Encouragement from the Word

"I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth"
III John 1:4

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Your Home as Holy Ground

Have you ever considered the fact that your home is actually a holy place? A place specifically designed for carrying out the plan and purposes of God?

Remember in Exodus 3 when Moses was in the desert tending to his father-in-law's sheep and he came upon the burning bush? It stopped Moses is his tracks because the bush was burning and burning and yet, did not burn up. Then, God spoke to him from the bush and told him to take off his shoes because the place where he was standing was holy ground. God wanted him to understand the reverence and honor required when in the presence of God. But he also wanted Moses to be prepared to hear the important mission that God had for him to do. God told him he wanted him to go back to Egypt and lead his people, the Israelites, out of captivity. It was a high and holy calling!

Well, I believe God has a holy calling for us as women today. He wants us to view our own homes as centers of ministry and spiritual training...as God's vehicle for doing his work in the world...as a place that reflects the attributes of God himself...as holy ground!

Homes have always been important to God.

He created man and woman to live together in a specific place and raise a family. (Gen.1:27-28)

He intended for the home to be a place where God's ways are taught.
(Titus 2:3-5, Deuteronomy 6:4-9, Proverbs 11:8-9)

He even placed his own son, Jesus Christ, in a home setting, with Mary and Joseph, where he could "...grow in wisdom and stature and in favor with God and man." (Luke 2:39-40, 51-52)

In fact, homes are mentioned more than 600 times in the Bible!

Women are uniquely gifted to create a home environment that reflects the attributes of God.

Attributes like: love, peace, mercy and forgiveness. Moms can be a stabilizing influence.They can bring peace to chaos, be a listening ear, and love away the hurt and disappointments of the world.

Your home is a place that can and should be modeled after God himself. God is our refuge...your home should be a refuge. God is comfort and strength...your home can provide comfort and strength. God is relationship ( by his triune nature)...your home is a place to build and strengthen relationships.God is love...when we love our husbands and children, we are helping them to understand the depths of the father's love.

Your home is a place where you can develop your marriage into one that reflects Christ's relationship with the church. A relationship of selflessness, love and sacrifice. A relationship of encouragement and support.

Help! My home is a mess and is nothing like this!

The problem with most homes is that sinners live there...that's you and me! You may be thinking, I could do that if all those little (and big) people in my house would just cooperate! I know where you're coming from. Homes will never be perfect places. They will always be in the process of becoming what God intends for them to be, just like our lives. You may have made a lot of mistakes in the past but God wants you to start right now to see your home as holy ground. If it is the desire of your heart to make your home a reflection of God in the world and a place to train the next generation to carry on the torch of faith, then God will honor that desire.

This week as you are cooking, cleaning, organizing, nurturing, rocking and refereeing...remember to take off your shoes. The place where you are standing is holy ground!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Christians Stand Up and Get Off the Fence!

What is it about Christians today that makes us throw our values out the window in order to: go along with the crowd, preserve a friendship, have a chance at fame, make a lot of money, or be popular.

I believe Christians need to take a hard look at who and what they are supporting. We are supposed to look different from the world! No, this won't make you the most popular person in your circle or on the Internet or at work but, it will mean you are living in light of eternity and striving to please the Lord, Jesus Christ and to honor him with your life. 

Are you supporting and praising someone who is double-minded? Someone who is compromising their beliefs for the sake of popularity, attention or glory? Friendship is a blessing, but, it cannot be more important than godliness.

Sometimes we may need to call people out if they are claiming to love Jesus but are disparaging his name in a very public way. 

Some may say that: losing a friend, feeling like an outsider, being excluded from things, being called "holier than thou" or whatever the current insulting term may be, are forms of persecution and are too difficult to handle. I say, "You call that persecution!?"

Think of all of those from days gone by who were jailed, tortured, beheaded and burned at the stake for believing in Christ and preaching the gospel! And not only in days gone by....today, there are hundreds of missionaries and believers around the world who are putting their very lives on the line to possess a Bible or teach the Word of God. That is persecution!

We are soft Christians in America today. We think we are persecuted because we aren't invited to happy hour with the rest of our coworkers or because someone curses at us for having a Christian bumper sticker on our car. If someone is professing to be a Christian and promoting sensual, crude or profane behavior, language or attitudes...call him out on it! We need to hold each other accountable. If you lose them as a friend, at least you will have been obedient to God in defending his name and reputation. 

"Facebook" is a prime example of this. There is a lot of ungodly behavior, dress and attitudes that show up on this site among Christians. There can be a sort of "look the other way" mentality. Let's not be afraid, ashamed or too apathetic to stand up for what 's right!

"You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires;to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness."  Ephesians 4:23-24

Also see all of  Ephesians Chapter 5!

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Raising Your Children to Love and Honor God.

Raising children is not a task for the faint of heart...if it is to be taken seriously, that is. It is a heavy responsibility and requires much prayer and intentionality. Children cannot be raised appropriately in a vacuum. There must be a plan of action... a conscious decision made, as to the atmosphere, structure and worldview in which you will bring them up.

Our goal was (and is!) to raise our children into young adults who would follow Christ faithfully by walking in his ways, sharing him with others and passing on the torch of faith to their own children. We are in the midst of this plan as I write this post. We have a son who has recently married a beautiful Christian young woman who is such a blessing to us. They are very involved in their local church and are living for the Lord. We have a teenage son who is about to graduate from high school and who loves the Lord and uses his gifts and talents to serve him. And...we have a daughter who is just entering the teenage years and is watching our every move to see if we are genuine in our faith.

How can we raise our children into adults who will love and honor God with their lives and build their own families on the solid rock of Jesus Christ? I believe there are several key elements involved:

1) Pray for your children...daily! Prayer is powerful, effective and life-changing. Our children need that supernatural protection and we need wisdom...through prayer God will provide these things.           ( James 5:16b , James 1:5 )

2) Become engaged in a local Bible-believing, gospel-preaching, people-loving, scripture-driven, church. The Bible says we are not to "forsake the assembling of ourselves together" as a body of believers. In other words, go to church, take your children, get involved in Sunday school or Bible study. Make sure your children are an active part of the church youth group. Does this guarantee success? Of course not! But, you will have a greater chance of success ( raising a Christ-honoring kid) if your child develops friendships among other Christian teens whose families have the same goals and values and if he/she has a youth leader who takes an interest in them and becomes a godly mentor to them. Begin early taking your children to church activities and programs. They will develop a real love for the family of God that will continue through life. As Christians, church life should be a huge part of our life.

3) Do not be a hypocrite! Live out your faith at home. Make your home a place where kindness,  grace, love and forgiveness are practiced. Our children are always watching us as we try to teach them Christ-like behavior. They want to know if we really believe it. Children will not grow up and be the way you told them to be...they will mimic the way you actually lived!

4) Be sure to make your home a place of intentional spiritual training. Read the Bible as a family. Memorize scripture together. Pray for each other. As your children get older, discuss current events in the light of scripture. Help them to see life's issues and challenges from a biblical perspective. ( Deuteronomy 4:9 and 6:5-9 )

5) Prayerfully consider the educational choices you will make for your children and try not to default to the easiest or closest choice. Your children will come out of their school experience with a particular worldview, be it a Christian or a secular one. You have a choice as to who will have an influence over your child for 150 hours a month for 13 years. I suggest you study up on the development of a young person's worldview as related to modern education and of course, look intently over the curriculum that is being taught to your child. Look for contra-biblical ideas and values that are woven throughout the educational program. Understand what an important decision this is, pray about it, and follow God's leading.

Hopefully, this post gives you a few helpful tools to use as you try to raise your children to love and honor God and to further his kingdom in the world. I hope it was helpful.