See the created and the redeemed

Ephesians 4:16 (TPT) For his “body” has been formed in his image and is closely joined together and constantly connected as one. And every member has been given divine gifts to contribute to the growth of all; and as these gifts operate effectively throughout the whole body, we are built up and made perfect in love.

Without a relationship with the Holy Spirit you will not see the body that you are called to in His image. What do I mean by that? There is not a person in the Bible (except Jesus) that did not have an issue with what they saw in the people God called them to. When we start getting close to people we can fall into the trap of identifying them by the flaws that they have instead of the benefits to your life. We are so quick to cut people out of our life when they disappoint us, anger us, hurt our feelings, etc. Yes, the ones that do not want the best for you separate from, but a member that wants to help and their help might have hurt your feelings.

We are His Created and Redeemed. Isaiah 48:12-13,17 (AMP) “Listen to Me, O Jacob, and Israel, whom I called; I am He, I am the First, I am the Last. “My hand founded and established the earth, And My right hand spread out the heavens; When I call to them, they stand together [in obedience to carry out My decrees]. CREATED This is what the Lord, your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel says,“I am the Lord your God, who teaches you to profit (benefit), Who leads you in the way that you should go. REDEEMED Start seeing each other as God’s created and redeemed!

1 Corinthians 12:21-26 (TPT)  It would be wrong for the eye to say to the hand, “I don’t need you,” and equally wrong if the head said to the foot, “I don’t need you.”  In fact, the weaker our parts, the more vital and essential they are. The body parts we think are less honorable we treat with greater respect. And the body parts that need to be covered in public we treat with propriety and clothe them. But some of our body parts don’t require as much attention. Instead, God has mingled the body parts together, giving greater honor to the “lesser” members who lacked it. He has done this intentionally so that every member would look after the others with mutual concern, and so that there will be no division in the body.  In that way, whatever happens to one member happens to all. If one suffers, everyone suffers. If one is honored, everyone rejoices.

We are connected. What profit is it not to see the value in others, because you do not think they know what you have been through? Receive the gift anyways. There are those who have knowledge and wisdom in areas. Why not tap into that? Are you afraid they are going to be like Job’s friends and say that everything you are going through is your fault or you deserve it? Well, you might have some people like that, but that does not mean you cut them out of your life. I have been that person and I have been on the receiving end of it as well. That will definitely make me want to go into hiding, but the benefit of the body outweighs the chances of trying to go at it alone.

2 Corinthians 6:11-13 (TPT) My friends at Corinth, our hearts are wide open to you and we speak freely, holding nothing back from you. If there is a block in our relationship, it is not with us, for we carry you in our hearts with great love, yet you still withhold your affections from us. So I speak to you as our children. Make room in your hearts for us as we have done for you. In the Message Translation it says, Dear, dear Corinthians, I can’t tell you how much I long for you to enter this wide-open, spacious life. We didn’t fence you in. The smallness you feel comes from within you. Your lives aren’t small, but you’re living them in a small way. I’m speaking as plainly as I can and with great affection. Open up your lives. Live openly and expansively! Blocking relationships withing the body that you are called to can make you feel small and insignificant. Start living your life in a bigger way!

Get back into the local church and get plugged in! Get into some relationships when they have fellowships and gatherings, make up your mind to not stay away any longer. Start seeing them as the created and the redeemed…a gift to Him and to you. Be blessed!

A mother’s heartbeat

Deuteronomy 6:5-7 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and will all your soul and with all your strength. 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.

Do you feel pressure that I need to ensure my child’s salvation? I know as a pastor, I do. I feel pressure to make sure my children do not mess up, especially in public, or let’s say I use to. As a pastor it can often seem that you are in a glass house, put on display for everyone to look into. However, just like everyone else we make mistakes and our lives are messy. I have learned to embrace that glass house. My husband and I decided when we were going to take on the lead pastor role that we were going to be transparent (there are things that we do keep private) but if God tells us to tell of our struggles, then we are. To put on airs that we do not have struggles would be a lie to what Jesus did on the cross for us.

John 6:44 says, “For no one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them to me, and the last day I will raise them up.” I cannot live out the salvation for my children. They have to come to Him by the drawing of the Holy Spirit. I am free from the pressure that we have to make all the right moves, but that does not mean I do not have a responsibility. Deuteronomy 6 says that He has to be Lord over my life. He is Lord! When I am moved by my mistakes as a mother, the behavior of my children, their mistakes, then that has become my Lord.

My kids will not come to Christ solely on their own initiative, and they certainly will not come to Christ solely on mine. It will be only through the Father giving them the desire to come to Christ. The Father must draw my children to His heart. I cannot push or plead them there. Rather, He pursues them and woos them to Himself. (From Mom Set Free by Jeannie Cunnion)

I have the honor and responsibility of guiding my children in truth and teaching them that Jesus is the way, the truth, the life, and the only way to the Father (John 14:6) – but I cannot make them believe it. Only God can work in their hearts.

1 Corinthians 3:6-7 I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow. So neither the one who plants not he one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow.

Philippians 1:6, 9-11 I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns…I pray that your love will overflow more and more, and that you will keep on growing in knowledge and understanding. For I want you to understand what really matters, so that you may live pure and blameless lives until the day of Christ’s return. May you always be filled with the fruit of your salvation – the righteous character produced in your life by Jesus Christ – for this will bring much glory and praise to God.

We are given the assurance that it is God – not us – who began a good work within our children. It is God, not us, who will continue that work in our lives. He will not give up on them, even when they deserve to be given up on (just like we were).

I am confident and trusting that God is already doing what He wants done in my children. He is not depending on me to be their Holy Spirit. He is the one helping them obey. In fact, His grace is what gives them the desire to obey Him.

I can model them the freedom and joy that comes from obeying God’s Word, but I cannot make them want it. It was when I allowed the changed to happen in my inwardly that it became to show outwardly. That is what drew my sister to follow Christ. I was eighteen when I accepted Jesus as my Lord and Savior. If I look back on how I had acted as a teenager, I would be so ashamed, if I did not know who I was in Christ now. I have to look at my children the same way. Christ, not me, is the one that will redeem them.

If I look back on how I had acted as a teenager I would be so ashamed, if I did not know who I was in Christ now.

If we go back just a little before the verse to Deuteronomy 5: 6 it says, ” I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.” Then He gave them the Ten Commandments. Before He commanded them to love and obey, He first reminds His people of His nature, of His character, and of His rescuing grace. In other words, He is showing how His redeeming love was not predicated on their love and obedience. He rescued them first.

Covid-19 has been hard on our world. It has made us look at our relationships, our circumstances, and our resources in a new way. I have two boys at home. I have the privilege of being a stay at home mom. My kids are older, twelve and sixteen, so they do not require a lot of supervision. That does not mean that they do not require my care. One of the struggles of raising a teenager in this day in age is getting them outside. Thankfully, both are athletes so they have to do certain cardiovascular routines to keep up with the positions they have.

My children see the importance in my getting in the Word on a daily basis. I model that behavior. When school started back this year I altered our morning routine to do a small devotion together and pray before they leave for school. My children can tell the difference in me when I do not make the time to get in the Word. I am transparent with my struggles so they can be transparent with theirs.

We went through a hard time with my oldest not too long ago. He did some things that we could have been ashamed of if we taught religion. Since we model a relationship we were able to model redemption. He was punished, but not shamed. We lifted him up and did not tear him down. In result, he became more loving and trusting of his parents. I am not trying to say we are perfect, because if it had happened a few years ago we would not have responded the same loving way. We have allowed God to be Lord over our lives and with that so much grace has poured out through us to our children. We did not hide him away. We encouraged him and he drew deeper in his relationship with God. He still makes mistakes. He does things that no I do not approve of, but like us he has free will. He honors us as we honor God. We model honor in our home.

This is my heartbeat as a mother: To know that my children do not have to be perfect to be loved. They do not have to meet my expectations on what their relationship with God should look like. They, like me, are growing. My Father is the one who will draw them closer. It is when they choose to make Him Lord (it is a choice). I have to be patient just as He was patient with me. We do not give up, it is never a set back, it is a reason for me to grow deeper in my own relationship. My children are a gift, but I have to choose to put my trust in Him to be the Lord of their lives. No matter their choices I will not lose hope. If they run, He will be there to redeem and restore them, I will be here to love them.

If your child is running from God, know that you should not feel ashamed. He is not. He is a God of compassion and grace. We are the ones who are flawed, He is not. If you made a mistake, it is okay, He can still redeem. Do not give up, do not grow weary, put your trust in Him. I know that I will probably have more heartaches ahead of me when it comes to my children. Take courage, know that we are not in this alone. He said He would always be with us. He will see that everything is completed.

Ari (my oldest) and me at the gym!