FYI

SO…yesterday when I was trying to do all of the changeover stuff, I think I may have messed up the linking.

SO…just in case, I wanted to let you know that I am still at growing4life.net and I hope those of you who follow my blog will subscribe to me there.

You can find more information on yesterday’s post, which you can find here.

To My Dear WordPress Friends

I wanted to take this time to thank all of you who have chosen to follow my blog. Many of you I don’t know, but I want you to know how much it has meant to me that you would take some of your valuable time and choose to read what I have written.

I have made the difficult decision to switch to a self-hosted site. I hate to lose all my wp followers, but on the other hand, I was feeling a bit limited with wordpress.com.

With that said, I wonder if you would do me the great honor and visit my new site, Growing 4 Life and subscribe to me there?  I have also started a facebook page for the blog as well, which you can find here.  I will keep that updated with all of my posts, as well.

Again, I want to thank you for your precious time.  You have all been such a blessing to me.

Wednesday Wisdom: Are we digging our own grave?

We all remember Kirk Cameron as the immature teenager on Growing Pains. I love the fact that he not only has become a born-again believer, but that his profession of faith is so much more than words. The guy actually lives what he preaches! Imagine that?? I get his newsletter in my inbox and yesterday I received this article. I am including just a bit of it. You can click on the link at the bottom to read the whole thing. It seems to me that he has hit the nail on the head when it comes to the state of this nation. A very timely post, given that next week at this time, the election will be over:

I look around my neighborhood. I see bumper stickers on cars, political signs planted on street corners,  and I hear conversations at the coffee shop and soccer field that leave me feeling so… sad. I have the eerie feeling that  I’m watching my community and country dig their own grave. And they’re really killing themselves to do it. They’re putting a ton of effort into their work. They’re exhausting themselves to keep abortion legal. They think raising taxes and spending other people’s money is a good idea. They tirelessly work to be “loving and tolerant” of things that will hurt their own families and dishonor God. And the crazy thing is, I think most of them really do love America. But they don’t realize that in all their misguided efforts, they’re actually digging her grave.

On November 6th, those who vote will choose life or death for our many of our freedoms in this land. This presidential election outcome will have huge consequences. We have two men with very different ideas about what America should be. The right man could provide the fuel to get our country back on track, and the wrong man could prove to be the final nail in her coffin.

I can now speak from experience… digging graves is hard work. Especially when the name on the tombstone belongs to someone you love. Please don’t dig America’s grave. Learn the principals that have resulted in freedom, blessing, and the protection of God for 400 years. If we love America, we can avoid her early death through personal repentance, family prayer, and community action.

A wise president once said, “Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction… If we ever forget that we’re one nation under God, then we will be a nation gone under.”

Read more: http://kirkcameron.com/2012/10/are-we-digging-our-own-grave/#ixzz2As891W00

When the rains come rushing down

As I lay in my bed last night trying to figure out what I should write this morning, my daughter came in to say goodnight. We are expecting a major storm here today and so we are all a little nervous.  Before she left my room, she spent a few minutes saying goodnight to Belle, our little white dog. And then she said, “When the winds start to blow and the rain comes rushing down, hug Belle extra hard, ’cause she’s scared of the storms!” She was being silly, but her words struck a chord inside. I knew that God had hugged our family extra hard this year and it was time to tell you about it.

Nine months ago, almost to the day, we made the decision to leave the church we had attended for twenty-five years. I am not going to go into why we made that decision, as we love the people at that church very much and certainly wish them no ill will.  But we both knew that God had made it clear: we were to move on. We had poured our hearts and souls into that church and it is probably the hardest decision we have ever made.  And around us, the winds started to howl and the rains came rushing down. We felt alone and adrift.

We ended up settling in at a large church and decided to just sit back and take in the teaching of Pastor B. He is a godly man who teaches in such a way that all of us not only learn a lot, but also enjoy it. But each Sunday, we would go to church and sit down to listen. After the service, we would get up and we would look around. No one cared that we were there. We didn’t matter.

But then God did something amazing. He brought a family into our lives that truly wrapped their love and care around us. I am not sure they will ever know how much God used them in our tumultuous year. When we were in our loneliest hours, we clung to them. They probably got sick of us always making a beeline for them after any church service, being so thankful not to stand so conspicuously alone.

And slowly, but surely, God did amazing things that came out of our obedience to Him.  I would like to share just a few with you.

When we left our church, one of our secretaries for our business was our old pastor’s wife. We knew when we made our decision to leave, that we were probably going to put our business into an upheaval, as well as our lives. And, a few weeks after we left the church, she handed in her resignation. We had a crazy, terrible month and then God, as He often will, stepped up and provided a wonderful woman who we heard about through a family in our new church. The story of how she came to us and how the situation was perfect for her, as well, is almost…well, miraculous. It could have only been a God thing. She has been such a blessing to us. And then, as if that wasn’t enough, God gave us an extra blessing by bringing her hard-working nephew (also a member of our new church) to work for our company a few months ago. We would have never met either of these employees if we hadn’t switched churches.

Another really cool thing God did was orchestrate an almost instant friendship. I had spoken at a Moms’ Group at a local church last spring. As I spoke I talked about some hard things and mentioned that I had recently switched churches. After I was done, a lady came up to me and told me how much she had appreciated what I had said and we chatted for awhile. I had a feeling we could be friends. And then we realized that we now were going to the same church. Over the course of a few months, our friendship has grown and she has introduced me to several other ladies at the church.  All because I “happened” to speak where she “happened” to be.

I also have a dear friend who has supported my blogging for awhile now. She is such an encouragement to me. Her husband and mine have become friends, as they both are in the same business. We knew this family because our kids go to school together and lo and behold, this family goes to our new church, too. We have so enjoyed getting to know them better.

And, finally, I want to share with you how I have prayed for my children. That, by far, was my biggest concern in switching churches. And so I prayed. A lot. And God has answered in big ways. Oh, it is taking time, as all friendships do, but I can see friendships that are starting to blossom for each one of them.

I am humbled and oh, so thankful.

And, so, God has stepped up to provide for us in ways we could never have foreseen. The rain came rushing down and He hugged us extra hard. He provided for our needs, and even a few wants, as we stepped out in obedience into the unknown.

God is so faithful!

And, so, may I leave you with this? Don’t ever let fear keep you from obeying the Lord. Yes, you may end up in the middle of the field with the wind howling about you and the rain rushing down in a torrent, but that is when God hugs you extra hard.

 

Lamentations 3:22-24

Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed,
Because His compassions fail not.
23 They are new every morning;
Great is Your faithfulness.
24 “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul,
“Therefore I hope in Him!”

 

 

7 Steps to Raising the Perfect Teenager

My {imperfect} teens (and twenty-something!)

I can almost hear the snickers now. Especially from those of you who actually know my teenagers! There are no perfect teenagers, and my teens aren’t any exception. So, if you clicked on this blog post for a formula for raising teenagers, this is not the blog post for you. But if you are interested in hearing some of the things that my husband and I have learned while raising {imperfect} teenagers, then keep reading.

1. Realize your teenager is a sinner, just as everyone on this earth is a sinner. This means that when they come home and tell us their side of story, there is probably another side. I recently had someone e-mail me to tell me something that their child had heard in our home a couple of years ago. What she said was completely inaccurate and even heretical. I don’t know how their teenager had come away with that, but somehow they had. And so when our kids come home and tell us the teacher or coach was really mean to them, or their best friend double crossed them, or their boyfriend broke their heart, always remember there is another side to that story. Try to find out what it is before reacting too quickly.

2. Be the person you want your child to become. Don’t expect your child not to cheat if you cheat on your taxes. Don’t expect your child not to lie if you call in sick to work when you aren’t sick. Don’t expect your child to speak respectfully if you don’t speak respectfully to them or to your spouse.  This is one of the greatest challenges as a parent and one we failed miserably sometimes.  I would hear one of the kids speak angrily or unkindly and I would cringe, hearing the echo of my own angry and unkind words.

3. Teach basic doctrines of Christianity.  Kids have BIG questions. Be prepared with the answers. Why am I here? Who is God? Why can’t I have sex before I am married? Why can’t I see that movie? Why is that music group off-limits? When they are little you can get away with a simple “Because I said so” to many of these questions. But if you try this tactic with teens it will most certainly breed rebellion. They need answers. And they deserve them. So it is our responsibility to not only know the answers but to talk about them with our kids. We have held conversations about everything in this house. And we always take it back to God’s Word. What does God’s Word say?  Ultimately, we are teaching our kids that they are accountable to God. It doesn’t really matter what we think. It only matters what God thinks. Many of the questions are hard and sometimes we don’t have the answers. So we search God’s Word together or we ask a pastor we trust.  But don’t avoid the questions!

And one more thing about this — oftentimes these conversations take place at the most inconvenient times, like 11pm. When the kids want to talk, don’t let a little thing like sleep get in the way.

4. Love them unconditionally. They are not always easy to love. They may shout “I hate you!” but inside they are crying “please love me, anyway!” Don’t give up on them. They can be mean, spiteful, unkind to their friends, disrespectful, and liars. Deal with the behavior firmly but keep loving them!  Make sure there is never a doubt in their mind that they have the love and support of their parents.

5. If Dad is around, make sure he is involved. If you are a single parent, I know that God is faithful and He will most definitely meet your needs. But if Mom and Dad are in the home together, then it is critical that you work together. Mom needs to treat Dad with respect and refer the kids to him sometimes for permission or discipline. Dads need to encourage conversations with their teens. Many dads grow uncomfortable with their kids as they grow older, especially their girls. Oh, they love them, but they are not quite sure what to do with them. But this is when girls need the love and listening ear of their father most. Just keep listening and loving. Keep helping Mom with discipline. Don’t make Mom field all of the tough questions. This is a partnership. It is so important that Dad doesn’t disappear during this critical time.

6. Have fun together. For our family, we love camping together. It is a time we can all get away from the routine of life and just relax and laugh and have fun. Our kids are between the ages of 13 and 22 and they still all go along when they can, because we have a great time. When I was growing up, it was sports in the backyard. We had countless football, soccer ball, and bopper ball games in the backyard. The neighbor kids would come and even my {non-athletic} mom joined in the fun. For your family, it may be something else. Maybe you all love shopping at Saturday morning yard sales or you have a family game night. It doesn’t really matter what it is, but it is important that you all do something fun together on occasion. And, by the way, movie night doesn’t really count, since there is no bonding taking place when all eyes are staring at a screen.

7. Pray, pray, pray. I can’t stress this one enough. Because when I look at all of the other points I have listed, I can see where Eric and I failed miserably many times. But God meets us in our failures and His grace covers them. It is really one of those small (or is it great?) miracles in life. Don’t pray for good grades or for them to be the football star, pray for the stuff that matters. Ask God to give them a hunger for His Word. Ask Him to bring them godly spouses. I have been praying Mark 12:30 for my kids since they were born, “Please help them to love You with all of their heart, soul, mind, and strength,” pours from my lips almost every day for my kids.

I have so much more I could say, like: don’t expect too much but make sure you expect enough. And if your kids have godly grandparents, let them be a support to you. But, alas, I guess this isn’t a book, so I will stop now.

When our oldest was a pre-teen we were SO clueless. That stage felt a lot like I had felt as a brand new mom, holding that tiny newborn in my arms. I looked at the awkward and opinionated 12 year old and wondered what in the world I was supposed to do with her? But as we fell into the role of parenting teens, we learned that pre-teens need a lot of boundaries. They are emotional, oftentimes angry, and downright disrespectful at times. They will shout that they are the only ones not allowed to do something and they will sometimes be right about that. But through it all, we stuck to our guns. We didn’t give in. And I will tell you the ages between 13 and 16 were ROUGH–especially with a couple of them (I will refrain from mentioning names!). But right around the time they turned 16 things started getting so much better. All of a sudden there weren’t so many battles. And they started talking to us about their problems. We could trust them and loosen up the boundaries. It was a very gradual process. But we have never, ever regretted the firm boundaries we clung to during those tough early teen years. And now, with my older kids, we trust them. We see that they want to please God and we aren’t worried about what movie they are going to or what is on their phone. We know that they have reached a place where they understand their accountability is to God. Sure, they will make mistakes, just like we did, but they are headed in the right direction. Interestingly enough, they will often ask our advice about many of the choices they face each day. It is such a blessing!

No, there are no perfect teenagers, just as there are no perfect parents. But if our kids profess to know and love God and the fruit of their life gives evidence of this profession, what more could a parent ask for?

Wednesday Wisdom: Every Christian’s Role

The other day I was flipping around on Sirius radio. There isn’t a whole lot on there worth listening to, so I was fairly limited in choices. I came upon Family Talk Radio and started listening to an unfamiliar voice say some very interesting things. I found out later that the pastor was Dr. Robert Jeffress from First Baptist Church in Dallas. I do not know anything about him. What I do know is that this excerpt is certainly worth sharing with you. While Dr. Jeffress was specifically addressing pastors and leaders, his words are great wisdom for all of us.  I copied down a short section to share with you:

But preaching biblically based messages on controversial topics, encouraging your members to vote, challenging laws that violate God’s laws, are just some the ways that you can fulfill your role as a prophet.

Now at the risk of offending some, let me be blunt.  Pastor, you will never be criticized by the world for building a homeless shelter, you will never be criticized by this culture for asking your members to give sacrificially to build water wells in Africa. In fact, the culture will applaud you as a pastor for doing those things because that’s what a pastor is supposed to do: encourage nice people to do nice things. That is their idea of a pastor.

No one is going to criticize you for that. But if you dare stand up and point your finger at the culture and say “This is wrong, thus saith the Lord,” you’d better be ready to suffer. You may be suffering, not the loss of your life as the Old Testament prophets did, but be prepared to suffer the loss of  your reputation, your career, your livelihood.

That’s why Paul said in Second Timothy 4, verses 2 and 5, be prepared to endure hardship. Timothy was told that if he fulfilled his role as a prophet it was going to get hard at times. But that’s the pastor’s role, not only as a preacher but as a prophet. *

He’s right, we’d better be ready to suffer, because if we are willing to live and vocalize this kind of Christianity, we are not going to be very popular.  But, then again, we should be much more worried about what God thinks than what others think, anyway.

We need to pray for our pastors and leaders, for our families and our friends, that we would all stay strong in this tide of tolerance and relativity, no matter the cost.

 

*From the sermon entitled “For Pastors Only, Part 2” by Dr. Robert Jeffress

Have We Been Deceived?

There are a lot of lies floating around in politics today. But there are even more floating around in the world of “Christianity”. Do any of these sound familiar?

1. You are beautiful and important and wonderful.

God says:

for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23)

But we are all like an unclean thing, And all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags; We all fade as a leaf, And our iniquities, like the wind, Have taken us away. (Isaiah 64:6)

If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. (I John 1:8)

2.  We do not need to study God’s Word, but can read other “spiritual” material instead.

God says:

All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work. (II Timothy 3:16-17)

With my whole heart I seek you; let me not wander from your commandments! I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you. (Psalm 119:10-11)

For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. (Hebrews 4:12)

3.  My interpretation of God’s Word can be different than yours, even if it disagrees with basic doctrines that have been held for 2000 years. 

God says:

Now I urge you, brethren, note those who cause divisions and offenses, contrary to the doctrine which you learned, and avoid them. (Romans 16:17)

But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction. And many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of truth will be blasphemed. And in their greed they will exploit you with false words. Their condemnation from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep. (2 Peter 2:1-3)

Take heed to yourself and to the doctrine. Continue in them, for in doing this you will save both yourself and those who hear you.(I Timothy 4:16)

4.  I need to be like the world to win the world.

God says:

For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, (2 Timothy 4:3)

 For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, 12 teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age,13 looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, (Titus 2:11-13)

Let no one deceive himself. If anyone among you seems to be wise in this age, let him become a fool that he may become wise. (I Corinthians 3:18)

Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world. (I John 2:15)

You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men. (Matthew 5:13)

If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. (John 15:19)

For we are to God the fragrance of Christ among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing. 16 To the one we are the aroma of death leading to death, and to the other the aroma of life leading to life. And who is sufficient for these things? (2 Corinthians 2:15-16)

5.  I can do what I want because God is about love and would never send anyone to hell.

God says:

He who says he abides in Him {Jesus} ought himself also to walk just as He walked.(I John 2:6)

A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Therefore by their fruits you will know them. (Matthew 7:18-20)

The wicked shall be turned into hell, And all the nations that forget God. (Psalm 9:17)

But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear Him who, after He has killed, has power to cast into hell; yes, I say to you, fear Him (Luke 12:5)

As I searched for all of these scriptures, I realized that it really comes down to this: Do I believe the Bible to be the holy, inspired, inerrant Word of God?

If I don’t, then I can twist and turn it however I want to. I can change doctrines of old to mean whatever I want and I can ignore certain passages that I do not like.

But if I do believe that the Bible is the Holy Word of God, then I have a responsibility. I have a responsibility to know it and to live by its words. I have a responsibility to share the truths found within its pages– all of its pages, not just the passages on loving my brother (which seems to be the only passages that matter to many Christians these days).

Many have denied basic Truths found in the Bible and still call themselves Christians. That is a dangerous, dangerous place to be. Because in Matthew 7, God makes it clear what will happen to many who thought they believed: Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. 22 Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ 23 And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’

Look, it is certainly not for me to judge any individuals. But the deceit I see taking place in what used to be God-fearing, Bible-believing, fundamental churches and denominations is downright frightening. We cannot close our eyes and shut our ears to it!  We can’t pretend like it’s not happening!

God be with you as you follow Him in these dark and dangerous days.

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