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!
Slam me down and spin me around. Keep me centered. We have been singing a song in church lately that has the line, “Center my life on your name.” Being the pottery nut that I am, the same image pops into my mind every time.
When you are sitting at a potter’s wheel the first thing you have to do is take your lump of clay and center it on the wheel. You do that by shaping it into a ball and then slamming it down on the very center of the wheel. If you miss you must pick it back up, shape it and slam it back down. You have to do this until you get it right. No shortcuts.
Only after you have your portion of clay in the middle of your wheel can you then begin the spinning and go on with the process of molding it and creating something beautiful.
What happens if you don’t get the clay centered and try to move forward with an off-centered lump? Nothing good and nothing beautiful. You will fight it, trying to get the clay centered and to a place where it will be workable. It will eventually be so off-kilter that it will turn into an ugly mess and possibly fly off the wheel all together (I know this from experience).
Our lives in the same way need to be centered on Christ. It is a perfectly simple visual. If we stay centered (if we are in God’s Word, fellowshipping with other believers, praying, praising), we are shapeable, malleable, and able to be formed into a vessel of good purpose. We will be drawn vertically upward stretching ourselves toward Godly beauty under the perfect hands of the Potter.
I did not invent this sweet analogy, God did. “But now, O Lord, you are our Father; we are the clay, and you are our potter; we are all the work of your hand.” Isaiah 64:8.
With God as our potter what can we do as the clay? Be still and know that he is God. We are to remain on the wheel, centered and in his capable hands. Always moving and active yet only in the way that he guides us. Not trying to move in our own direction so that the gracious Potter must pick us up and slam us back down again (for our own good). Not trying to harden ourselves and be resistant under his loving hand. Don’t be ignorant or stubborn clay.
“You turn things upside down! Shall the potter be regarded as the clay, that the thing made should say of its maker, ‘He did not make me’; or the thing formed say of him who formed it, ‘He has no understanding’?” Isaiah 29:16
Sound ridiculous to think of clay talking back to the potter? Yep, sure does! But we do it all the time. We question God’s plan for us, we doubt his intentions, we complain about our form and our seemingly unexciting purpose. We tell him, “Hands off! I can do it myself.” We need to stop sassing back and instead trust him and let him have his way. He is perfect remember, we are not.
Be malleable so he can do his work, growing you up, shaping you to hold more and more of him. “But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us.” 2 Corinthians 4:7
When centrifugal force starts to pull against us, when we feel the pain and frustration that comes when we flail and come undone in life. Our prayer should be for God to please pick us up and slam us back into the place where we can once again flourish under his care. Difficult? Yes. Painful? Possibly. But oh so worth it. So much better than finding yourself thrown off and left to dry out, all because you did not trust the Potter.
Ladies, let this be your prayer today: “God, do whatever is necessary to center my life upon you that I may be made into something beautiful and can be filled with the treasures of your goodness all for your glory.”
I love garbage day. I also like recycle day. Those days are Thursdays and Fridays for me each week. I really like Thursdays and Fridays. After the fire at our business we got excited on Tuesdays, the day they emptied out our big dumpster so we could refill it again for the following Tuesday.
One of my favorite activities (nearly a hobby) is taking donations to thrift stores. I love dropping off boxes full of clothing, toys, books and décor that I just don’t need. I really feel a weight off of my shoulders. I feel lighter and less tied to this world.
Some of you (though not all) can relate completely. You get me.
This superficial and short-lived enjoyment we experience of decluttering our homes needs to be applied in a much more profound way to our spiritual life. We need to clean house and take out the trash. Let’s look at this in two ways today: physical and spiritual (or tangible and intangible).
First, the physical (tangible). Get the junk out of your home that does not honor God. Clothes, movies, music, games, books, pictures, photographs, letters, artwork, magazines, certain medications, certain foods and drinks, posters, décor, idols. Anything that you would want to hide, turn off, or change out of if Jesus either walked into your house, hitched a ride in your car or stopped for a visit at work. Trash it all or even burn it. Do not donate your sin or shame to someone else.
Take a tour of your home with a trash bag in hand and go to work. You may be sadly surprised at how quickly you fill it and grab another. Some things may be hard to part with, but do it anyway. We don’t want to find ourselves trading God’s blessings for worthless dust. “Those who pay regard to vain idols forsake their hope of steadfast love.” Jonah 2:8.
Secondly, the spiritual (intangible). The same applies; get the junk out of your mind and heart. If the Spirit of Christ has mercifully come to dwell within you, don’t make him room with fear, lust, anger and bitterness. “Do you not know that you are God's temple and that God's Spirit dwells in you?” 1 Cor. 3:16. Jesus died so that you could be emptied of trash like this and could be filled with his gifts of faith and grace; overflowing with fruits like love, peace and kindness.
Just like with your home, take a spiritual inventory of your heart. What is there that needs to be brought out and burned? Unforgiveness? Hatred of others or yourself? Envy? Anxiety? Kill it all with the power of the Sword. “And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.” Galatians 5:24. Don’t stop there, do not stay empty and vulnerable (see Matt. 12:43-45). Fill the space with ammunition for when new rubbage tries to take up residence. Filling up on God’s Word so that when new hurts want to hang out and fester, you can turn them away for lack of space. “But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.” Galatians 5:16
I pray that you will hold your own trash day very soon and will ask for God’s help and his strength to accomplish it. Rid yourself of what is toxic and causing gross stagnation in you. It is time to be renewed and refreshed by the cleansing waters flowing freely from the throne of God.
“Since we have these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body and spirit, bringing holiness to completion in the fear of God” 2 Cor. 7:1
Ladies, do your spring cleaning for real this year. Make a difference in your heart and home. It’s time to take out the trash.
Ladies, how does that sound to you? Receiving a new mind? You may find yourself saying, “Sign me up, this old one just isn’t cutting it anymore! It wanders, is easily confused and it can’t remember a thing!” Trust me, I understand where you are coming from.
Our minds can feel like a war-torn battlefield. Our thoughts compete against one another trying to direct our thinking or demand that they be displayed through emotions. At times we feel defeated by how our brains seem to work (or don’t work). When our thoughts turn to sad memories or past hurts it can affect our day, our week or our lifetime.
Does it have to be this way? Does God care about our minds and how they work? The resounding answer is “Yes!”
“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind,” Romans 12:2. This often quoted verse is truly awesome, but did you catch the “renewal” part? We often think this verse refers to us changing as our mind slowly becomes new little by little. Our brains certainly do affect our actions and whether we behave like the World or like Christ. But are they really becoming new little by little, being partially old and partially new?
In Ezekiel 36:26 God states, “And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.” This is the eternity-altering, divine heart transplant we rejoice in as Christians. But when God claims you, do you think he simply gives you a new heart and leaves the old brain? Not a chance!
The heart of a person is the core of their being. God redeems their heart which then radiates to every single piece of them. Christ was a fully sufficient sacrifice to redeem all of us, not a partial sacrifice that only afforded a single organ. The Bible speaks to this in 2 Corinthians 5:17, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” All the old is gone and what has come is all new.
So the “renewal of your mind” in Romans 12:2 has been accomplished. We are able to be transformed because our mind is made new through Christ. Just as your heart is no longer a slave to sin, neither is your mind, your intellect, your brain, or your thoughts.
This is exciting news to me. I too often get caught up in the mindset that my brain is what it is and that I must put up with the thoughts that I have and the emotions they produce. This is not true! That is why Paul says in 2 Corinthians 10:5, “We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ”. Command your thoughts to obey Christ through the power of Christ that resides with in you, specifically “the knowledge of God”.
Not allowing yourself to be a slave to your thoughts is something you need to practice. And yes, you will get better at it as you mature and gain increased knowledge of God (so pursue that). Your brain is new, bought and paid for, but like the rest of us, is still on this side of Heaven. We will not get to experience our fully perfect brain until the day we meet Jesus (I’m so happy I will be in my right mind at that moment!). We still must work at becoming smart, Christ-focused women who refuse to allow our minds to sucker us into our old thought habits.
When your mind begins to feel like a battlefield, realize that Christ won long ago and do not allow thoughts of defeat. Fill your mind with the weapon of His Word and grab ahold of the victory already given you by Jesus. Think as the new creation He has made you to be, new brain and all.
If you read Part One from last week, you know that God has called us, as mothers, to guard the hearts of our children. “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” (NIV) God has specifically assigned to us the young hearts under our care. It was written out before we were ever born (see Ps. 139).
I told you to think of yourself as a gatekeeper to the heart of your child. Is this an easy calling? Not in the slightest.
Everything and everyone is vying for the affections of our children. It is a real-life raging war and you are in the middle of it. Remember - strategically placed there by God himself for this reason. That is why we need to take it so seriously. We will be held accountable for how well we perform this duty we have been called to, so we need to go at it with our whole hearts and minds engaged.
Guarding hearts affects every area of your child’s life. Our senses are bombarded constantly with outside influences; we feel this as adults, how much more is this true for our children? We cannot stay ignorant of the spiritual battle taking place around us. “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” (Ephesians 6:12)
Your children live in this time of present darkness, right in the midst of a world where Satan reigns and evil runs rampant. If you don’t protect them (as God has commanded) who will?
Be vigilant about who your children are with (adults and other children) especially when you are not with them. Be fully aware of what you allow their eyes to see and ears to hear; remembering that there is no such thing as “neutral” in this world. God is clear about this “Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters.” Matthew 12:30. If it is from the world it is not good for your children. No neutrality!
This may (should) cause you to rethink many things such as: television (what do you watch or is it beneficial in any way, does it glorify God?), music (God wired us to love music for good reason, but it is also highly influential and has powerful abilities to manipulate our affections) , media of any kind, video games, where they attend school (the world reigns in schools and you are not there to be a gatekeeper, be sure you fully trust those who fill their hearts up for 7-8 hours every day), sleepovers, how you celebrate holidays (be mindful of what are you celebrating), what friends they hang around with, the list goes on. There is so much competition.
Start early and don’t give up when they turn 5 and go to school OR 13 and don’t want to hang around you anymore OR 16 when they begin to have a social life outside the home. These are some of the most important times to remain engaged. Stay vigilant, lovingly vigilant.
Am I telling you to “shelter” your children? Well, duh, yes! Why do people often think sheltering our children is a bad thing? It is our job; anything that causes you not to shelter your child is from the Enemy. Quit allowing him to bend your ear.
Protection and smothering are two different things, exposing children to evil is not the answer for building them up to withstand it. The goal is not increased tolerance. The goal is a heart kept as undefiled by the world as possible until the child is responsible for guarding their own heart.
The only way to train a heart to stand up to evil is to train them with the only weapon capable of defeating it, the Word of God. Teach them how to wield the Sword.
Do not think we are stealing control over our children away from God. Quite the opposite. When you become engaged in this battle like you should, you quickly realize that you have no control. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.” (Prov. 3:5) You have to rely completely on the one who created those young hearts. God alone can fully guard their hearts. That is the foremost goal we must always keep in mind, we want our children to learn to give their heart over to God. He alone protects hearts because he, as their Creator, is the rightful owner and Lord over them.
Mother, be that active gatekeeper to the hearts of your young children. Train them with the Sword of the Word of God. Teach them how to protect their own hearts by following God’s ways designed for their protection. Show them how to keep their heart soft and ready for God’s directions and how to not harden it against him. Lean on God daily for his guidance in this, he is faithful in giving wisdom to those who ask for it, “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.” (James 1:5)
Mothers, take a stand and take hold of your calling. Lovingly and vigilantly guard the hearts of your children!
When I was young my family delivered newspapers for our little one street town of Homestead, Iowa. Each morning bright and early (or dark and early) we would get up, pack the papers into big heavy bags and head out on our bikes to do our route. I have to admit my older brother and sister did this much more than I did, but I did my share and still have many memories of it. It was one of those “character building” experiences that are required when growing up.
One summer morning my Dad was helping me get the last few papers delivered; we were both on our bikes. There had been a hard rain the night before and you could still smell it in the air. Drowned worms were all over the road and I would swerve to miss them.
I remember riding by the town feed store and seeing up ahead a huge toad in the middle of the road. Once I spotted him I couldn’t take my eyes off of that ugly thing; I felt like he was staring at me and I was staring at him. Wasn’t he going to move? My bike felt unstoppable as it traveled my exact line of sight, exactly where I didn’t want it to go…“SPLAT!” I rode right over the middle of that bloated toad. I can still hear the sound of it exploding into a squishy and disgusting mess all over the street and my bike too.
I then did what every young girl would have done after that, jumped off my bike and ran to my Dad screaming and sobbing. Dad did what every caring father would have done after that, held me in his arms and laughed his head off. Telling me between huge chuckles that the toad had been dead already and that I had the entire road to travel on, why didn’t I just go around it?
My Dad still laughs at this story to this day, over 20 years later. You just ask him and you’ll see.
As gross as it may be, it provides a great illustration for how we often handle the problems we face in life.
That bloated toad = anything bad, difficult or ugly in your life. Once we have our sights set on it, we have trouble seeing or thinking about anything else. Often we think we can handle it fine on our own, only calling on God if we need to (that would be considered a drastic measure reserved only for emergencies). Yet, this never seems to work out right. We seem to keep running smack dab back into that toad every time, making a horrible mess of things.
Here is the problem: when we focus on the problem we begin to orbit around it and allow it to have a gravitational pull on us. We use the desire to avoid the sin as the reason to alter our behaviors. We try to do this using our own strength.
Is your struggle with lust? You then try to keep all of those temptations at arm’s length as you circle around it. Eventually you fail and are in a mess again. Marriage issues? Focus on the problems, try harder and it will work out. Ha! Right. Using these strategies makes as much sense as being on a diet and staring at chocolate cake all day.
The fix: we MUST refocus our sights - take our eyes off the problem and place them squarely on the solution; off the toad and onto Jesus Christ.
2 Corinthians 4:18 says it like this, “So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” (NIV) We need to keep our eyes set on Jesus, the only possible solution to heart problems (which all of these are). He is the only one who can fix our heart issues, we certainly can’t, no matter how hard we work at it or how many therapists we see.
God allows these toads in your life for good reason; he wants your attention for sanctification. Some of us are slow learners and deal with many toads in life. All the while Jesus is saying, “Hello? Look at me! You need me to get you through this. Quit giving attention to your sin and turn around and let me save you from it.”
I ran into that toad because I was looking right at it. If I had looked past it to where I wanted to go, I would have missed it altogether. Where do you want to go? If you are a “follower of Jesus” then you need to keep your eyes on the one you say you are following!
Let me tell you, all issues, anxieties and obstacles look mighty puny next to a huge God.
No wonder Jesus remarks many times in scripture about how little faith we have!
We can’t be aware of the might and power of our God when we have our eyes set on earthly toads. Time to start looking up. Call on God in prayer and get into his Word.
Our heart often travels where our eyes lead it. Your sight matters. “The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light,” Matthew 6:22. I enCOURAGE you to get your sight checked today.
Ladies, have you ever noticed how taking a walk can be an awesome attitude changer? Have you ever been in a bad mood, taken a walk and come home in a much improved state? I sure have. Take along a loved one or a friend and the benefits seem to magically multiply. Along with all the obvious health benefits, this seemingly simple activity can help you focus your thoughts, decrease anxiety, and improve your mood. Why would this be?
When you leave your home and step outside for a walk you are in a great position to enjoy a vast array of God’s blessings: his beautiful creation in the world around you, your body that he made with all of its amazing abilities, and time to commune with him as you leave your busyness behind at home. Time spent enjoying and treasuring God is always an attitude changer. God even sends feel-good chemicals to our brain (endorphins) to let us know this walking thing is a good idea.
Walking is one of my very favorite ways to spend time with a friend. In the past couple years I have had many great walks with close friends as we discuss what is going on in our lives and how God has been working in our hearts. We tell each other of areas where we are struggling and need prayer and we encourage one another to stay in God’s word and in-line with his will for our lives. We even rebuke each other if needed, in a loving way.
I have also gotten to know a few new friends this way. They may not accept an offer to church or a Bible study, but a simple walk around the block or track a few times is hard to turn down. It is very easy to carry on a conversation with someone as you stroll side by side; it is a comfortable environment to share your heart in.
Jesus put many miles on his sandals while on earth. He was walking by the sea of Galilee when he called his first disciples (Matt. 4:18), he walked up and down mountains to teach and pray (Matt. 5:1, John 6:4), he walked from town to town to preach and heal the sick (Matt. 9:35, Mark 10:32), and he took a long walk with a couple of men headed to Emmaus after he was raised from the dead (Luke 24). Jesus knew how to “walk well” and, as with everything, he is our excellent example to follow.
We are told in Deuteronomy 6:6-7, “And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.”
Walking while sharing Christ and discussing his word is an awesome way to proliferate the gospel.
So, Ladies, my enCOURAGEment to you today is simply this… take a hike. Head out your door to enjoy the blessings of God and spend time with him in prayer. Better yet, invite someone to go along with you: a good friend, a neighbor you are too shy to ask to church events, or someone God has laid on your heart to get to know better. Lace’em up, Ladies, and let’s go... and if you ever need a walking buddy, you just give me a call!
“Where there are no oxen, the manger is clean.” Only a woman could read this often overlooked verse and find great joy in it. It is found in awesome chapter 14 of Proverbs and God brought it to my attention this week just when I needed it.
Who wants a clean manger? Well, honestly I do. Or I think I do. I sure spend a lot of time and energy trying to get one. I clean my house multiple times a week, often multiple times a day just trying to keep it “presentable” whatever that really means. I can easily get caught up in the futile frustrations of it all…
BUT...(you could feel that coming, right?)…is it really futile? If I didn’t have oxen, my manger would always be clean. If God hadn’t blessed (yes, I said blessed) me with a husband and children, I would be able to sit back and enjoy a clean home all day, every day. But let’s be real, I wouldn’t enjoy it nearly as much as I sometimes imagine I would. I would miss my cattle very quickly and desire a full and messy manger again with all of my heart.
This verse provided me with a quick shot of proper perspective from my Loving Father. Ladies don’t fret about a messy home. Yes, we need to care for it and keep it comfortable, but we know it will be just a matter of time (usually about 10 minutes in my house) before it is messy again.
If the manger in Bethlehem all those years ago would have been clean and empty, Jesus wouldn’t have had a safe place to lay his head while Mary recovered and could hold him in her arms (not to mention we would be without one of the most awesome Christmas songs EVER). It was all in God’s perfect plan.
God uses our messy homes for his purposes too. We may feel that it is wasted time and of no “real eternal value”, but get real! Remember, God uses EVERYTHING in our lives to shape our hearts as he desires them to be. Through caring for messy oxen, we learn patience, how to serve with a right heart, how to honor God in all we do, how to love others, perseverance, and tenacity. Also how to train our children, delegate, and manage a home. Recall that, “One who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much” Luke 16:10.
We may call it housework, but God calls it all heartwork.
If you are single and feel as if your manger is just too clean… time to mess it up. Seriously. Invite others in to minister to and serve. Find ways to bless the hearts of others in the name of Jesus as God transforms your own.
The second half of this verse goes like this, “but abundant crops come by the strength of the ox.” Where there are oxen, the harvest is plentiful, in our hearts and in theirs. You may at times feel like your family members really are farm animals, but these “animals” are assigned to you to accomplish in your heart exactly what your All-Knowing Father knows you need most. Trust God, the fruit will come and it is promised to be ABUNDANT if you follow him.
Welcome to the glorious process of sanctification, Ladies! I enCOURAGE you to thank God for your messy mangers and the oxen he has entrusted to your care for your good and his glory today.
We had just finished breakfast and decided to take a hike in the woods on the “West Lake Trail” behind our campsite. Just me and my two youngest boys. As we entered the forest the world around us changed. It was beautiful. The morning sun was shining through the high leafy branches, sending rays of light beaming onto our path and illuminating the greenery around us. Birds were chirping out their morning songs and squirrels scurried around the hilly terrain.
As I watched my sons interact together on that broad trail in front of me, laughing and sharing imaginary stories, my decision was once again confirmed in my heart. I want more of this. I want to share God’s world with them and stand beside them each day in amazement of God’s creation and orderly plan demonstrated over and over in the details of life. I want to teach them how that light pressing through the trees above hits the plants below, initiating photosynthesis so that these plants can grow and produce oxygen. Why? Because that is how God designed it to be on creation day number three.
I want to begin with the Creator, Author, and Perfector of life and not allow him to be a post script at the end of their busy days. I want to share truth with them and allow their natural curiosity to bloom and stir in them a love of investigation. I want them to settle for nothing less than absolute truth in life. I want to teach my children to center their lives around God. So I am.
It seems like such an obvious decision. God has sovereignly assigned them to me to nurture, discipline and train. He specifically chose me for this position and yet I have sent them to the World for their formal education, assuming we could “add God in” as needed. I haven’t yet found scripture to support God being a side note to real life or an extracurricular activity that is optional. I only see him commanding to be the main focus of every aspect of our lives (see 1 Cor. 10:31 and Col. 3:17).
Despite what I have tried to tell myself over the years, I have come to understand that education is never neutral. Jesus himself said in Matthew 12:30, “Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters.” There is no hint of neutrality in those words. Public schools have kicked God out and taken their stand with the World. Therefore it follows that the educational system in our country today (not necessarily individuals) is against God and scatters.
What do we truly want for our children? My husband and I made ourselves sit down and seriously answer this question. With an eternal perspective firmly in place, we discussed and wrote down what we desired to see in the lives of our boys. There were no sappy answers of just “wanting them to be happy.” God was the focus of every goal we had and this had to change how we moved forward in raising them.
Psalm 127:3 and 4 tell us, “Behold children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward. Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are the children of one’s youth.” These arrow-children of ours have great purpose. There is a spiritual battle waging whether we see it or not; whether we acknowledge it or not. I want my arrows to be as sharp and as dangerous as they possibly can be. I want them to pierce the Enemy in such a mighty way that he flees in fear, not of them but of what their Maker can do through them. Having been honed for usefulness by years of sharpening and training. The warriors that hold them are their father and I, given a gift laden with responsibility.
So I am leaving a position I have loved for ten years to yield to the calling of becoming a metal worker. I have heard myself telling others that this seems crazy, but as I write this today the opposite seems to be so true. It would be crazy to ignore the call and leave these arrows I claim precious to me, to be dulled by worldly ways and teachings. Trying to do quick, hit and miss sharpening in their ever decreasing spare time. If Christ is what life is all about, then Christ is what I will teach. All else pales in comparison to him and yet is only illuminated by his work.
There was a bench overlooking the river at the midway point in our trail that day. I asked my sons to sit next to me and we prayed together for God to guide us in this new venture knowing full well, as excited as we are, it will not be an easy path to take. We then walked on, and as I listened to these two brothers sing made up songs trying to make each other laugh, I again stood in amazement of a Creator who would package up such potentially dangerous weapons in such a joyful (although often ornery) way. Not long from now the bowstring will be pulled tight and these “arrows in the hands of a warrior” will be launched forward into a raging battle. I want them ready in every way to serve their King valiantly.