Church kids or Children of God?

For a few years, I’ve had this nagging feeling that won’t go away.  I don’t want “church kids”!  Does that mean I don’t want my kids going to church or viewing church as an important part of their lives? Certainly not and I believe it’s an essential part of their spiritual growth.  I just want more for them than obedience and going through the motions.  Anyone can be trained to obey over time, but do you want your kids to obey mainly because they fear the consequences?  I want them to trust God in all things with their lives and to know He won’t fail them.  I want their souls to be on fire for Him, but that may take some time to happen.  My hope is that they find their identity in being a child of God because our strength is in Him not us.

As Christ following parents, it can be tempting to focus on performance in our kids.  Sometimes it’s for our selfish image in the church. Other times we get lost in the chaos and exhaustion of our daily routine that we don’t take the time to think about our parenting motives. We just want them to do what their told!  I get that, I have 4 children and I know how that feels to be so tired and if they could just be the good Christian kids I want them to be.  If they would just stop fighting and tattling and just sit down at the table like the well behaved kids in the booth next to us, that would be GREAT!  The more I go through these experiences with my children that I cannot for the life of me control, the more I know God is using it for our family’s good and for His glory.  He is teaching me to point them in His direction because I can’t do it in my own strength.

The enemy takes every opportunity to distort God’s purpose for us.  Think about about play dates for example.  The purpose is to come together in community and fellowship with one another with benefits for parents and children.  I’ve seen it happen over and over again where Moms begin to compare their child’s behavior with another child.  If their child is the one that’s going through a season in which the Lord is working on them, they are usually the targets.  God is exposing their sin so it can come out into the light, but we typically want to shut down the behavior immediately and make them behave.  That tactic backfires and the enemy takes that opportunity to tempt you into humiliation, shame, and isolation.

Don’t allow the seemingly difficult season your child is in to allow the enemy to make you feel unworthy of community.  Please don’t allow anyone make you feel like a worn out and bad parent because your child isn’t good at performing.  Be thankful to God that your child can be free and honest in the season of life they’re in.  How sad it would be for our kids to avoid coming to us with a struggle in their teens for fear of rejection, condemnation, or lack of unconditional love.  Be thankful in those days they have public tantrums and your face turns bright red, for the judgement of others can easily change them into obedient guarded church goers. God wants more for our families!  

This verse always encourages me as a parent.  “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”  In those embarrassing moments with our kids, there is a purpose.  When we feel defeated as parents, there is hope.  Don’t be discouraged, He is using it all!  

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Wait on the Lord!

Wait on the Lord?  Do I have to… can’t God just come through now?

It can be so difficult to wait for God’s timing, but we are so blessed when we do.  When I was saved 16 + years ago, I wanted my family to know the love and closeness of God immediately.  People can sometimes feel like you’re trying to sell them something or your goal is earning points with God  while you’re trying to convert people.  I’m sure I’ve been guilty of that approach at times.  His love is so overwhelming that you can’t help but want those you love to experience that joy with you.  Trusting in God’s timing is key because as much as we want our loved ones to be in relationship with Him, it’s only going to happen in God’s timing.  Living for Him and loving others is so much more of a testament to who He is than trying to convince someone.

I have been waiting, praying, pleading with God for almost half my life for my family to know how much they are loved by their creator.  I am happy to say that waiting on the Lord has paid off!  I had the privilege of baptizing my step father (we all think of him as our real father) yesterday.  At my complete surprise, the spirit of God was at work in the heart of my Mom, my sister, and my niece.  They all obeyed the spirit’s call and they took the plunge together.  I have never cried tears of joy like that in my life other than when I gave birth to my children.  It was worth the wait and I’m excited to see more of my family members come to know the intimate love of Christ through them as well.

“Wait for the LORD; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the LORD!”  Psalm 27:14

Wait on Him, He knows what he’s doing.

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…You will not be burned

Why am I so shocked when I face adversity?  That’s part of refinement in Christ right?  I fight it so much and yet when I step out of myself and analyze these struggles, I’m reminded that I better get used to expecting them to come my way.  God disciplines those He loves, so I should be thankful and submit to His way not just because I fear Him, but because I trust in Him.  “But now, this is what the Lord says, He who created you, O Jacob, He who formed you, O Israel: ‘Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.’” Isaiah 43:1-2  

He will allow us to go through pain, but He’s in it with us guiding us even when we fall.  We will fail at times, but He never will!  That’s the only hope we have and I’m resting in that.

He makes all things new!

Church Vulnerability… sounds kind of scary, doesn’t it?  What would a vulnerable church look like?
At first it would seem to be quite a mess!  I mean think about it… God’s people coming together and actually being honest about their struggles.  You would have to choose to be exposed and that can be frightening!  Where does that come from?  Why are we so afraid of the truth?
The first thing that comes to mind when I think about exposure in the church is the beginning in the garden.  There was nothing to hide from because the awareness of sin wasn’t there.  There was just total trust in the creator and each other.  Relationship was good!
Then the fall came and changed the way life was intended to be.  The lies and schemes of the enemy was convincing and there seemed to be a better way.  We had everything we needed!  What could be better than all the food, animals, beautiful surroundings… all that He made just for us, and a close relationship with the creator.
When we first knew this love, it was more love than we could take in… amazing and perfect.  It was that way in the beginning of Genesis and at the start of a relationship with God today.  It was like a honeymoon phase with God and completely satisfying.  Then, the awareness of sin crept in.  The very thing God was trying to protect us from is what caused shame and condemnation in us… NOT GOD.  The awareness of sin created a panic in us, “Wait a minute, we’re naked… hurry up and grab some leaves and cover it all up!”.   Isn’t that what we still do to ourselves and each other?  Instead of confessing our sin to Him and each other, we try to hide it, but it never really goes away, does it?  We’ll do whatever is necessary for change except to be vulnerable and allow God and others to view our imperfection, so change can take place.  They see it in us anyway.  We’re all naked under those leaves and we all struggle in this fallen world.
My prayer is that we would come together under God’s guidance and be real about where we are in life.   Let the judgements of each other fall away.  Confess and repent our sins to God and share that with others to encourage them that they’re not alone.  Stop hiding beneath the leaves and be honest so real change in growth can take place.
What in your life is keeping you from freedom or growth in Christ?  Did the pain from your earthly father distort your view of your heavenly Father?  Is it pain and mistakes in your past that holds you back?  Maybe you struggle with destructive habits you can’t get out of by yourself.
Whatever it is that is keeping you from being vulnerable, I pray that you would lay it all at the foot of the cross because He already died for those things.  He knows what you’ve done and knows what you will do before it happens.  He conquered the grave and your chains are broken.  I pray you know that you are free only in Jesus Christ who suffered to bring true healing and salvation in your life.
Give the God who created you the credit and belief that He can restore it all.  He won’t replace your memories, your past, or your family, but he will restore all the hurt and bring healing and purpose out of your pain if you trust in Him.  That’s what he does, as my good friend “C” recently reminded me… He makes all things new!

…think on these things

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Deuteronomy 31:6 “So be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid and do not panic before them. For the Lord your God will personally go ahead of you. He will neither fail you nor abandon you.” Who are you to have anything important to say?  How could you possibly help anyone?  You remember who you […]

Waging War

One of the awesome attributes of God is that He is perfect in every way; unable to sin and loves us too much to allow us to stay there.  Thankfully, He is also a loving and patient Father, whom prods and reveals our sin to us in His timing.  He will never leave nor forsake us.  NEVER.  He wants us to believe that in every area of life, marriage, parenting, career changes, disagreements, in our joy, and in our sorrow.  God will not give up on His children.

 Our motives for improvement from sin began in that moment when God allowed us to realize the unthinkable amount of suffering that our savior chose to go through to save us.  What pain, humiliation, long suffering, and heart ache He went through for something we deserved and He did not!  Oh how He loves us!  Of course His death and resurrection would lead the desire in His children to turn from sin when the awareness of what it caused first pierces through our hearts.  If only our hearts would remain in this.
As Roman 7:15-24 begins to describe the waging war going on inside of Paul, it is something all of His children can relate to.  If the apostle of Christ Jesus experienced this kind of turmoil, what does that say about us?  The creator of the entire world and everything in it, chose this man with this kind of agitation to minister to His Bride.  That is an amazing relief when we look at our own lives in knowing that we’re not alone in this war.  We strive and desire to be who God calls us to be and yet we catch ourselves at times doing what we don’t want to do, just like Paul.  God still wants our lives to reflect Jesus’ character and our hearts should want that too.
God chose the imperfect Paul to minister to us, so why oh why do we demand such perfection from one another and why are we surprised with each others’ struggles?

Speaking of imperfection, as a mother of four, I am surrounded by it all day every day… in myself, in each of my children, in other Moms and their children and especially in our interactions with each other.  We can so quickly judge each other.

If we could just remember Ephesians 6:12.  “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”
This verse is a great reminder that we Mothers should be lifting each other up in this fallen world and realize who it is that we’re actually fighting against. Getting in the habit of comparing parenting styles, personalities in our children, whether we are at home or working mothers, only distracts us from our goal to live Christ like.
My prayer for all moms is that we would remember Paul’s waging war inside him and to not be too offended when others go through this as well, because we all do at times.  Let’s be encouraging to one another and quick to love and slow to judge.
I’m new to this whole blogging thing, so please exuse any errors. 

  ijiu b