Monday, September 28, 2009

Because I Said So!!!

Don't you remember hearing those words growing up? And it wasn't like you could actually hear them the first 2-3 times they were said. For some reason, those words had to be almost yelled in frustration, before the fact that you weren't going to get a real explanation actually sunk in.

I can remember as a teenager thinking, "I am NEVER going to say that to my kids!" YEAH RIGHT!!!! Are you with me?

The other day I spent about an hour trying to explain to my son why he needed to accept what I was saying just "because I said so." He couldn't grasp the concept... I shouldn't be surprised. I didn't either at his age. I wanted him to understand that sometimes we just have to accept authority without knowing the reasons for it.

But after some discussions with friends, some research I have been doing for a project, and a recent bible study... I wonder if that REALLY is a good, or even healthy way to respond to our kids. Especially when it comes to spiritual matters.

Our kids grow up being taught to trust us on every level. Even those four little words are an expectation of trust for our children to have faith in all we do. Just do it, "Because I said so!" Just trust God, "because the Bible says so." Just accept our beliefs are right, "because the pastor said so." Jonah was in the belly of a whale, "because your Sunday school teacher said so." Santa is real, "because I said so." Oops... first of all... is everything we are telling our children true? Secondly, do you know why you believe certain things about your doctrine, or the Bible?

Are you believing things, because someone "said so?"

I have recently started going back to Bible college and the one thing I love is that we have been encouraged to do as the scripture says in I Thessalonians 5:21 "Prove all things; holdfast that which is good." Do you make sure what you have heard on Sunday morning IS REALLY what the scripture says? Or do you just accept what the preacher says and go on?

Here is where this gets scary for our children. More and more, kids are being taught within the education system to prove theories, test judgements, have a reason for EVERYTHING they do and EVERY belief they have. They are literally being taught that they MUST "prove all things." It gets seriously more intense by the time they are in college and are actually scrutinized if they can not PROVE their beliefs.

Are we possibly doing our children a disservice by teaching them to accept the answer, "because I said so?" I know when it comes to parenting, sometimes circumstances just don't hold for explanation and kids need to learn authority. But I am talking about the beliefs and morals, the education on daily spiritual living. Are we teaching them to really search the scriptures and KNOW why they say and believe what we "said so"?

Here is an even more convicting question... what are you just accepting because someone "said so"? Are you being lazy and just listening to someone else? OR are you really digging in deep and obeying the scripture to "prove all things"?

As wonderful as it is to have spiritual leaders and mentors, we know that there are many false teachings in churches, just like there are on college campuses. How about being an example for your children now and teaching them how to search the scriptures and be able to prove their beliefs. Can you?

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Are You Listening?

My kids get home and it is non-stop chattering hitting me from all directions. I am overwhelmed and tired from my day and their incessant talking just seems to slip from three individual conversations to one HUGE chaotic annoyance. I can't tell you how many times they have looked at me and said, "Are you listening?" At that point I have to stop, focus, and really create a desire in myself to know what they are saying. And boy! Do they know the difference when I am really listening, rather than nodding my head in acknowledgment they are speaking, but not really paying attention to what their true desires, feelings and experiences of the day have been.

Are you listening? Are you hearing what is going on around you? Do you hear chaos? Or do you hear GOD today?

I know that just a few minutes ago, God really spoke to me about just listening. I was making my mental list of all I need to do... where I should be... what the week has ahead for me. But God wants my undivided attention today. Take this day and just LISTEN to GOD. Whatever it is your doing, open your ears and listen to God as you go through your day today. He has already shown me so wonderful insights just because I decided to focus my attention on listening to Him today. I am sure he will do the same for you today.


Saturday, September 5, 2009

Stick in the Spokes

I was talking with a friend yesterday and God blessed me with such a wonderful analogy I just had to share it with you. We were talking about circumstances that just seem to bring our lives to a screeching halt. You know what I am talking about. We have all had them... a death in the family, a major disappointment, kids turning away, marriages broken, job loss... too many to list. Sometimes the events are HUGE and other times they are small. Either way, they turn our life upside down.

Let's imagine for a moment... since this is written to mainly women.. I am going to talk as such. Close your eyes and think about learning to ride a bike. I see this little girl about five or six with a pink skirt right above her knees. She has on a crisp white T-shirt with lace edging around the collar and sleeves. Her long blond hair is tied up in pigtails complete with pink bows tied to perfection. She is so excited because she has just learned how to ride her bike all by herself. Can't you just see her?

She is riding up and down her little gravel driveway. Each trip she gets braver and braver, pedaling faster and faster, even standing up as she pumps the pedals and feels the wind whisking through her flying pigtails. Her dad is sitting on the back steps with a big grin on his face as she is calling to him, "Look daddy how fast I can go!"

Then suddenly, somehow she accidentally runs over a stick in the road, it kicks up and gets caught in her spokes. The bike instantly comes to a screeching halt and she flies over the handlebars only to have gravel dig into her pretty little knees and elbows. Her perfect pigtails droop more like a pitiful puppy dog.

Her dad, of course, was already running to her rescue because he saw the stick as it was stopping her and was up on his way to care for her before she was even hurt. She is sitting there on the gravel, tears rolling down her face. She has blood on her elbows just enough to stain her pretty white shirt and knees skinned up just enough to burn. As her dad gets to her, she reaches up for her "daddy" just waiting to be comforted.

Her dad grabs her up in one swoop and holds her close as he pats her back and stokes the blond bangs out of her eyes. "It will be ok honey. Let's go get you cleaned up." He pulls her close as her tears of disappointment, pain and fear flow down her cheek.

They go in the house, he cleans up the mess she has made of her knees and elbows and wipes the blood off her pretty little shirt. He gets the band-aides... more than she needs of course, but enough to make her feel secure... puts them on the cuts and even the little scrapes, and kisses each "boo boo" to make it better. He gives her another reassuring hug and tells her sometimes that happens and we just have to get up and try again. With another kiss to the forehead he goes back outside and this time holds the bike and walks with her until she gains the confidence she needs to ride free again.

Do you know what I just did? I just described what our Heavenly Father does when we get a stick in our spokes. YOU are that beautiful little girl. Yes, you may have just flown off the handlebars of life right now. You are sitting there in tears. You have cuts and wounds... some may even leave scars. You may have stained up the pretty white shirt you love to wear. But I want you to know right now that GOD is running to you! He saw you getting ready to fall. He is reaching out to you, ready to pick you up.

God is saying to you right now, "It's ok honey. Let's go get you cleaned up."

You know all you have to do is reach out your arms! Let God pull you in close to Him. Let him wipe away your tears. Let him give you more band-aides that you even need. Let him kiss your boo boos. Rest in His caring arms today!

Yes... you will have to get back on the bike and ride again. But God is going to be right by your side. He is going to hold the bike again. He is going to be right by your side while you learn to ride with confidence again.

Don't give up on riding! It won't be long until you are riding carefree enjoying the breeze whisking through your hair again. God loves you. Let Him comfort you today!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

God Doesn't Use Mapquest

Being the internet codependent junkie that I am, I always go online to get my mapquest directions when I am going somewhere unfamiliar. Whether it is a trip across town, or a long road trip, I just like to KNOW where I am going and HOW to get there.

This morning while praying about some "issues" life has thrown my way, I broke down in tears asking God for directions. I saw a HUGE green road sign as I was praying and said, "Lord why can't you just put a big green sign in front of my face like that, then I wouldn't be so confused on what path you want me to take." You see... I am so afraid of taking the wrong route that I am at the state of almost just being tormented.

At the moment the verses Proverbs 3:5-6 came to mind:
"Trust in the Lord with all your heart, lean not unto your own understand. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He shall direct thy paths."

I thought, "Well that is all good and all... and I do know you will direct my paths.. but how am I supposed to know where you are directing me?"

Once again, God quietly spoke to me. You see. I am sitting here looking for a big green sign on the highway of life. I want to stay in the fast lane and just breeze through every trial and tribulation. I want to quick way to arrive at my destination. But God showed me today that sometimes... probably most of the time, I am not looking at the right road signs. We are to take the narrow path. Think about it... how many of those little country side roads.. you know the narrow ones that aren't traveled by many... how many of those do you see on big green signs. Usually they are on a small little sign off the side of the road. You have to keep your eyes open and keep your speed down to see them.

OUCH!!!! Ok God! Ok! I hear ya! That was lesson #1. As I was wiping the tears away, in my complete frustration and desire to do God's will; follow His path, but not have to be in so much pain in the process; I asked God one more question: "But God... how do I know deal with the anxiety and fear of missing that small little road sign along the way?"

God in his graciousness touched my spirit and, of course, answered, "Stay close enough to me to feel my nudge as you come to the path I want you to take. There aren't any landmarks for me to give you, just listen closely."

Are you in the middle of a frustrating journey today? Are you like me and scared to take the wrong path? Are you in the fast lane and just begging God to flash some big green sign in front of your face? SLOW DOWN and LISTEN. Trust with ALL your heart. Quit trying to understand it ALL... HE WILL DIRECT YOUR PATHS... and mine too. Just remember to keep close enough to Him to feel His nudge when it is time to make a turn onto yet another narrow path.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Wallowing in Regret

How many of us have regrets in life? I wish I would have gone to school there instead. I should have chosen a different major. If only I would have taken that job. Why in the world did I choose to marry him? We should have bought the house in that neighborhood. I wish I wouldn't have said that to him. If only I hadn't gotten addicted to that.Yes, we all have regrets, wish I had have, and only if's in our life. Some more than others. Some more extreme than others... but we all have them.

My question for you today is how do you deal with your regrets? Are the consequences of bad decisions haunting you toward a life full of wallowing in regret? Are you consumed looking backwards instead of living in the present? Are you having a hard time forgiving other people in your life because you can't even forgive yourself?

I prayed this morning that God would give me words that SOMEONE needed to hear this morning. You see.. one of my regrets is that I have not been more faithful in this ministry that I know He has called me to. I can sit and be upset that I didn't follow through. I can spend hours worrying over doing the wrong thing.. but today is a time to stop looking backward and make one simple step forward TODAY! Today, I know that someone who is reading this needs to STOP wallowing in regret. Someone... maybe it is you, needs to remember that your slate is wiped clean and regret is only going to take up time that God could be using to reach another life for Him.

After I prayed I opened my Bible to Isaiah 44:21-22. It is underlined in my Bible and in the margin I have the words written, "Clean Slate." Today... YOU need to be reminded:

"...Take it seriously... that you're my servant. I made you and shaped you: You're my servant... I'll NEVER forget you. I've wiped the slate clean of ALL your wrongdoings. There's NOTHING left of your sins. Come back to me, come back. I've redeemed you."

If you are having regret... STOP. Hand it over to God. If you haven't repented, DO IT NOW! You cannot change the past, but you can change the course of today. Pick yourself up out of the pig pen of regret and come back to the reality of being wiped clean!

Take it seriously... you are God's servant. He shaped you. He knows about your past, it makes you who you are today. Take those regrets and turn them into reasons to minister to others today!