Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Who in the world am I now??

For 20 plus years I was a wife and a mom....I took care of my home, tended the needs of my three children and husband and worked in our family buisness. I knew exactly who I was because my identity was tied up in those relationships and activities.

I find myself now, no longer a wife and my children are grown. I do have a great job....but how strange it all is. I have a great sense of being "disconnected". Everything in this world that grounded me and gave me a sense of "who I am" has changed.

Do any of you feel this? Weather you are divorced, widowed or an "empty nester", I am sure to some degree you have experienced this.

Here is a super article from Joni Eareckson Tada  on the subject!!
I’ll be the first to admit that I have really struggled with that question, “Who am I?” I remember lying awake at nights after the diving accident in which I became paralyzed, wondering and worrying about who I was. On my feet, my identity was all wrapped up in sports and athletics. I was an active, busy girl playing tennis with my friends, running, horseback riding, hiking… I knew who I was. I was Joni-on-the-go. But now, stuck in a wheelchair, without use of my hands or legs, I had absolutely no idea who I was. Who am I? I would cry out to God.
Thankfully, I had a friend named Steve who was leading me through Bible study at the time, helping me to understand my predicament from the point of view of God’s Word. One day I confided to Steve that I was afraid—I mean really afraid—that I had no idea who this new Joni was supposed to be. I don’t think I fully expected him to be able to answer my question—he was only a kid like me; and a boy at that. What did he know about my struggle with identity? Well, I’ll never forget what he did to help answer that question because the next evening when we met for our regular Bible study, Steve flipped open to Colossians chapter 3 and read the first three verses where it says, “Since you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.”
“Right there is your answer, Joni,” he said. “Colossians chapter 3 is going to help you find out who the real Joni is. It’ll help you solve the mystery; it’ll help make clear who you’re supposed to be.” I gave him a funny look, but he had come prepared with a visual aid for this lesson. Steve held up a paper bag—on the outside of it he had written the words, God the Father. Then, he reached inside that bag and pulled out one that was hidden—this second bag had the words Jesus written on it. There was obviously something hidden in that bag, because he reached inside of it and pulled out a 3×5 card with my name written on it. Steve said to me, “Joni, the Bible says that you—the real you—is hid with Christ in God. That means the more you get to know  Jesus, the clearer your identity will be, for your identity is completely wrapped up in Christ—just like this little 3×5 card is hidden inside the bag with Jesus name on it. You are hid with Christ in God; and the more you get to know Him, the more you’ll know yourself.”
It was a lesson I will never forget and it started me out on a wonderful journey to know Jesus better. I didn’t need to worry about who I was anymore. I knew it would all be revealed the more I learned about Jesus. Friend, get to know Him… and you’ll get to know yourself…

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Idols...are we "worshiping" our kids?

“An idol is anything in my life that occupies a place that should be occupied by God alone. An idol is something that holds such a controlling position in my life that it moves and rouses and attracts me so easily that I give my time, attention and money to it effortlessly.” – Dr. Martin Lloyd-Jones

A friend shared this today and it started me thinking about when I first began to understand the idols in my life. I was involved in a ladies Bible study where we went through the book, "Idols of the Heart".

I had never been exposed to this concept and as I saw the connection between my mind, heart, emotions and idolatry it floored me. I think we see idols as obvious "replacements" for God....money, power etc. but we don't see the other things ( good things) that we make idols of. Our children are one area where we tend to idolize the most as women, I think. We want the best for them. We want their love and respect. These are good.

An idol is anything that you place above God in your life. When your child is in disobedience (ultimately to God) but you want their affection enough to with hold correction then you have made that your God. If you are willing to sin to get something, it is an idol.

I have heard people (and society tells us) that your child's comfort, self esteem etc. are the most important things. To make your child sad or uncomfortable is viewed as unloving. The Word says that if you do not discipline then you hate your child. We are commanded to require our children to adhere, not to our rules, but to Gods perfect standard. This is to honor our Lord and to point our children to their need of a savior.

As our children grow older, it is easy to buy into the world view on parenting to the point that we avoid confrontation to preserve relationship with them and so fail to "speak the truth in love". We are afraid of alienating them. We don't force them to face the natural consequences of their actions at times because we want to preserve their comfort and happiness. None of this is truly loving and it is causing us to place them above the God who has given us His commands and principles. He must be our authority and under that umbrella then we are the authority for our children.

In the end they will be ill equipped for a world that is not going to coddle them and where they will face great consequences if they have had to much freedom, authority and have been able to believe that the "world revolves around them". We see this in a generation who wants to be entertained constantly, has little respect for authority and very poor work ethics.

I also see too much deference to children in general. I have witnessed "child centered homes" which causes the parents to ultimately be in subjection to the wishes of their children verses the proper order. If we do this we are taking God off the throne of our lives and our homes and replacing Him with our child what ever age they they are.There is the idol.

God tells us to put Him first because first of all he deserves that place. He is God. His way however benefits us as well. It will go well with us and our children when we give Him first place and have no idols before Him.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Character is needed because the world is broken....Welcome to honest living.

A Welcome to Honest Living
Paul Tripp
The Bible is honest about life in this fallen world. This honesty is a sign of God's love. He's the wise and gentle father preparing his child for that walk through a tough neighborhood on the first day of school. He's the faithful friend praying with you before you face an unusual challenge. He's the caring physician informing you of what to expect from the disease he's just diagnosed.

A primary goal of all this diagnosis, description, warning, comfort, and counsel is to call us to certain ways of living. Why would you need to be "completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love," (Ephesians 4:2-3) if you were not living in a community of flawed people where this kind of character is essential? Relationships in a fallen world are hard. Ministry to flawed people is fraught with difficulty. Character is needed because the world is broken.

In being honest, the Bible welcomes you to be honest as well. In its refusal to minimize, diminish, or deny the harsh realities of this broken-down house, the Bible calls us to face the facts as well. Things are not okay around us or inside us. The brokenness presses in on every side. What should we do with all this? Let me suggest five ways to pursue the character qualities to which God calls us, and in that way prepare ourselves to participate more effectively in the great task of restoration.

1. Determine to be honest.
Do not permit yourself to give way to location amnesia. Look the real world squarely in the face. Locate those places in your life where things are not the way they were meant to be and determine, by God's help, to be a reconciler and a restorer.

2. Let yourself mourn.
If we are honest and look the world in the face, we will be sad at what we see. Jesus said, "Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted" (Mathew 5:4). The condition of the world we live in should make us weep.

3. Fight to be dissatisfied.
I agree with C.S. Lewis that one of the big problems for Christians is not that we are dissatisfied, but that we are far too easily satisfied. We can become so content with the material sights, smells, sounds, and tastes of the physical world that we lose perspective. But if we're honest, if we mourn to see the broken world around us limping its way into hell, it will make us sick inside.

4. Be glad.
You and I also must fight to not lose our joy and awe. Even as we fully acknowledge this broken world, we must lift our eyes to a greater truth. The Sovereign Creator God has become our Savior, and through him we are the beloved adopted children of God the Father. We must require ourselves to celebrate this every day, for all of this is the result of his grace. We must remind ourselves that Emmanuel is with us wherever we are, and in the middle of whatever we are facing.

5. Live with anticipation.
We must recall again and again that this broken home is not our permanent address. By an extraordinary act of God's grace, all his blood-bought children are guaranteed to be part of a much better neighborhood. Someday we will all live in the New Jerusalem on a street called Shalom, where brokenness will be no more.

Last week your boss gave you your walking papers, or your teenager rebelled to your face, or you were diagnosed with a disease, or a tree fell on your garage, or your best friend gossiped about something you said in confidence, or your aging body ached, or your church disappointed you again, or you pulled your back out, or your vacation proved to be more work than retreat, or you found out that your exorbitant city taxes are being misused by a politically hungry elected thief, or you learned that someone stole your identity, or you felt drawn to something you knew was wrong.

Last week you encountered the world as it really is: broken. How did you do? Did you long for a better world? Did you seek and celebrate the grace that is yours until that better world is your final home?

Thursday, August 11, 2011

A Prayer for Gospel Parenting ....

I read trusting God for the first time several years ago. If you have not read it..read it. In this book one thing that I took with me was Bridges remarks on parenting. He said" you can't mess up Gods plan for your kids". As I read the following article I was once again so encouraged by this truth. I was also convicted again about the responsibility and accountability we possess as parents and grandparents.



A Prayer for Gospel Parenting
A Prayer for Gospel Parenting avatar

Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the watchman stays awake in vain. It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil; for he gives to his beloved sleep. Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward. Ps. 127:1–3
Heavenly Father, it is a liberating joy to address you today as the architect and builder of your own house—including the household of faith and our children’s place in your family. No one loves our children more than you. No one has a greater investment in their future than you. No one can teach us to parent them like you.
As I look back over the years of my pragmatic parenting, I’m saddened, for there have been consequences. But I’m also gladdened, for you’ve always been faithful to your covenant love, even when I was overbearing and under-believing. The move from parenting by grit to parenting by grace has been a fitful, but fruitful journey. Take me deeper; take me further.
You’ve rescued me from parental “laboring in vain”—assuming a burden you never intended parents to bear. Father, only you can reveal the glory and grace of Jesus to our children. Only you can give anyone a new heart. You’ve called us to parent as an act of worship—to parent “as unto you,” not as a way of saving face, making a name for ourselves, or proving our worthiness of your love.
Oh, the arrogant pride of thinking that by our “good parenting” we can take credit for what you alone can graciously do in the lives of our children. Oh, the arrogant unbelief of assuming that by our “bad parenting” we’ve forever limited what you’ll be able to accomplish in the future.
Oh, the undue pressure our children must feel when we parent more out of fear than faith; more out of rules than relationship; more out of and pride than patience; more out of comparison than covenant; more out of threats than theology. Forgive us. Free us. Focus us.
Father, since our children and grandchildren are your inheritance, teach us how to care for them as humble stewards, not as anxious owners. More than anything else, show us how to parent and grandparent in a way that best reveals the unsearchable riches of Jesus in the gospel. We want the gospel to be beautiful and believable to our children.
Give us quick repentances and observable kindnesses. Grant us confidence that you can redeem our past parental failures. Convict us quickly and surely when we don’t relate to your covenant children, “in line with the truth of the gospel” (Gal. 2:14). So very Amen we pray, in Jesus’ faithful and powerful name.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Looking at Biblical woman-hood...again. Back to our roots.

I read this article today. It has so much to do with a woman relating to a man that I almost felt it had little to do with meas a single woman. However, I realised that it has to do with EVERY woman with regard to authority in our lives. Our attitudes as we serve Him who is our Father and Husband through relationships with the authorities He has placed in our lives. Great read!!


Thursday, August 4, 2011

For "All The Single Ladies"...married to Christ cont.(our Husbands protection)

Wow that little verse from Isaiah has really set me on a journey!

I began thinking about the protection that a husband is to provide for his wife. He is to provide protection physically, spiritually, relationally and emotionally. This is an area that ,as women, we have the most issues. Over time we have rejected protection for several reasons. There is pride, rebellion and fear.

Human husbands fall short so we make their shortcomings excuses for our sinful rejection of Gods provision. We say things like " he makes bad decisions", or "he is abusive! I need protection FROM him, not BY him! " or "if I obey and trust him, he has proven he will let me down" or " he is ungodly and will lead me down a bad path if I follow him"...we feel, and rightly so, at times unprotected. Or we as single women, simply do not have a husband good or bad to protect us. Well, here is the great news!

Psalm 91:14~ "Because he (she) holds fast to me in love, I will deliver him(her). I will protect him (her), because he (she) knows my name. Ladies! This is our Husband!!"

Speaking to the single ladies (and myself, more than any), we have a Husband who NEVER fails. He has no short comings, sinful habits or tendencies. He has no selfish motives or any other excuse we could find in a human. We have no excuse to reject the provision of our Heavenly Husband!!

But look at the psalm...there is a condition to our receiving this protection. It says BECAUSE (the reason) he holds fast to me in love. We must do what any wife should do with her husband...hold fast to Him. Be devoted, loyal, honest, faithful to him. He must be our priority. We must stay close to him. We must not wander away to other things.

We must do this "in love". When we look at what Christ himself said about loving him we see him say "if you love me, you will keep my commands" Here is our protection.

Everything we need for protection is in the love letter our Heavenly Husband has given us. Think of it. The proverbs alone are full of words that will protect us from physical dangers, over spending, being drawn away and enticed by the world into harmful behaviors. It is all there.

But, again, sometimes we need "someone with skin on" so He provides. Our umbrella of protection includes our church family, particularly the Elders. I my case these men have been invaluable! They Shepherd us as "those who will give an account". Seeking their advice along with scripture is amazing protection. Friends and family (if the are committed believers) can also provide accountability and help.

The last part of the Psalm says "because he knows My name". When we marry, we take our husbands name. What does that look like when a single woman is "married to Christ"? In scripture someones name is their character....we must strive to take on the NAME(character) of our Husband.

This is our means of protection. We strive to "hold fast in love" (and all that implies) and we strive to take on the character of our Heavenly Husband (and all that implies). The really good news is that we don't do any of this on our own strength! He supplies the grace, the mercy, the strength, the direction and all of it for our protection and His glory. How encouraging!