If I told you I sing praise songs about how awesome my boys are or that I get down on my knees each night and bow down to them, would think I had lost it? I sure hope so. Yet we have become a society that does just that in a variety of other ways, not as obvious but just as destructive to you and to them.
There is a message I keep seeing being shared on Facebook about a parent’s love for their children. It says that everything the parent does is for their child and that he or she is what life is all about. What a load of trash! If you live for your child what a superficial, unsatisfying life you lead.
Are we to sacrifice for our children? Yes. Are we to love and nurture our children to the best of our ability? Of course. But never worship them. God has a special name for this, maybe you have heard it before, it’s called idol worship and he was pretty serious about it even from the beginning. Does commandment #1 ring a bell, as in, “You shall have no other god before me.”? Exodus 20:3
When we orient our lives around our children we put them in a place where only God should go. Is God okay with these little cuties taking his place on the throne of your heart? Get real. Keep yourself in check, even sincere Christ followers often fall prey to this mentality. It may be the most socially acceptable and even applauded sin in modern society.
Here is what God’s word has to say about a depraved group that he was done with, “Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity…because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.” Romans 1:24-25
When we place our children higher than we ought (pedestal, stage or soapbox) or serve them as if their desires are our commands, we have bought the lie and dishonored God. We begin to move our life’s spotlight off of our Savior and onto a small creature who has no power (except for the imagined power we attribute to him or her). The exchange in the verse above has taken place. It is absurd and disturbing, like saying, “No, thank you Potter, I don’t need you, I will take this little lump of clay and worship it instead.”
What a disservice we do to our children in this. In our vain attempts to love them by praise and bending to their whims we distort their thoughts of God and cause them to become confused in their identity. We train them up to be glory-thieves, claiming the attention due the Almighty. No wonder we often raise selfish, prideful adults who think they have the power to determine who God is for themselves.
We need to love our children enough to not praise them. My goodness cheer for them in sports and drama, encourage them in working hard, tell them Good job! when they excel. BUT give the praise to the God that grants them these gifts and created them to thrive as they do. Make your children know that it is God working through them to display his greatness and that there is nothing better than being a conduit of God’s power. Teach them to look heavenward and not inward for strength and wisdom.
We as parents serve the purpose of being a human arrow for our children, always pointing up to our Creator and praising him. Seeing in each other the attributes the Potter has especially designed for each of us, but remembering to rejoice in the greatness of the Potter and not the clay. In a home that does this there is happiness and many reasons to celebrate.
Ladies, the next time you look at your child, see the evidence of an awesome and praise-worthy Creator. Know that the life of your son or daughter was created for the glory of God alone and there is no better purpose.
I admit it, I talk to myself…a lot. It can drive the people around me nuts. They aren’t sure if they are supposed to respond or ignore me. I often give a running commentary on whatever it is I’m doing. I also discuss out loud what I plan to do next. I talk to myself about how my hair looks or about what I should wear. I talk about what I should make for supper (often mixed with grumbling).
Now that I homeschool, I have heard it said that talking to myself is okay because it means I’m having a parent-teacher conference. I like that one. I’ve also heard it said that people who talk to themselves are usually very smart people. I really like that one. I’m just going to assume that one is true.
I don’t think I’m alone in this. I’m guessing that you talk to yourself at least sometimes too; many people do (at least the really smart ones). We simply think out loud to process our thoughts.
Today I want to challenge you (and me) to try something new. Instead of talking to yourself, preach to yourself. You heard me right, preach to yourself. Tell yourself what to do, out loud. Speak truth into your life. I don’t think this is a new idea, and it is not very complex. Yet, how many of us have done it before? Not many.
The author of Psalm 43:5 talked directly to his soul. “Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God.”
He asks some good questions…“Soul, why are you sad and feeling so rotten?” And then tells his soul exactly what to do… “Hope in God! Times of praising are coming, God has saved you!”
We need to do the same. See the truth and promises that are in God’s word and then tell ourselves to trust them and to obey the teachings. This is more than just a hearty pep talk. It is a proclamation of God’s supreme words over your life and over your flesh.
When ANXIETY rears its ugly head, preach Philippians 4:6-7 “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
Experiencing FEAR: Isaiah 41:10 “Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” And 2 Timothy 1:7 “For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.”
COMPLACENCY, Revelation 3:15-16: “I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth.” and Proverbs 1:32 “For the simple are killed by their turning away, and the complacency of fools destroys them.”
INSECURE, preach Psalm 91. UNLOVED, preach Romans 8. ANGRY, preach James 1:20 and Proverbs 15:1. Feeling BITTER, preach Ephesians 4:31-31. Having trouble FORGIVING, preach Colossians 3:13. Lacking ZEAL for the Lord, Preach Psalm 150. SUFFERING, preach 1 Peter 4:12-19.
What our lives would look like if we stopped just talking to ourselves and started preaching God’s living words to ourselves!
So, Ladies, the challenge is on. Demand it from yourself. Don’t play the victim of circumstances or allow your emotions to toy with this new creation that God created you to be. Get in God’s word, arm yourself with truth and preach it!
I was at a summer party at friend’s home several years ago and a group of us were sitting out on their screened in deck. One of the ladies tripped on the threshold as she walked through the doorway to join us. She looked at the host and told him that he really needed to get that fixed. His response? With a big smile on his face he said loudly, “I LOVE my wife!!” There were looks of confusion so he continued, “She has walked through that same doorway hundreds of times and has never once complained. She is so low maintenance, I love her!”
The comment has obviously stuck with me and has caused me to stop and think several times in my life… am I low maintenance? Uhh…sometimes? I have to say, I am waaaay lower maintenance than I started out 14 years ago and that has to count for something, right?
Are you low maintenance? Now, I’m not talking about how long it takes to do your hair and make-up or if you have high fashion standards. That is not my concern today. Are you easy to live with? Is life with you a pleasure or a pain?
These questions may help: Do you fly off the handle if a negative comment is made? Do you wait for compliments and then feel hurt if they do not come? Are you constantly feeling as if your expectations are not met? Do you find yourself unhappy more often than happy? Are home improvements too often your topic of conversation? Does your husband accuse you of nagging? Do you have a “to do list” for your husband that is never done?
Now don’t think that you should never make a list for your husband, talk about home improvements or ask him to pick up his laundry (my goodness, what would we talk about?). But if you are always needy or have a constant stream of demands coming from your mouth, there is an issue (and a weary husband). If your husband thinks you are never satisfied with him, he will feel like a failure. How will he tend to react when your mouth begins to open? Cringe, avoidance and defensiveness.
The Bible does not ignore this topic. Solomon speaks to it in Proverbs, and Solomon should know. He had hundreds of wives (this was terrible disobedience on his part and led in part to the deterioration of Israel through idol worship and the splitting of the kingdom. Not cool, Solomon). However check out what he gleaned from his many years of experience:
“…a wife’s quarreling is a continual dripping of rain.” – Proverbs 19:13
“A continual dripping on a rainy day and a quarrelsome wife are alike.” – Proverbs 27:15
Ouch. If those hurt check out this one:
“It is better to live in a corner of the housetop than in a house shared with a quarrelsome wife.” – Proverbs 21:9
A never-satisfied wife who is eager to argue makes life miserable. It would be better for a man to live on the roof and be exposed to the elements rather than be exposed to his wife’s tongue in a comfortable home. I do not want to be the woman described in those verses!
Aside from how it makes our husbands feel, this type of behavior dishonors God and is unbecoming of his daughters. We cannot serve our husbands and encourage them to be godly men by beating them with our tongues.
So, if you were like me when I first got married and keeping your mouth shut at the littlest infraction does not come easy, you need to do some intentional work towards becoming low maintenance (i.e. a gracious and kind wife that is a joy to live with).
Pray and ask God to work in your heart. Realize if you are being too demanding and ask God to change your attitude and perceptions. Talk to your husband and ask for forgiveness if you need to. Tell him you will be trying your best to not pelt him with demands and requests. Kindly make your desires known (men are still not mind readers) but refuse to nag or be pushy.
The key word to remember here is GRACE! Be like Jesus and give it freely. “And from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.” John 1:16. Give your husband loads of it and kindly ask for it in return when you know you have messed up. Jesus is your source, so be in the Word daily.
For all you newbies out there, take comfort - it does get easier! As time passes, you begin to realize what is worth bringing up and what just really doesn’t matter in the eternal scheme of things. Always take the long view of life, gaze into eternity. Dirty clothes on the floor will not matter one iota when we meet Jesus - I certainly don’t plan to bring it up to him that day.
Ladies, let’s refuse to be drips any longer and instead be a pipeline of God’s awesome grace. Cause your husband to praise God for you!
…but God is good and I will praise him anyway. I am a Christian and I live in this sinful world right along with the rest of you. I have good days and I have rotten “please don’t make me get out of bed” days. Life can feel full of blessings one day and curses the next.
Yet, once you are a heart-deep, follower of Christ these highs and lows do not determine or deter your purpose for breathing. Every day and every night is meant for praise. Praise for the gracious God who plans our steps and has written out our days – the easy breezy, the messy and the miserable (Ps. 139:16).
Things will not always go well for us, there is no such thing as karma and you don’t deserve easy living no matter how hard you work. When in doubt, take some time to talk to my good friends Noah, Moses, Aaron, Abraham, Sarah, Leah, Job, Ruth, Naomi, Daniel, Rahab, Joseph, Joshua, Esther, Jeremiah, Isaiah, Jonah, Ezekiel, Hosea, Mary, Peter, Paul, John, and Stephen. And then sit down and have a chat with my best friend, Jesus, and ask him all about his life on this planet.
True Christians are not allowed to be fair-weather followers and neither are they to be storm-soaked beggars. We praise, because that’s what were created to do. “…all things were created by him and for him.” Col. 1:6. We praise God day in, day out, in sunshine and hail, at the beach and knee deep in the swamp.
Why? I think the better question is why not?
Is God always good? Yes (Ps. 136:9). Does he promise to have you, hold you and never let you go? Yes (Heb. 13:5). Does he promise that everything he does is for your good and that you will receive a glorious eternity? Yes and yes (Rom. 8:28, Jn. 3:16). Umm…why are we complaining again? Praise seems the only logical expression when you serve a God this wonderful.
Peter said it well, “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.” 1 Peter 2:9. If you have been called out of darkness into his light, you are to declare his excellencies. That is the purpose that he called you for.
So, ladies, while we are living in this world together, let’s praise God. On the days of cute selfies, happy children, helpful husbands and clean houses. AND on the days of ugly tears, unruly homes, rude spouses, and fat clothes. Praise God. Whether it is a victory shout or a whisper of hope in the darkness - praise God!
“Through him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name.” Hebrews 13:15