God Speaks

I married a generous man, in fact, he rarely counts the cost to himself when considering helping. He doesn’t measure the hours he worked, or what he’ll do without. If he sees a need, he meets it in whatever practical way he can.

In fact, my husband lives this verse out. I never hear him tell someone he’ll pray for them, but I witness him giving what he has to offer, whether time, money, food, clothing. He gives with a good attitude, too. Like behind the scenes, he doesn’t grumble or complain or nitpick what someone does with whatever he gave. I admire him and he inspires me to be more generous.

What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. James 2:14-17

What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. James 2:14-17

 

We were discussing generosity and whether or not we could go overboard with it – like is it possible to give too much? Not so much in the sense of to one person (which can be enabling) but overall. I guess the question was, can we hurt ourselves financially by giving too much? We tossed the idea back and forth but neither of us had a great word of wisdom or idea as to whether or not there was a threshold. A percentage of income, if you will.

Without even looking for a verse or bible teaching on it, a verse found me.

One person gives freely, yet gains even more; another withholds unduly, but comes to poverty. A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed. Proverbs 11:24-25 NIV

I got to share this verse with my husband and I hope it encouraged him as much as it did me. I believe we will all stand before God and give an account for our lives – even if we’ve accepted Jesus and have received His gracious gift of salvation. This verse assured me that we won’t be found in want as a result of being generous. It also reminded me that I’ll stand before my Creator one day and I’d rather say I gave every chance I could than to say I never gave at all. This also reminded me to give as if I was giving to Jesus and to leave the choices of the recipient between them and God – that part is none of my business.

Until next time,
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A Prayer to Share:

Dear God,
We know that we can never out give You. You have given more than we can measure or count, although we often try. Help us to be in agreement about how to give, when to give, where to give, and help us give in a way that always honors You. Thank you for all You have given us.

In Jesus’ Name,
Amen.

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Comparing Up or Down

We watched the movie Courageous over the weekend – talk about a good movie. One of the lead characters said (about parenting), “I always thought I was doing good enough because I was doing better than my dad.”

I’ve mulled over that statement and wondered how often I compare how I’m doing something to how someone else is doing it, instead of to the standard God calls me to do it.

Sometimes comparison sneaks up on us. Sometimes we find ourselves comparing our actions and appearances against someone else’s because of something that’s been said or done to us. Like when a good friend says we should do something “like she does” or when one walks through an affair. Sometimes we chose comparison to measure that we are doing something better than ….

Whether we are struggling with comparison because we want to be good enough, or we are using comparison to justify that we are good enough, it’s a deadly trap. It pits us against people. It makes us think we are so much worse than we really are, or so much better than we really are.

I want to weigh my actions and words and appearance against the standard God set for me. All through His Word we can find how to live, how to regard beauty, how to love others. Worldly comparison inhibits our ability to love others and live the way God wants us to.

Unfortunately, we will find that we fall short of God’s standard oftentimes. This is where He can draw us in and show us His grace. This is where He can take our deep brokenness and show us His immeasurable peace and deep comfort. This is where He can mold us and make us who He calls us to be.

Until next time,
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A Prayer to Share:

Dear Heavenly Father,

Please help stop the comparisons that run through my mind. Align my thoughts with You, with Your Word. Help me to focus on who You are calling me to be, and what You are calling me to do. Let me leave others to their calling. Comparison is the thief of all joy, and Lord, I want Your joy in my life. Remove this thief, convict me when I start trying to make comparisons, and help me live my life to please You.

In Jesus’ Name,
Amen.

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Are You a Coach or a Dictator?

When parents make the shift from controller/dictator/punisher to mentor/teacher/leader they will stop trying to control behavior and will start trying to teach why and how to behave. Kindness in this process is not weakness. Kindness toward our kids also does not automatically mean the kids run the show. It simply means that we recognize kid’s experiences are different from adults and we will walk alongside them and give them someone safe and sane they can rely on when they are struggling.

It is crucial for adults to remember that they are already “in power” because of their age, size, experience, role in the home, etc. It’s not a position of power that requires reminding over and over again. Demanding respect is an easy way to lose respect.

Exploding on a kid who is having a melt down, being difficult, or even defiant does not lead them to better solutions. It’s like spanking a kid for hitting his friend – I’ve never understood that. Let me hit you to teach you to not hit … It just doesn’t make sense. Adults losing control of themselves and yelling, name calling, and pushing around kids is kind of like saying “Let me lose control to teach you to not lose control”. It just really doesn’t make sense.

If we want to teach our kids how to navigate the ups and downs, day in and day out of life, we need to show them our maturity and our self-control. When we model the behavior we are trying to teach our kids, we give them something to look up to, a goal to reach for, an example to follow.

I’m not saying they don’t learn when we explode – but if you evaluate what they learn, can you honestly say that’s what you want to teach? When we explode they learn that we aren’t in control of ourselves, and expect more from them than from ourselves. When we explode, they learn they cannot trust us to help them navigate what they are feeling or facing. When we explode we break connection. And if we don’t apologize when we make mistakes, then we often place the burden of repairing the disconnect on the child.

This is a terrible injustice. As adults, we have more relationship experience. And if a majority of our relationships in our adult life have been broken then it’s time to do the hard work of finding out why and how to fix it. We cannot, however, expect our children to “behave good enough” for us to connect with them. We cannot expect our children to set the tone of the relationship. We cannot expect our children to grovel or beg for our attention.

No, this is all backwards. Our kids should already be good enough for our time and attention – because of who they are, not because of what they’ve done (or not done) in a day, week, month. It is possible to set healthy boundaries, to enforce necessary consequences, and to still shepherd their hearts and connect with them. It’s not always easy, and it requires that we look deep within ourselves, and also ask ourselves how our actions today will affect our future relationship with our kids.

Sometimes, in a hard moment, I ask myself, “How do I want them to remember this moment?” Do I want them to remember that mom flew off the handle, bit their heads off, and then was emotionally unavailable until they redeemed themselves with enough good behavior to earn my affection?

legosOr do I want them to remember that mom knelt beside them to right the wrong, clean the spill, navigate the situation, and remained emotionally available, behaved calmly, and lead them through with maturity?

I want the second scenario, hands down. It’s become extremely important to me to consider how they will remember things. As I realize how big our kids are getting, I also think about their adult lives – I want to be able to share in their adult lives. I want to be connected and able to enjoy meals, running errands, and game nights together. No, I don’t want to spend every waking moment with my adult children, but I want to see them regularly, often even. I look forward to being able to relate and connect, and not needing to correct anymore.

So to recap, since I feel like I carried on and rambled:

1. Lead, teach, and train your children instead of trying to control them into submission.

2. Model the behavior you want to see – such as self-control, patience, kindness – you know, fruits of the Spirit.

3. Apologize when you blow it. It’s okay to blow it. We get to make mistakes. But apologize. Do not leave the burden of repairing the relationship on your kids. Don’t expect them to behave good enough to be worthy of your attention.

4. Slow down. It’s okay to pause, evaluate, ask yourself what can be taught vs. caught and how you want them to remember this moment in the future.

Until next time,
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A Prayer to Share:

Dear God,
You know this parenting thing is hard. Please guide me as I guide my kids. Please soften my heart and help me build a lasting connection with them. When correction is necessary, help me find loving ways to correct them that help them grow and mature. Help me point them always toward You and help them to see Your light shining in me, first in how I care for them, then in how I care for others.
In Jesus’ Name,
Amen.

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