“We will not hide them from their children, but tell to the coming generation the glorious deeds of the Lord, and his might, and the wonders that he has done.” – Psalm 78:4
When I read the Bible there is a thread woven through that strikes me whenever I come across it. It is God’s love for children and his command that we adults tell them about him. You can’t escape it in the Old Testament. “And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children…” - Deuteronomy 6:6. See also Deuteronomy 4:9 and 11:19.
Joel 1:3 gives warning to, “Tell your children of it, and let your children tell their children, and their children to another generation.” The book of Joshua talks of several heaps of stones built as monuments of remembrance for the coming generations (see Joshua 4:21-22). The entire Psalm 78 is dedicated to telling the coming generations of what the Lord has done for his people.
In the New Testament we see Jesus gathering children to himself to be blessed. He knows there is no better place for them to be than in his presence. He openly receives them and sternly tells his disciples not to keep them away.
“Then children were brought to him that he might lay his hands on them and pray. The disciples rebuked the people, but Jesus said, ‘Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.’ ” – Matthew 19:13-15
Oh, if people would heed these words today! Do not hinder the children from coming to Jesus! Do not stop them from being in his presence or from hearing his Word! Direct them there, point the way, encourage them to know who he is and what he has done. Do not close the door on the relationship by not attending church or not reading the Bible. Stop acting like the name of Jesus is taboo unless used as a curse word. If this describes you, hear the rebuke of Christ loudly in your ear today – “let the little children come to me and do not hinder them”!
Tell the children about God and his glorious deeds and wondrous works. Tell them of his powerful wrath, his holiness, his perfection. Tell them of his standards and righteous judgement. Tell them of his immense love for his people, his glorious grace and his victory over sin and death. Tell them the story of Jesus that is only found in the Bible and is the only way to life forever.
You cannot rely on someone else to do this: not school (ha!), not church, not grandparents, not the internet, not a friend. You must do it. Do not stand aloof and think they will find their own way – someday – somehow – if they want to. If you wait until they are “old enough” to make up their own mind it will be too late. By then they will have learned from you that God is unimportant and not worth talking about.
Tell the children about God. Start with what is in the Bible and then (if you are a Believer) tell them of what he has done in your life. Tell of the times he provided for you, instructed you, and answered prayers. Tell of the time he claimed you as his own. There is so much to share, you have to start as soon as they are born and never stop.
Don’t go a day without talking to your child about God. Why? The answer is given in Psalm 78:7 – “so that they should set their hope in God.” God is their only hope, so you sure better let them know it. The only legacy worth leaving is the one that has eternal promise and points to Christ.
“Come, O children, listen to me; I will teach you the fear of the Lord.” – Psalm 34:11
For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. – 1 Corinthians 2:2
Who can understand the mind of a woman? No one aside from God. I think we can all agree on that one, we even confuse ourselves much of the time. The female mind is like a jungle: full of fantastic beauty, yet containing pathways of perilous danger. Today I want to encourage you to block off one particular pathway and to train your thoughts to walk in gospel light.
One of the most dangerous roads we tend to wander down in our minds is the pathway of comparisons. We assume certain things are true about others when they are not. Before we even enter a room of people we have a dozen thoughts zooming into our consciousness. Thoughts of inadequacies and self-doubt, feelings of not measuring up in appearance, intelligence or experience. We assume we are lacking in some serious ways that others are not.
Even in our own homes we are not shielded from the taunts of deception. We assume other women are better mothers, housekeepers and cooks (I mean, just look at their Facebook page). We assume they are loaded with friends and social events when we are often lonely and longing for just one good girlfriend to hang out with. We assume they have it all together while we are struggling to stay sane.
Stop the assumptions, ladies! I’m here to tell you today that you are just not as special as you think you are! One thing I have come to learn about women is that we are most certainly more alike than we are different. We tread very similar pathways and experience what is common to womanhood. Just like Paul said in 1 Corinthians 10:13, “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man.” These deceptive assumptions that we allow (yes, allow) to cross our minds are from our enemy and his aim is our distraction (wow, are we easily distracted). He has been using the same simple play book for decades on us. Why not change up his strategy? Because it works! We fall prey over and over again.
No more. Board up that perilous pathway of thought and walk away from it. Send your thoughts where your all-knowing Father tells you to. He makes it clear in Philippians 4:8, “Finally, brothers [and sisters], whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” Thoughts consumed by what is praise-worthy (the epitome of all of these attributes is Jesus) do not have time to wander off into darkness. They are trained away from darkness and toward light.
I think Paul said it best when he said, “For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.” 1 Corinthians 2:2. When he went to the people of Corinth, he was not consumed with thoughts of his potential inadequacies (what he looked like, what the people would think of him, how he would compare). In some ways he would have been inferior to them and other ways superior, but here is the point…it didn’t matter. Paul didn’t care about any of that. He decided to know only Jesus and what he did on the cross. That was his only concern - to display the gospel. His mind was trained away from petty, earthly concerns and trained onto gospel purposes.
That should be our concern too. Not how we measure up (which is WAY off target to reality anyway) but how we can display the gospel to others. We need to think on Jesus and display him in our actions. Ladies, the next time you feel the coming bombardment of deceptive thoughts (whether in private or public) remember that you no longer take that path, it is off limits. Do not entertain dangerous assumptions leading to pointless comparisons (truly idolatry of others). Refuse to be distracted from your purpose for breathing!
Train your mind to walk in the light of the Word and turn your thoughts onto your true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, excellent and praise-worthy Savior. Decide to know nothing except Jesus Christ and him crucified.
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!
I write this slightly in jest because I am currently sitting at my computer in my home office in Cascade, Iowa on Friday afternoon. However by the time you read this on Thursday (or after) I will be in Guatemala City, Guatemala serving alongside brothers and sisters in Christ. I have my packing nearly done and am ready to fly out tomorrow morning. The more I think about it the more excited I get.
Guatemala, which is in Central America, was at one time the heart of the ancient Mayan civilization. It is often called “the land of eternal spring”. This translates into us most likely having a very wet experience while there according to the weather report. Guatemala is known for its mountains, active volcanos, and many earthquakes (an average of 3000 per year). It is a geographically rich and captivating place.
I look forward to learning more about the country and experiencing some of its beauty while there, but none of the above is why I go to Guatemala. I also don’t go to have fun, to play with poor children, to hand out toothbrushes or to see poverty first hand. Will I experience some of this while there? Most certainly, but if these activities were my focus and my reason for going I would be sorely misled in my walk with Christ and disappointed in whatever results I was hoping to achieve while there.
The only reason to go on a mission trip is out of obedience to a call God has placed on your heart and in order to proclaim his name through the testimony of the gospel. All we do must be centered on Christ (Colossians 1:16) and for his glory and not our own (1 Corinthians 10:31).
We want to be like those from the church at Macedonia. They were sending gifts to be given to those in need. Paul was commending them to the Corinthians. In 2 Corinthians 8:5 he says, “and this not as we expected, but they gave themselves first to the Lord and then by the will of God to us.” The order is very important here. We must first give ourselves to the Lord, being fully his and at his disposal for usefulness. Then in obedience to him, we give of ourselves to others.
If our focus was to just “do good” the best we could hope for would be to place a Band-Aid on broken hearts headed for destruction. We then would walk away back to our lives of comfort feeling smug about our “goodness”. Our “help” would be fleeting, forgotten and utterly pointless.
However, if we go to share the undiluted, unadulterated, and straight from the Word of God gospel of Truth to those same hurting hearts we can make an eternal difference in their lives. Let me rephrase that, God can use us as conduits of his powerful Word as he changes those hearts into hearts that beat for him for eternity. Then all glory goes to him alone. We return home humbled by what God has allowed us to be a part of, deepening our love for him.
Guatemala is a country with many confused people in it. Many claim to be Christian yet have no idea who Jesus is and what he did for them on the cross. Most have blended Mayan traditions with Catholic practices making for a very unique worship style that is not God-honoring. The Devil has had his way, twisting the word of God and making Guatemalans think they need to earn God’s favor instead of it being a free gift.
This angers me and saddens me. There is only one, true gospel. Jesus proclaimed it himself, “I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” John 14:6. Only through Christ can we be redeemed and it is “not a result of works, so that no one may boast” Ephesians 2:9. We go to Guatemala to boast in Christ alone, to point others to his perfect gift of grace. To speak the true gospel of Jesus as Paul did, tolerating no other teaching. “But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed.” Galatians 1:8
We are blessed to be able to share Christ in homes, schools, and garbage dumps while in Guatemala. The team and I appreciate your prayers so much. In doing this you share in what God is doing while we are there.
Ladies, wherever you are, I enCOURAGE you to give yourself fully to the Lord first and then allow him to use you to share the one true gospel with others.
I have unsaved family members. I assume you do as well. If you are like me, you have prayed for their salvation and have asked others to do the same. We think about them once in a while and pray for them as we shake our heads wondering why they just don’t get it.
Not long ago I was driving down the road, once again praying for my lost family, just nonchalantly mentioning their names to God and I felt myself being frustrated with him for not acting, not showing any movement in their lives at all. What is he waiting for? “Do a work in their heart and save them already!”
You may have learned this (I am often a slow learner), yelling at God to “Do something!” often has a way of backfiring on you. I remember the question coming back at me like a brick. “How serious are you? You barely bow your head as you ask me to move in the lives of the people you say you love. You spend more time and money on your own pleasures than on ministering to those you claim to love. You drink up the Living Waters greedily when those near you are dying of thirst. You say you love my Word, but have not yet put these Words of Life into the hands of those that are lost. YOU tell me to do something? How bad do you really want this?”
I cry even as I type these words. No, God did not speak these words to me, but he was certainly doing heart surgery on me at that moment. He was cutting me deep and it hurt. There is often pain in truth. What work have I done or sacrifices have I made to encourage my lost family toward Christ? Very little.
The apostle Paul was willing to give everything up to save those he loved, even his own salvation! He had “great sorrow and unceasing anguish” in his heart for them. “For I could wish that I myself were accursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers, my kinsman according to the flesh.” – Romans 9:3. I am so far from this mindset it is sad.
Often times the work that needs to be done before God opens the heart of someone to believe is the work that needs completed in us. Sometimes God tarries in others so that he can teach and refine us first.
I have started to get serious about interceding for my unsaved family who currently stand condemned to Hell (John 3:18). No more sugar coating it. No more avoiding the uncomfortable. They are on the burn list.
My plan involves times of planned prayer, fasting and engaging in more direct conversations. If you want specifics, just ask and I will be glad to share. My husband and I have also committed to getting Bibles into the hands of our family and to provide guidance on how to read it.
You can be sure this involves loads of boldness on our part; am I nervous? Oh my yes, but this is part of the work in my heart that needs done. It goes along with the questions, “How serious are you? How badly do you want it?” To be sure, our wanting does not make it happen, it is only by God’s irresistible grace and his perfect calling, but I will do all I can to be usable by God in this area.
As Charles Spurgeon said, "If sinners will be damned, at least let them leap to hell over our bodies. And if they will perish, let them perish with our arms around their knees, imploring them to stay. If hell must be filled, at least let it be filled in the teeth of our exertions, and let not one go there unwarned and unprayed for.”
If you have loved ones who are walking toward Hell and currently stand condemned, I enCOURAGE you to decide that now is the time to get serious and be bold, share Christ with them and pray for them like never before.