Tuesday, May 21, 2013

When Despair Strikes

I sit here weeping this morning over those precious people in Moore, OK who have got to be suffering beyond what most of us can comprehend. I cannot begin to imagine the grief and despair that they must be feeling as they look around and see nothing but rubble, their lives in shambles, multiplied by countless numbers over the loss of a child or children in those schools. Many people get mad at God when tragedy strikes, and this is certainly a normal human reaction.

I don't claim to have any of the answers, but here's what I do know about my God, my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. He continually tries to work in our hearts and draw us to Him in good times. But many people don't want to hear about God these days. Still others claim to know Him but ignore Him. Christians, in general, have become complacent. We take God's goodness for granted. Just as He did with the Jews throughout history, He sometimes has to allow (not cause) tragedy to happen in ...order for us to realize that we can't make it on our own. We need Him to help us get through these situations.

He is waiting with open arms to comfort and heal. He promises blessings to those who obey Him and destruction to those who don't. Christians are not immune to tragedy, but we know who will help us through when it does strike. But all of this tragedy is nothing compared to an eternity in hell. And if those precious children are in heaven, and their surviving parents don't turn to God, in sincerity seeking a relationship with Him, they will never see that child again for they will spend eternity separated from them in a devil's hell.

That is NEVER God's choice (2Peter 3:9  The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.).
God leaves the choice up to us. Please seek Him today. Seek His comfort and peace. Job lost everything except his wife in one day. He was the richest man on earth at that time, and he lost everything including his health in one day. He wept and mourned, and questioned God, but he never turned his back on God. In the end, God gave him back double everything he lost (except his children--he lost ten and had ten more). God bless. I'm praying for everyone in that city. I hope all of my friends will join me in that prayer.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

God Lite Or God Light?

            Several years ago I heard my brother preach a sermon to a group of children. He called them to the front of the church and they all sat on the carpet, gathered around him. He asked how many of them were afraid of the dark. A few hands were raised and he pulled a night light out of a paper bag. He held it up for the entire congregation to see.
            "This is a night light," he said. "It helps us see where we are going in the dark so we don't stub our toes or trip over something. It helps us, doesn't it? This is one kind of light. Our grocery stores and advertisements are filled with lite products: lite ice cream, lite milk, lite cream cheese, etcetera. The lite products are called lite because something has been removed. It doesn't have the same ingredients as the whole product. Something is missing. That may be good for people who are trying to be healthy, but…
            "When you lose a loved one, or your marriage is in trouble, or your bills are more than your income, or your child is rebelling, or there's a monster under your bed, or someone is being mean to you, what kind of God do you want? Do you want a God who will light your path, show you how to solve the problem, or help you through it? Or do you want a weak, wishy-washy God lite?
            "Our God is all powerful, all knowing, and everywhere present. He created the universe. His two hands can hold all the oceans and rivers of the world and not spill a drop. He created you, knows everything about you, and loves you no matter what. He calmed storms, healed the sick, made the lame to walk again. He caused the children of Israel to cross a raging sea on dry ground, then drowned Pharaoh's army in that same sea. God was with them even when they rebelled against Him. That's the God who wants to be your best friend. That's the God who wants to help you and heal you. That's the God who wants to deliver you from your fears and help you get through your troubles. He can teach you how to manage your finances, mend your broken heart, teach you how to handle your rebellious children. The choice is up to you. What kind of God do you want?"


Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Does Your Baby Make You Frustrated?

Many young mothers experience great frustration when their babies cry for no apparent reason. When I was a young mother, I too, got frustrated because I didn't know what to do. I didn't want to hurt my baby so I would close the door to his room, go downstairs and turn up the stereo so I couldn't hear him. That may sound cruel to some people, but it protected my child from harm.
            As a newborn, I thought you feed them, bathe them, change them, and put them to bed. I eventually learned that even newborns need to held some because they are in a whole new environment and they feel insecure. They need mommy's arm to hold them and make them feel secure. Holding your baby will not spoil him as long as you don't pick him up every time he cries.
            However, it is vital that you spend time playing with your child, no matter what age. It helps them feel loved. Think about it. If no one ever paid attention to you, how would you feel? Children magnify their feelings. To a child, no emotion is trivial. It is up to us as parents to help them understand their feelings, and to teach them not to take themselves too seriously.
            Children are only spoiled when their every whim is given in to. Love with boundaries will never spoil a child. One of the best experts I know regarding children is Dr. James Dobson (Focus on the Family). He has written many books on the subject of child-rearing.
            If you feel depressed after you've had your baby, don't be too hard on yourself. Your hormones change drastically when you get pregnant, and again when the baby is born. This is normal and natural, but you need to seek medical attention if you are depressed. It is not a shame to be depressed. It is only a shame if you don't seek help. God bless.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Happy Mother's Day

What a precious thing it is to be a mother, to hold a newborn baby, to nurture that child, watch it grow, to be the teacher. What an awesome responsibility to raise a child to adulthood, to be able to instill in that child a character that will help him (or her) grow into wisdom and integrity.
There are some women mentioned in the Bible who were very wise in raising their children, or at least in making sure that their children would grow into Godly people. Moses's mother, Jochebed, knew that the only way to save her son was to give him up. Pharaoh had declared that all baby boys born to the Hebrews should  be put to death. So Jochebed made a basket of bulrushes, complete with a covering, and her daughter, Miriam, put the basket with her baby brother inside, and put it in the river just as the Pharaoh's daughter and her maids were going to bathe. Pharaoh's daughter heard an unusual sound, found the basket and opened it. She immediately fell in love with the child and wanted to raise it as her own, but she was not able to nurse it. So Miriam stepped forward from her hiding place and asked if the young woman would like her to find a nursemaid for the baby. Naturally, she took the baby home to her own mother who cared for him until he was old enough to live in the palace. Moses grew up as an Egyptian prince and was well cared for and educated, but he never forgot that he was a Hebrew. At the age of forty something, God used him to deliver the Hebrew people from the bondage of Egypt.
Hannah and her husband had prayed for a child for years and she remained barren and desolate. After many years of praying, God finally answered her prayer and gave her a son. She had promised God that if He would give her a child, she would give the child back to Him. So when her little boy Samuel was weaned, she took him to the priest (Levi) to be raised in the temple as an apprentice. She would go visit him but he would be raised to serve God.
Most of us would rather die than give up our children, but these women loved and served God and knew that He is the supreme parent. They were unselfish in their love for their children, and they grew up to be great. Their names have survived through thousands of years as renowned men of God because of the selflessness of their mothers. What do you want your children to be known for? How will you raise them? What kind of mother do you want to be? The Bible is filled with instruction and wisdom. Have a wonderful, love filled Mother's Day.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Who Is Responsible?

I have a dear friend I'll call Jennifer (I have no friends by that name) who has struggled most of her life with alcohol and drug addiction. She's been married several times and has raised four children. The youngest, her son, I'll call Darren.

Jennifer's life has been tumultuous from birth. She was the only daughter with four older brothers, who used to beat her and molest her. Her father also beat her while her mother stood by and did nothing. At some point Jennifer learned to fight back. She learned to use whatever was at hand and she learned she couldn't trust men. They lived in the country and at that time the law would not have interfered.

I don't know at what age she began smoking, drinking, and doing drugs, but it continued through her marriages. At least one daughter, now grown, will have nothing to do with her. She has been through rehab, had kicked it, given her heart and life to the Lord Jesus, and fallen back time and again. She has been in and out of prison, as has her son, Darren.

Darren has been on his own since about age 15, also, drinking and taking drugs. He hates himself and blames his mother for all of his problems. He loves and hates her at the same time. Both of them have so much anger and hurt inside. They play it off of each other. When Jennifer gets out of prison and tries to get her life straight, Darren calls her, screaming at her, accusing her of not caring, because as long as he is still doing drugs she can't be around him. It's too much temptation for her, and it could land her back in prison. So he curses at her, tells her he will commit suicide if she doesn't help him. He rips her heart to shreds, throws it at her feet, and tells her it's all her fault. What is a mother to do? She gives in. He's her flesh and blood, and she thinks he's at least partly right: it is her fault for not being a better role model and parent when he was small.

But Darren is an adult now, making his own decisions. As an adult he needs to take responsibility for his own decisions. He has not allowed her to be his parent for about 12 years. It's time to face reality, face his own consequences, man up and stop blaming mom for the decisions he's making now. He needs to set his mother free from the guilt he is piling on her.

If your situation is similar to this, remember that no matter how many mistakes you've made, redemption is still possible and available through Jesus Christ. He wants to take your burdens. He wants to take your pain and sorrow and replace them with His love, joy, and peace. He wants to make you whole. Why don't you invite Him into your heart and life? He loves you and has great plans for you. What have you got to lose? Just tell Him you're sorry for your sins, ask Him to forgive you, and ask Him to take control of your life. It won't be easy, but it will be better than what you have now. If you fall back into your sin, just keep going to Him, apologize, ask His forgiveness, and ask Him to help you overcome. Seek professional help if you feel you need it. There are a few good, Godly counselors out there. There is no shame in trying to make your life better. God bless.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Are We Better Off Without God?

Look at our society. Are we better off without God? Murder, rape, incest, pornography, suicide, mass shootings are on the rise. And we think we're better off? Yes, some of these things happened decades ago, before prayer and God were kicked out of school and government, but not on this scale. People believed in decency, honor, and respect. Children were taught to respect their elders even if they disagreed with them. Most of the people of my generation were taught to love and fear their parents. I certainly did and I am a well-balanced, happy adult. Did my parents make mistakes? Of course they did. There is no such thing as a perfect parent and very few people have had idyllic childhoods, but we learned manners, respect, and dignity. We were taught to do everything with all of our might. We were taught to always do and give our best. We were taught to admit when we were wrong, apologize, and keep our moral standards high—at least until the "hippie" generation came along. Those are the parents now who listened to Dr. Spock say that spanking a child, or any form of corporal punishment, would inhibit our children's personalities and make them evil.

Nonsense! Now, I believe in spanking WITH LOVE, and discipline. Discipline teaches. When my children were small and spanking was in order, I made sure they first understood why they were getting a spanking. They needed to acknowledge that what they had done was wrong and why it was wrong. If they didn't understand, we had a conversation to help them understand. This was done patiently. Secondly, they were assured that we loved them. When the tears and crying stopped, we would call the child to us, give them a hug, ask them again if they knew why they received a spanking. If the answer was because they were bad, we had another conversation. It was not that the child was bad; it was the action or behavior that was bad.

Our children are well-adjusted adults (well, our daughter went through some things outside the home that have caused her problems in her adult life, but she is getting a handle on them.) Both of our children tell us we have been great parents and we have a great relationship with them. 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." Proverbs 31:28 says, "Her children arise up and call her blessed, and her husband also, and he praises her." This passage, from verses 10 through the end of the chapter, are describing a virtuous woman. Thanks to God and His Word, I am living proof that this is so.

A loving parent will discipline and encourage the children. A wise parent will seek to train the child up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. We were created to have fellowship with Him, and there is no better, happier life than one lived in love and service to God. He is love. But He can also be grieved. He can get angry. He is to be revered, loved, and feared. We should be just as afraid, if not more so, to incur God's anger as that of our parents, especially since today parents seem to let their offspring get by with anything

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Are You Deceiving Yourself?

Sunday I posted an article about lying to ourselves about what is right and what is wrong. This article follows that one.

Malachi chapter 3 deals with our worship, our relationship with our Heavenly Father. I fear that the majority of us have lost our zeal for, and fear of God. Many preachers today just want us to feel good. They don't talk about God's character. They don't mention sin. If your little child continually reaches his hand toward the hot stove, even though you keep telling him it will hurt, do you at last, slap his hand or are you afraid of hurting him? Which will hurt worse, the slap on the hand or the burn he would get from touching the stove? Love teaches and disciplines. Our government, and thus our society, no longer believes in discipline.

The Bible tells us that fear of God is the beginning of wisdom. The problem is, we have for so long, heard that God is a God of love, with no mention of the other facets of His character, that we treat Him as a celestial teddy bear.

God is also a God of wrath. He destroyed the entire earth by flood because of its wickedness, saving only Noah and his family because they were the only people on the entire planet that loved God. Teddy bears don't get angry.

God destroyed the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah because they were filled with homosexuals. Gen 18:17  And the LORD said, Shall I hide from Abraham that thing which I do;
Gen 18:18  Seeing that Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him?
Gen 18:19  For I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the LORD, to do justice and judgment; that the LORD may bring upon Abraham that which he hath spoken of him.
Gen 18:20  And the LORD said, Because the cry of Sodom and Gomorrah is great, and because their sin is very grievous;
Gen 18:21  I will go down now, and see whether they have done altogether according to the cry of it, which is come unto me; and if not, I will know.
Gen 18:22  And the men turned their faces from thence, and went toward Sodom: but Abraham stood yet before the LORD.
Gen 18:23  And Abraham drew near, and said, Wilt thou also destroy the righteous with the wicked?

Abraham was worried about his nephew, Lot and his family, who lived in Sodom. Abraham pleaded with God several times, respectfully and humbly, if God would destroy the cities if there were certain numbers of righteous people in the cities. God, after each number mentioned, told Abraham He would not destroy the cities if that number of righteous people resided there.  The last number Abraham mentioned was ten. There were not even ten righteous people living in those two cities. Only Lot and his daughters were spared. His wife looked back as they fled, and was turned to a pillar of salt.

So the question is: Are we allowing ourselves to be deceived by our own wishes to have our feelings pumped up during church, and be told we are good and God is good, and the world is wonderful and there is no sin? Wake up, people! Why are children being molested, kidnapped, bullied, and killed? For some it is God protecting them against worse things to come. For others it is to deliver them from evil before they have a chance to be turned the wrong way.

Romans 3:10 says, "There is none good, no not one."
Isa 53:1  Who hath believed our report? and to whom is the arm of the LORD revealed?
Isa 53:2  For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him.
Isa 53:3  He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
Isa 53:4  Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.
Isa 53:5  But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.
Isa 53:6  All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.
Isa 53:7  He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth.
Isa 53:8  He was taken from prison and from judgment: and who shall declare his generation? for he was cut off out of the land of the living: for the transgression of my people was he stricken.
Isa 53:9  And he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death; because he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth.
Isa 53:10  Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in his hand.
Isa 53:11  He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities.
Isa 53:12  Therefore will I divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he hath poured out his soul unto death: and he was numbered with the transgressors; and he bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.

This passage, of course, is talking about Jesus. This is one of the many prophecies of what would happen to Him.  If we are good then Jesus went through all of that torment and death for nothing. He died for our sins. WE ARE NOT GOOD!!! We are evil and need a savior. Jesus has taken the penalty for our cruelty, evilness, everything bad that we have ever done, and it was poured on him at the cross. He shed His precious blood for OUR sins. We need to stop kidding ourselves, stop lying to ourselves that we are good. We need to acknowledge our sin on a daily basis, because whether we want to see it or not, we sin every day. There isn't a day that goes by that we haven't had an evil thought, or told a lie, or said something about someone, or done something we regret.  We all are guilty before God. We can kill our conscience and tell ourselves we are good, but in the end, we will stand before God to be judged. God hates our worship and praise if our hearts are not right with Him, or if we are just going through the motions. Joh_4:24 God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.

Monday, May 6, 2013

It Isn't Sin

I saw a post on Facebook the other day that proclaimed homosexuality isn't sin. Now I don't hate anyone. Life is often difficult and bad things happen to people that may influence and impact us for the rest of our lives. But joy and peace don't come from lying to ourselves. No matter how many times you tell yourself the moon is made of green cheese, you may convince yourself but that doesn't change the reality that it is actually a massive orb that reflects the light of the sun. We can tell ourselves a million+ times that the only facet of God's nature is love (like Joel Osteen), but that doesn't change God's character.

Jesus Christ died on a cruel cross, after being tormented beyond any normal human being's ability to withstand. He did it for our sins. He did it to set us free from the bondage of sin. You can kill your conscience and lie to yourself all you want, but it does not erase the fact that God destroyed two huge cities specifically because of homosexuality. See Genesis chapters 18 and 19. God is just and holy. He wants His people to be holy.

Friend, please admit your sin, ask God for forgiveness, and turn from it. I know it isn't easy when you care about someone, but hell is a terrible place of torment, and I don't want you to go there. God promises to give you the strength you need to change. Only His Holy Spirit can change you. It will be a daily battle, but the end result, living in God's grace and mercy is beyond anything comparable here on this earth. And there is no escape from hell. I'm praying for you.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

The Heart of Worship

One of the songs I enjoy listening to says, "I'm coming back to the heart of worship; and it's all about you, Jesus. I'm sorry, Lord, for the times I've hurt You; and it's all about You, Jesus."

Does it seem odd to anyone besides me that all of the gadgets we've created to simplify our lives have actually made life more complicated, more busy? Instead of mailing letters or calling, we text. Instead of going to the library, we get on the internet. Instead of cooking, we open a container or a can. Much of our food now is microwaveable. I wonder if the electronic, computer-age generation even knows what an oven is or what it is for. (Okay, I'm giving my age group away). We rush around doing who-knows-what. What is the purpose? Where are you going? Why are you going?

Have we, as Christians, sacrificed true worship, heart-wrenching, soul-searching worship, for a good feeling and a prayer on the fly as we race through the day? When the day is over, do you feel a sense of accomplishment? How much time do we really give God? How much of ourselves do we really give Him?

Malachi 1:7-14 gives a description of what the priests in his day were using as worship: diseased animals, spoiled bread. They gave God the worst they had and expected Him to be pleased with it. God was not happy. He was not pleased. He was, in fact, angry. Would you give your best friend the worst you could find? Would you dump garbage on the doorstep of your parents? Yet, we give God our garbage as a worship offering. We give Him the remnant of our day. We turn to Him only when we have a problem. We want His blessings while we treat Him as if He means nothing to us. Let us ask the Holy Spirit to help us organize our time (time God has given us) so that we may devote more time to our Heavenly Father, the One who provides our every need, who blesses us with every spiritual blessing (inspite of ourselves), and protects, guides, and comforts us. Let us return to our LORD GOD, with a true heart of worship, not just warm, fuzzy feelings that go away as soon as we leave the church.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Don't Hold the Child!

I don't know how many parents are out there who feel this way, but I have recently come in contact with someone who has 5-month-old baby. The father says the baby should never be picked up just to be held. The baby holds its own bottle. I don't know if burping is allowed, but it is necessary in order for the baby to get rid of the gas that builds up so it doesn't have a tummy ache. When babies don't feel good they are fussy. After all, they can't tell you how they feel.

This father gets upset if he finds a babysitter holding his baby. He thinks the baby will be spoiled and he doesn't want that.

What he doesn't seem to know or understand, is that if a baby never gets picked up and cuddled, that baby will grow up to be cold-hearted and angry. He or she will feel unloved and unwanted all their lives. If the parents decide to play with the child or hug and cuddle it once it becomes a toddler or older, it may repair some of the damage, or the child will feel that it is being manipulated and will be either sullen, or appear to acquiesce on the outside while seething on the inside. Be careful. If this is how you treat your child, you may be raising a murderer or other violent criminal.

Babies should not be picked up every time they cry. A mother learns to tell when her baby is crying because it has a need, or just because it wants attention. It does not harm a baby to be allowed to cry itself to sleep when it is just being stubborn, or is using crying as a way of getting attention. However, the parent needs to think about how much time he or she spends interacting with the child. Even infants need to be played with (gently).

Remember, babies are little people, with the same needs and wants as adults (emotionally), but they are unable to express those things in words. It is up to the adults in the baby's life to learn to listen to the differences in the child's cries to discern what the need is. If you don't play with the child, he or she will be fussy, whiny, and temperamental (which he/she may be anyway, but at least it won't be the fault of the caretaker or parent).

When you aren't sure what to do, consult a pediatrician or an older person who has raised children. Children don't get spoiled because they are loved; they are spoiled when they are coddled and catered to.