Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Are You a Marshmallow Mom?

You've had the kids with you all day and they have been incessantly whining. "I want a hamburger. I don't want milk. I want...I want...I want..." Then they start begging. "Please. I won't ask for anything else. I promise. Please. I'll clean my room. Please. I promise I'll do my homework if you let me have..."

Do you ever wonder why your kids will listen to a perfect stranger before they listen to you? Do you feel you owe them everything they want? Do you give in because you feel guilty that their dad isn't around? Or are you just trying to make up for the fact that dad doesn't seem to care about them?

We give ourselves many excuses for giving in. We let them wear us down. But what kind of person are you teaching them to be? Whiny kids who are allowed to bribe, wheedle, and cajole will be that kind of adult too. Do you like being manipulated? Because that is exactly what they are doing.

Giving a child everything they want teaches them to be self-centered, self-serving, tyrannical, and impossible to satisfy.

Is it cruel to deny them? No. As a parent, you are responsible to teach your children responsibility and thoughtfulness. You are responsible to teach of them to think of others before themselves. You are responsible to teach them responsibility. Make them earn the things they want (unless it's a special occasion or just a trifling thing like something out of a toy machine.

Learn to use the word NO. Learn to mean it when you say it. If you let your kids wear you down, then you didn't mean no when you said it, and they know it. Kids listen to authority when used consistently. Never threaten your kids. If you say you're going to spank them the next time--then spank them the next time. Don't keep saying you're going to. They won't believe you. Kids learn very early whether or not mom means what she says. Dads say something once. Then they follow through. If you want your kids to respect you, mean what you say; do what you say you will do.

When my kids were little they learned early on that if they begged or whined to get something, the answer was a firm, definite, NO. If they continued to whine and beg there was a spanking waiting. Proverbs 22:6 says, "Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old, he will not depart from it." Be consistent.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Everybody's Doing It!

This message is for every female who feels pressured into having sex outside of marriage. Young people tell each other, "Everyone's doing it." Or "What's wrong with you? If you're still a virgin, you're weird. No one will ever want you." Another lie the devil tells is, "If you don't live with someone first, how will you know your marriage will work?" None of these is true. They are all lies.

There are a vast number of young people today who have made a commitment to keep themselves pure until marriage. What a special gift to give someone: your whole being, just for him or her. To be able to keep yourself free from sin (including oral) until marriage: something you have saved just for that special someone with whom you will spend the rest of your life. What a treasure.

Young ladies, when a teenage boy says he loves you, it's his hormones talking, and all he wants is to satisfy his urgings. Most of the time, once he gets what he wants from you, he dumps you and moves on to the next lovely lady. I know he sounds sincere. But if he really loves you, he will want to wait until marriage too. He will want that night to be special. It's not about a big, fancy wedding. It's not about the wedding gown. It's about the magic of being together for the first time. Make him treat you like the special person you are: make him wait until marriage. If he isn't willing to wait then he just wants to satisfy his urgings and will eventually move on anyway.

If you have already given in, you can tell God you're sorry and make a commitment to God that you will not have sex again until you are married. It won't be easy. Commitments to people are not easy. Commitment to a God we can't see is even harder. But Philippians 4:13 says, "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." If you make the commitment and break it, start over. As long as you are truly sorry, God is patient and merciful, and forgiving. It's a matter of the heart. God knows your heart. He knows everything about you and loves you. If you have had a hard life and have prostituted yourself, God loves you and is willing to forgive if you but ask Him.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Are You Trapped in Someone Else's Debt?

A young woman contacted me recently with some grave concerns. She had been living with a man who had written some bad checks and forged some money orders that were supposed to pay the rent on their apartment. The money was not spent on the rent and the young lady was quite surprised when the landlord said the rent was in arrears. Rather than see the man go to jail, she agreed to pay his fines. After all, they were friends and housemates.

The young lady (I'll call her Irene) has since started going to church and developing a relationship with her Heavenly Father. Irene feels that the more she pays the housemate's debts (I'll call him Doug), the more wrong he does as he sees no consequence for his actions. She questioned whether or not she should continue to pay the fines.

I gave her some scripture references and advised her to also speak to her pastor and get his advice. I suggested she ask for scripture to back up his position as our decisions should always be based on God's word, not our emotions or what we want.

The scriptures I gave her were: Proverbs 6:1; Proverbs 17:18; Leviticus 27:9, 10; Numbers 30:1, 2; Matthew 5:33 to the end of the chapter; Genesis 31:32; Leviticus 5:4; and Judges 11:34, 35. The first three references deal with the fact that when you agree to bear someone else's financial obligations, be it co-signing for a loan, mortgage, or any other debt, you are trapping yourself into a situation that may be very difficult, if not impossible to get out of.  The remaining verses are about keeping your promises. Your word should be reliable. When you promise something you should really consider all of the ramifications before giving it because it is a reflection of who you are and what you believe. It is a reflection of your character.

Irene did go to her pastor and he gave her a different answer. For more information and guidance go to www.pleasantgrovekjv.com and listen to the sermon "Take Heed and Beware Part 6). I have a great deal of respect for this pastor. I have visited this church. That sermon was not posted online yet this morning. Even though I may disagree with the pastor from time to time, I will never try to influence anyone to go against his teaching and preaching. Just search everything out for yourself. Study the scriptures and pray and seek God's will. He always has the right answer and He always wants the best for you. God bless.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Be The Best You Can Be

I may be repeating myself from a previous blog here, but it can't be said enough. We make our own problems. The marriage relationship takes patience once the newness wears off. There are two personalities from different backgrounds trying to find common ground. Love is not just hormones. It's commitment, perseverence and understanding. It takes patience and effort. Every day isn't like Valentine's Day.

When financial problems come, don't try to spend behind your husband's back. Talk about what you think you can afford. Work together. Be willing to compromise. Marriage is supposed to be for a lifetime but it won't be if you can't compromise.

If you find he's been unfaithful, before playing that blame card, ask yourself honestly if you have been meeting all of his needs. What kind of attitude greets him when he walks in the door? Does he mostly hear laughter in his home or strife? Women usually handle emotional strife better than men, but even we women can get our fill of it and want to blow a gasket and walk away. But walking away doesn't teach you to solve the problem. It only teaches you that it's easy to take the easy way out.

Many years ago, when my husband was ready to give up on us, I went to my knees and asked God to show me what I had done to contribute to the problem. I wasn't shouldering all of the blame, but I wanted to know what my part was. ONE PERSON CAN SAVE THE MARRIAGE! I got into God's word and two books: "Lord, Change Me," by Evelyn Christenson and "Happiness is a Choice" by Drs. Frank Minirth and Paul Meier. I sought out a Christian marriage counselor who was willing to work with our finances. I knew I couldn't handle it all by myself. If you haven't sought God's help, if you haven't sought Godly counseling and searched the Bible for answers, you haven't done all you could.

Most men don't go looking for an affair (there are a few who have to keep proving that they are 'manly men'). Affairs usually happen when the man isn't happy at home, doesn't feel validated, valued, or appreciated. It happens slowly over time. Trust me, there are women in every walk of life who are perfectly willing to destroy your family. Don't give them a chance.

Any woman can have any man she wants if that man isn't being fulfilled and valued by his wife. She doesn't have to be beautiful or smart or even a good housekeeper. All she has to do is be sweeter than you and be sympathetic. Most women don't need a man, but God told us in the book of Genesis when He created Adam and Eve, that God needed a woman to be his help meet, his companion, his proof that he has value. If you aren't willing to be that wife, someone else will be.

If you want to preserve your happy home, give your children stability and teach them about commitment, ask God to help you be the wife your husband needs you to be. You'll be glad you did, but give it time to get better. Your husband isn't going to believe this change right away. He's going to see manipulation. Don't manipulate--appreciate. Be honest in the way you treat him. He deserved it enough for you to marry him. Now you deserve it enough to keep him. Go for it!

Monday, February 11, 2013

What Do I Have to Give Up to be Saved?

Saved from what? Christians use some terms that may be hard to understand to someone who has not heard these terms. For instance, in John chapter 3, a priest named Nicodemus came to Jesus at night (he was afraid of his superiors who hated Jesus) because he had some questions. He started the conversation by saying that he knew Jesus was sent by God because no one could perform all of the miracles Jesus had, unless he had been sent by God. But Jesus looked into the man's heart and saw the real reason for the visit. Jesus answered him, "In order to see the kingdom of heaven, you must be born again." Nicodemus was confused. Surely Jesus wasn't suggesting that he go back into his mother's womb. No. The first birth is a water birth, Jesus explained. The second birth must, and can only, be done by the Holy Spirit.

Born again means salvation. But what does it mean to be saved? We think of being saved from danger, or from imminent death. We think of being spared from tragedy or heartache. But Jesus came to save us from an eternity in an eternal state of anguish and torment in the burning flames of hell, which never go out. Thus, salvation is the act of accepting the sacrificial, substitutional death of Jesus on the cross for our sins. It means inviting Him to be our Lord and Savior.

Many people reject salvation, reject Christ, because they are afraid of the changes He will make in their lives. But true salvation is falling in love with the God-man who loved you so much, He willingly paid your penalty for sin so you wouldn't have to. When you truly love someone you willingly let them have their way. I didn't HAVE to give up anything to get saved. I had reached the end of my rope. I was so miserable with myself I couldn't take it anymore.

The Christian life is a process. We don't ever become perfect. We will always, in this life, be sinners, saved by God's amazing grace. But as we attend church, Sunday school, Bible studies, gather together for fellowship with other Christians, we learn to love God more. He never makes us give up anything. We always have a choice. Just as He allows us to choose heaven or hell, He allows us to choose whether or not to allow Him to be Lord of our lives. There are some things I still need to get out of my life, like television, but God still loves me. My relationship with Him will be improved when I give up television, but I have a relationship with Him now. It just grows stronger with each new part of my life that I yield to Him. He laughed with me today at a situation I had created for myself because of my temper. When I calmed down and really looked at it, I laughed. When I laughed I felt His laughter too. What an amazing thing, to be able to laugh WITH God.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Why Do We Do What We Do?

When Jesus walked this earth he had three close friends, a brother and his two sisters. Martha was "the hostess with the mostest." She probably had a reputation of being a good hostess, always having her house nicely decorated when company was coming. People probably enjoyed dinner parties at her house. She took a lot of pride in providing a good meal, having things neat and orderly, and the meal always served on time. It seems she also prided herself on always being prepared for unexpected guests.

Mary, on the other hand, was the social butterfly. She enjoyed people: getting to know them, listen to the conversation, avidly contributing when appropriate. She was probably known as a good listener.

One day Jesus popped in and Martha hurriedly went to the kitchen to prepare a meal for their favorite guest. Mary sat at the feet of Jesus and listened raptly to everything he had to say.

Martha was upset that her sister was sitting around, doing nothing, while she did all the work. She complained to Jesus, "Don't you care that I am in this kitchen, slaving away, while my sister just sits there?"
Jesus replied, "You are trying too hard. You worry too much about everything being just right. Mary has chosen that good thing: she has chosen to listen to me."

Jesus wasn't saying that the meal wasn't important, or that Martha shouldn't bother with the meal. What he was saying was that she was more concerned with being the proper hostess than with learning from him. Jesus wants us to keep our minds stayed on him. Isaiah 40:31 says, "But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint. Another verse from Isaiah, 26:3 says, "Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee." Peace, perfect peace, comes from keeping our minds, our focus, on the Lord Jesus Christ, God the Father, and God the Holy Spirit.

Have a peace-filled day. When you are at peace, your relationships will be peaceful.

Friday, February 8, 2013

A Blissful Marriage

You are so in love and you want to be together all the time. Surely this is the right person. Surely you can marry this person and live happily ever after. I think most of us feel this way when we first get married. So why is there so much divorce?

There are so many things that never get discussed before the wedding. Where do WE want to live? What kind of lifestyle do we want? Should the wife work when children start arriving? Can we draw up a budget we can live on and the have the lifestyle we want? If not, what are we willing to compromise on? What can we change? How can we improve on the plan? How will we handle credit card expenses? How involved do we plan to be in the educational process of our children?

Here are the two big issues: Can we agree on religion and politics? These two issues can blow a family apart, and often do. If you are a believer in Jesus Christ before you get married, marrying someone who is an atheist, agnostic, or someone of a different faith or denomination won't work unless you compromise your beliefs. It is IMPERATIVE that you know what you believe and why. If you don't know why you believe what you do, you will compromise and hurt your testimony, your children will suffer the consequences of that compromise, and your spouse may never get saved because it wasn't real enough or important enough to you to stand firm.

To avoid this pitfall, be sure you only date people of like faith. Dating someone of a different belief system opens the door for heartache and compromise. II Corinthians 6:14, 15 says, "Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?  And what concord (agreement) hath Christ with Belial (Satan): or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel (someone who does not know Christ as Lord and Savior)? Don't be fooled by someone who says they believe in God. Big deal. The Bible says Satan believes in God, too. He believes and trembles, but Satan is definitely not going to heaven. He will try to get you to compromise.
Be wise. Don't tempt heartache.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Are You the Kind of Person You Want to Be?

As a child and young adult, I hated myself. I hated my life. I had tried half-heartedly to commit suicide a few times as a child, once or twice as an adult. I thoroughly believed I was the ugliest, dumbest thing God had ever made and my life was meant solely as the brunt of cruelty. I was supposed to be the entertainment, the reason for laughter. Me learn to drive a car? I was so dumb and ugly if I got behind the wheel everyone else would get off the road. Get married? Who would want to marry someone as ugly and stupid as I?

I have very little eye-to-hand coordination so I'm not good at any sport. I couldn't climb ropes or dribble a basketball. I was afraid of the horse (in gym class) because if with my luck I'd land on my head or break a bone and cause a big doctor bill. Then my dad would be upset about the amount of money it cost. I did have a few friends, but I was so consumed with my own inadequacies and failures, I was not much of a friend to them.

If you have ever felt like this, or if you have a bad temper (I sure did), are prone to feel sorry for yourself, take others for granted, or have a critical, judgmental nature, I have good news for you.
God wants you to give all of that to Him. He can take those negative things and replace them with His good qualities. Galatians 5:22, 23 says, " But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.

Notice that this is the fruit of the Spirit (God's Holy Spirit). You cannot make yourself have these attributes for any great length of time. Only the Holy Spirit can make these changes permanent. It takes time and constant fellowship with God the Father, God the Son (Jesus), and God the Holy Spirit. We have this fellowship by first repenting of our sin, asking God to forgive us and clean up our hearts and minds, and asking Him to live His life through us. Then we find a church that preaches the Bible (the King James is the only accurate translation in English), be faithful in Sunday school and church attendance, and read the Bible every day. We need Sunday school to learn about God and His character, and how to live this Christian life. We need church for the fellowship with like-minded believers, and to hear preaching so God can speak to us and show us how He wants to change us, and make us more like Him. We read the Bible every day so He can speak to us and so we can continue to learn about Him. You won't understand everything, but just take what you do understand. Write down any questions you have and ask your pastor or another church member who seems to know their Bible. You will understand more and more as you grow in faith and knowledge.

If you want good relationships you have to like yourself (but not too much).

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Are You Playing Favorites?

Yesterday I talked about two sons: Jacob and Esau. Here is another part of that story. (And it isn't just a story; it is part of Jewish history.) The mother of the two boys, Rebekah, had a favorite son. She loved Jacob. Scripture doesn't tell us why he was her favorite, but he was. Esau was his father's favorite.

Have you ever felt that you were the least favored child in your family? If so, you know the problems that favoritism caused between you and your siblings. Esau was a hairy man while Jacob had smooth skin. Isaac loved Esau because Isaac loved venison. Esau not only took care of the sheep, but also would go hunting. (There were other unnamed children who also took care of the sheep.) Rebekah took pride in Jacob's garden. (The name Esau has two meanings: rough-skinned, and rough in character. Jacob means heel-catcher or supplanter, usurper.)

When Isaac lay dying on his bed he told his hairy son, Esau, to go kill a deer and make him some venison stew, his favorite meal. Isaac was blind and could only tell his sons apart by the feel of their skin and their voices. While Esau went hunting Rebekah told her favorite son, Jacob, to go kill a goat and make stew. She would make it taste like venison. She used the skin of the goat to cover Jacob's arms and the back of his neck in order to trick Isaac into thinking he was Esau. So when Jacob brought in the bowl of stew, Isaac was surprised at quickly it was made, and he thought the voice was that of Jacob. But when he felt Jacob's arms and the back of his neck he thought he must be mistaken and gave Jacob the blessing that he had intended to give Esau.

When Esau returned with his bowl of venison stew and learned that Jacob had received the blessing, and there was no blessing left for him, he nearly went crazy. He threatened to kill Jacob.

When we play favorites with our children we cause hatred, anger, and bitterness, which can lead to murder. Do we want our children to grow up to carry this kind of weight in their hearts? You may get along better with one. You may connect better with one. But it is vital that you treat them all with the same amount of love and consideration. Of course all kids say, "You love him/her more than me" when they don't get their way. This is an opportunity for you to help them understand why they don't get the same privilege, allowance, or benefit as another. It must be explained with patience and consideration for their feelings. It doesn't mean you give in to them.

Don't create a rift between your kids.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Don't Sell Your Inheritance

How important is your inheritance to you? The story starts in Genesis chapter 25. Isaac and Rebekah had two sons: Jacob and Esau. They were twins. As they grew up, one was a herdsman (sheep farmer) and the other was a crop farmer. One day Esau came in from the field and he was extremely tired and hungry. He knew it was meal time and asked Jacob for a bowl of his soup. Jacob offered it to him in exchange for Esau's birthright (inheritance). Since Esau came out first, the father's blessing and the bulk of the inheritance would go to him. But Esau didn't value his birthright so much as comfort and he agreed to give it to Jacob in exchange for a bowl of soup.

A few years passed and when Isaac lay dying on his bed, he was tricked into giving Jacob the blessing and inheritance that should rightfully have belonged to Esau. The effect of that trickery caused more grief and heartache than most of us can imagine.

Esau apparently was not really willing to give up the blessing and birthright because when he learned that it had been given to Jacob he wanted to kill his brother. Rebekah sent Jacob away so she would not lose her son.

Esau heard his father tell Jacob not to marry women of the local people because they were heathen (did not worship the true God). Out of rebellion and hurt Esau married one of the daughter's of Ishmael, his uncle. Ishmael was the son of Hagar, Abraham's wife Sarah's maid. Ishmael is the father of the Islamic peoples. Abraham is the father of the Jews.

The point is: if you despise your birthright/inheritance at a time of desperation, don't allow that to cause you to make a decision you will regret later. Many a family has been torn apart upon the death of a parent because no one cared about their inheritance until the patriarch or matriarch passed away. When one person takes care of a family member while everyone else finds excuses to stay away and take no part in visiting or caring for the aged parent(s), don't blow your family apart because the caretaker was the one who got the blessing. Families are supposed to love each other.

Monday, February 4, 2013

What Are You Afraid Of?

I help teach children's Sunday School and Childeren's Church. One of the students that I've been teaching since she was five years old asked Jesus to be her Lord and Savior one Sunday when one of the other teachers had the class. This young lady is now ten years old and she was so excited when she asked Jesus to save her from her sins. She told everyone in church that day.

And then, someone who probably had good intentions, did the unpardonable: he or she (we don't know who it was) told this precious little ten-year-old that she would have to give up everything. She would no longer be able to listen to the same music, watch the same movies and TV shows, dance, hang out with the same people, etc. My precious little student went home and cried for two days because she thought she was going to have to give up everything important to her. She thought she would no longer be able to be herself. If she couldn't be herself, who was she supposed to be? Was she no longer allowed to have any fun? She wasn't sure she wanted to be a Christian. It's been about two months now and her attitude has changed. She is being hateful to her little brothers. She is becoming defiant and self-centered (more than before). I can see her struggling. The Lord wants to save her from her sin and Satan is pulling at her to keep her where he wants her. I am afraid for the person who told her this. Scripture tells us in Matthew 18:6; Mark 9:42; and Luke 17:2 that it would be better for that person to have a millstone hanged around their neck and be cast into the sea than to offend one of these little ones. To offend doesn’t mean just to belittle or criticize; it also means to cause to stumble. The person who said these things to this precious child that God wants to claim for His own has caused her to stumble in her budding faith. May the Lord convict that person and bring them to repentence.

Are you afraid to give your heart to the Lord? Are you afraid of the changes He will make in your life? Let me ask you this: Are the things you possess, the "toys" you have, the position, status, prestige, money, friends worth more than the adventure that awaits the child of God? You can only be God's child if you offer Him everything.  I can tell you that in my over 30 years of being a Christian, I have NEVER heard a true Christian say they were sorry for giving their hearts and lives to God's control. GOD IS LOVE. EVERY GOOD AND PERFECT GIFT COMES FROM GOD. James 1:17. God promises He will never leave us or forsake us. He is available to help us 24/7. He never is too tired or too busy. Jeremiah 29:11 tells us that He has a purpose and a plan for us. He promises to take our mistakes and turn them around for good. He promises to give us an abundant life! He promises joy, and peace, even in hard times. He teaches us to be more loving, generous, kind, compassionate, willing to help others, takes our problems and helps us work through them. There is nothing too hard for Him, no mountain too high. The weather and elements are subject to His power. He promises that if we have faith the size of a grain of mustard seed, one of the smallest seeds in the universe, He will give us whatever we ask as long as it's for the right reason.

What are you afraid of? Don't let the devil rob you of all that God has waiting for you. God repairs relationships, heals the broken-hearted, gives joy instead of depression, peace instead of worry. He never makes anyone give up anything. He lets us make our own choices. But when we fall in love with Him, our desires change (over time).  Oh, He's a WONDERFUL GOD, FAITHFUL FRIEND, WONDERFUL COUNSELOR, MIGHTY GOD, EVERLASTING FATHER, AND THE PRINCE OF PEACE. GOD LOVES YOU, RIGHT NOW, RIGHT WHERE YOU ARE. IF I'M WRONG I HAVE NOTHING TO LOSE BECAUSE THE END WILL BE THE SAME. IF YOU ARE WRONG IN NOT TRUSTING HIM, YOU HAVE EVERYTHING TO LOSE.

For God so loved YOU, that He gave His only begotten Son, that if you believe in Him, you will never die (your soul), but will live forever in Heaven with Him when this life is over. John 3:16. If you refuse Him, your soul will spend eternity in torment, suffering in hell. Luke 16:19-31. We can't earn salvation. If we could be good enough then Jesus left heaven, came to earth, and died the most cruel death of anyone, for nothing. Yet He chose to do all of that because of His great love for us. Romans 3:10-18 tells us plainly that we are not good in God's eyes. Romans 3:23 says, "For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God."
Romans 6:23 says, "For the wages (what we earn) of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord."
Romans 10:9, 10, and 13 says, "That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved."
Galatians 2:16 says, "Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified." We cannot take credit for our salvation. Only God, through the blood of Jesus Christ, can save us. God will not give us any reason to be filled with pride because He alone gives us our talents, abilities, intelligence, makes our bodies and minds work, etc.