Thursday, May 5, 2011

Laying It Down

By Lona Walker
Mark 8:35
“For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel’s, the same shall save it.”

A year after my mother passed away, my daughter married. A few months afterward she was expecting a baby as her husband embarked upon his three-month internship for his college degree. He was to make the 2,000 mile trip and get settled while she stayed with me the first couple of weeks, then she would fly out to join him.

It was bedtime when I wandered into the living room to say good night. As I did she casually told me he had arrived safely and really loved the area. “He would be interested in taking a position and living somewhere out there,” she explained. I don’t believe I flinched, though my heart sank to my toes. I made a graceful exit and headed to the bedroom.

My husband was sound asleep so I felt my way in the dark to find my Bible. I slipped into the bathroom for some light and sat on the step beside the tub to cry. The only way I knew to express myself to the Lord was to be direct and that’s how I proceeded. “God we’ve got a problem,” I candidly prayed. “I need to talk to my mother, but You had this bright idea to call her home. Now what am I supposed to do?”

Mom had a remarkable gift to speak a “word in season” that would calm my troubled spirit. My only daughter and first grandchild could potentially move thousands of miles away and if ever I needed a word in season, this was it.

Then I desperately flipped open my Bible and had one of the most amazing experiences of my life. The Scripture leaped off the page from Mark 8:35. Then, as if we were sitting at the kitchen table, I heard Mother’s voice in my head. I could visualize her leaning in with her hand gently patting the page as she began to explain, “Let me tell you what this Scripture means,” I heard her softly say. “The Lord knows that Kimmy is your life and always has been. But God is a ‘people mover’ and He strategically places them around the world where they can be utilized for the Kingdom.” I heard her continue, “He’s asking you to lay your life down for His sake. But it’s your choice. You can pitch a fit and get a bear hold on her and refuse to let her go. But she could be living on the other side of the wall and not be yours. On the other hand, as long as she is in the will of God, there is no distance that can take her from you.” In those few moments, “I got it.” I allowed myself to cry through the night, but by dawn I washed my face and prepared to lay my life down.

So far, I have been spared... she has lived within a reasonable driving distance. But as a result, it has been a joy to watch first-hand as she has grown and matured in God, standing on her own two feet, becoming what He has called her to be.

I learned a valuable lesson that night. In order to keep my life, I’ve considered it a privilege—for His sake—to lay it down.

Monday, September 20, 2010

What to Do

By Trisha Naten
“We do not know what to do, but our eyes are upon You” (2 Chronicles 20:12, NIV).

An Israelite named Uzzah lost his life because he “reached out and took hold of the ark of God” (2 Samuel 6:6).  The New Living Translation says “Uzzah put out his hand to steady the ark of God.”

He placed his hands on it with the best of intentions–but nonetheless, he had overstepped his boundaries by touching the Lord’s work.  Walking through the Christian life often requires us to leave things alone.  Among other things, this also applies to our children.  We have to take our hands off!

If we have completely entrusted our children to God—as we know we have to—there are times when we must “keep our hands off them.” He will guard them and even love them better than we can and He does not need our help. That is the time when we must “Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for Him; do not fret when men succeed in their ways . . .” (Psalm 37:7).

Things in our lives may seem to be going all wrong— our kids may be stressing us out to the limit, but God knows our circumstances better than we do. He WILL intervene at the perfect moment if we completely trust Him to work in His own way and His own time. Often there is nothing as godly as inactivity on our part and nothing as harmful as our nervous, restless working to get our children to see things our way, or to get them to turn toward God.

God has already promised to work His sovereign will, so we must take our hands away and keep our eyes on God (2 Chronicles 20:12). When it involves our children or grandchildren, we need to memorize—and practice—Philippians 4:6-7, which says, “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (NKJV). Then we will experience God’s peace, which is far more wonderful than the human mind can understand.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

How to Face the Enemy

By Peggy Allen
"Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour (1 Peter 5:8). Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil" (Ephesians 6:11).

I love westerns. I especially like Clint Eastwood in the starring role. You might be asking why a born-again, Spirit-filled, peace-loving woman of God would appreciate a gun-slingin’, cigar smokin’, booze drinkin’ man of the world. Although I really don’t get a thrill out of seeing people get killed, in Clint Eastwood’s movies (at least the ones I remember) I know justice has been served, for he is all about taking out the bad guys.

It’s the way he does it that is so intriguing. He comes into town just looking for a place to get a meal (or a drink at the local saloon) and maybe a place to spend the night. No matter how much he tries to mind his own business, someone will feel the need to start a fight with him. There is something about him that attracts bad guys like pollen attracts bees. Invariably, he gets caught up in someone else’s problems and finds it necessary to defend the defenseless, which usually involves at least one shoot-out.

These characters played by Mr. Eastwood are always cool and unruffled. They are never in a hurry, but they always have a plan. Every movement is deliberate. They simply ooze with confidence—and who can resist confidence? He never feels the need to show off his skill at handling a gun. He doesn’t brag. In fact, he doesn’t even talk any more than is necessary. He keeps his ears and very squinty eyes open. His enemy finds it almost impossible to sneak up on him or outsmart him. These qualities have a knack for irritating men with evil intent, which always leads to trouble. But our guy knows how to handle trouble . . . and he’ll put an end to it!

How does all of this relate to spiritual warfare? If we would face God’s enemy, the devil, who is also our enemy and the enemy of our children, with this kind of confidence and boldness we would soon see the enemy put to flight! Like the movie character, we have no need to boast about our authority in Christ Jesus—we just need to demonstrate it! Yelling at or threatening our adversary won’t get the job done; using our gospel guns on him will! Our job as believers and intercessors is to be aware of what the devil is up to at all times, so we must keep our spiritual eyes and ears open. As the devil goes about “seeking whom he may devour” he will not catch us off guard. He will find us clothed with our spiritual armor (Ephesians 6:10-18) and ready to defend our position and protect our children in the name of the Lord our God.

We have been given more than a role in a movie; we are representatives of the Most High God on this planet. We have been given His authority and have been called to do the same (or greater) works than our Captain, Jesus Christ. He said he came to destroy the works of the devil (1 John 3:8); therefore, we are called to do the same!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

'I Can'-fidence

By Teena Skiles
Have any of you mothers been involved in a conversation with your child such as this?
“I can’t, Mom.”
“Yes, you can.”
“No, I can’t.”
“Yes, you can!”
I have cut the conversation down by at least five “can’ts” and six “cans!” I have been guilty of “conning” my girls into having confidence. Are you guilty as well? Have you said things like, “OK, if you do this, then I will buy that for you,” or “OK, you can do this, and if you, do I promise I will (fill in the blank.)”

It’s “Con” vs. “Can!” This week, let’s pray that God’s true confidence will be OVER our children and IN them.

We recently went to our youngest daughter’s first softball game. She was quite upset that she actually had to play a game because, in her own words, she thought she had “Just signed up to practice.” She actually has very skilled eye-hand coordination and enjoyed practicing and working with her father and sisters in the front yard to develop her skills. But something happened when she found out that she had to perform in a game—against another team, while a crowd was watching! Something inside her told her she wasn’t good enough, made her nervous, made her want to quit BEFORE she ever set foot on the field. I know for a fact that we did not speak that into her thoughts or being. That tells me the enemy, the devil, starts out lying to children while they are young and impressionable.

That sounds exactly like the enemy I know. He will strike our children with fear and inferiority so they will never get in the game . . . the game of life! That’s where we moms come in! Go ahead, moms, give me a fist pump and a big “YES!” We have the power of prayer to establish our children in God’s true confidence, confidence that will cause them to know who they are and Who is on their side. We repeat Philippians 4:13 together every morning on the way to school: “I CAN do all things through Jesus Christ who strengthens me.” It’s not a coincidence that we say that together; we speak that ON PURPOSE!

Proverbs 14:26 says, “In the fear of the Lord is strong confidence and his children will have refuge” (NASB).
I want to raise strong, confident young ladies who will fear the Lord and will therefore be safe as His Word promises.

Holding hands and swinging our arms while walking to the dugout, my youngest daughter and I spoke the words of Philippians 4:13 again, so she could say to herself “I CAN.” We also spoke positive words like, “Today is about doing your best; today is about meeting new friends; today is about having fun; today is about trying hard; and today is about making someone smile.” By the second inning, she ran to where I was sitting, put her mouth up to my ear and whispered, “Mom, I’m not nervous anymore.” She ran back to the dugout and confidently got back in the game.

Another lesson learned . . . praise the Lord!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Because I Said So?

By Beverly Hylton
How many of us have been guilty of using that simple phrase as an answer to our child’s questions as to why he or she could not go somewhere or take part in a particular activity? Many times, this is our response because our child is asking to do something that goes against what we believe to be correct. Possibly, we may have a “check” in our spirit and know that a particular activity will not benefit them or even open up an avenue for the enemy to subtly gain access.

As godly mothers, it is our responsibility to lay a firm foundation for our children. They must know “the whys” since they are based on what God’s Word has to say. Then when their faith and belief system is challenged and tested, they will know how to stand and make righteous choices on their own.

“Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD: And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might. And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up” (Deuteronomy 6:4-7 KJV).

In today’s culture, we cannot assume that our children are going to hold to godly principles just because that is the environment in which they have been raised. This is particularly true when they enter their college years and gain some independence.

Pray that your child will develop a passion for God’s Word. As he or she gains an understanding of the Word of God, it will keep him or her grounded in our ever-changing world. In our world today, new names are being given to old sins, where wrong is being called right and where doing whatever feels good has become acceptable behavior.

So the next time, instead of saying, “Because I said so!” provide a “know-so” by giving biblical examples to illustrate how the Word of God is to be applied in everyday life situations. As the Scriptures come alive in the heart of your child, he or she will receive the Spirit’s revelation and truth imparted to their heart and mind. Pray that God will open your eyes to everyday teaching moments; when you sit in your house, walk by the way, lie down and rise up! No matter how busy you may be at that moment, stop and take the time to share and explain God’s Word to your child.

As a mother, my ultimate goal is to see my child grow in grace and knowledge and make the right decisions based upon a “knowing” that she has on her own … not just because I said so.

About the Author:
Beverly Hylton and her husband have served as the Senior Pastors of Bethel Family Worship Center in Indianapolis, IN for the past 11 years. She also currently serves as Women’s Ministries Director for the Indiana District. Beverly has been married to Russell for 19 years and they have a beautiful daughter, Kaitlyn, who is their joy.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

For Such a Time as This: Positioned Where and When God Chooses

By Pat Pentecost
“For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place and you and your father’s house will perish. And who knows whether you have attained royalty for such a time as this?” (Esther 4:14, NASB).

The story of Esther is one of my favorite Old Testament stories. It is such an exemplary model of how we as women need to be intercessors for our sons, daughters or those God has placed in our lives.

Esther was not in the regal line to become a candidate for the position of queen as she had been raised by her cousin as an orphan and Jew, a people who were considered to be enemies to the king and his provinces. Yet, Esther was among those chosen to stand before the king and immediately found favor with those in authority and was given special preparation treatment. As the story unfolds, we see that the king loved Esther more than all the virgins and crowned her as queen (Esther 2:17).

We may feel that we are not in a position to be used of God, but He needs us as a mom, grandmother, aunt or friend to be available and willing to receive God’s special preparation treatment of grace and ability to be ready for our Heavenly King to choose and use.

When Esther heard the decree of death for the Jews, she and her cousin, Mordecai, were in great anguish. Mordecai requested Esther to plead for favor from the king but she reminded him that she had not been summoned by the king for 30 days and could be killed if he did not invite her by holding out his scepter. But Esther and the Jews fasted and prayed, and as we know, God had placed Esther in the right position at the right time—“for such a time as this.” When she petitioned King Ahasuerus, she was granted favor, the Jews were delivered from the edict of death, and Mordecai was advanced to a position of great authority over the whole nation.

Sometimes we may be in great anguish for the situation that our sons and daughters are facing. God desires that we take our petitions to Him with boldness as Hebrews 4:16 states “…come boldly before the throne of grace, that we might obtain mercy and grace to help in time of need.” My three sons are now grown and starting their own families, but there have been many times that I called out “when my heart was overwhelmed within me” and God reassured me that “he knows my [and their] path” (Psalm 142:3) and brought peace to the situation. He needs us to be in a position of availability to intercede when the report or situation seems hopeless; then He will be faithful to help in the time of need.

Monday, April 12, 2010

I Wouldn’t Trade It for the World!

By Rebecca Bogle
Boy, has my life changed in the last few years! I was first a friend, then became a stepmother to my little girl, Lydia. Never in my life would I have seen myself raising a child that wasn’t my own.

It’s funny how God works sometimes!

I’ve been married for a year-and-a-half, and I am still learning to “mother.” I’m sure it’s not easy for anyone to be a mother, but sometimes I wish children came with an “Easy Button!” Regardless of the stress that comes with “mothering,” I would not trade it for the world. I’ve experienced her first days of learning to swim on her own, watched and helped as she memorized her Bible verses and looked on as she rode the swings at a carnival for the first time. She loves the swings! On the other hand, I’ve also experienced her being sick, fussy and talking back. (Already!) We’ve had good times and bad times, but that’s life, right?

I pray for Lydia daily. I pray that she would be kept safe at school and that her day would go well. I pray that Jesus’ light would shine through her to those around her. I also pray that she grows up to be a good girl, a prayer that I’ve picked up from her dad. Praying for these things puts a great responsibility upon my shoulders. Without a good example to follow, how will she ever be a good girl? When I think of that, I begin to pray for good mothering skills. I ask God to show me how to be a good mom and that He would help me provide the right answers to Lydia’s questions, regardless of how serious or silly they may be. I pray that she would grow closer to Christ, just as I grow closer to Him.

“And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath; but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4, NKJV). This applies to moms, too!

I try my best to be a good example for Lydia to live by. I’ll also admit I’ve asked several times why God chose me to be that example for her. Every night we snuggle up in bed and read a story together; as I tuck her in, she takes my hand and begins to pray. It is at that moment that I begin to see how great a gift it is to be a mother!

I wouldn’t trade it for the world.