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It was date night and we were enjoying a peaceful dinner. A group, of probably college age girls, came and sat at the table right by ours. They had been taking pictures and were looking over their images. I heard all kinds of comments about what they saw as they looked at the screen. Their waitress approached the group and you could tell she was intimidated. These girls were all blond and confident. She had brown hair and was timid, not yet comfortable in her own skin. It was a quite a contrast.

IMG_1518I told my husband I wanted to go talk to the waitress. He asked what I would say? The first thought that came to my mind was, “you are enough”. I wanted to take her sweet little face in my hands, look beyond her glasses into her eyes and speak those words to her. I wanted to tell her that God created her to be her, not anyone else. Her hair color, eyes that needed glasses, the skin tone, all of it was done on purpose. She is an original design. She was created in the very image of God. “So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.” (Genesis 1:27). Is that not such good news? When you look in the mirror, your image was created by God and you bear His likeness. It is also clear that it is He who makes male and female. He decides, we do not. This clearness is found on the first page of our Bible. Why do we debate?

Back to the precious waitress. My heart was immediately drawn to her because I saw myself at her age. I would have loved if someone would have been able to reach into my insecure world. However, I am not sure if I would have heard them. My defensive wall might have blocked truth. Wounds can create self protecting walls as fortified as Alcatraz. In our home, when wounds happen, I want to deal with them as soon as they become known. I want our kids to know home as a safe, loving and truth-telling place to land. When the wounds are a result of their sin, I find it best to deal with it sooner than later. You repent, ask God for forgiveness and turn in the opposite direction. Turn towards grace. Sometimes it is my sin that wounds our kids or maybe another kid at school. I do the same thing, then ask the wounded one for forgiveness. Saying I am sorry and asking to be forgiven get much easier the more you practice.

Also, the lies we tell ourselves have tremendous wall building power. Tell yourself enough of them and you have made yourself quite a defense. Add on to that the reality of living in a world full of us sinners and walls become normal. Ever met an angry, controlling or bitter person? Ask a few questions about their life and I bet you see wounds, that over time have become walls. Anger, control and bitterness become weapons to protect the wall fortified around their broken heart. I recently read a book by Corrie Ten Boom and she completely gave words to how I grew up feeling. She explained that hearts broken lead to feelings of insecurity. Goodness, that explains so much of my bent towards sin that gave me the false sense of security!

Our hearts are a precious space. How do we protect our hearts? Are we suppose to? We read in Proverbs 4:23, “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” This explains so much. As I look at my own children, I see what gets to their heart and then what flows out. I have noticed that if too much time is spent isolated, on their phone, playing video games, being inside or if their schedule is too busy, they are different. A hardness is evident in their eyes and words. I recognize this and make corrections. My sister gave me the best compliment one time and it has stayed with me. She said, “You guard your kids hearts at all cost.”

Something very hard is allowing painful situations to shape their hearts. This is hard to see as loving, but it is necessary in my opinion. I use to jump in and rescue at the first upset. I did not want them to experience any kind of pain. To me it falls under part of the “Training up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.” (Proverbs 22:6). By the way, I pray this over every child I know of that has been trained, but right now is away from the Lord. I ask the Lord for these children to come back. I ask that there be rejoicing around the table for the child who returns.

A great verse to remind ourselves of in the waiting is, “Behold the LORD’S hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; nor His ear heavy that He cannot hear.” (Isaiah 59:1). We have a God who hears our cries for our children and has help in His hands. I like to remind the Lord of His words, promises I am counting on. “As for Me, says the LORD, ‘this is my covenant with them: My Spirit who is upon you, and My words which I have put in your mouth, shall not depart from the mouth of your descendants’ descendants’, says the LORD, from this time forevermore.” (Isaiah 59:21). So I will be encouraged as a mom that takes the time to teach our kids scriptures, God’s very words, that these life-giving words will not depart from them. These words are wisdom that direct them continually. They may forget for a season to whom they belong, but the Lord says they will come back and I will remind Him of that promise if that time ever comes.

So to all the parents with children far from the way they were trained and to the precious waitress who is someones child, I am praying for you. I pray that these children will have your eyes opened to how God sees them. I pray with this new sight your children will remember the way they were brought up and return, even today.

For the ones with children at home who are in the midst of training years, I have a great verse for us too. “Arise, cry out in the night, at the beginning of the watches; pour out your heart like water before the face of the Lord. Lift up your hands toward Him for the life of your young children.” (Lamentations 2:19). This is one of the reasons I get up early every morning. I have so much to learn from the Lord in training up what I have been entrusted with.  I have to know the Word in order to live and teach it. Being a mom is a huge responsibility, a privilege and one I am so thankful for. So be encouraged moms, the work of today has an impact on our children for the rest of their lives. Let’s get to it!

 

Wind and Waves

“And climbing out of the boat, Peter started walking on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the strength of the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, ‘Lord, save me!’ Immediately Jesus reached out His hand, caught hold of him, and said to him, ‘You of little faith, why did you doubt?’ When they got into the boat, the wind ceased.” (Matthew 14:29-32)

2DFA9112-7566-4DC8-9B9A-EEE80C8BF0C4I read this passage this morning while overlooking the ocean. The wind is strong today and the waves are huge. These conditions made it very easy to put myself in Peter’s place. Would I have reacted the same? Do I react the same when circumstances seem scary and out of control? The answer is I am learning to react differently. In fact, I am learning to praise Him in the midst of the wind and huge waves. Sounds strange and not normal. The expected reaction should be panic and trying to figure a way out. However, this pattern leads to sinking and a figurative drowning in anxiety. Jesus calls this out in Peter as “little faith and doubt”.

Earlier, I read Paul David Tripp’s words, “Anxiety is God-forgetting”. Isn’t that a wonderful definition? He goes on to say “In all those moments when life is out of your control, it is not out of his control.” As Peter stepped out of the boat, his life was not under control, he literally was walking on water. He however was walking towards Jesus. But when he saw the reality around him, he begin to sink in fear. I love his response though, “…and beginning to sink he cried out…” (vs. 30). Peter cried out to the only One who could save him. Who do you cry out to when the waves and wind circumstances of life seem to surround you?

Look what happens next. “Immediately Jesus reached out His hand, caught hold of him…” (vs. 31). What I noticed this morning was that it never says that Jesus let go of Peter. It wasn’t until they got back into the boat that the sea calmed down. So the walk back to the boat held the same reality. What mattered was who was holding onto Peter. Do you trust that He holds you too?

Sometimes the response of Jesus in our situations does not feel like He has ahold of us at all.  I would ask, are we trusting only in what we can see? We read in 2 Corinthians 5:7,  “…for we walk by faith,not by sight.” Peter got out of the boat based on faith in Jesus, whom he could literally see. But seeing was not enough, his reality made him fearful. Like us, Peter forgot who he was walking towards. That is so easy to do, but we must cry out to our Savior. He may not calm the wind right away,  but I wholeheartedly believe He will never let you go. Waves and wind are much easier to walk on when you know He has ahold of you because He loves you. He proved this love for all of us on the cross. Cry out today and trust Him.

”When he calls out to me, I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble.” Psalm 91:15.

A Root Called Pride

I do not have to look far to see the deep root of pride that use to reside in my heart. The price I paid to keep my pride tended, was far greater than I ever dreamed. And the sad part is, I had no idea I was prideful. Sin has a deceptive side and blinds us spiritually.

IMG_0896C.S. Lewis says it best, “For pride is spiritual cancer; it eats up the very possibility of love, or contentment, or even common sense.” Isn’t that so good? Makes me think about the state our world is in. Wonder if our biggest problem is not our pride? Go with me a minute. Pride is the stronghold that makes us think and argue we know best. We could not be further from the truth. Left to our own reason, we fail miserably and leave a trail of destruction in our wake. Look at the mess we are in just as a nation. Our national debt is unbelievable. Killing babies is now legal. Marriage has been redefined. Let’s not forget that it is now up to you to decide if you are a boy or a girl. Little by little we have said God does not exist and we know better. We throw half truths of scripture around like confetti and think this is all perfectly okay. We even invite others to our parties with the lure of a place to be accepted. If you believe what God says is true, well you are close minded, unintelligent and lack tolerance. Oh, how blind we are to our pride.

When more shocking news is reported, I wonder how much more God is going to take? Open your Bibles and read what happened to other nations that went the way of pride. It does not end well. Do we really want to follow in their footsteps? Here is a strong warning that was true for the Israelites and it is true for us today. “Then it shall be, if you by any means forget the LORD your God, and follow other gods, and serve them and worship them, I testify against you this day that you shall surely perish. As the nations which the LORD destroys before you, so you shall perish, because you would not be obedient to the voice of the LORD your God.” (Deuteronomy 8:19-20). We can never say again that we did not know. God’s word is clear and we are as a nation disobeying. How much longer will He hold back from giving us what we deserve?

The children of Israel left a place of bondage and ended up in the wilderness for 40 years because of their prideful rebellion. I wonder how many of us call the wilderness our reality? I bet you feel alone, angry, afraid, unloved and like each day is without meaning. Pride has that affect on a heart. There is another way if you are willing. I pray the Holy Spirit touches your heart and begins to uproot pride. It is a painful process, but when you trust the One doing the work, you know it is done in love. Will you consider it today?

“Therefore know that the LORD your God, He is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and mercy for a thousand generations with those who love Him and keep His commandments; and He repays those who hate Him to their face, to destroy them. He will not be slack with him who hates Him; He will repay him to his face.” (Deuteronomy 7:9-10). This is reality, this is truth. Please do not delay.

The God who is faithful, merciful and keeps His promises, sent His Son to die on the cross for the worlds sins. The price has been paid for our sin, our pride. There is no longer a reason for us to be separated from all our God has to offer, other than our pride. Take it from me, one sinner to another, He is worth it! Pride is a big liar and will ultimately lead to destruction. Is it worth it? The choice is yours. Life eternal with the God of the universe or life eternal in the never ending fire of hell and completely separated from God? I know this sounds harsh, but to not tell you the outcome is wrong. My insecurities could whisper, ” Hold back, you don’t want to offend anyone.” Or I could tell you the truth because my love for you is far greater than my concern over offending anyone. Remember that root of pride has been uprooted and I am wiling to offend to tell you the truth. It is the most loving thing I can do.

“…but because the LORD loves you, and because He would keep the oath which He swore to your fathers, the LORD brought you out with a mighty hand, and redeemed you from the house of bondage…” (Deuteronomy 7:8). There is no freedom like the freedom like God offers! How about you join me today.

*Picture taken on the campus of Dallas Baptist University