A Place Called Home

My daddy was a preacher and because of that, we moved quite a lot and because we moved a lot that means I went to a lot of different schools, 9 to be exact out of 12 yrs. But along with going to a lot of schools, I also lived in a lot of homes and out of the 17 and half yrs I lived at home, only one of those homes my parents owned, the rest were parsonages.(A home provided by the church for the minister)   So needless to say all I ever wanted in life was a home that I owned. 

 

So imagine my excitement when Jeff and I were approved for our first home loan and we found a home we fell in love with. The only problem was the house we loved was appraised for about $5,000 more dollars than what we were approved for and although the homeowner had told the realtor to go ahead and sell us the house for what we could afford. The realtor was determined to try and get more money for it. So, while our paperwork was going forward she was still showing the house to other potential buyers. 

 

When I found this out I informed that agent under no uncertain terms that “You can show that house all you want but I know God has given us that house so you are just wasting your time” 

 

You might say “How do you know that, Alesa?” and I would tell you, that I know that because there were confirmation after confirmation of things that I prayed for that God gave me in that house. The first one was, I prayed that God would give us a house where all the woodwork was stained except for the kitchen and Amy’s bedroom. Secondly, I wanted white woodwork in those rooms, this home had all that. 

 

Also, Jeff didn’t even have a job at the time, we were in the process of moving to Kansas City area to plant a church and Jeff only had a promise of a job, he hadn’t even started working yet. Yet, we were approved for a loan. I wanted white kitchen cabinets, tall ceilings, and a house with a history. This home had all that. 

 

So I knew in my heart God had given us this house. The day came when we closed on the house and we had our final walk thru with the realtor before getting the keys. 

 

As we looked over the house one last time the realtor told me “Alesa you were right, God has given you this house” She went on to tell the story of a woman who she had showed the house to and the lady was ready to buy it, had the money and everything but when she went home and told her husband, he said “You can buy it but I am not moving”

 

The realtor confessed she had tried her hardest to sell that house to someone else to make more money but every time she did it fell through. 

 

You may be thinking I wish God would answer my prayers like that. You maybe wondering how did you know Alesa? How can you be that confident? 

 

And I would have to tell you, because I have a personal relationship with God. He isn’t the friend I just talk to once a week. He isn’t the person I call only when I’m in trouble. I know Him through reading His words in the bible and constant communication with Him and He knows me because He created me. 

 

He also knows that I am willing to follow His plan even when it isn’t want I want. 

 

You see I never wanted to be married to someone who served in the military and I never wanted to be married to a pastor.  Not because I didn’t think those jobs were admirable or I didn’t appreciate what those people do, I just didn’t think either of them made enough money for me and I wanted more than what those salaries could provide but yet when God called Jeff into the ministry, and the military, I knew that it wasn’t about what I wanted anymore but it was about God’s will and following the plan He had for our lives. 

 

So I gave up my dreams my plans and we follow God’s. That’s what I really think having a relationship with Jesus Christ is all about, No longer following what you want but following what His will is for us and as Rick Warren’s famous quote says “It’s not about me” 

 

When you have that kind of relationship with the creator of the universe you can know what His will is for your life, because when you’re willing to give up your will, desires and ways of how you think things should go. Then God will know He can trust you enough to tell you His innermost secrets and the direction that He has for your life

 

Now does that mean I always get what I want No! Does that mean I am always certain of what to do, no!

 

But I have learned when I sense my life is about to change and God is up to something I continue to keep doing the last thing He told me to do until I see the next open door. 

 

That’s called faith It’s called trusting God no matter what it looks like ahead and following the plan He has for me. 

 

The bible says “Now faith is the assurance that what we hope for will come about and the certainty that what we cannot see exists” Hebrews 11:1

I was telling this to our son Chad the other day. He has been sensing a change coming in his life and he is uncertain of what to do at the end of this semester. I reminded him, When following Christ He usually only gives us one step at a time. So we just do that last thing He told us to do until we get new directions. 

 

We can’t get so focused on looking ahead that we forget the task at hand but at the same time we must always be listening to the direction of the Holy Spirit that is living inside of us if we have given our lives to God. 

 

The question today is who are you following? Are you following your will and your way or have you totally submitted your life to Christ? Is there something that God has told you to do and you haven’t? Are you listening for His call on the next step He desires you to take? When He does speak to you , are you willing to move no matter what He tells you to do?

 

God is looking for people who are willing to follow after Him no matter what the cost. No matter has scary or crazy it may look. You see what I didn’t tell you in that house buying story Is that Jeff and I were moving to Kansas City area to plant a church and we didn’t have any other contacts in that area but us,  we started that little church with the five members of our family and it grew to 50 in just a year’s time. We stepped out in faith to follow what God has called us to do. 

 

When other church planters had churches coming alongside them and helping them, partnering with them and even sending some of their congregations to help them. 

 

It was just Jeff and I and our kids. What the old school preachers would call pioneering a church with no help from anybody else but God, and you know what we found in that season of life God is all we need and He’s all you need too. 

Our imagination is bigger than we think!

Our imagination is bigger than we think!

Recently, Jeff and I were privileged to be a part of my cousin’s daughter’s wedding. I say apart because, Jeff performed the wedding and I was the day of coordinator. Which is a fancy term, that basically means I told everyone what to do that day, but my family would probably say that was nothing new. 

 

There are two reasons why this was such a special occasion. The first is because it was kind of surreal going back home for this special occasion.  You see,thirty years ago, it would of been my mom and dad doing this, because that is just what their role was in the family. When anything came up that needed a preacher, my mom and dad were the ones the family called on. Because my parents were both ministers with the Assemblies of God for over 40 yrs. 

In fact it was 18 years ago my mom performed the wedding of my cousin and his wife, only because my daddy had already gone home to heaven. So to say we keep things like this in the family is sort of an understatement. It truly felt the mantel was passed on to Jeff and I, not only in ministry but by performing the wedding in the exact same church where my mom performed my cousin’s wedding, and now his daughter was getting married. 

Another neat thing about this special event is when we went back to this town I was born in (Iola Kansas) and where Jeff and I served in the church not once but twice, we not only got to see many friends from our church there. It was endearing as we drove around town remembering all the blessings God had brought us while we lived there.  

Now our life has never been without problems, so we were also reminded of the difficult times as well. But because we kept our focus on the good, the bad didn’t over shadow us, even going to the graveside of my parents was not a disappointment because I know where they are and it isn’t in that grave, but it is in heaven. 

One thing that was a surprise though was how much smaller things felt. As Jeff and I was driving to the park entrance, He even made the comment “I remember it being a lot further down this road” and when we entered the old church, where we had pastored, I made the comment “I remember these rooms being bigger”. 

Now had the street gotten any shorter or the room any smaller since the last time we were there? No, but our mind had made them much bigger than they really were. In the six years since our last visit to the town and the probably 20 plus years since we had been inside the church, nothing had changed about these places but in my mind they were so much bigger. 

Isn’t that what happens to all of us though, and I don’t mean just physical things but just about any idea we have in our mind can be blown up much bigger than what it actually is. For instance someone says something to you and you might not think anything about it right away, but if you sit and dwell on it, the longer you think about it the bigger the conversation can get and the more offense we can take. 

We often allow things to fester and grow in our minds much bigger than they actually are. Romans 12:2  reminds us “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—His good, pleasing and perfect will.”  Satan doesn’t want us to be happy and at peace, that is why he drops negative thoughts in our minds that we focus on. Because he wants us to focus on the bad in every situation.

Paul tells us in Philippians 4:8 …… Fix your thoughts on what is true and good and right. Think about things that are pure and lovely, and dwell on the fine, good things in others. Think about all you can praise God for and be glad about. (TLB) 

If we only dwell on the negative in our lives, we will end up magnifying everything we think about over and over again for an extended period of time and the truth is the situation or the issue often isn’t as big has our mind imagines it to be. 

I remember my dad telling the story of a church he pastored where there was so much offense between two families in the church that they refuse to speak to each other and sat on separate sides of the church. One day my dad brought the leaders of both sides of the family into his office and told them, “It is time this feud stops! Now tell me why you can’t get along? What happened between your two families that has made you so mad?” The two people thought for a moment and looked at my dad and said “We can’t remember” Here they had been mad at each other for 40yrs., refuse to have anything to do with each other, all while calling themselves Christians and they couldn’t remember what they were mad about? 

Satan had taken something that obviously wasn’t that big of a deal and magnify it into a family feud that lasted years and who knows how many countless people were turned off of the idea of knowing Christ because of these so called Christian’s actions. All because they had dwelled on something way to long and allowed Satan to make it much bigger than what the situation obviously really was. 

So what are you thinking about? What keeps you up at night? What has you so angry you are refusing to speak to someone? Whatever it is, try stepping back and focusing on Phil 4:8.  Because you aren’t doing it for the people you are upset with you are doing it for you, and because God asked you to, and God only asks us to do what He knows is best for us.

What to do when you don’t know what to do?

What to do when you don’t know what to do?

What do you do when you don’t know what to do? What do you do when your world seems to have fallen apart and all your hopes and dreams come crashing to the ground? Maybe it is the loss of a loved one. Maybe it is that special someone that you thought was going to make all your dreams come true. Maybe it’s an illness when the doctors says “We have done all we can do.” There is a whole range of circumstances that can bring us down. 

 

God never promised that everything would be perfect in this life. In fact He warned us that “In this world you will have trouble, but take heart, I have overcome the world” (John 16:33) And you know what else God said earlier in this verse,  He tells us this so that we will have peace. In other words He warns us. He warns us that life is gonna be hard but He wants us to know that we can trust Him because, if He knows the bad stuff is coming, He also knows what good will come from it also, and there is good in the bad if we will only look.

 

But the truth is, in many cases that doesn’t take the pain of that lost loved one away, or the lost of hopes and dreams you had. There is a saying that tells us “Sometimes you have to let go of the picture you thought life would be like and learn to find joy in the story you are living”

 

If we never had any problems how would we know when our life was good. I remember a few years ago,  Amy took a missions trip to California working with the inter-city. When she returned one of her first comments was “The weather was 70 and sunny the whole time I was there and I hated it!” Weather that most people would love, Amy didn’t enjoy because she is a born and bred Kansas girl where if you don’t like the weather, wait five minutes and it will change. It was different than what she expected and often times we expect things that are not always realistic and because of that our expectations can bring devastation.  

 

God wants us to have hopes and dreams but there is a certain level of flexibility and trust we have to give to Him. When things don’t go as we had hoped and prayed. We can’t give up. But we have to trust that He knows best and if we will look at each situation, asking  “God what do you want me to learn from this or how can I glorify you in this?” Then what seems like a horrible experience can be turned into something great! No! It might not be what we had planned but it can be God’s plan. 

 

Sometimes our tragedy takes us to levels in Him and places on this earth, that we would have never been otherwise. God sometimes allows us to meet people that would never of happened it is wasn’t for the disappointments in our lives. God often wants us to use these hard times to bless others. If we will only allow Him to use us in our times of distress. 

 

It is all about our attitude. When we choose to move ahead after disappointments and tragedies we can allow God to bless us in the way He had planned and turn our tragedy into triumph. It is all about if we get bitter or better through the storm in our life. 

 

The day my mother died I was at the hospital by myself,  she died just as the shift change was happening so there was an unusual amount of nurses and staff there. I being in healthcare for many years know what a downer it can be for nurses and caregivers when they lose a patient. Apparently, it was this particular hospitals policy that when a patient dies, the staff are to come in the room and give the family condolences as the final arrangements are made for the body. 

 

 As nurses and staff filed into moms room.  It all seemed like a waste, what were they standing there for looking at my mother, talking to me a stranger they had never met? Most of them had never even cared for my mom since she was there less than 8 hrs before passing. They were kind, and you could see visibly moved, but I didn’t want her life to be a waste. Not even the moments after she took her last breath.  See mom had hopes and dreams. You see, God had already lengthen a tendon in her leg many years earlier, that healed her of a limp she had as a result of her polo as a child. Fifty years later, she was still believing that God was going to heal the severe “S” curve of her spine also, from polio. It was the one thing that caused her more pain in her life than anything else. She believed God had promised her that one day He would complete her healing. 

 

Suddenly there was something that rose up in me as the room was filled with people.  I imagine it might have been a little like Peter on the day of pentecost. Because there before all these people I had never seen before. Something in my spirit rose up and I stood up and said, “Today I don’t want you to go around sad and depressed that you lost a patient, No! Today you walk around and as you do your job, you tell yourself and everyone you know that you saw a miracle today because this body you see here laying on this bed is healed. She has entered the gates of heaven whole and completely healed with no more sickness or pain. Her miracle has come!” I went on to encourage them, that if they wanted to know that God, they need to accept Jesus as their Savior. 

 

It was a few days later, I got a call from the Director of Nursing at the hospital saying how much she and the staff appreciated what I said and thanked me for sharing. Now I didn’t do it for applause, honestly I don’t know why I did it. Like I said something just rose up in me. But I could of been bitter and told them all to leave as I draped myself across my mother’s body crying uncontrollably,  but I didn’t! I choose to use what God had put at my hand and use it for His glory. 

 

Am I some super hero because of that? No! I am just a human that is totally reliant on Christ for everything she does and desires to please Him in every area of her life. To tell you the truth it has been a long journey to get to this place in life with many stumbles along the way. But each one as led me here. 

 

So, what has devastated you recently? What does God what you to use for His glory in your life? When we don’t know what to do, maybe we need to ask God “Help me see what you are doing here?” 

 

James 1:2-4 Amplified Bible (AMP)  Says “2 Consider it nothing but joy, my [a]brothers and sisters, whenever you fall into various trials. 3 Be assured that the testing of your faith [through experience] produces endurance [leading to spiritual maturity, and inner peace]. 4 And let endurance have its perfect result and do a thorough work, so that you may be perfect and completely developed [in your faith], lacking in nothing.”

As long as we don’t get stuck in the suffering part the testing part. if we get stuck there God can never use us to the potential He desires us to achieve. 

God works all things together for our good! We can never give up hope, never give up our dreams, I am sure my mom never thought, her dream would turn out to be that her healing would come in Heaven I am sure she had different ideas. But that is why we trust Him to know the best outcome of our situation.. Trusting in Him even when we cannot see! 

 

It Just Hit The Spot!!

It Just Hit The Spot!!

My parents were pastor’s for over 40 yrs before my dad passed away and they use to tell a story that happened at one of the first churches they pastored, there was one particular member of the congregation who had such a generous heart of sharing and blessing them with food she would bring over something to them all the time, from baked goods to full meals. She was always blessing my parents with food that she had made. The only problem with this situation was that as sweet as this lady was she didn’t know how to cook. In fact my parents told stories of one time, she baked a cake without any sugar in it and as best they could tell, they think she used salt instead. 

 

Apparently, as the story goes,  I am told, at that point my parents had to decide to do something that would not only keep them and their intestines safe, but protect this ladies feelings as well. So they came up with a plan that would not offend the sweet lady.or kill them. They decided to name their trash can “Spot” and every time this sweet little lady would bring mom and dad something that they couldn’t eat, they just threw it in the trash can and told the sweet lady “It  Just Hit the Spot” the next time they saw her in to acknowledgement of their appreciation for her effort. 

 

So for years at our home you couldn’t say “That just hit the spot” around the dinner table, without everyone bursting into laughter. My parents did this to preserve the sweet little ladies feelings. Some might call this a little white lie, others would say it wasn’t because the trash can now had an affectionate name called the Spot! So whatever you deem it as, it really doesn’t matter because mom and dad have since gone on to meet God and I am pretty sure out of everything they did in life, that did not keep them from heaven. 

 

My parents served in many churches over their years of ministry many times we didn’t stay more than 3 or so years because it seemed every church my parents went to were one of those so called “difficult” churches,  especially in their later years of ministry. Mom and dad would go in to the church, take care of the problems that had been left behind and then move on to the next church. 

 

One particular church my parents pastored was a church where the previous pastor had an affair with one of the deacons wives and had spent so much of the churches money that the church could barely pay their bills. I am told that the treasurer of the church couldn’t even stay at home in the evening because local bill collectors would come knocking on his door for the churches bills.

 

This is the kind of dirt that often times the church doesn’t want to talk about. It is also the kind of dirt and problems that run people away from the church. For some reason the world looks at the church as a place that is for perfect people when Jesus told us in Mark chapter 2:17 

Jesus said to them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”

 

For far too long the church has put on this front that we are better than the world. For years the church has had a list of don’ts that is far longer than their list of the do’s. We have looked down on people who aren’t like us instead of being like Jesus and sitting with sinners. 

 

The verse above in Mark 2 follows the story where Jesus is hanging out with well known sinners and the Pharisee or what we would call today,church people, are judging Him in their hearts and He calls them out on it and tells them, in a roundabout way, that I am and the church is for the sick not the healthy. Jesus himself said that He came for the lost. 

 

If the church today is going to be what God has called us to be, we need to realize that living a life for Christ isn’t about doing, doing this or doing that. It is about being! Being the only Jesus in many cases that people will see. Loving people like Jesus loved them. He loved them into His way of life, not criticizing or looking down on others because they weren’t just like Him. We as believers just need to accept the love that has so freely been given to us while we were still a mess and extend that grace to others while they are still in their mess. 

 

When we look down on people because they are different than us, we forget that God also told us in Matthew chapter 7 that the same way we judge others we will be judged. Now that doesn’t mean because we don’t sin like someone else that when judge them that makes it okay. No! It means that with the same severity that we judge others we will be judged. 

 

Rick Warren author of The Purpose Driven Life says “ “Our culture has accepted two huge lies. The first is that if you disagree with someone’s lifestyle, you must fear or hate them. The second is that to love someone means you agree with everything they believe or do. Both are nonsense. You don’t have to compromise convictions to be compassionate.”

 

Christ didn’t compromise His convictions when He sat around and ate with sinners or hung out with prostitutes! So what makes us think we have too.

 

You know what my mom and dad did as they named the trash can “Spot”,  they were being a friend, they were being, instead of doing. They could have scorned this woman and told her they appreciated the effort but wasn’t really interested in her kind of cooking, they could have said they didn’t like her food and shunned her. But they just loved her and she didn’t walk away with her feelings being hurt, but she was made to feel loved and valued.

 

If my parents had done anything less, it could have wounded this person and she may never of darkened the door of a church again, Is one cake really worth that? Nothing! Absolutely Nothing! Is worth the loss of a soul. Because that one soul can affect generations of others who will not darken the door of the church, if we wound a tender soul. We as Christians can put such a sour taste in someones mouth, we can turn people away from God because we aren’t loving people like Jesus did and still does. 

 

It is God’s call to all of us to love. The bible says Jesus is Love and we are responsible to love everyone and show them Christ’s love. Will your life be that today? When we remember what we have been saved from, then it is a lot easier to love others who aren’t just like us, because one thing is certain. There but for the grace of God goes any of us! Let’s show the grace to others that we have been given by the almighty Creator of the Universe. Because He loves every single one of us and let’s never forget at the foot of the cross it is all level ground!  

 

The Cowboy Hat and Boots…. the rest of the story!

The Cowboy Hat and Boots…. the rest of the story!

In our house, like many, I am sure, there are a few, I guess you could say “inside jokes”, when something is mentioned our family will all laugh about it because we know the back story. For instance at our house if someone starts to pray and says “Jesus,” then pauses and ever so slowly says ”we love you” our whole family may burst into laughter because it reminds us of a season in Chad’s life when he was about 4 yrs old where his only prayer was “Jesus”, then pause and ever so slowly would say “we love you” then he would speed it up and say “we love you, we love you, Amen” or if someone starts telling a story, we will drag out the word story in just the perfect southern draw, because Jeff is the best storyteller in the world when it comes to Jerry Clower stories and he has his own way of saying “Let me tell you a story” that only he can do.

 

Well, we have another inside joke in our home. It has to do with a pair of cowboy boots and a cowboy hat. Since probably 1985, every time Jeff sees a pair of cowboy boots or a hat, he will mention how I threw his away and honestly he was a little mad, okay, I think he was a lot mad at first. But I wasn’t and I have no regrets and still to this day don’t.

 

For years I have been blamed and be the brunt of many jokes in our family for throwing away Jeff’s cowboy boots and hat. All in good fun of course and technically that is what happened,I did throw them away, I admit it,  but just saying that statement doesn’t explain everything. For at least 34 yrs I have sat quiet and taken the brunt of the jokes and been teased and even at some points made to feel bad because of the deed I did. But today I am hear to clear my name.

 

You see when I threw those away, Jeff had not worn them in years and I found them smashed into the back of the closet and if I remember correctly they had mold growing on them or, I might have tried to save them. But the truth is when I married Jeff Miller he had a horrible time with ingrown toenails.

 

You know what we found out was causing that? Jeff was wearing a size 12 shoe at the time and needed a size 14, and guess what size the boots were? You guessed it! 12.

 

But nobody hears that part of the story when Jeff tells it, They just all look at me with destain in their eyes as if I am a horrible person and that these items are some sort of religious artifacts that can never be touched, and that hat, it was crumbled up beyond repair since it too had been squashed in the closet and left unused.

 

Now is it true, that I have never been attracted to a man in cowboy boots and a hat?, (although that seemed to be the only clothes in which Jeff wore to gain my attention before we were married) “yes”  and is it true that I began to buy things for Jeff to wear that I liked, like dress clothes and penny loafers? “Yes”.

 

But none of that is relevant to the fact that I threw the boots and hat out because he could not wear them any longer and they were actually doing harm to his body. Which sent us on many doctors visits and cost us a lot of money.

 

But Jeff, as you may already know is the most tender hearted sentimental, sweetest man I know. Which is wonderful, but also makes him often cling to certain things that could be thrown away. Jeff enjoys keeping those things around because when he looks at them it brings him joy and reminds him of sweet memories he has.

 

All this got to thinking ….. Isn’t that a lot like us in our life? We want to cling on to the way things use to be. Whether it be how our town used to look, or where we used to live, or what we once had. Even if the previous situation was bad and not good for us we cling to the memories of what we want to remember and some are not the whole picture of what was really going on.

 

You know in the bible the children of Israel had the same problem, God delivered them out of the hands of Pharaoh in Egypt, where they had been slaves all their lives (you can read about it in the book of Exodus) and all they did was complain and want to go back to what they were used to, even though they had prayed for years for God to deliver them. They wanted to go back to what was comfortable. They wanted to go back to what was familiar but God had a different and bigger plan for them. He wanted to take them to a land that was plentiful of everything they needed. He wanted to give them more than what they had. He had a better plan but because it was going to take them stepping out of their comfort zone to do that,  they griped and complained the whole way.

 

In Egypt they were slaves, beaten and abused, made to work long hours for little to no rewards. Bound to an owner that did not love them or care about them. We look back on this story in the bible and think they were crazy for wanting to go back to that. But how crazy are we, when we want to lose weight so we can gain our health back, so we aren’t on so many medications, maybe even avoid having to have knee or hip surgery if we can just get our weight off but we still continue to put things in our mouths that cause us to be sick and gain weight because it is comfortable.

 

Maybe it is an unhealthy relationship that we have we continue to go right back into it. Knowing it isn’t good for us but because we are to scared to make the leap and walk away even though this person abuses you and doesn’t have the capacity to love you like you need to be loved.

 

We are all slaves to something, whether it is holding on to things that we don’t need or use anymore to people and habits that are not healthy for us.

 

The thing is, this past Christmas I bought Jeff a new pair of boots to replace the ones he had, and if I do say so myself, they are as nice if not nicer than the ones he had and the kids just bought him a new cowboy hat for Father’s Day that came in the swanky hat box with a mirror in it and apparently a lock on it so I can’t throw this one away. (at least that is what I have been told)

 

Now could Jeff of replaced them at any time? Sure he could of,  long before this. But the truth is he really didn’t need them and just between you and me I think he likes teasing me about the story more than he wanted a new set. But don’t we often do that, for some we hold onto the memories and even sometimes the resentment of things that have happened in the past instead of moving on, instead of walking in the better life God has for us, because that is where we are comfortable.

 

That is what satan wants us to do, he wants us to keep looking back at where we use to be, longing for that old way of life. When God says “Look to me”, “I have something better for you over here, just trust me”  Even in Isaiah He tells us “See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? Isaiah 43:19

 

So when you see Jeff down at the Rodeo or around town in his new boots and hat on, be sure and tell him how nice he looks.  Feel free to sympathize with him of how horrible his wife was to throw his old ones away. But at the same time, ask yourself. “Is there something you are holding onto that God wants you to lay down so He can take you to a new and better place in Him?”

 

Divine Command

Divine Command

“Deut 6:4 Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.[a] 5 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. 6 These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. 7 Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. 8 Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. 9 Write them on the door frames of your houses and on your gates.

 

This scripture give us as parents a divine command to teach our children in the way they should live. In a world where parents are more concerned with being their kids friends and often spend more time at work or away from our kids. We are failing at this whole parenting thing.

 

This past weekend was Mother’s Day and my children held their traditional Mother’s Day card competition. Where they try to pick the most sentimental card that will make me cry. They find great pleasure in being the first one to make me cry. My oldest gave me a card that as I pulled it out of the envelope and began to read the first line, I totally choked and couldn’t get the words out loud. It said “I know times have been hard…” As I read the that line my mind flashed to all the hard times we have had in our life that he has lived through, many we tried to hide from him or we prayed he was just too little to remember. Our Homelessness, Joblessness, Lost of Loved Ones, Mean church Members. Through each one I pray our son has seen God’s love through us in all our mess.

 

Satan has one purpose and that is to destroy this nation, and if he can destroy the family he can destroy the church if can destroy the church, then he can destroy this nation.

 

I heard someone say this past week  “Christianity is just one generation from extinction”.  The question we have to ask ourselves is, “Will we be that generation?” Will we be the generation that fails to teach our children what God has done for us? Will it be on our watch,  that the next generation will lose the understanding and knowledge of God’s love?

 

As parents we have to realize we have a real responsibility greater than clothing and feeding our children, but it is our responsibility to bring them to the understanding of the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. If we fail to live that life everyday, if we fail to take them to church so they will know we weren’t made to do life, by ourselves. We are failing them.

 

We need to talk about God’s love, when we drive down the road in our car, we need to talk about the goodness of God at the mealtime with our kids, We need to not be scared to let are kids know, we are going through a tough time, and at the same time, show/tell them how much we are trusting in God to get us through. Then when he comes through, we need to rejoice in that as well with them.

 

The problem is we aren’t spending a lot of time with our kids, we have bought the lie that says, Quality is more important than Quantity. We must be intentional about spending time with our kids and living a life that is pleasing before God. So what if you have made mistakes don’t be afraid to tell them you did and don’t buy into the lie that says “ I can’t tell my kid they can’t do (fill in the blank) because I did it when I was their age and you know what, that is probably why you are partly missed up today. So you are the perfect one to tell you kids not to do that, especially if you have experience with it.

 

God may of had you walk that path because to protect your kid from walking through it but if you are too concerned with being a hypocrite instead of being concern your kid could die and go to hell.

 

With graduation weekend, many parents are taking a deep breath and thinking “Okay, we got them raised, Now we can move on with our lives.” But are we worried whether or not our kids are going to heaven or hell?


The bottom line is we have our priorities messed up, we are more concerned with our kids being on the track team or the volleyball team. Than in Sunday School on Sundays. Our kids can’t hide God’s word in their heart, if they aren’t being taught it. Psalms 119:11 says “I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.”

 

Let’s make this summer a time when we prioritizes our children and their relationship with God. Maybe as a parent or grandparent we need to re-prioritize our relationship with God ourselves so we can lead the children God has placed in our lives according with what His word says.

Unashamed

Unashamed

There is this girl I know, she was conceived in unfortunate circumstances, raised by preachers, who did not tell her she was adopted till he was 16 years old, engaged to be married and as her father was about to go into open heart surgery. She was sexually abused not only by a young man who called himself a christian, but right inside the church walls. She was bullied and made fun of by her peers, people who didn’t even know her believed she would never turn out to be any good. Adopted at birth,  She herself suffered from infertility, for 10 years. Struggling with body issues she was bulimic for a time, just to try to conform to what she thought the world expected from her, and to fit into a family that would never love her.

It seemed every time this girl would get ahead in life, something would knock her back down. People in the churches she was raised in rarely acted like the God that she knew. Her dad, kicked out of 2 churches, himself, should of made her hate God, she herself was fired from three jobs in her life,  and each time her father was asked to leave, it was as she herself had been rejected again. How could people that call themselves Christians act like this? She not only faced emotional bankruptcy but financial as well. She lived in 5 different states, and attended 9 schools in twelve years, living in countless houses but never really having a home.

Just looking for someone that would find value in her, she searched everywhere,  including an emotional affair. She lost the only father she ever knew and loved, when she was only 23 yrs old, and became the full-time caregiver for the next 33 years to her handicapped mother. While, homeschooling all 3 of her children one being severely dyslexic she felt again she had failed and blamed herself for her child’s challenges. Early in her marriage she and her husband with one child to care for, found themselves homeless, her family has rejected her, her church has rejected her, and her own mother has even rejected her, she felt all alone.

 Exhausted and tired from all the circumstances of her life, it is no wonder that she locked herself in her house for a season and refused to leave or answer the phone for fear of what the world was going to do to her next.

She had seen a lifetime of hurt and pain that no one should see their whole life, let alone before the age of 30,  and once this girl finally got brave enough to leave the house again, she did so, but not without putting up some walls in her life to guard her from ever being hurt again. Especially around people that called themselves Christians, because all this girl had ever known was to be hurt by these so called people who loved God. This girl finally put on such a hard exterior that no one could get through, and it’s no wonder she decided that she didn’t care if the whole world would die and go to hell.

Her plan was to just follow Christ like a racehorse with blinders on, laser focus to the finish line, because suicide wasn’t an option for her but a natural death or the rapture would be her only escape. Because,  after all, God was the only one who had never left her. With her hard exterior and protective layer she soon went in straight survival mode, guarding what she said, and preferring to be alone. She was hesitant about anything she would say around others,  because all to often in this Christian world, like a puppy that would just barely stick its head, out of its cage, she had all to often been slapped back in before she barely got her nose out the door.

She felt whipped, beaten and alone. She felt unsure of who she was and what she could ever do. There was a battle raging within her of what she knew she could do, and what she felt like would be accepted by those around her in her life. Her mind tossed and turned contemplating, what she wanted to do, and what she knew she had been called to do. So all to often it was just easier to step back and do nothing. That is when again, she drew up into a shell, and just really wanted the world to pass her by.

Until one day the Lord begin to show her in her own prayer time that He had great plans for her, that her circumstances were not a punishment, but a badge of honor to wear. Not proud because of her mistakes, but a victory that she kept going and did not quit,  that she was a fighter and a winner. So slowly but surely this girl would attempt to stick her head outside the cage one more time, maybe it was just saying “Hi” to a person, maybe it was just inviting someone over. But just as quick at she stuck her nose outside that cage, she would pull it back in, for fear it would get swatted again like it had so many times before.  

Over and over again she tried each time sticking that wet, scared nose out of the cage, a little bit further each time, with the success from the last. With each attempt to let the world back in,  she would stay a little longer outside the cage, looking around a little more, till finally one day she was totally revealed to the rest of the world. She had come completely out of her cage.

All the while, her mind battling against what she wanted to do, which was crawl back in her cage and let the whole world die and go to hell, and at the same time realizing that God had bigger plans for her,  and those plans would mean stepping out of the comfort zone of that cage and allow the world back into her life. That process took well over 40 yrs and she still is working through it.

But that girl doesn’t hide in her cage anymore, afraid to stick her nose out for fear it would get smacked because she isn’t good enough. That girl, now looks back on her past, not with shame,  but with gratefulness of what the Lord has brought her through, that girl realizes that she is a child of God, and no matter what man may do around here, or think of her, it doesn’t matter, because God is her ultimate authority and He calls her His child.

Oh! Does she still battle with the fact life would be easier, if she just stayed hid in her house and let the rest of the world die and go to hell. Sure she does! But she also realizes that the very reason she was created, and the reason she had to walk through what she did, was because she needed to know there was a God that could bring her out  and there are many that she needs to tell of this goodness of God.

So when you hear  this girl talk about how shy she really is, when you hear her say she really prefers to be alone, believe her. Don’t be shocked when you see her laughing in a crowd or sharing with a group of people. Remember at those times, what the Lord has brought her from. Understand that the girl you see today has not always had this freedom. You need to know that there is still a battle that rages within her.

But also know that she has drawn a line in the sand and she as decided that she refuses to allow her feelings to abort what God has called her to do.  And I know all this, because that girl is me!

Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord! Romans 7:25, But He was pierced for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on Him, and by His wounds we are healed. Isaiah 53:5 NIV