Do I Love My Mother?

Lovely-Happy-Mother-Day-2016-Wallpapers-PicturesThis is really a challenge to mothers. I’m listening to Blue Castle by Lucy Maud Montgomery, and the main character just confessed to a friend that she doesn’t like her mother, never did. The following is an excerpt from the book:

 

“Why,”—she [Valency] had a desperate desire that Barney should know the worst about her–“I didn’t even love my mother. Isn’t it awful that I don’t love my mother?”

“Rather awful–for her,” said Barney drily.

The statement made me stop and think. Why was it awful for her mother?

Children come into this world with no bias, no presuppositions, no prejudices. They will become what God plans for their lives, and we have the opportunity to mold them. As believers, we desperately want our children to love God and desire to keep His commandments, so we take them to Sunday School and church.  We read the Bible to them, and most importantly, we live godly lives before them.

My husband and I have three grown and married children. All of them have this mindset, and yet they worry that their children will not embrace their beliefs. Perhaps I’m wrong, but I tell them that THEIR HEART’S LOVE AND PASSION FOR THE LORD is making all the difference.  Are my grandchildren perfect? Of course. J No, they are all little sinners, but to hear them talk about God already at a young age, and see their faithfulness to church warms my heart and gives me hope. It’s a reflection of what is happening in the home!

Will a child hate a sweet, godly, submissive, gentle, kind, caring mother? Most likely, no. Even in the trials of teen years, the stage will have been set for a loving relationship: communication is normal, reasoning is biblical, decisions are made together with the parents. There is little room for hatred.

In the book, Blue Castle, the reader can clearly understand Valancy’s dislike. Moms, can we be honest enough to look in the mirror and see what our children are seeing? Better yet, can we be honest enough to look in the mirror of the Bible and see what God sees?

Wanda!  This is not very encouraging for Mother’s Day! Oh, my friend, but it is! You can’t do this apart from the Holy Spirit’s help, coupled with a desire to change! I know a mother’s heart. What is most pressing on a mother’s heart? Hopefully, it is to please her Lord and Savior, but the close second is to raise her children right! Will you be willing to change to become a better mom? It isn’t easy! It hurts! It can be a lonely place until we get serious about the issues that are making it difficult for our children to like us.  They will always love us, but do they like us? Oh, the blessings will abound when we are willing to become more Christ-like!

Little by little, inch by inch.

By the yard it’s hard, by the inch it’s a cinch.

Never stare up the stairs, just step up the steps.

Little by little, inch by inch.

~ Ron Hamilton

 

But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord. 2 Corinthians 3:18

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Button-pushing Cherub

Do you have one of these in your life—you know, the child that knows just what to say to get your blood boiling? I’ve been teaching children for forty years in various capacities: piano teacher, public and Christian school teacher, homeschool teacher, junior church and Sunday school teacher, Children’s Club and now Master Club teacher. I’ve always believed that God created me to teach. But last night, I was ready to quit.

We have three enemies: the world, our flesh, and the Devil. The world was telling me that I’m out of touch with this generation. My flesh was telling me that I’m too old. The Devil was on the sidelines hissing and nodding his agreement with the other two! And all of them were right!

I came home in tears and talked to God. When my husband came home, I could tell he was worried. My hero-fix-all-her-problems guy was sifting through his mind, looking for a way to solve this one. His solution was that a man should be in charge and I agree. But who?

After a time of relaxing, he read our devotions before turning in for the night. The devotional was just what I needed! POW! Right in the nose! God just pinned me to the wall about my heart and actions. Then, after a good night’s sleep, I did my usual start to the day: talk with my heavenly Father.  I’ve found that I MUST pray before my feet hit the floor or it doesn’t happen. I started praying for my little button-pushing-cherub, and God broke my heart.

You see, my question is, “Am I making any difference in these kids’ lives? Maybe it would be better to not allow those button-pushing-cherubs (BPCs) to come. Life would be so much easier! After all, I’m focusing on them and neglecting the good ones! They’re not listening anyway. (Typical BPC statement, and I quote: “I have an important question. When is game time?”)

Those may be true statements but they’re not from God. He put these little BPCs in my life for a reason. They are my mission! Perhaps God will use me to impact their lives!

Our theme for the year’s Master Club is “Run for God.” We’re singing “I’m Running” by Ron Hamilton and “Running for Jesus” by yours truly. As I sat in the dark talking to God, the words from these songs echoed in my brain.

I’m running, I’m running, but not for fame,

I’m running, I’m running, in Jesus’ name.

Keep running, keep running, to see His face.

Keep running, keep running the Christian race.

 

Though Satan will trip me, I’ll never give in.

I’ll never give up, or slow, or stop

I’ll run day by day.

And sing when I hear Him say, “Well Done!”

He led all the way.

Don’t give up, friend! Keep pressing on until you see His face! Don’t be mistaken, it’s a battle, but is there any other battle more worth fighting than for the souls of children? Stay in the battle until He changes the command!

 I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.

Philippians  3:14

My Daughters, My Treasures

 

This past week, we visited our son and his wife AND our youngest grandson, Caleb—our Christmas baby! While there, I began working on a little booklet which is a compilation of Matthew Henry’s notes on Proverbs 31.

As I was reading and copying and pasting and organizing the information into a booklet, my daughter-in-law was busy sewing.  She has her own business (EverythingSewn91) and has been very successful. But that success did not just happen! She spent HOURS researching, preparing, and working diligently to put together a top notch website AND producing high-quality custom baby bedding, and the Lord has blessed her efforts. Did I say that she works hard? Her hands are never still! She cares for our grandson and her home and our son, and seems to do it effortlessly! She is a Proverbs 31 woman!

Way out in South Dakota, on the lonely prairie plains (not really, but it sounded so poetical!) lives our son and my other daughter-in-law AND three more grandchildren. There is a blog post in me somewhere on the challenges that I’ve worked through I’m working through, dealing with family so far from home. She is caring for our three grandchildren, homeschooling their oldest, and working hard had just staying afloat with three very active sweethearts! Plus, she’s expecting our seventh grandchild!  Oh, yes, and our son is working crazy hours, which means she spends LONG days in a two bedroom apartment! I’m praying hard for them as they head into winter. A home is in the near future, but right now, they’re working hard to make that happen. She is a Proverbs 31 woman!

Then there’s our daughter, which the Lord has graciously kept nearby all her seven years of married life! She is raising two precious towheads, active little boys, in my childhood home.  I love that place and marvel that God put them there, but that house is over a hundred years old and NOT the easiest place to keep clean! There’s a big yard, plenty of room, but plenty of care. She is my right-hand “man” at church, doing TOO much, but lovingly serving the Lord. She also has a photography business! She is a Proverbs 31 woman.

I don’t know how any of them do what they do! They all have their challenges, but each of them is leaning heavily on the Lord, determined to have godly children, and make a difference in this world! I love them SO much and praise my heavenly Father for His goodness.

Proverbs 31—some may hate that chapter of the Bible.  It’s SO convicting, and Matthew Henry cuts us no slack in his words!  Plus, couch them in a fifteenth-century culture—no woman’s rights, no modernism—and they are quite convicting. HOWEVER, no matter the age or the challenges, we all have the same goal: Christlikeness, success in God’s eyes with our lives and the lives of our families. It takes work and dedication, but may I say once again:

I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth. 3 John 1:4

Our Heavenly Home

62aaee287cc77d7b5b870b3d60becf15Dorothy really did get it right—there’s no place like home!

Last week, we returned home after traveling nearly 2,500 miles, through nine states: Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Minnesota, Iowa, South Dakota (our point of GREAT interest—but that’s another post!), Missouri, and Kentucky. What a wonderful country I am privileged to call home, and we didn’t even see half of it!! As the hills turned into rolling farmland and we crossed the Mississippi, I was amazed at the farms AND the flatness. I suppose I’ll always be a Pennsylvanian, but it was good to see another part of the good ol’ USA.

Home—what makes a place become a home? Familiarity, family, ownership, personal items? These may all be true, but the greatest ingredient needed to turn a house into a home is time. If you’ve ever moved from a home where you resided for a long time, you have experienced the uncomfortableness of newness. Where’s my favorite mug, my slippers, my toothbrush?!

Home—surrounded by all those people and things you love. I love to travel, and we’ve rarely been gone for such an extended time, but when we walked into the house, I was surprised at the overwhelming joy that flooded my heart! I was home, and I was so glad!

Just think of stepping on the shore and find heaven,

 Of touching a hand and finding it God’s,

Of breathing new air and finding it celestial,

Of waking up in glory and finding it home.

~ L. E. Singer

In the swirl of confusion and difficulties which crowd into our lives, what joy and comfort to know that one day, we will be truly home! Peace and safety, joy and rejoicing, a place filled with Jesus Christ and all that He is! Will it feel like home? As a born-again believer, heaven becomes home in the same way that a place becomes home—by spending time there. But, you may ask, how can I spend time in heaven? Bring it down to earth! Clip off the rough edges of your person—the words and actions which sprout in the opposite direction of Christ-likeness—and heaven begins to bloom in your heart and life. Train up your children to walk in the goodness of the Lord. Spend time with God’s children. All these things prepare us for that place called our heavenly home!  And the less “world” that you bring into your home, the more heavenly it will be! If you need a few more ideas, check out the wonderful words to this hymn:

Take Time to Be Holy

William D. Longstaff,

 

1. Take time to be holy,
speak oft with thy Lord;
abide in him always,
and feed on his word.
Make friends of God’s children,
help those who are weak,
forgetting in nothing
his blessing to seek.

2. Take time to be holy,
the world rushes on;
spend much time in secret
with Jesus alone.
By looking to Jesus,
like him thou shalt be;
thy friends in thy conduct
his likeness shall see.

3. Take time to be holy,
let him be thy guide,
and run not before him,
whatever betide.
In joy or in sorrow,
still follow the Lord,
and, looking to Jesus,
still trust in his word.

4. Take time to be holy,
be calm in thy soul,
each thought and each motive
beneath his control.
Thus led by his spirit
to fountains of love,
thou soon shalt be fitted
for service above.

 

 

The Saddest Verse in the Bible or Who Goes to Hell?

ID-100170122 Matthew 7:23:

And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.

 This is not only the saddest verse in the Bible, but it is also the most frightening verse as well. As a point of reference, this chapter is part of what we call “The Sermon on the Mount.” Many had gathered there beside the sea to hear the Master, and Jesus talks about a lot of things: The Beatitudes, This Little Light of Mine, how to do relationships, how to worship, how to pray.  Chapter seven begins with “judge not” and includes the lesson on the mote and beam, and ends with the Wise Man Builds His House Upon a Rock, but sandwiched in between these two familiar passages  are these two verses:

Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? (22)

And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.(23)

  • Who is saying this? Jesus
  • Where? By the Sea of Galilee
  • To Whom? His disciples and many of his followers AND TO US!
  • How did they react:

And it came to pass, when Jesus had ended these sayings, the people were astonished at his doctrine: For he taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes.(28,29)

I have to admit, when I first read this passage, I was shocked for two reasons: One, because the message was so strong, and two, I had never heard it before in my church, even though I was a regular attender and really paid attention. Think about it: have you ever heard your pastor preach on this verse?  Has he ever read it as part of the weekly New Testament reading? If the answer is “yes,” then you are blessed to be in a church that preaches the whole council of God; however, if the answer is “no,” you may ask yourself or your pastor why.

And here’s the real question: Who goes to hell? According to this verse, a person can be a pastor (prophesied refers to preaching the Word), an exorcist, or a person who does really amazing things in Jesus’ name! Jesus is not talking about a C&E Christian—someone who only comes to church on Christmas and Easter. He’s talking about a person who is really plugged in to “religion.”

Does that frighten you? Does it make you wonder about your own spiritual state?  It should, and that’s probably why Jesus said it.  He was talking to many really religious people.  They would make the average twenty-first-century church attender look like a heathen.  They knew how to “do God,” but something was missing.  When Jesus says, “I never knew you,” He’s not saying that He doesn’t know this person. He knows everyone and is “not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.”2(Peter 3:9) He’s saying that this person is not His intimate friend. It’s someone who is busy about God but misses the whole relationship idea.

This is a real “heart-check” passage.  Don’t look to the other guy who seems to fit the bill, in your estimation: he’s all show and no heart.  He may indeed fall into this eternally fatal category.  But what about you? You say you’re a Christian, but is there any fruit to prove it?  You say things like, “I’m good, me and God, we have an understanding.” Yikes! Are you sure? I hope the understanding falls under God’s requirements, and indeed, He has requirements!

I suppose the real question can only be answered by you and God. Are you real? Is your love for Christ unfeigned, or is He just tacked on at the end of the day, like the idol worshipper who just wants to add Jesus to his god shelf.  Jesus won’t do that. You must tear down the god shelf (which, in our day can take the form of success, wealth, pride, sports, career, houses and lands… all those things that place such harsh demands all our time and attention!).  Only Jesus.  Jesus first. Jesus is All the World to Me…

Do you know Him?  Does He know you? If you have trusted Him as your Savior, your life will show it.  Others will know, you will know, and Jesus will know!  What a wonderful, peaceful place to be!

BUT, if this post causes you to question, perhaps it is God’s Holy Spirit knocking on your door. Get the answers you need. Salvation is available to all who will speak the truth in their heart. (You may need to check out What is Salvation?)

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Why Go to Church…

Well, how did you make out yesterday: Sunday? Did you make it to church, Sunday School, PM service? Life is full of choices, and those choices shape who we are and what we believe about ourselves, others, and God.

Choices:

  • I went to church vs. I did not go to church

That decision may have been made for you: the kids were sick, you were traveling, you had to work.  Or, you made a choice: a child had a music practice or ball practice, you needed to do laundry, shop, you stayed up too late Saturday night and were too tired, you just didn’t feel like going.

I am a pastor’s wife, so I probably see things from a slightly different perspective!  Church is what we do.  It is our lives; however, I can honestly say that before we were in the ministry, that was also true, AND that’s probably why God called us into the ministry. Duh!  That is a fairly recent revelation for me! I realize not everyone thinks that way.

  • Why is going to church so hard?

The world makes it hard because the god of this world knows how important it is.  The world sees Sunday as just another day to fill up with activities.  They even fail to recognize it as the first day of the week, placing it at the end of the calendar week.As Americans, especially if you’re old enough to remember the Blue Laws, we have this Christian attitude woven into the very fiber of our culture which colors our thinking; however, the rest of the world scratches their head and looks incredulous, saying, “Really? What’s the big deal?”

Our flesh makes it difficult, especially if we are prone to allow our flesh to have its way! We stay up too late on Saturday night, we grumble about having to put on more than our sweats or jeans, and we find that Sundays become a battleground for everyone in the family as sleepy teens grumble and younger siblings join the bandwagon!

Our adversary, the Devil pulls out all the stops on Sunday.  (By the way, did you know that’s an organ term: pulling out all the stops?  If you’ve ever seen a pipe organ, those white knobs are called stops, and when you pull one out, it opens another set of pipes, adding to the sound.  Pull them all out, and you’ve got a really BIG sound! 🙂 )Satan can only do what we allow, but when we make foolish choices about Sunday, he’s right there cheering us on!

Is it worth all the effort?  Quite frankly, I don’t understand how a born-again believer can live without going to church.Did you know that when you are NOT in church, you are missed? Imagine the church as a body.  We’ll call him George.  This week, George is missing an eye, next week a leg, and then one week, he has no arms and only one leg! Sounds funny, but that’s exactly what it feels like, especially to those who have prayed for you to come, and you didn’t show up.

Why come to church? There are lots of reasons.  I’ll just list a few:

  1. God commands it:  Hebrews 10:25 Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.
  2. We need to worship our God to keep life in the right perspective!
  3. We need to be fed and challenged by the Word.
  4. We need each other:  Hebrew 10:24 And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works:
  5. We are giving our children an example to follow which will either encourage them or destroy them!

SNathan's anniversary breakfast.jpgometimes, we throw the baby out with the bathwater! We don’t come to church because there are too many hypocrites, or we know we have a wrong spirit, or the preacher is too long winded, they don’t sing the songs I like, the seats aren’t comfortable, or… But if we would just take a moment and think about the Keeper of the House and His heart, all the problems and excuses seem fairly human.

God gives us 365 days every year, and 366 once and a while! Can’t we give Him 52?
One of my favorite TV shows is “Blue Blood,” and one of the most amazing parts of the series is that the family gets together every Sunday for dinner. Wow!  How many extended familes do that?  Yes, this probably means more to me because the move to South Dakota is now a reality. There were several years when all my children, their spouses, and all my grandchildren worshiped together every week!  I remember looking across the pew and telling myself that it wouldn’t always be true.  I can honestly say that I truly enjoyed every Sunday we had together; but that’s done now, and I’ve come to realize that every Sunday is special.  Each gathering is special, and I don’t want to miss even one!  Will you take the challenge?

Talent or Tenacity?

I’ID-100197640ve been teaching piano lessons now for over forty years, and I’ve had a lot of different students!  Some have gone on to college, majoring in music, while others didn’t make it past the first year!  I’ve noticed something over the years, and my conclusion may surprise you:

I’d rather have a student who is disciplined than one who is talented.

Talent is a gift from God.  There is nothing we can do as a parent to give our children talent. It is such a shame to see talent wasted, especially when the talent is wasted because a child has not been trained to be disciplined.  We often quote Proverbs 6:22

Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.

Once again, I turn to my dear friend, Matthew Henry—a seventeenth century commentator whose writing seems timeless! I admit, he can be a bit verbose, but the treasured insights are worth the digging:

A great duty charged, particularly to those that are the parents and instructors of children, in order to the propagating of wisdom, that it may not die with them:  Train up children in that age of vanity, to keep them from the sins and snares of it, in that learning age, to prepare them for what they are designed for. Catechise them; initiate them; keep them under discipline. Train them as soldiers, who are taught to handle their arms, keep rank, and observe the word of command. Train them up, not in the way they would go (the bias of their corrupt hearts would draw them aside), but in the way they should go, the way in which, if you love them, you would have them go. Train up a child according as he is capable (as some take it), with a gentle hand, as nurses feed children, little and often, Also see, Deuteronomy 6:7.

 A good reason for it, taken from the great advantage of this care and pains with children: When they grow up, when they grow old, it is to be hoped, they will not depart from it.  Good impressions made upon them then will abide upon them all their days. Ordinarily the vessel retains the savor with which it was first seasoned. Many indeed have departed from the good way in which they were trained up; Solomon himself did so. But early training may be a means of their recovering themselves, as it is supposed Solomon did.  At least the parents will have the comfort of having done their duty and used the means.

Having a talented child and not training them to be diligent is like having the sharpest knife you can afford but using the wrong side to try to cut something!  Frustration and discouragement is the result of such foolishness: for the student, the teacher, and the parent.

This is not an article on “how to train your child,” but a challenge to do it.  I’m convinced that most of us know WHAT to do; we just aren’t consistent ourselves in DOING it, perhaps because we are not disciplined ourselves.  Our own desires get in the way of training our children.  OUCH!  That may seem harsh, but I’m afraid it is often the truth. It is HARD to train children.  It is tiring, frustrating, at times, confusing, but oh, iit is worth all the effort!

As a mother of three grown children, it is with great joy that I’m able to visit their homes and see successful living.  What do I mean by that?  They are making right choices, sticking by the stuff, and raising godly children.  Our family get-togethers are sweet because children listen and adults think of others. There is joy, joy, joy in this old heart.  Are their lives bump-free? No, but they are proving God to be true to His Word!

So, take the challenge. You can do this! Start small and be successful in one tiny area.  Maybe it’s the mandate to make the bed every morning.  Perhaps it’s the underwear drawer: match the socks and fold the undies! 🙂 You will NEVER regret instilling the tenacity to do right into your children!  That’s a promise from God:

Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.

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