Friday, January 29, 2010

What If God Designed Marriage To Make Us Holy More Than To Make Us Happy?

"Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth."
(John 17:17)

"You had me at 'hello'." Do you remember that famous movie line from the movie "Jerry Maguire" starring Tom Cruise and Renee Zellweger? Well, I feel the same way about the subtitle to the book "Sacred Marriage" by Gary Thomas: "What If God Designed Marriage to Make Us Holy More Than To Make Us Happy?" Just that subtitle grabs your heart and gets you thinking!

sanctify - –verb (used with object), -fied, -fying.
1. to make holy; set apart as sacred; consecrate.
2. to purify or free from sin: Sanctify your hearts.

Our key verse from "Wash Me In The Water Of The Word" on 12/18/09 was Ephesians 5:25-27. I want to focus on a few phrases from that scripture: "make holy...cleansing...without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless."

"When you are married, your spouse is your primary tool of sanctification used by God." I remember these words of one of our pastors so vividly as he instructed a marriage class we attend early in our marriage. My husband -- my primary tool of sanctification. That is both awesome and humbling at the same time.

Both spouses are a sanctification tool in the Lord's hand for their spouse. Gary Thomas puts it like this:

"Loving something and purifying it go hand in hand. A husband who truly loves his wife will want to see her grow in purity. A wife who truly loves her husband will want to see him grow in godliness. Both will put growth in godliness above affluence, public opinion or personal ease.

What marriage has done for me is hold up a mirror to my sin. It forces me to face myself honestly and consider my character flaws, selfishness, and anti-Christian attitudes, encouraging me to be sanctified and cleansed and grow in godliness.

Being so close to someone -- which marriage necessitates -- may be the greatest spiritual challenge in the world. My appetites and lusts and desires are all in full view of my wife. This presupposes, of course, that I'm willing to be confronted with my sin -- that I am willing to ask my wife, 'Where do you see unholiness in my life? I want to know about it. I want to change it.'"

This is a lot to digest and take before the Lord. Let's challenge ourselves with these questions today:

1. Do I see my spouse as a sanctification tool in God's hand? Sometimes that tool is gentle; sometimes it really brings conviction with digging, twisting and banging...but all with a beautiful purpose: godliness and holiness.

2. Do I want to see my spouse grow in purity and godliness?

3. Am I yielding my heart to the Lord and allowing Him to use my spouse as His tool?

4. Am I putting growth in godliness above affluence, public opinion or personal ease?

5. Have I said to my spouse lately: "'Where do you see unholiness in my life? I want to know about it. I want to change it."

Ask your spouse to pray together regularly. Steep yourselves in God's Word because we are sanctified in His Truth (John 17:17). Pursue holiness and godliness together. "...pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness." 1 Timothy 6:11

"Both the One who makes men holy and those who are made holy are of the same family." Hebrews 2:11

"But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God."

1 Corinthians 6:11

"...yield your hearts to the Lord..." Joshua 24:23

To do a deeper study on your own about sanctification, click here: Blue Letter Bible - "Sanctification".

"Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many." Hebrews 12:14-15


Wednesday, January 27, 2010

The Power of Hope

Have you ever felt hopeless? Divorce, death of a spouse or child, critical illness, and job loss are all reasons that provoke hopelessness. In our failing economy, many are losing jobs, homes, vehicles and retirement value. How can we remain hopeful in bad times? What is the power of hope? gives the first definition of hope as “the feeling that what is wanted can be had or that events will turn out for the best.” There is realistic hope and unrealistic hope. To hope that you win the lottery to offset your financial loss is not a realistic hope. Misplaced hopes can lead to disappointment, despair and even depression.

Realistic hope can actually lift our mood. That job you applied for, hoping you get it actually gives you a mental boost that an end is in sight for your hard economic times. A new clinical drug trial provides hope that a cure can be found. Hope inspires us.

What are you putting your hope in? Is it realistic? In Isaiah 49:23, God says, “you will know that I am the LORD; those who hope in me will not be disappointed.” But how does our definition of hope translate to having hope in God? also provides an archaic or ancient definition of hope which is “to place trust; rely (usually fol. by in).” In other words, hoping in God is trusting in God. Faith. Hebrews 11:1 says, “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” Hope and faith are tightly woven together. Our hope in God produces greater faith.

How does our disappointment fit into this? Disappointment when we don’t get the job, or get well, or get what we hoped for? Romans 5:2-5 says, “we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us."

Rejoice in suffering? How can we do that? According to that passage, if we didn’t have some level of suffering we’d have nothing to hope for, would we? If we had nothing to hope for, would we really need anyone to hope in? Suffering or disappointment in worldly things may actually strengthen our faith and hope in Christ, as we know he is the only one who can truly meet our needs.

Never give up hope! Let God inspire you during your times of trial. He is trustworthy.
In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade—kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God's power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time.” (1 Peter 1:3b-5)

An inheritance that will never perish, spoil or fade, in these economic times? That is a reason to rejoice, and never give up hope!

"May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit." Romans 15:13


Monday, January 25, 2010

One Size Fits All

On our last vacation we went to the beach.  I remember standing in a novelty shop looking at some T-shirts with the name of the beach on them.  As I went to look for my size I noticed a sign that said, "One Size Fits All!"  Who were they kidding?  I'm petite and those shirts were not going to fit me.  As a matter of fact, I could only think of a few people who could wear those shirts.  Talk about false advertising!

I believe many of the parenting books on the market today also advertise, "One Size Fits All."  The reality, every child is unique and will need a fresh approach to parenting.  Don't get me wrong, your expectations and rules can remain the same, but the way you will accomplish these goals will need to look different for each child. 

How do you accomplish this?  First, you need to become a student of your child.  Learn to watch them in different situations.  Notice how they respond and how they react.  Find out what makes them happy and what motivates them.  Learn what their love language is, then be sure to fill up their love tank.

I remember growing up with 2 older sisters and an older brother.  My Dad always said that while he had to be firm with my oldest sister, all he had to do was give that look to my next sister and she'd break down in remorse.  My brother, he was a whole different story.  I think they had to spend more time reasoning with him to get the same result.  Do you see a pattern?  There really isn't one and there can't be.  All the siblings had the same basic rules to follow, but the approach was different for each one of us.  Are you wondering where I fit into all of this?  I was the spoiled baby of the family who could do no wrong.  Actually, I have always wanted to please my parents and I learn from others' mistakes.  If my parents had raised their voices with me, I would have melted down and it would have crushed me.  I need gentle words of wisdom, nothing more.

While parenting books are full of good advice, be sure to balance it out with the individuality of your children.  There's nothing easy about parenting, but the joy of a healthy relationship with them is priceless.


Friday, January 22, 2010

Teens At Heart?

I have been meditating a lot in Proverbs lately and I have been totally struck by the fact that when it comes to the wisdom that God imparted to Solomon, in order to instruct his own and future generations about money, possessions and stewardship, the “adults” who live in our country today remind me a lot of my teenagers! Me included!

Here’s an analogy some of you parents may be able to relate to. I am a mother of four and have presently survived raising 3 teenagers. Now, as any parent of teenagers can probably attest, despite my best efforts to guide them down right paths and help them avoid the pitfalls that I myself fell into in my past experience, despite all my warnings about the possible consequences, it appeared that my children didn’t seem to always believe what I was telling them. They always seemed to think the “truths” that I was imparting, didn’t really apply to their situations. My ideas were “old-fashioned,” and no longer relevant to their more modern lives. They believed they had figured out the “better way” and that all the consequences of making bad choices that my husband and I described for them, were either highly exaggerated or just plain paranoid. They tended to say things like, “that’s not going to happen to me,” or “I know what I’m doing, I can handle this!” I’m sure every parent can also testify to how that generally turns out. Let’s just say, I wish I had a dollar for every time I could have said “I told you so!”

I guess it’s all part of the maturation process. We all learn best through experience. What I have witnessed pretty consistently, however, is that teens can’t wait to receive the privileges of becoming an adult, but rarely want the responsibilities that are attached to them. Hmmmm, know any adults like that?

Now I will admit, we were fortunate with our kids; they typically didn’t desire extravagant things by some people’s standards. But, there were several occasions where we did need to firmly remind them that many of the things they possessed really didn’t belong to them. They were privileges, that we as parents had given them, because we loved them and felt they would be a blessing to them. Sometimes, we didn’t feel like we received the appropriate gratitude for those things. Sometimes our kids would be discontent and desire things that they saw other kids possessing. There were also times when the things we gave them weren’t cared for properly or lost and then there was the expectation that they should just be replaced with little thought or appreciation of the real cost. Here’s the one that really used to get me, we would give them a car to drive, but they would be all put out if we asked them to use the car to do an errand for us, or heaven forbid use the car for any purpose of our own! I remember asking one of my teenagers once to run their sibling to ball practice and having them ask if I would pay for their gas!! I simply replied, “OK, you pay me for the car, the taxes and the insurance and then sure, I’ll give you something toward the gas!” They needed a firm change of perspective!

Yeah, raising teenagers can be really exasperating at times and there were many times that I would find myself venting to the Lord about their behavior. It was often, in just those kinds of situations that God used my venting and complaining to convict ME about my own views and attitudes regarding the things that He had blessed ME with. It has become increasingly clear to me that God has a great deal of empathy for us as parents because He has experienced all of these same kinds of frustrations with His children (that would include US!) as well. Think about this with me for a moment…God is our heavenly father, so in that respect, do we ever act just like teenagers in regard to all that he has given us? Do we ever accept God’s blessings and forget that those blessings actually belong to him and he’s just letting us use them for a while? Do we tend to think that we have received our “stuff” as a result of our own effort and thus show little gratitude for it? Do we forget and think that it all belongs to us? Do we take care of it anyway we please and get upset if our Heavenly Father asks us to share the stuff with others or worse yet give it away to somebody else?!

Let’s work this analogy further…as Christians, do we often expect God to bless us and prosper as we claim scripture, proclaiming our rights to that, but disregard the responsibility part? Oh, and getting back to Solomon, are we obedient to His word, the very conditions for the blessing? Do we tithe? Do we avoid debt? Do we approach our work with excellence and diligence? Do we use our blessings to bless others?

Whoa! And I thought I had my hands full!

So far, it appears that my kids are progressing nicely in their understanding of what is a privilege and what is a responsibility and we continue to instruct them and model biblical financial stewardship. From time to time they have made mistakes and we have been there to help them pick up the pieces, even though they still had to withstand the consequences of their actions. The same is true for Our Heavenly Father, He is right there for us as well. He tells us in His word he will never leave us or forsake us. Although I bet from time to time, he too, would like to say, “See I told you so!”


Wednesday, January 20, 2010


Have you ever noticed how easy it is to shop for a child? Give a gift to a toddler and chances are good that they will be more interested in the box than the pricey toy. When that happens you may redirect the child's attention to the toy. This may require persistence on your part, and even removal of the box but eventually the child is focused on the toy. It becomes one of their favorite toys for a while, then they lose interest in it all together. That toy gets pushed aside while they make way for new toys that peak their interest for a little while until they become bored with those as well. Before you know it the child has a room full of toys that they never play with. Does that sound familiar to you?

In the eyes of that little toddler, the box brought more interest and joy than the pricey toy. The box is the thing that invites the imagination of the child to soar. In a sense, redirecting their focus to the toy is like teaching them to focus on material value rather than on the simple joy. Between a parent's, grandparent's, or other family members' desire to bring happiness to a child, and a retailers desire to sell more stuff, it is easy for a child to have too much.

He who is full loathes honey, but to the hungry even what is bitter tastes sweet. Proverbs 27:7

We have all had to shop for someone who seems to already have everything they need or want, except for things that are not in our allotted budget for their gift. While the  gift may be appreciated, it most likely won't bring that sense of enjoyment that the we would like it to. The same can be true of our children if they have all the latest and greatest toys and gadgets on the market we may be depriving them of the delight that comes with receiving something that has been longed for.

That is the way God works in our lives. He doesn't hand us everything we want but when it is His plan to give it, He often has us wait and allows us to long for it so that when He does give us that gift, our joy will be much greater than when we first asked for it. Whatever the longing is, whether necessity, ministry, companionship, or enjoyment, His perfect timing will bring the most joy to His child.

My soul, wait silently for God alone,For my expectation is from Him. Psalm 62:5

If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask Him! Matthew 7:11

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Monday, January 18, 2010



"Folly is bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of discipline will drive it far from him." Proverbs 22:15

This passage makes two bold assumptions: One, children have a spirit of folly (disobedience) and two, discipline, particularly spanking, discourages that disobedience.

I’m working on an exegesis of all the spanking verses in Proverbs. It is turning into a fairly lengthy paper. Proverbs certainly approves of spanking for disobedience. I am aware that many in our society today do not like it as a form of punishment. But, if we are Christians, we have to deal with the fact the Bible approves of spanking if it is done appropriately.

There are some things that should never characterize a spanking. For example:
One, spanking should never be a substitute for teaching.

Two, it should never be done to alleviate the frustration of parents.

Three, spanking should never be abusive. That is, it should never cause any kind of permanent damage to the child.

There are three things that a spanking should be or accomplish.
One, a spanking should be an act of love by the parent.

Two, it should shape the will or heart of a child.

Three, it should reinforce verbal instruction.

I’ll write more later. For now, think about the implications of Proverbs 22:15 and the role of spanking in the home. Fathers, we are responsible for the moral and ethical development of our children. Are we responsibly involved in the process?

Warren Baldwin

Friday, January 15, 2010

Sometimes I Am A Real Drip

"A quarrelsome wife is like a constant dripping." Proverbs 19:13

Wives, can I get a witness? Are you ever a "constant dripping"? Oh, sometimes I feel like a constant dripping. No, sometimes I am a constant dripping to my husband.

Think of this illustration from Proverbs 19:13: "A quarrelsome wife is like a constant dripping." Drip. Drip. Drip. Think of how unnerving it is when your faucet is dripping and you can't stop it without a repair! Drip. Drip. Drip. What a waste of water. Think of a leak in your roof or windows that lets water in every time it rains. Drip. Drip. Drip. It can seem torturous and it causes damage.
That's what I can be to my husband when I am quarrelsome". My words are wasted and they cause damage. Not communicating and speaking the truth in love. Not speaking respectfully about real issues that need to be addressed. Quarrelling. Stirring it up. Picking. Ugh. It's ugly!

Just the thought of my dripping episodes makes me cringe. When I am quarrelling, my heart needs repair. I need to steep myself in His Word and let His healing balm mend my heart. "Sanctify them by the truth. Your Word is truth." John 17:17

As I grow in the Lord and in His Word, the dripping episodes are much less frequent. However, without the Living Water of God's truth flushing through my heart, my flesh sure can quarrel. As I look to Him, by His grace He restores me. He heals my heart and makes it whole. His quiet waters restore my soul. "He makes me lie down in green pastures, He leads me beside quiet waters, He restores my soul. He guides me in paths of righteousness for His name's sake." Psalm 23:2-3

Is your broken heart causing you to stir it up and quarrel with your spouse? Bow your heart and will to Him. Ask Him to search and test your heart and see if there is any offensive way in you. Ask Him to lead you in His everlasting way. "Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting." Psalm 139:23-24

As we abide in Him and His Word, He faithfully and graciously cleanses us. Remember, "Those who look to Him are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame." Psalm 34:5 Look to Him and ask Him to stop the dripping. As your roots are planted deep in His love and His Word, you will splash your spouse with the delightful fruit from the Living Water!


Wednesday, January 13, 2010

The Power of Faith

By now you’ve probably had a chance to take down some of your Christmas decorations and have reflected on the season. Christmas is full of wonderful things specific only to that time of year. Chances are you don’t have eggnog or fruit cake, except at Christmas time. You’ll never find mistletoe hanging indoors, except at Christmas time. And let’s not forget the wonderful Christmas classics on television. Whether it’s Charlie Brown and his pitiful Christmas tree, or A Wonderful Life’s George Bailey, we love those Christmas classics.

My personal favorite is “Miracle on 34th Street.” “Miracle” is a wonderful movie about a young girl who lives with her mother in New York City. The girl (Natalie Wood as Susan) has been raised to be practical; her mother doesn’t fill Susan’s head with fantasies such as fairy tales. However the man hired to be Santa Claus at Macy’s Store, where Susan’s mother works, claims to be none other than the real Santa. A neighbor who is a lawyer represents “Santa Claus” and ends up proving in a court of law that “Santa” is the true and real Santa.

Along the way Susan’s mother ends up believing and trying to convince her daughter to believe. She tells Susan “Faith is believing in things when common sense tells you not to.” Susan is disillusioned when Santa doesn’t bring the gift she wants, but she continues to chant, “I believe, I believe, it’s silly, but I believe” to convince herself. And Santa does come through in the end.

Aren’t we a lot like Susan? It’s hard to have faith. We live in a cynical world where “seeing is believing.” Even if we are lucky enough to have faith “when common sense tells you not to,” when we don’t get the things we want, we can end up chanting “I believe, it’s silly, but I believe” or worse “I don’t believe in you anymore.”

The bible tells us in Hebrews 11:1, “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” I have found that putting my faith in God is a safe and secure place to put it.

My faith provides me a Father, a heavenly Father who I can go to with my prayers and who cares for me. My faith provides me a family, my church family with like-minded believers who offer me love, support and fellowship when I need it. My marriage and parenting are also improved by God providing a trust worthy place to get advice, the Bible. Finally, I am certain even without seeing that my faith will provide me a heavenly home when my days on earth are done. A perfect home, better than any dreamed up in fairy tales or provided in those Christmas classics.

Through my faith, I have received the gift of God’s grace. Christmas is over, but that’s one gift I won’t be returning.

Ephesians 2:8 -- “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God.”


Monday, January 11, 2010

Limits - Good or Bad?

The first day back to school, after the long Christmas break, went well.  I had gotten up on time and everyone seemed motivated to stay on task.  I was armed with my new schedule and the drive to stay focused. 

The day flowed without any interruptions - until the kids came home from school.  Filled with information about their first day back, they all began talking to me in unison.  It was as if they hadn't spoken for hours and then someone uncapped them,  all at once!    Chaos suddenly surrounded me!  Even though it was a friendly crowd, I needed to stop them.

I opened my mouth and said, "ENOUGH! Everyone just stop talking for a minute."

Their eyes were wide open as they just starred at me in disbelief.  I'm sure they were thinking, "How come Mom doesn't want to hear about my first day back?"

To put them at ease, I quickly told them that I longed to hear every word about their first day back, just not at the same time.  I then decided on an order of who would be allowed to tell their tale first, second, and so forth.  From that point forward, we all enjoyed hearing about eachother's first day back, and a pleasant evening ensued.

As parents, we need to recognize when boundaries are necessary.  Even in situations where the atmosphere is friendly, there may be a need for limits. 

There was a time in my life when I was afraid to utilize boundaries in friendly situations.  But thankfully, I've learned how important they are for both myself and those around me.  I'm trying to teach this to my older children so that they, too can have quiet, peaceful hearts.


Friday, January 8, 2010

Are your thoughts LACKING?

In my last post, I talked about Christians moving beyond accepting Jesus as their savior, to recognizing Him as Lord of their lives. In a nutshell, we quit trying to be God ourselves and learn to rely on Him. This week, I want to show some scriptural examples where Jesus uses the meeting of our physical needs (provision) to establish His Lordship to us.

I think its human nature for us, in difficult situations, to tend to focus on our lack. “I don’t have this…I don’t have that”…while what God wants us to focus on, is what we HAVE.

God told Abraham that He would make him a great nation, yet he couldn’t help thinking, “I have no heir.” He struggled at times to see beyond his current circumstances.

God told Moses that he was sending him to Pharaoh to bring the Israelites out of Egypt and what was Moses’ first response? “Who am I that I should go…What if they don’t listen to me?” He didn’t think he had what it took.

Sometimes we operate in “lack” because we see the world according to our own physical limitations.

In 2 Kings 4, the widow said she was deep in debt and had no way to pay her creditors and Elisha asked her what she HAD. Her immediate answer was “Nothing.”

Before Jesus fed the 5,000, he asked his disciples “Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat?” He was testing their faith. Philip answered immediately. “Eight months wages would not buy enough bread for each one to have a bite!” He was focused on what they did not have. But Andrew spoke up and said, “Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish, but how far will they go among so many?” Andrew could focus on what they HAD, but because he could not see a way to solve the problem at hand with what provisions they had, he assumed that there was no solution.

When it comes to what WE need, do we focus on what we don’t have or what we do have? Do we tend to limit God to our own human capabilities or do we recognize him as the sovereign creator who can do all things?

When it came to feeding those 5,000 people, Jesus’ response was to tell his disciples to have the people sit down. Then he proceeded to do what the disciples would never have fathomed. He then took the loaves, GAVE THANKS for them and proceeded to distribute them to all those who were seated. In fact, not only did Jesus feed the 5,000 people there that day, but scripture says that when they gathered up what was left over, they filled 12 baskets!

This is similar to what occurred in the case of the widow. When she focused on what she HAD, “a little bit of oil,” and was obedient to what the Lord told her through the prophet Elisha, “to gather as many jars from her neighbors that she could find,” that little bit of oil filled so many empty jars that when she went out to sell the oil in the marketplace, she made enough money to not only pay off her debt, but enough that she and her sons could live on the rest.

Our God is NOT a God of lack. He is a God of abundance. He provides for the needs of His people not just by meeting the need, but by going above and beyond what we could even imagine possible.

“Our part” when we face tough circumstances is to choose to focus on what we DO have and be thankful. Then, as we saw with Jesus and the widow, we need to take our needs to God and let HIM be God. “His ways are higher than our ways.” We never can know exactly HOW He will choose to provide for us, but He promises that He will.

Man’s economy says, “Be fearful. You won’t have enough,” or “There’s not enough to go around,” but God’s economy says that HE will provide for all our needs and His word shows us He does so abundantly! To truly "live in the kingdom of God," you must recognize that GOD IS KING.

We aren’t born with a mentality of lack. It is something the world teaches us due to our own misunderstanding of God's purposes. Sometimes we may interpret circumstances as being lack when we don’t have what we think we deserve or what we see other people have. We have to trust that God knows best what we need and when. If we don’t have something right away, perhaps it is not something we truly need right now or perhaps He has something better in mind down the road.

If you take time to notice, historically speaking and in your own life, He has a really strong track record! Give credit where credit is due. Jesus is LORD. Live in His kingdom.


Wednesday, January 6, 2010

The Way

Remember when you were a child people started asking you what you wanted to be when you grew up? This of course was to refer to what job or career path you would like to take. A child may or may not have any thoughts or ideas about these things, but God was thinking about it long before they were ever born.

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." Jeremiah 29:11

Since God has already thought about the plans He has for our kids, then we should also be thinking and praying about it. The bible even tells us to train them for it.

Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it. Proverbs 22:6

The Hebrew word used for "way" in this scripture, is derek. Vines Bible Dictionary defines it like this. Path, road, highway, manner, conduct, condition, destiny, undertaking. This word connotes how and what one does, a manner, custom, behavior, mode of life. Derek is applied to an activity that controls one, one's life-style. It can signify the overall course and fixed path of one's life, or his "destiny".

So how do we begin training them for what God will call them to when we don't know what that call is? In addition to teaching them to love the Lord with all their heart, we need to study them to learn how God is equipping them. We should seek to discover the things they love the most, the things they are naturally good at, and the things they are naturally drawn to. These will be used in the skills and talents that God is developing in them to equip them for His plans.

Ask your kids questions about the things they love. Not vague "What do you like? and What's your favorite color?" questions but focused questions like "What do you like better x or y?" They will enjoy the focused attention and interest you have in them while you do this, and you will learn how God is shaping them. Keep a journal on them to document what you discover. Don't discount anything no matter how insignificant it might seem to you at the moment. Everything has a purpose.

For example, my middle grand-daughter has always been drawn to tiny things. I began noticing this when she was about three years old.
  • Once as we were walking to the car, she stopped in her tracks and squatted down to intently watch an ant that was walking across her path on the sidewalk.
  • On another occasion, she found a very small bead on the floor. She picked it up and exclaimed with delight, "Look! A little ball! There's a little hole in it." Then she studied it intently for several minutes. Knowing how inquisitive she she is, I could just imagine the questions she was wondering at that moment. "I wonder what that hole is for. I wonder if there's anything in that hole. I wonder what I can put inside that hole. I wonder how it got there."
  • One day we played the "What do you like better?" game and one of the questions I asked her was "What do you like better, big or little?" Her answer - little. Next question - little or tiny. Her answer - tiny.
Since then I have discovered through her painting, drawing, and speech that she adds a lot of details. Her draw toward things tiny is the indicator of her attention to detail.

As you discover more about the way God is equipping your children, you can then begin to train them by providing the supplies that will encourage growth in those areas. Not to over do it. It's not necessary to go out and pay for expensive music lessons if your child shows an interest in an instrument. The next time you are purchasing a gift for that child, make it an age appropriate guitar or drum set. If they love painting, get them some basic artist supplies. My youngest grand-daughter loves things on wheels and technology, so for her birthday I got her a remote control truck. My oldest grand-daughter has a great love for animals so one year I got her a Zoo Vet computer game. These will be the tools that will help them to hone the skills God is developing in them.

As they begin to think about what they want to "be" when they grow up, you will be able to point out some of the skills and talents God has given them and encourage them to ask Him what He has in mind. When they reach an age where they are thinking more seriously about their career path, you will have trained them in the way they should go and can present them with a journal filled with information that could help them take the next step.

Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart. Psalm 37:4

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Monday, January 4, 2010



On a church youth trip young Sandra broke out in a song. It wasn’t a spiritual or praise song. It was a song she was listening to on her headphones. With the headphones on and the music blaring, Sandra become totally detached from the other youth and adults in the vehicle and began singing and ‘grooving’ to the music she was listening to. After a few moments Sandra became aware of staring eyes and uproarious laughter. She took off the headset, looked around the vehicle in embarrassment and asked, "What?" Sandra was totally detached from her surroundings.

This is a frequent challenge for adults, perhaps for dads in particular. It is not uncommon for a dad to be on vacation with his family, but never participate meaningfully in the vacation activities. He may have his computer, cell phone and contact list in the RV or the motel room, conducting business during the entire vacation. Scenic tours, trips to the zoo and dinner at a special restaurant can all be interrupted by dad’s apologetic, "Excuse me kids, this will just be a minute." Then dad separates himself from the family to conduct business by cell phone.

I understand why dads do this, especially if he is under pressure from his job, is paid by commission, or is self-employed. In these cases every opportunity to establish a contact or close a deal can be critically important to dad’s business success, and thus his ability to provide for his family. Three things are working on a man that come to bear on his drive for business success.

One, most men are naturally competitive and it is hard for them to relax even though they theoretically left the office behind.

Two, men want to provide well for their families. Their self-esteem is on the line, especially when they know that kids compare what their parents (dads) have bought for them. This means his sense of success in business is critical to having a positive image of himself.

Three, some men have never had a real, personal relationship with their own dads, so they don’t know the importance of establishing a personal relationship with their own kids or don’t know how to. Many dads want to be close to their kids but can seem to make it happen.

If you are a dad reading this, realize that business and financial success is not the sole determinant of a successful or meaningful life. Healthy relationships with God, our family and others ultimately trump anything we achieve of an earthly nature. We need to prioritize our relationships and activities, and make sure we are giving proper attention to what (and who!) matters most.

If you are a wife reading this, and your husband tends to fall in the excessively competitive group to the extent that he takes his office on vacation, gently and patiently work to help him see how much his family needs him. Truth is, you probably won’t accomplish this alone. Try to get other men from church to establish a mentoring-type relationship with him. Have meals with other families where the husband/father is more oriented to his family. Try to get him involved in a class or small group at church where these issues are discussed. Suggest he read this article. There is a good chance your husband simply doesn’t understand the negative impact his business drivenness is having on the family.

The teenage girl in the church van singing her own tune to the disregard of others in the van is humorous; a husband/dad who does the same thing with his business is not so funny. But with patience and love there is always the chance he can disengage himself from his work and get in tune with his family.

Warren Baldwin

Friday, January 1, 2010

How's My Walk In My Home?

"I will walk in my house with a blameless heart.” Psalm 101:2 (NIV)

Living a life of godly integrity happens within the walls of our own homes first. That’s really where we are authenticated. For me, what God sees and knows of me in my home with my husband and children is most important to me, rather than how others may perceive me elsewhere. If I am living a life surrendered to Him as a wife and mom inside my home with my husband and children, that life will flow naturally and freely everywhere else. It will be genuine and self-evident.

God sees and meets me when I spend quiet time with Him each morning. He knows the days when the attitude of my heart needs to soften. God sees me when I love and serve my husband with respect and joy. God also knows when I don't. God sees me when I handle His Word with tenderness and invest it into my children’s hearts. He also sees me when I fail miserably in these areas and fall to my knees for forgiveness as my heart aches with the godly sorrow that leads to repentance and thus brings forth His life. He sees and knows the real me. I want that pursuit of authenticity that leads to holiness...starting in my own home.

If my husband sees and knows that I am seeking God daily and abiding in Him continually, then my heart is at rest knowing he has confidence in me. He knows I desire an authentic life before our God and in our home. My husband’s confidence in me because I love and revere the Lord is priceless. “Her husband has full confidence in her and lacks nothing of value.” Proverbs 31:11 (NIV)

I want to be the crown on my husband's head and the jewel around his neck, and that must happen in our home first with pure authenticity. It does not happen in social settings with shallow facades. A wise woman who wants to honor the Lord seeks to have a heart of integrity in her home. “The wise woman builds her house, but with her own hands the foolish one tears hers down.” Proverbs 14:1 (NIV) The destructive hands of pride and selfishness will tear apart the beautiful gift of marriage with which God has entrusted me. I so earnestly and passionately want to be the wise woman building up my husband, home and family.

Walking with a blameless heart is a standard set by God. Blameless does not mean sinless. The NIV study note clarifies that blameless means “spiritual and moral integrity”. The word "blameless" in Psalm 101:2 means "integrity, completeness, simplicity". By His grace, I want to live a life and enjoy a marriage marked by my yielding to the Holy Spirit. When we really blow it, our godly integrity, born out of a vibrant relationship with Him, brings us back to a humble heart before the Lord. When we do fail as a spouse or otherwise, God will see our true remorse, repentance and desire to be right with Him and with our spouse. Only by His grace can this be so.

We need to depend completely on Him for our godly integrity. “His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and goodness.” 2 Peter 1:3 (NIV) As we begin the new year of 2010, may He give us the grace, strength and desire to honor Him in our marriages and our own homes first.

"And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him." 1 John 4:16

"The grace of our Lord was poured out on me abundantly..." 1 Timothy 1:14

For the One who covers me in grace,