My daughter turned a year old this past fall, and we’ve officially entered that wonderful season known as “toddlerhood.”
“Don’t lick the toilet!”
“Don’t eat the Legos!"
“Don’t climb the dishwasher!"
“Don’t touch the heater!"
My reasonable instructions seem like ridiculous commands to a toddler.
She squeals and drops to the floor. Why wouldn’t mommy want me doing this very fun thing??
My days are spent keeping her from the edge of death, illness and pain, but she doesn’t know that… yet.
You can’t reason with toddlers in case you haven’t noticed. These tiny, headstrong… precious beings simply do not know and cannot understand that you have their best interest, future and safety in mind.
As Mom, I want to protect all three of my little ones from as much harm and pain as possible because of my indescribable love for them. So, I give them “do’s” and “do-not-do’s” and teach them obedience out of trust and respect.
I get frustrated when they choose to disobey despite my good intentions.
I wonder if God ever gets frustrated with me?
In the words of my pastor, I used to believe God was a “cosmic kill-joy,” up there with a list of do-not-do’s, aimed to simply keep me in line. So, after 13 years of “walking the line,” I did what most other Christian young adults do when they leave home--Rebel. In hindsight, so many of my choices caused unnecessary pain and frustration.
If you read through the Old Testament, you will find pages and pages and pages of law and instructions-- many of those brought back up in the New Testament-- taught by Jesus, Paul, and others.
Don't get drunk with wine.
Don’t hold a grudge.
Don’t let your mind or eyes linger lustfully.
Observe a day of rest.
It’s tempting to see these directions as suggestions.
Overall, the law proved that man’s futile efforts wouldn’t be enough to save themselves-- it would take a Savior. But through it all God had our best interest in mind. He can see down the road, through all of the twists and turns, when we can’t.
He knows that...
A few too many drinks can lead to undesirable behavior.
Unforgiveness only hurts you.
A desirous look can turn into an office romance.
Trying to “keep up with the Jones’s” creates straining debt.
Ignoring the body’s need for rest will lead to burn-out.
In our limited human minds, we feel as though God is trying to take away our fun. It’s so much easier to go along with the tidal wave of culture.
But God calls us to trust Him, his wisdom and his Sovereignty.
What commands have you been ignoring or avoiding? In what areas have you been tempted to write off God as a “cosmic kill-joy,” going your own way instead?
I know a major challenge for me is in the area of rest. By admission, I am a hard-working, OCD, stress-prone individual. I’ve always made a habit of excusing my inability to relax and take a few moments, a few hours, or a few days to rest completely.
Maybe yours is staying angry with that one person. You have reason after reason why you can’t forgive him or her, but what you don’t understand is that they’ve probably already moved on, and now you’re the only one living offended and angry for no good reason!
Whatever your situation, know that God has had your best interest at heart all along.
Just as I tell my precious daughter “Don’t lick the toilet!” to protect her from yuck she doesn’t yet understand-- so is God’s intention with us.
What has God asked you to do that you are holding back from today? Trust in His love, go against what your flesh or culture is saying-- heed His voice and experience His best!
Word of the Day:
“Serve only the Lord your God and fear Him alone. Obey His commands, listen to His voice, and cling to Him.” Deuteronomy 13:4
Lord, Thank you that you always have my best interest in mind, and you will always show me the right paths to take through your voice and your Word. Forgive me for not always trusting your ways. Help me to hear and obey in all my ways. In Your Name, Amen.
Author: Katie Gibson
You see, I'd like to share my life with you
and show you things I've seen.
Places that I'm going to
and places where I've been.
To have you there beside me and never be alone.
And all the time that you're with me, we will be at home.
Follow me where I go
what I do and who I know.
Make it part of you to be a part of me.
Follow me up and down
all the way and all around.
Take my hand and say you'll follow me.
Oh, that John Denver! He had a way with words. I grew up on listening to John Denver songs, which probably reveals my age, as some of you are thinking who is John Denver? His lyrics so often make me think of Jesus! And lately, my sweet Lord has been speaking to my heart about following Him.
We so often try to forge our own path in life. But the path we need to take has already been forged by Jesus. He has shown us the way to go. He has demonstrated how to get there. He says it's by doing what the Father does (John 5:19). Following God is so simple, yet it can feel so elusive to us at times.
If we struggle with following Jesus and doing what He did, maybe it's because we don't know Him enough. Maybe we need to read and re-read the gospels to see His way of doing life come alive. Maybe we need to sit quiet, heart open, and ask Him what He is doing (1 Corinthians 2:10). Maybe we need to just get out there in the community and practice what we have seen Him do: Heal the sick, cast out demons, raise the dead.
And as you go, preach, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons. Freely you have received, freely give. (Matthew 10:7-8, AMP)
And if that sounds scary or strange, then maybe just start with being like Him, which is kind, honest, loving, forgiving and openly honest about His hope. There are so many out there waiting to hear and see.
I see lots of moms lately who are checking out. They are medicating, walking away, or just wishing for someone else to do it all. I can understand the urge to be apathetic and have been there a time or two. Honestly, I think we know how to hide really well. Hide from people. Hide from work. Hide from responsibilities. Maybe it's because we are afraid. Maybe we're being selfish. Maybe we're tired. Maybe we don’t know any other way.
Whatever it is, it’s time to come out of hiding and engage in this life we've been given. God promises to be with us and to give us strength. Our children need to witness us making an honest attempt at following God so that they have a visual on how that looks. Sometimes actions speak louder than words. We can tell them all day long to follow God and have them memorize scriptures, but they need to see it, too.
At times, I look at my kids and think, what kind of life will they have one day with all this chaos happening in the world? But that's not a good way to look at things. I should be praying and declaring the promises of God instead. I should be filled with hope and filled with His promise of abundant life—for me and my children. I should be demonstrating a relationship with Jesus, inside and outside the church walls. An intimate, personal relationship with Him that is teaming with His way of life and love.
Everywhere Jesus went, He introduced the Kingdom. The disciples, too, announced the kingdom of heaven is at hand. I think there is something vital for us in that statement. I think we need to announce the kingdom of heaven, not just by preaching it, but by showing people what that looks like. It looks like joy, peace, love. It looks like healing, forgiveness, honor. It looks like salvation, and it's the kind that is available to all through One unending source. We cannot ignore His mandate to follow Him. And the more we know Him, the more we want to follow Him.
“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven. (Matthew 7:21 AMP)
Friends, let’s follow the One who will lead us down the right path. Let’s follow the One who knows the way, walks beside us, and has been down the road before without faltering. Let’s decide now to stay the course, eyes on Him, ears listening for that beautiful voice of truth. Let’s show our children what it looks like to follow our Savior wholeheartedly.
Precious Lord, help us to follow You. We want to know You, and we want to do what You do. We want to look and sound just like our Father in Heaven. Teach us and strengthen us by Your Spirit. In Jesus’ name.
Author: Kerri Barfield
We have a sick little one. Hand-foot-mouth disease. I’ve decided this virus is a form of torture Satan uses in Hell… not just for Griffin, but for this Mama’s heart as well. Little tiny blisters on the soles of the feet, mouth, hands, and diaper area. It makes me cringe every time I rub his feet or wipe his sweet face. As a parent, I don’t think there is anything worse than seeing your child suffer.
I never knew emotional pain like this until becoming a parent. I am a nurse who deals with cancer in children. So, yes, I am unfortunately accustomed to seeing little ones suffer. I’ve witnessed children in their sickest moments. But it never came full circle until I became a parent: this little person who is apart of me is tired, hurting, and does not understand why.
I always aimed for compassion for our patients and families. But having Griffin put a new spin on what parents feel when their child is ill. We are not battling cancer, but watching my sweet nugget feel restless, frustrated, and hurting makes me feel completely helpless. Aren’t we supposed to be able to protect our children? Heal them? Kiss their boo-boos away?? The sad truth every parent faces at some point is we cannot and will not always keep them from harm. The realization itself is enough to break your heart.
I prayed over Griffin as I rocked him to sleep today: God, helplessness is not something I should feel. I want to do something to at least make him feel better or take the pain away all together. Please show me what to do.
No, He didn’t give me a cure all for Hand-foot-mouth disease… or for future broken hearts, disappointments, or lessons learned. But what He did give me was peace. Peace in knowing I’m doing exactly what I’m supposed to do as a parent. I’m praying for God’s intervention in my child’s life. I’m praying for strength to get us all through this time of suffering. I’m asking for His direction in how to comfort, love, and act on behalf of my child.
Will I be able to prevent my son from ever facing hurt again? No. But, Jesus can wrap His arms around Griffin and comfort him with the truth that He will never leave nor forsake him. He will never shield Griffin from His love and affection. God is our Father, after all. He loves Griffin even more than I do. He would never purposely cause him pain. But, He’s there to get Griffin—all of us—through hardships.
I was lost in thought today about God’s comfort in times of distress for parents. Mary came to mind. Oh, sweet Mary. I don’t know how she did it. If I feel this bad over hand-foot-mouth disease, how did she combat her sense of helplessness and grief as she watched her only son die on the cross? How her heart must have broken knowing there was NOTHING she could do to stop the torture, the hurt, the humiliation, and the greatest loss she and the world has ever known. Jesus reassured her the cross was His calling, but it could never change the pain she felt.
We have to know, as I’m sure Mary knew deep down, that God longs to fill our hearts with hope when we feel worthless and unable to help others, especially our children. He wants to consume our deepest spaces with joy. So, when the time comes to battle those feelings of helplessness, we can look to Him for comfort, tranquility, and fortitude.
He wants to replace our feelings of helplessness with hope in Him, in His love, and in HIS ability to heal and restore.
As much as I wish I could take away every hurt, frustration, or disappointment my children will face, I have to acknowledge its not my job—it’s God’s. He longs to be the source of redemption and compassion for our children just as much as we do, if not more. Griffin is on loan to me from the Lord. And with that comes the responsibility to offer what healing and comfort I can, but to point him to Jesus for the rest. If we can do that as parents, we will bless our children far more than we could on our own.
Word of the Day:
Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we might receive mercy and find grace to help us in time of need. (Hebrews 4:16)
Thank you for giving us the privilege of raising our children through joy, but also hardship. Please encase our hearts and teach us how to comfort, love, and guide them through any storm or circumstance. Give us peace knowing we are designed only to give so much before pointing our children to You as their main resource for hope and grace. Jesus, where we feel insufficient, please restore our confidence in Your healing and love for our precious babies. Remind us that Your presence in our children’s lives is the greatest blessing they can receive, no matter what they face. In Your unfailing love, Amen
Author: Candace Koon
So be happy, people of Zion.
Be joyful in the Lord your God.
He is good and will give you rain.
He will send the early rains and the late rains as before.
If there is one thing we can believe in and put our hope in, it's that the Lord is good. He created us and provides all we need. From the moment of creation, He has provided the created with all it needs. Sun for the plants to grow. Grass for the animals to grow. God hasn't changed. He still provides. But one thing I think we sometimes forget is that He put us in charge of caring for the earth.
Lately, I feel like I'm being walloped by bad news. I look at the news and read about traumatic events such as kidnappings, murders, hunger, war, poverty, school violence. I see lack, dishonesty, addiction, and pain. At times it threatens to overwhelm me because it looms over me like a towering giant. If I'm not careful, I start to slide into a well of discouragement and fear instead of the well of abundant life in the Spirit.
There are at least 66 children in our school that need someone to help provide food for them on the weekends. They would go home and have nothing to eat if it weren't for some pretty special people that collect, fill, and donate bags of food for the students to carry home. That's just one small school. Three grades. There are countless more out there.
Why am I being such a debbie downer? I'm actually not trying to be. I'm trying to flip it around and be the encouraging encourager. God sends the rains. He always has. He provides His creation with all that it needs to survive and even thrive. He sent Jesus to unite us to Himself and to one another. We can make a difference every day if we are willing to carry His kingdom in us and follow His ways.
Recently I watched a video clip of Steve Harvey speaking into a young woman that apparently had fallen into sexual promiscuity. Mr. Harvey looked her straight in her beautiful eyes and told her she was worth so much more. She had value. A future. He took her in his arms like a father should and spoke identity into her. Tears streamed over her cheeks as she listened—as if she were shocked that this was so. This young woman is not the only one who needs to look at herself as worth more than a one-night stand. But Steve Harvey is just one person, and he can't tell every single girl out there. The fields are ripe for a harvest…we need more workers.
He was saying to them, “The harvest is abundant [for there are many who need to hear the good news about salvation], but the workers [those available to proclaim the message of salvation] are few. (Luke 10:2, AMP)
Mr. Harvey stepped on the platform God granted him and spoke life. He spoke life into a drowning soul, pulling her up to the surface for a breath of air. Everyone has a platform of some sort. Maybe it's just encouraging a check-out clerk at the grocery store. Maybe it's helping provide food for the needy. Maybe it's speaking to young men and women, informing them that human trafficking is real and what to look out for to avoid being sucked into that world. Maybe it's fostering or adopting an orphan, or helping a widow. There are countless ways to release the Kingdom of God on this earth. You carry the Spirit of God inside you! With power you can release His peace, His love, His joy!
Our body, be it one under Christ the head, needs to start working together. We need all parts doing their part and working together. If you feel like you are just a thumb and have less impact or less importance, think again. God created the body perfectly. He created it with purpose and intent. It really doesn't matter if you are the thumb or the knee or the shoulder or the spine. Every part is necessary and influential.
There are so many needs in our communities and there are so many reasons we want to close our eyes to them. But we need to start opening our eyes! We cannot afford to shrink in fear. We cannot afford to do nothing. We have to start living as a community and working together to bring God's Kingdom to earth. Light and love and beauty could spread like wildfire if we would begin to believe in His goodness and share our hope and resources with those around us.
He sends the rains and the rains nourish the earth. His goodness is our hope. His salvation is coming. Will we be the one that invested our talents and doubled them? Or will we be the one that buried them?
Oh,Spirit, come and fill us! Come and lead us in the way we should go. Give us power to take back what the enemy has been stealing. Give us power to make a change and take a stand. Give us strategies to see where you've planted us and how we can invest in the lives of those around us. Show us who we are and what we're meant to do. You said we should follow You, so show us where and how and when.
Author: Kerri Barfield
Have you ever met big stumbling blocks while trying your best to get one step ahead?
We try to get caught up on housework, decorate for a new season, prepare weekly meals ahead of time, or work to exhaustion with consideration for what lies ahead for our children.
We continually attempt to mentally and physically prepare and serve, only to have the baby get sick, to have a water pipe burst, or to realize we're actually two loads of laundry behind because said sick child just created a whole new load.
We are a society of moms who feel we are back peddling most days. We try to be all and do all to glorify God in our homes, community, marriages, and parenting. We want the adorably decorated homes, Pinterest-worthy dinners, God-glorifying marriages, and well-versed, well-mannered, God-serving children. And then the unexpected happens. What if those blocks we encounter on the journey to organization and perfection are not meant to be mishaps, hindrances, or torture?
What if Jesus is simply trying to stop us in our tracks so we will sit in His presence and in His love?
This is why I love the story of Jesus’ visit with Mary and Martha. Martha invites Jesus into her home. Like most women, she is so focused (distracted, even) on preparing, serving, and cleaning she misses precious, necessary time sitting in God’s grace as He intimately loves and teaches.
However, Mary, Martha’s sister, is not focused on the responsibilities. She simply wants to savor every drop of the Lord’s presence. She wants to sit at His feet and listen to His wisdom and guidance with intention, love, and adoration. She wants to be consumed with Jesus in the short time she has by simply being physically and emotionally present.
Martha realizes she is slaving away on all that “needs” to be done to fulfill her daily duties and entertain their distinguished guest. She’s frustrated and angry with her sister’s “lack” of help and enthusiasm towards showering God with their service. She demands that Jesus ask for Mary’s assistance. His response will soften every mother’s overwhelmed and underprepared heart:
“Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things. Only one thing is necessary and Mary has chosen what's best. It will not be taken away from her.” (Luke 10:41-42, NIV)
What?! You mean Jesus would rather us lay our burdens and duties down just to sit at His feet? The thought of this is foreign to most of us. Our hearts are heavy with juggling work, to-do lists, extracurriculars, responsibilities, and feelings of inadequacy. It’s easy to assume God decides our worth by how much we do well and achieve. But His love and mercy is not dependent on what we do or don’t do.
He just wants us. Maybe those blocks in our finely tuned schedules force us to drop our guard and reprioritize our focus — to just to sit on our knees and look up to bask in His glory.
Oh, what freedom! He favors us so much, He prefers we put down our distractions to simply be with Him… all so He can love us more.
It’s my experience that the more I give of myself (not necessarily my actions) to Christ, the more He provides the means to get me back on track.
So, when we’re overwhelmed and frustrated with setbacks, remember, it may be God’s way of planting us at His feet. Afterall, it’s from our knees where we really see and experience His goodness and wisdom.
Word of the Day:
In all your ways, submit to Him and He will make your paths straight. (Proverbs 3:6, NIV)
Thank you for loving us so much. You know when we need to slow down and steep in Your glory. When our schedules are blocked, help us to be grateful for the opportunity to slow down and gaze at you. God, thank You for caring about our hearts and our relationship with You MORE than all the things we can accomplish. Thank You for helping us reprioritize our lives to live in freedom and to root ourselves in the promise of Your love. I pray all moms find comfort and peace when You place us at Your feet instead of lost in frustration and inadequacy of the daily hustle and bustle. May we remember to glorify You in our responsibilities, but also with intimacy and stillness. In your loving name, Amen.
Author: Candace Koon