relentless God


Ephesians 2:8 (NIV)

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faithand this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God

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Building Your Child’s Faith


Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.” Proverbs 22:6 (NIV 1984)

As we stood in the parking lot outside my daughter’s dorm, waves of grief washed over her mom. Lauren hugged me and then her brother. Finally, Mom held her for what seemed an eternity … no words, just tears.

 

When we began the drive home, She prayed for her, just as she had every day for the last 18 years. She knew it was time for the next phase of Gods plan for her life. But the ache in a mother’s heart was deep.

 

As time passed, She learned to accept, and even embrace, our new normal. She enjoyed the extra time she got to spend with me her husband and  our son.

 

But she  couldn’t get used to not encouraging Lauren in her faith face-to-face. We sent her to college with a Bible and a devotional book. But when she lived at home, we did these activities together. In the mornings, we read a devotion and I prayed with her most every day, from the time she was born till the day she packed her bags to move out.

 

Questions filled our minds. Without us, who would do this for her? Would she do it on her own? What if she turned away from her faith we’d been building for so long?

 

This questions prompted us to pray very specifically. WE prayed that Lauren  make her faith her own, as we had trained her to do all these years. We asked the Lord to work in her life in very real and personal ways, just like the times we’d pointed out for her to notice in her childhood. We prayed for His Spirit to stir her heart to read her devotional book each day, and we pleaded with Him to meet her in the pages of His Word.

 

God answered our prayers in a way only He can do. Lauren had been studying for her economics exam for days. She was worried she would fail because she’d been struggling with some of the concepts. OUR  daughter texted us and a few good friends to pray. WE wrote her back the prayer and a verse the Lord laid on my heart, Proverbs 3:5-6, “Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths” (ESV). As it was sending, WE  prayed for Him to use this verse to encourage her and give her confidence as she walked into her exam.

 

She wrote back next morning:

 

“I opened my devotional and today’s truth was Proverbs 3:5, exactly the verse you gave me!! ENCOURAGEMENT.”

 

God teaches us a powerful lesson we as parents. Our  role as a parent is to pray for and with our children and to model, to the best of our ability, what it means to be a godly family. WE  are  not perfect and often miss the mark. But when we do those two things, God fills in the rest. We only have them at home to teach, guide and train in God’s Word for a short 18 years. But they are His for all their lives.

 

God showed us through a few minutes of texting that Lauren’s faith was still building. On her own, she asked for prayer (which meant she too was praying), and she was reading her devotional book with no prompting from home.

 

If you have kids at home, pray for them, read God’s Word with them and rest in knowing God is with them. You are building a firm foundation. You are paving a pathway that will lead them in the direction they should go.

 

Dear Lord, help me to train my children in the way they should go. Through the power of Your Holy Spirit, lead me as I lead them. Draw each of us closer to You as we walk together in faith. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Reflect and Respond:
Read Lamentations 2:19. Prayerfully ask the Lord how you can pray for the children in your life.

 

If you are a parent or grandparent, pray specifically for one of your children. Ask God for wisdom to guide you on how to pray and share with that child you are praying for him or her.

 

Power Verse:
Lamentations 2:19a, “Rise up during the night and cry out. Pour out your hearts like water to the Lord. Lift up your hands to him in prayer, pleading for your children.” (NLT)

The Right Words


“Like apples of gold in settings of silver Is a word spoken in right circumstances.” Proverbs 25:11 (NASB)

Church receptionists are powerful people. Just think about it. If your church‘s receptionist is a godly woman, the congregation, visitors and callers benefit from her kindness, wisdom and patience.

But if she gossips … gracious! Think how a lack of discernment, wicked words and malicious intent can spread. One person in a powerful position can poison the entire church.

Lily, the receptionist at my church, always used her position for good. Situated at a desk at the entrance of the main office, she greeted every person walking through the door and answered each phone call personally. Lily was known not only as a wonderful receptionist, but as a godly woman.

Young women in a leadership position were advised to seek out Lily as a mentor. It wasn’t long until the tapestried bench in front of her desk became one of women’s favorite spots. They could pour out their heart’s for the women of the church, and Lily joined them both to pray and to recruit the older women.They approached her with problems, and she helped them find wise solutions. They cried when their feelings were hurt and she urged them, “Beloved, run to Jesus!”

They learned so many important lessons sitting on the bench in their church’s office, but the most important one was modeled rather than taught aloud.

They always lamented that if  they were given the life verse most fitting their untransformed self, theirs would be Proverbs 10:19a, “Too much talk leads to sin” tattooed on their  forehead. Lily taught them (a woman who struggles with an abundance of words) to be wise and discerning with words.

Lily modeled discretion when their  careless words abounded.

They talked and talked, but watched as Lily listened carefully to everyone.

Lily prayerfully paused before speaking, while they spoke without thinking.

They voiced their own thoughts but responded in awe as Lily often spoke directly from God‘s Word.

As time went by, They prayed and worked to emulate their mentor. Although they still wrestled with overusing words, they became much more sensitive to their power. They tried to follow Lily’s godly example by using words carefully, stopping the constant flow of chatter and re-directing potentially negative conversation to be God-honoring.

Several years passed, and many women thought about Lily’s life-changing influence as they packed for a move. Before some left for  new places, they wanted to find a gift to thank her for all the hours she had poured into them. They looked and looked for the perfect memento, until suddenly their eyes lit on a metallic, silver and gold apple pendant.

Immediately, a verse which often came to mind when thinking of Lily, “Like apples of gold in settings of silver Is a word spoken in right circumstances” (Proverbs 25:11 NASB). Wise words are valuable and precious, lovely and uncommon. I purchased the pendant, wrapped it carefully and took it to the church.

As They gave Lily her gift, their  eyes welled while thanking her. Without even knowing, she had taught them the priceless lesson of the beauty of well-chosen words. They pray they’re  doing the same for others in their  life.

Dear Lord, refine my words until they become lovely, pleasing to You, and uplifting to the people around me. Please help me stop words in mid-breath that dishonor You and tear down others. This transformation isn’t easy, so I plead for Your power at work in me to change me. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Related Resources:

Reflect and Respond:
How are you doing with words? Make a point to listen to yourself today.

Thank a friend who is wise with her words and start to take note and learn from her.

Power Verses:
Proverbs 10:19-20, “Sin is not ended by multiplying words, but the prudent hold their tongues. The tongue of the righteous is choice silver, but the heart of the wicked is of little value.” (NIV)

James 3:2, “We all stumble in many ways. Anyone who is never at fault in what they say is perfect, able to keep their whole body in check.” (NIV)

 

How to Leave a Legacy®


I am reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also.” 2 Timothy 1:5 (NIV)

Tod’s family went to church faithfully. That’s what they had always done. But once inside the brick walls of their home, the story was different. There the masks came off, and Tod and his little brother lived with the painful reality of their parents’ bad choices. Living a double life became the norm for Tod, and he learned early that Christianity was something you put on with your church clothes.

Summer, however, brought more than relief from school, homework, and the daily routine of life. Summer brought with it a short break from living in the craziness of his family, because summer meant time at his grandparent’s home.

Grandma and Grandpa Whitwer were humble people. They served alongside each other as ministers, sacrificially laying down their lives to travel from church to church in many different states. They served well into their retirement years, and never gave up ministering to others.

Throughout the years they saw the pain of their son’s choices, choices that drastically affected the lives of their grandchildren. But there was little they could do to intervene. At least it was little in the eyes of the world.

What they were able to do had a lasting impact on Tod. Quietly and consistently, they showed their grandson love. Their never-wavering faith was an anchor. Their unconditional love was like water to a thirsty child. Their integrity was a light on a hill to a lost boy. Amel and Elise Whitwer gave hope to a young boy; hope that there was more to God and to this life than what he knew. Moreover, Tod learned that Christianity was something you lived out every day, not just on Sundays.

Through the faith of two humble people, my husband and I learned that God’s most effective influence often comes in quiet ways. God can change a life, and a generation of lives, using gentle, consistent, sincere people who love and serve Him.

The faith of a godly woman … the faith of a God-fearing man …. it changed my husband’s life. It changed my life. And it is changing our children’s lives. Never underestimate the power of faith, and a godly legacy, to make an impact over generations.

Note: Before Tod’s parents passed away, we were blessed to see both of them receive healing and restoration, to God and to their families.

Dear Lord, thank You for the model of faith You have given me through the lives of previous generations. Help me to honor those people who love and honor You. Like them, I long to be a woman who creates a legacy of faith to those who will follow in my footsteps. Help me be the woman You want me to be. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Reflect and Respond:
If your grandparents are still alive, take the time to write them a letter, or call them. If you are a grandparent, write your grandchildren a letter.

Think of an older woman who has been a model of Christian faith. What are some of her most memorable characteristics?

What can you do now to become a woman of faith who will leave a legacy?

Power Verses:
Isaiah 55:11, “… so is my word that goes out from my mouth; It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.” (NIV)

Daniel 4:34b, “His dominion is an eternal dominion; his kingdom endures from generation to generation.” (NIV)

Deuteronomy 7:9, “Know therefore that the LORD your God is God; he is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commands.” (NIV)

Collateral Damage


Collateral Damage (film)
Collateral Damage (film)

“He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.” Psalm 147:3 (ESV)

 

My house has a crack. Just over the doorframe, creeping to the
ceiling. It catches my eye every time I sit on my couch in my living
rom. My house isn’t that old, so when I asked how this happened, the
answer was,
collateral damage.

 

Collateral damage is defined as damage to things that are incidental
to the intended target. Who knew that the sunny rays outside could
fracture the wall of my nicely air conditioned home? But it happened.

 

Last year we had one of the hottest summers on record and the parched
ground around the foundation strained the frame, which put pressure on
the walls, and eventually a crack appeared.

 

Collateral damage can also take place within our family when we’ve
been hurt by something or someone else, no matter how long ago.

 

Because a parent made you feel unworthy of love, you lash out when your child doesn’t eat the meal you lovingly prepared.

 

Because your trust was shattered by another, your loyal husband pays
the price as his faithfulness is questioned again and again.

 

Because of negative words poured over your tender heart, you struggle to believe your value to God.

 

Collateral damage. All of it.

 

Years ago I struggled with collateral damage. Because of my own past
hurts, sometimes I lashed out, or withdrew from a loved one. Sometimes I
worked way too hard to be accepted by a God who loved me right where I
was.

 

Psalm 147:3
promises God can fix these broken parts. As He began to heal my heart,
He showed me the cracks weren’t the source of the problem. My behavior,
my inadequacies, even my struggle to feel grace … these were
superficial issues.

 

The foundational issue was there from the time when a little girl
tried hard to stay out of trouble, to make peace, and yet nothing I did
worked. So I learned how to hide, how to defend myself, and a few other
unhealthy behaviors along the way. Do you relate?

 

By taking my eyes off the cracks and opening my heart to God, the
original source of damage was in plain sight … where it could be
addressed and healed. The more I soaked those wounds in God’s truth, the
more I began to recognize the cracks and see them in an entirely
different Light. The more He healed me.

 

The fact that your trust was shattered by another just makes the gift of a loyal husband/wife that much more sweet.

 

The fact that negative words were poured over your tender heart means
the thousands of words etched in Scripture are that much more powerful
because they redefine you, as seen and loved by your Heavenly Father.

 

The crack in my living room is slated to be fixed. And next summer
I’ll be sure to water my foundation in the fierce heat. But as for me,
my heart is bound and secure, and that foundation has become a source of
collateral gifts in my marriage, with my children and grandbabies, and
in my relationship with my God.

 

Dear Jesus, before today I pointed out the cracks, those
superficial acts and behaviors that I’ve tried to patch over. But today I
hold up my heart. You see the foundation of my brokenness. Thank You
for binding up my wounds, for healing, and for my new journey to
wholeness
. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Reflect and Respond:
If you take your eyes off the cracks, what do you see?

Invite God into those broken places. He’s been waiting to fix the foundation of your heart for a long time.

Power Verses:
Proverbs 4:20-22, “My son, be attentive to my words; incline your ear to my sayings. Let them not escape from your sight; keep them within your heart. For they are life to those who find them, and healing to all their flesh.” (ESV)

The Day I Almost Quit


You give me your shield of victory, and your right hand sustains me; you stoop down to make me great.” Psalm 18:35 (NIV 1984)

She love her kids, but She haven’t always liked being a mom.

Once her boys became toddlers who wouldn’t listen to her or obey consistently,She kind of panicked. Other moms appeared to know what they were doing, and She wondered why She couldn’t get it right with her kids.

Other children seemed to listen when told no. Why wouldn’t her child stay in the cart at the grocery store or stop begging her when She told him/her we could not buy everything his little hand could touch? How come no one told me being a mom would be so hard? She wondered!

She felt like such a failure. Almost every day She compared how she felt on the inside to how other moms looked on the outside.

She held up the feelings of inadequacy and thoughts of insecurity in contrast to moms who dressed their children in matching outfits and adorned themselves with attitudes of grace and wisdom. How in the world did they pull it off with a smile? She could barely get a shower, get her kids dressed and get them out the door before lunch.

She just wanted to quit. One day she came home from running too many errands with two very tired, fussy kids. When she put them down for an early nap, She started looking for pink construction paper to write “I QUIT” on it so she could turn in her “pink slip” to her husband when he came home from work.

It was just too hard, and She was tired of thinking She would never be “good enough” as a mom.

She needed a new place to start. She started becoming the mom God created her to be, the day She was ready to quit. That afternoon She fell on Her knees before God and choked out the words, “I can’t do this.”

In that place of surrender, His peace came over her. His gentleness calmed her nerves. It was as if God bent down and spoke to her heart: You are right, Woman. In your strength and through your perspective, you can’t do this. But with My promises, My presence and My power  all things are possible. I will help you become a great mom.

Looking back on that day, She was reminded of the key verse in Psalm 19:35, “You give me your shield of victory, and your right hand sustains me; you stoop down to make me great.”

When you acknowledge that on your own you are a mess, God rushes to your side to help you. He bends down to show you that with His grace, wisdom and guidance, you can become the mom He is calling you to be, the mom your kids need you to be, and the mom you want to be!

Dear Lord, I need Your shield of victory to protect me from discouragement. Please extend Your right hand to sustain me; Your grace to strengthen me; and Your wisdom to lead me. Today, I want to find a new starting place with You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Reflect and Respond:
Write a letter, telling God how you feel. Be honest and open. Sharing your heart and thoughts with Him is the first step toward freedom and hope.

As you read today’s devotion, what struggles are similar to yours as a mom? Have you ever wanted to quit? What got you to that hard place and what do you need to do to rely on God’s perspective instead of your own?

Power Verses:
Psalm 113:5-7, “Who is like the LORD our God, the One who sits enthroned on high, who stoops down to look on the heavens and the earth? He raises the poor from the dust and lifts the needy from the ash heap.” (NIV 1984)