Monday, July 15, 2013

Through Thick & Thin

“Don’t be afraid,” Jonathan reassured him. “My father will never find you! You are going to be the king of Israel, and I will be next to you, as my father, Saul, is well aware.” So the two of them renewed their solemn pact before the Lord. Then Jonathan returned home, while David stayed at Horesh. (1 Samuel 23:17, 18 NLT)

So solid and strong. It strikes me as I ponder friendship. Men have such a bond, especially the ones from the Lord. James has friends that have been with him since elementary school whom he is still close with now.  These are lifelong friendships that God brought together. 

Why as women do we have a difficult time keeping friends or being good friends to the ones we have? Perhaps it's the very thing we discussed in my growth group I'm a member of this past week ... judging from the appearance rather than the heart ... being petty and not acting in true love towards one another. Maybe hormones play a role. Maybe emotions take over. Maybe it's a combination of factors. Nevertheless, when you consider all that I just mentioned, one common denominator comes into play ... flesh. It seems that we as women like to use our hormones and emotions as an excuse to act however we please.  I believe God is calling us to love at all times and not allow the enemy’s temptation to use excuses to overcome us. 

for if you are living according to the flesh, you must die; but if by the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body, you will live.  For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are the sons [and daughters] of God.  – Romans 8:13-14

As believers in and of Christ, are we to die to sin and flesh daily? Yes. Are we to be holy as God is holy (1 Peter 1:16)? Yes. And most importantly, are we to love others as Christ loves us (John 13:34)? Yes!

I want to be loyal and faithful to all the women God has put in my life. I want to love each of them with a sisterly love and lift them up in prayer. And I want to treat the God-bonds (those who I know the Spirit has forged together) like David and Jonathan did: a solemn pact before the Lord even to death.  He is calling us to LOVE.  Love covers a multitude of sins (1 Peter 4:8).  Love forgives. 

Let me leave you with what the bible says about love:

Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.  Love never fails … - 1 Corinthians 13:4-8

God, help me to love this way.  Help me to embrace the women you’ve put in my life.  And help me to treat all my friendships the way Jonathan and David did.  

***Side Note: As I've said before, if you don't follow already, you should! Jill and the girls have so blessed me in the short time that I've been a part.  :) And since we're all studying the same scripture at the same time, Jill's post today is very similar to what God spoke to me about the same passage.  It's so exciting to me how God's Word is alive and speaking to us! Check it out too:

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Lesson Learned

Don’t you just love how God speaks to you through a combination of His word and your children? Sometimes it takes a while for me to get it … but when I do … Man! It pierces me.

So I’m sure you can imagine, or for those who have several children already, you know full well the challenges of disciplining children.  Not to mention, three boys under the age of 8 and a sweet, yet walking and exploring, 14-month-old baby girl.  We definitely have days where the children are especially well-behaved.  But most days, they test and push to see how much they can get away with (particularly with all the rain we’ve had this summer which equates to being cooped up). 

James and I have tried many different plans of discipline (charts, strike system, etc.), all while praying for the Lord to show us His plan.  What will work for our family? And I know you are familiar with how difficult parenting can be, no matter how many kids you have! It’s a tough job! No joke! But it’s also the most precious gift from God.  A privilege.  A reward. 

Recently, while hanging out with some dear friends, we started discussing what the bible says about discipline.  This family is so special to us.  They are godly and wise.  And they have some children who are older than ours, so we glean from them.   In talking that evening, we all agreed that first-time obedience is what children need to accomplish.  The motto at our sons’ previous Christian school is: “Obey – right away, all the way, everyday, in a cheerful way!” And I love it!

When James and I debriefed after such a good talk with our friends, we decided to try things a little different.  Our children have never been crazy bad, per say.  But we so desire to achieve complete obedience with them now so that later on in life, when there’s a lot on the line, they will be trained in obedience.  This is huge to us! So we explained to our children that we expect them to obey us, and that going forward, we are doing things differently.  No more warnings.  No more threats.  We give the direction and expect their direct obedience in respect.  Anything less than a simple yes ma'am or no ma’am (or sir) along with obedience (such as talking back, whining, asking WHY, disregarding what we say, or dare I say – telling us NO) is direct disobedience, and we will no longer tolerate it.  Zero tolerance in the form of immediate discipline.  Yeah, spelling all that out seems a little harsh, but once they ‘get it,’ oh my goodness, things are grand!  We have seen a huge difference, especially in our spunky and active three-year-old! (I could go into the whole spill about why children need boundaries, why they need to learn direct obedience early in life, and so on and so forth.  But that’s another post for another day.) 

As I was drying my hair, I was praying about the scripture I read this morning in 1 Samuel 15 that so ministered to me.  I’ve been chewing on it and thinking about it, trying to let it sink in to my spirit and mind. 

But Samuel replied, “What is more pleasing to the Lord: your burnt offerings and sacrifices or your obedience to his voice?  Listen! Obedience is better than sacrifice, and submission is better than offering the fat of rams.” 
-       1 Samuel 15:22 NLT

Saul didn’t directly and completely obey God.  He did what he thought would be okay, instead of exactly what God commanded.

Sure.  Sacrifices and offerings seemed good.  God has asked for those before.  But God gave specific instructions for this specific time, and he expected direct and complete obedience.

So back to praying while drying my hair … as clear as day, God said to me in my spirit, “Christa, do you directly obey me? You have been enforcing this with your children at home.  But are you also obeying me the first-time I ask and completely?” 

Wow! Talk about His words being sharp! He cut to the core with that one.  There are several things I’ve been thinking and praying about that require God-sized answers.  I need to hear from Him before I do anything.  And I feel like He is causing me to evaluate my own obedience to Him from the past, present, and what He expects of me in the future, no matter how difficult or daunting the task may be.  He expects full obedience and submission!

Friends, as you seek the Lord, His word will change you.  It requires action.  And when He speaks, He expects us to listen and obey. 

God, today I desire to completely and directly obey you right away.  Show me all the ways that I have been disobedient.  I repent for my disobedience, Lord.  Make me right with you, Father, so our fellowship is unobstructed.  And help me to walk forward with you leading me that I may be a faithful, obedient follower.  I love you, Lord! Amen!