from the guy down the street.  He wanted a bike really bad.  He kept nagging and nagging his mom for that bike, until one day she gave in and bought him the used bike.  The next day she went to the sporting goods store and canceled the new bike she had on lay-a-way for his birthday.  He could not wait and had forfeited a new bike for a used one just so he could have it when he wanted it. Sometimes, like the little boy, we pray for things and we want them NOW.  We do not know what wonderful thing God has in store for us if we will wait on His timing; so we beg and nag until we get something less than His best.  It does not matter that what we receive is also good, it is that it is not His best.

So, we are thanking God for His daily provisions.  We have no clue what the future will bring or where our provisions will come from.  Although we are still praying while looking for jobs (God expects us to put action to our faith), we are praying differently.  Now we are thanking Him for His daily provisions, asking Him for the faith and patience to wait on His timing, and thanking Him for the perfect plan and perfect job that is going to unfold in His perfect time.   We are not going to whine and demand until we have settled for something less.

Psalm 5

1 Give ear to my words, O LORD,
consider my sighing.

2 Listen to my cry for help,
my King and my God,
for to you I pray.

3 In the morning, O LORD, you hear my voice;
in the morning I lay my requests before you
and wait in expectation.