Everyone suffers. Unfortunately, suffering is a part of this world. If you are not suffering now, you have either suffered in the past or will suffer in the future. Suffering is an unpleasant but necessary part of life. When you suffer, where do you turn? Your perspective is everything!
Jesus was a man acquainted with suffering. Over and over in the New Testament the Greek word for suffering, πάσχω (paschō), is used in reference to Jesus. Here are a few examples of the many references to Jesus and suffering in the New Testament.
suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised – Matthew 16:21
So also the Son of Man will certainly suffer at their hands – Matthew 17:12
the Son of Man must suffer many things – Mark 8:31
how is it written of the Son of Man that he should suffer many things -Mark 9:12
The Son of Man must suffer many things – Luke 9:22
But first he must suffer many things and be rejected by this generation -Luke 17:25
These are just a few verses in reference to suffering and Jesus. It is important to understand that Jesus suffered. This enabled Jesus to be a sympathetic High Priest. He understands the difficulty of living in a fallen and sinful world firsthand. Jesus came to earth was despised, rejected, and suffered crucifixion on our behalf.
What should our response to suffering be? We should boldly draw near to Jesus. He is our High Priest, who is acquainted with our suffering in order that we may receive mercy and grace.
For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. – Hebrews 4:15-16
When you suffer, you have a choice. You can choose to become bitter or angry or you can choose to cast your cast your cares on Jesus, and abide in His mercy, grace and unending love. Aren’t you glad to know that Jesus understands our suffering? He loves us, and cares for us. Will you trust him with your suffering today?
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Recently, I was contacted by a friend about how to establish and nurture a healthy relationship with our boys. Over the years, she has watched the way we have raised our boys and has admired our ability to reach them.
There is no formula for raising boys! I wish I could say, if you do X, Y, and Z, then your kids will turn out perfectly, but that is not the case. Each child comes with their own unique set of abilities, personalities, and temperments. What works for one child may not work for another.
What I do know is that each child is a blessing from the Lord, and He knows our children even better than we do. Pray for your children. Pray for wisdom in reaching their heart, pray for how you may best nurture that child specifically. Pray for your relationship with him, and pray for his relationship with the Lord. One of the greatest joys that I have had as a parent is sharing the love of God with my children, and leading them to Christ.
I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth. – 3 John 1:4 ESV
I once met a woman who remarked how similar my son was to her son. I knew her son, not as a boy, but as a grown man. I have a tremendous amount of respect for this man, and so I asked her what I should do with my son, so he would turn out like her son. I will never forget the response of this wise woman. She said, “Wear your knees out in prayer!” What great advice! It is not only our privilege and a joy to pray for our children, but it is a necessity. We live in a fallen and sinful world, and the enemy wants to destroy our boys. In John 10:10 we learn, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that [you] may have life and have it abundantly.” Praise Jesus! He came that we may have an abundant life!
Raising boys who become men who love the Lord doesn’t happen by accident. Having your son’s heart requires intentional parenting. Making wise choices about what our children are exposed to is also very important – cultivate a love of whatever is noble, true, and right. Expose them to good literature and stories about heroes of the faith. Be mindful of what they see on television, computer screens and video games. Emphasize purity of mind, and thought, and deeds.
Finally, brothers, 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. – Philippians 4:8 ESV
I think a popular children’s bible song says it best: O be careful little eyes what you see, be careful little ears what you hear, be careful little hands what you do, be careful little feet where you go and be careful little mouth what you say.
Parenting our boys sometimes requires us to make unpopular or counter-cultural choices that are in their best interest. This is why prayer is so necessary so that we can know what is best for our family, and for each individual child.
Keeping lines of communication open is vitally important. Time spent around the family dining table talking about anything and everything is a great tool for discipleship. We talk to our kids about everything, and we have always encouraged them to communicate honestly with us. As our boys have grown, we have had many important conversations until late at night. I think a huge part of having your child’s heart comes from good communication. I want to make myself available to them, whenever they want to talk.
My friend indicated that she felt like she was missing the mark in reaching her 12-year-old son’s heart. Junior high can be a challenging age! Our once sweet little boys become full of testosterone and start to become men, and they begin to change. Our roles as mom change also, as they pull away from us. It is our job to continue to love, nurture, and pray for them as they become the men God has created them to be. When boys hit junior high age, it is important for the father to become more involved in leading and disciplining his son.
Boys require hard physical work. It is good for boys to work hard physically, either in playing sports or manual labor of some kind. I always joke that boys are easy: just feed them well, put a ball or a shovel in their hands, and let them go. They need physical work, but they also crave purpose in their lives and should be challenged intellectually. This will look different for each of us, which is why we should pray for wisdom specifically for each child.
There are many good books on parenting. The most important book is The Bible – we must teach them to know and love the Lord and the Word of God. The Bible is our instruction book for life. In addition to the Bible, listed below are some of the books that I have found helpful in raising my boys.
Created for Work, Practical Insights for Young Men – Bob Schultz
Shepherding a Child’s Heart -Ted Tripp
The Power of a Praying Parent -Stormie Omartian
The Ministry of Motherhood and The Mission of Motherhood – Sally Clarkson
Keeping our Children’s Hearts – Steven and Teri Maxwell
Hints on Child Training – H. Clay Trumbull
Bringing Up Boys – Dr. James Dobson
Prayerfully this will encourage my friend, and anyone else struggling to reach the heart of their son. What are some other things that you have found are helpful in raising boys? I would love to hear from you.
I love my new teapot! It is a beautiful Mckenzie Childs teapot that I have had my eye on for quite some time.
I don’t just love it for its form or its function. What I love about it is what it represents. If I am using my teapot that means I am at home, safely nestled in my sanctuary away from the crazy world in which we live. It is hard to find a quiet spot anywhere in the world. Read about the World being loud here
A proper cup of tea takes time to make, which means that I am slowing down, which is good for my soul. It refreshes me and brings me joy. Today the boys and I are enjoying our wonderful little cups of tea, enjoying the aroma of a beautifully scented candle, while we work and listen to Mozart. I am busy working on my Bible study, while the boys sit near me working on their school.
I am savoring this moment because I know that it is fleeting….
Psalms 27:11 ESV says, “Teach me your way, O Lord”
It is in these quiet moments in my home teaching my boys, that the Lord is teaching me. Teaching me to slow down, and listen to His voice. Teaching me to love them well.
Tomorrow we will be back in the car fighting traffic to get to the other side of town, and we will rush from thing to thing to thing. But today, we sit here in tranquility and civility and sip our tea.
What recharges you? I would love to hear from you! What do you do to help renew your spirit?
When we were kids on the playground at school, we used to call each other names. Some were terms of endearment, others were not so nice. I can still hear echoes of voices from my childhood saying, “I am rubber and you are glue. What bounces off of me sticks on you.” As we have grown up, we internalize some of the names we have been called.
What names have been STUCK on you? What do you tell yourself about who you are? Which voices do you listen to?
Did you know that you have a very real enemy who likes to call us names and accuse us? In Revelation 12:10, John says:
“And I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, ‘Now the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ have come, for the accuser of our brothers has been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before our God.'”
The enemy tells lies about us and he lies to us. He tells us that we are guilty, unforgiven, not enough. We can either listen to the voice of the accuser, or we can choose to believe we are who the Lord says we are.
In the book of Ephesians chapter 1, we learn about some of the spiritual blessings that we have in Jesus Christ. He has names for us also, and because we are in Christ we are:
Adopted by Christ
Accepted in the beloved
Given an Inheritance
Glorified in Christ
Faith in Christ
Wisdom in Him
Hope in Christ
Power in Christ
Ephesians 1 (ESV)
1 Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, To the saints who are in Ephesus, and are faithful in Christ Jesus: 2 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Spiritual Blessings in Christ
3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, 4 even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love 5 he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, 6 to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. 7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace,8 which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight 9 making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ 10 as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.
11 In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, 12 so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory. 13 In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it to the praise of his glory.
Thanksgiving and Prayer
15 For this reason, because I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love toward all the saints, 16 I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, 17 that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him,18 having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, 19 and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might 20 that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, 21 far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. 22 And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church,23 which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.
Aren’t you so glad that we have the voice of truth? And if you are in Christ, then his character qualities are your real identity! Regardless of what names we are called by ourselves or by others, we need to be secure in the knowledge that we have inherent value and worth because we belong to Christ!
*** UPDATE 2017 ***
I posted this last year on Labor Day weekend. What a difference a year makes! In the wake of Hurricane Harvey, life, as we know it on the Texas Gulf Coast, is far from normal. Yet this post still resonates with me on this Labor Day Weekend, but for different reasons. I still need to show myself some grace, because as much as I would like for things to get back to normal, things are still a little topsy turvy right now, and I need more grace than ever.
I am my own worst critic and tend to be very hard on myself! What about you?
My type-A personality drives me to accomplish much, and I have a difficult time relaxing. I set up very high expectations for myself and then feel defeated if I don’t live up to my self-imposed “righteous” standards. I put unrealistic expectations on myself and my family. I think my house should always be spotless, and that my kids should always behave and do what I think they should do. I drive myself to perfection, especially when I undertake any outside projects or events. I work myself up into a frenzy and push myself to exhaustion.
I believe it is a biblical concept to strive for excellence in all we do, and I get this from 1 Corinthians 10:31:
“So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”
[ctt template=”2″ link=”4cYBr” via=”yes” ]It is a good thing to want to do everything to the glory of God and to strive for excellence.[/ctt]
However, if I am so hard on myself that I feel guilt or shame because I haven’t lived up to my own expectations, then I am only hurting myself.
This week in Bible Study, we discussed our battle with sin and the power that we have as Christians to live a life pleasing to God based on Romans 8. The first thing we read is Romans 8:1.
“There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”
I don’t know why I expect perfection from myself—the only perfect person to ever walk this earth was Jesus. Not only that, but He came here to save me. He came to set me free from the bondage of sin and death, and He doesn’t want me to feel condemnation.
[ctt template=”2″ link=”p5WKw” via=”yes” ]I am beginning to learn to have grace with myself when things don’t go as I have planned.[/ctt] I am human, and I am going to make mistakes.
Romans 3:23, says “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”
Most likely, I will continue to disappoint myself and others along the way, but I don’t have to feel condemned. I must choose to believe that I am flawed, but forgiven.
[ctt template=”2″ link=”GSNW_” via=”yes” ]Does anyone else struggle to show themselves grace or am I alone in this battle? [/ctt]
Today, I choose to show myself grace. Instead of driving myself to perfection, I elected to enjoy this Labor Day weekend with my family, and try to catch up on some much-needed rest.
I hope you enjoy a wonderful Labor Day weekend and find rest in God this week!
The Lord is opening all kinds of doors for me with my writing to reach people for Jesus Christ, and I am excited to share everything that I am working on with you!
The biggest undertaking by far has been completing the Bible study the Lord has put on my heart. It is a study about what advice the Bible has for the overcomer in Christ Jesus. I now have a new appreciation for every single Bible study that I have ever done over the years. This project is truly a labor of love! I have about 6 or 7 weeks to finish the study, so that I can teach it to a small group women’s Bible study, “The Bible Babes.”
In addition to keeping up with my blog, I am also a monthly contributor for A Beautiful Life Ministry blogging. I also write devotions for the Biblical-Literacy Class prayer points devotions.
I recently started writing reviews for Faith Filled Family Magazine. This is a monthly digital Christian Magazine with a goal of helping families live victoriously in Christ and to impact marriages and families for the Kingdom. They have an international readership of around 150,000 readers a month.
Last week, I did my first movie review for The Atheist Delusion. I highly recommend this movie. The pre-release digital download is available now, and will be given away for free on You Tube on September 30, 2016. Ray Comfort bravely engages Atheists on the street in a kind and loving way that challenges their beliefs without being confrontational. He does this through sound, logical arguments and non-threatening questions.
I wanted my blog followers to know everything that I am doing, and I want to ask you all to please pray for these endeavors. It is my heart and my mission in life to see the world come to know Jesus Christ. Thank you for helping me to further the kingdom!
We all experience transitions, and it is important to remember God’s faithfulness to us in those times and seasons of our lives. With the new school year approaching, like many families, my family is in a major transitional period. We are leaving behind the relaxing days of summer and looking ahead to new routines and schedules.
My husband will be doing some traveling with his job, and I am transitioning from being a full-time homeschool mom to launching a writing, blogging and speaking ministry. My boys are all growing up and heading off in new directions. My eldest son begins his Senior year of college, our middle son will be starting new therapy and educational programs, and our youngest will be transitioning to a full-time homeschool program.
Change can be exciting, but change can also be scary. We all experience transition periods when we start a new job, send our kids to off to school, get married, have a baby, or move to a new city. We all fear the unknown, but we should not be afraid. Our God is with us wherever we go.In Joshua 1:9, it says
“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”
We have no reason to fear. Our God is with us, and He has good plans for our lives. From these verses, we learn that we are to be strong and courageous and to not be afraid. We can face the days ahead in faith, instead of fear—not looking to our circumstances, but looking to our God who is faithful.
[ctt template=”2″ link=”FdsmU” via=”yes” ]A prayer journal serves as a reminder of God\’s faithfulness in answering my prayers![/ctt]
During times of transition, one way I keep my focus on God is through prayer. I like to keep a prayer journal. It serves as a reminder of God’s faithfulness in answering my prayers. God has been faithful to us in the past, and will continue to be faithful in the future! In Philippians 4:6 we learn that should not be anxious, but in everything, we should pray:
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.”
Let us approach the transitions of life through prayer. Knowing that the Lord loves us and wants us to be strong and courageous; knowing He has good plans for us!
I just returned from She Speaks 2016 Conference. All I can say is, “Wow!” What a special experience! The Proverbs 31 Ministry team did an incredible job of bringing together women of all ages, stages and seasons of life—women with different religious backgrounds, but a similar calling to make Jesus famous. Our worship time was amazing! This, to me, was a glimpse of what I imagine heaven will be like.
There were around 700 women in attendance, with about 500 of them were first-time attendees and another 100 or so in staff, presenters, and publishers. The really incredible thing is that there were over a 1,000 women on the waitlist that were not able to make it. Every woman in attendance was prayed for by name, and I knew the Lord had chosen me to be there. The prayer room there is a very special place, where a basket lay on a table with tiny scrolls of scripture printed for the attendees. I want to share with you the scripture that I chose:
“She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come.” Proverbs 31:25
I had several takeaways from the conference that I want to share with you. If you are in women’s ministry, writing, speaking or leading and you are interested in attending She Speaks, get on the waiting list for next year now. The conference fills up very quickly. It is completely worth the time and money to invest in your calling. She Speaks is a truly unique experience and you will be blessed. One of the best parts is the community—I met some of the sweetest Jesus girls, and I know we will be longtime friends!
The most significant thing for me was that God confirmed my calling to continue with my writing and blogging. I was given confidence in that calling and began to realize that my voice matters. I know I need to be strong and courageous in moving forward and continue to share Jesus in my sphere of influence. Writing, blogging, and especially speaking has really stretched me in my walk with Jesus. Another thing I learned was that God allows gaps in our calling on purpose so that we abide in Him. Not every part of this journey will be in my sweet spot. As I continue to step out in faith, obedience brings blessings. I look forward to what the Lord has planned for the future!
Chapel at Kebel College, Oxford University, Oxford UK
Photo credit: Jacob Phillip
The architecture of this beautiful chapel hearkens back to an era when cathedrals were built to the glory of God. My son is visiting Oxford, and this is where he plans to have his morning time with God. This got me thinking about my quiet time practices. Some people like to meet with the Lord at the same time and place every morning or evening.
Keeping a daily appointment with God is important.
However, I love varying where I have my quiet time. Since I live in Texas and have children, most of my quiet time takes place inside my home early in the morning before the kids get up. I love the few mornings that I can slip outside in the fall and spring and have my quiet time in the cool and enjoyable weather. When I travel, I tend to mix it up—Sometimes I sit in a comfy chair in a Hotel lobby, or maybe go outside and find a quiet spot in nature.
We have access to the Throne of Grace 24/7. We can boldly enter into a time of fellowship with our Lord and Savior, anytime, anywhere. It doesn’t matter when or where we have our quiet time. What is important is that we make time for God’s Word and time to be still before Him.
O Come, let us sing unto the Lord: let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation. Let us come before his presence with thanksgiving and a joyful noise unto him with psalms. For the Lord is great God and a great King above all gods. Psalm 95:1-3 KJV