Monday, January 30, 2017

The Key to Patience

Over the last several months I have prayed continually for God to show me how to love better and more effectively. What I thought I was asking for was for God to show me ways to love others - what gifts to give them, when to send a word of encouragement, etc. What He has been teaching me instead is that when I have an appropriate view of my self, as a sinner and as being completely forgiven, I will change the way I percieve and respond to others, becoming more loving in my thoughts and actions.

In 1 Timothy, Paul, the greatest New Testament missionary and evangelist, calls himself the chief of sinners. I never understood that, until I began to grow closer to God. It's like having a flashlight in a dark room. In a room with no other light, the flashlight looks bright and illuminates some things. But if you take that flashlight outside on a sunny day, the only light you see from it is by looking at the bulb itself. When you begin to see yourself in the light of God's holiness, the light you thought you had on your own fades into almost non-existence.

So what does this have to do with patient parenting? As I began to see myself as a "chief of sinners," I became more and more grateful for the grace and forgiveness God has poured out on me. And I began to see my children as fellow sinners. They weren't doing anything to intentionally antagonize me or hurt my feelings, they were simply behaving in the way any human does in a fallen world with fleshly desires. Just like me. So, if they're not doing anything I haven't done (all sin is rooted in disobedience, and I've been that plenty), then why should I not deal with them with patience? That doesn't mean that I don't consequence them, after all, God consequences us for our sins, but it changes the manner in which I do so.

Ephesians 4:25-27 says: Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to his neighbor, for we are all members of one body. "In your anger do not sin"[a]: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold. What this means for me as a mom is that I am not to discipline my children in anger (no yelling, no mad face, no acting while the fire of being disobeyed is still in my belly), then I sin.

I believe this is one of the most difficult challenges for parents: to remove emotions from the disciplining process. But, it is essential for effective parenting. Especially if we want to raise our children to have faith in the one true God. We are the role model for God as parent. What they see in us, they will relate to God (especially if we claim faith in Him.) Therefore, I must ask myself every day whether I am being a good ambassador for Christ in the way I am parenting. I am not perfect, and I do not always do it the way I know I should. But, thanks be to God! He gives us victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Corinthians 15:57)

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Living Transformed

2015 was one of great transitions and transformations for me. So I shouldn't have been surprised that the word #transformed kept coming up (and eventually stuck) as I began mulling over, praying about, and working on my theme for my ministry.

The first major transition and transformation of the last couple years was moving. My family and I sold our house (the house, my husband and I both figured out as we were getting ready to move, which was the one I (and he) had lived in the longest in our lives. This transformation is still in progress, as we (the whole 6 of us) are living with my in-laws as we head toward building our new home.

Some of the other transitions and transformations probably haven't been as obvious. At least not on the outside. But God has really been working on me this past year. He had me in quiet, still, and listening mode for about six months. I knew my plate was too full and that some things had to go, but since all I was doing seemed "good," I didn't easily give anything up. However, God made one thing clear, then another, then another. I carefully obeyed, in respectful ways stepping out of some positions and responsibilities.

That's not to say my schedule's not still abundant, but I feel like my focus is narrowing in a good way.

Most recently, I've been mulling over, praying about, and working on my ministry focus. My life focus, really. Why is it I do the things I do? Why should I choose one activity over another? What is my goal? What are my objectives? What outcome do I desire from all of the time, energy, and effort I put into the things I do?

The answer, which shouldn't have surprised me, was to help encourage people to live #transformed lives.

If we are Kingdom people, we should be transformed by the love of Christ. By the grace of Christ. By the mercy and holiness and sovereignty of Christ. He should make our lives radically different. However, this seldom happens spontaneously. There is work to be done. A refining process as we're #transformed from glory to glory to become more like Him.

That's what I desire to do with my time, energy, and efforts. I desire to become more and more like Jesus and help others on the same journey. For us all to live the outrageously abundant lives He came to give us. Not the mediocre, complacent, comfortable lives most of us live. There is so much more!

So, today (or yesterday, really) is the first day of everything coming into focus. That I desire to continue to move forward and offer support as others seek to "Live the best life where we are as we take the next step to becoming who we're meant to be."

Are you interested? Are you excited? I'd love to have you come along! Let's live #transformed together!

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Living Surrendered

But the centurion, wishing to save Paul, kept them from carrying out their plan. He ordered those who could swim to jump overboard first and make for the land, and the rest on planks or on pieces of the ship. And so it was that all were brought safely to land.
Acts 27:43-44


I've been reading through Acts the last several months, slowly, taking only a chapter or section at a time. It's been truly amazing! What God reveals of Himself in the faithful telling of the early Jesus followers. The miracles He performed. The power He gave. The love, justice, and callings. It's been such a blessing!

I may go back and look over my notes (I've been reading with some friends and we share our thoughts and lessons God's teaching us) and share some from previous chapters, but as I sat down today to write, the last couple of verses from chapter 27 came forward.

In chapter 27, Paul is being transported to Italy as a prisoner. He's spent somewhere between 2-3 years in prison already, and now he's making a treacherous trip via ship. We can only imagine the discomforts of traveling on a cargo ship with almost 300 people 2000 years ago. For weeks. In a storm for days.

I'm sure the passengers and crew were weary. Tired. Scared. And ready to give up.

We don't have to experience those exact conditions to feel the same way. There are a variety of life circumstances that bring us to the end of our rope. During these times, it's hard to remember that God is still sovereign and He is still with us.

Like Paul did.

During the whole retelling of this journey by Luke (which seems to be a firsthand account, since much of it is written using "we") it never seems that Paul loses his cool. He doesn't seem frightened at all. Actually, he seems full of confidence. There is only one place this kind of confidence comes from - from a most intimate relationship with the Lord.

By truly living in a way in which every single detail of your life is surrendered to the Lord, as I believe Paul did.

We can too. Because living surrendered means we trust that God will bring us safely to shore. That He'll sustain us through the storm. That our life is really His, not ours.

Paul had this calmness even though he faced possible death once he reached his destination. This is because he knew He belonged to God and owed God his very life. God provided temporary safety for the boat passengers and crew after the ship ran aground, and He will do the same for us.

But the most important safety God brings us to is eternal safety. If we can keep our eyes fixed on that, we will experience the same peace Paul did despite any storm that comes our way.