Monday, December 12, 2011

When the Son of God had His patience tried

It has long been a joke amongst mothers to never pray for patience for then you just might have to use it!

In my continuing study of Luke, I observed in chapter 4 that Jesus was led BY the Holy Spirit into the wilderness TO be tempted by the evil one. There Satan tried the patience of the Son of God. Would Jesus be willing to wait for physical provision, willing to wait for the truth to be revealed about him at the resurrection, willing to wait for God's timing to have all that the Father promised? Or...would he choose to make it happen and have some of

When His patience was tested, we see that Jesus used the Word of God to defeat Satan's tactics, keeping the main thing the main thing and avoiding specific challenges by him.

The scriptures He chose give us guidance for what we should do when our patience is tested while we wait on God:

**Find nourishment in the Word of God just as much as actual food... (Luke 4:4, Deut. 8:3)
**Worship solely the Lord and not any hidden idols of pride and selfishness in our lives... (Luke 4:8, Deut. 6:13)
**Don't put the Father to the test by doubting His presence and what He has promised in His timing. [Jesus words here in Luke 4:12 are a direct quote from Deut. 6:16 which references the Israelite's doubt in the wilderness in Ex. 17:2-7].

We need to be aware that Satan can use scripture to tempt us to put the Lord to the test in our lives....(Luke 4:10-11, also Gen. 3:1). Putting the Lord to the test seems to involve doubting what He has already said He will do (Ex. 17:7), asking for a sign to validate what God has said (Isa. 7:12), not taking obedience, sin and it's consequences seriously (Acts 5:9). [The Ex. 17:2-7 is repeatedly mentioned in scripture throughout the old and new testaments as a warning not to put the Lord to the test.]

Now, if the Evil One knows scripture, that encourages me all the more to make my times in the Word a priority. I don't want to be like Eve, and get it wrong (Gen 3:3). Thankfully, we have someone we can go to that understands and has the power to help us in our struggles with patience.

Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. 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 4:14-16 ESV

Friday, December 2, 2011

How Jesus Grew

Lately, I've been doing a Bible study by a mentor of mine through the Gospel of Luke. In studying chapter 2, two verses were really impressed upon me:

vs. 40 "And the child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom. And the favor of God was upon him." --infancy -12 years old

vs. 52 "And Jesus increased in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and man."--12 years - 30 years old

The child Jesus ...
Grew in Strength .... of spirit
Grew in Stature ... of body & mind
Stayed Submissive ... to his earthly parents (vs. 51)

I'm challenged by the order of this. We take the children to well-checks at the doctor to see how their bodies are growing; we watch carefully over their grades to see how they are doing in school. I am moved by this to make sure that I am giving just as much if not earlier attention to see that they grow strong in their spirits.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

It's the little things, you know.

Often times I get way too caught up in the details of some thing, some conversation, some assignment that I forget the bigger picture of what's beneficial. That's not always the case (as seen in some of my household responsibilities ;), but I definitely do have randomly assigned obsessions.

As I child, my dad would often say "Don't sweat the small stuff, Maija." Every once and awhile that will still ring through my head. The dust bunnies are ever glad! However, I've been challenged lately that it can be the little things that make the biggest difference:

* The son who said 'Thank you' without being prompted
* The coupon for buy one, get one FREE I used at the store
* The $1 tithe from the babysitting income for my daughter
* Taking the credit card out of my wallet, and leaving it at home
* Giving my husband a hug and a kiss when he comes home

The list could go on and on for each of us. These little things add up over time. A consistently thankful child would lighten any mom's heart. I'm not an extreme couponer by any means, but 20 different $.50 coupons each week saves $40 in a month. Little things done repeatedly become very, very big things in our lives.

Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace class has led me to consider this verse lately: Luke 16:10 "Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much. So if you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches?".

It's the little things, you know.

Friday, November 11, 2011

"Mom, Can I blow something up?"

The question came after 30 minutes of rambunctious chasing from my 6 and 9 year olds around the house. Not a surprising question, after all. All young men have an innate desire to rescue, conquer, and dominate some aspect of their environment, don't they?

We live in a tri-level home. Most of our time is spent on our main level which includes the kitchen and family room. This is also the favorite area for chasing, wrestling, rolling, tickling, and other forms of modified mixed martial arts from only the kids....of course ;). Our backyard is a basic midwest one, settled in the middle of a subdivision. We don't live on a farm, or have any relatives that do. My husband doesn't have the hobbies of fishing or hunting. Technology drives a good part of our families interests. So...what's available to "blow up"?

The basic go-to option of vinegar & baking soda came to mind. I gave it to my boys with instructions to do it in the tub, hoping the drains would benefit from the revelry as well. But it left me wondering, where can I find ideas on things they could make, do, dominate? They enjoy their video games, but can I provide something where they are conquering a reality, not just a fantasy world? With major potential for only minor injuries (not the reverse!), how can I help them enjoy being a boy?

I recently saw this book at a friend's house. It was exactly what I was looking for: diagrams, recipes, concoctions and descriptions of all things in the likes of snakes, snails & puppy dog tails. I am excited for the boys to work through it with their Dad and I (I don't want to miss out on all the adventure :). Potato guns: Here we come!!

Friday, November 4, 2011

When does lying not matter ?

I joined Facebook in 2006 as a way to keep up with the lives of friends I knew locally. As time past, it quickly gained speed in the circles I was in, and suddenly Facebook afforded me the opportunity to catch up with old friends in the same manner as only reunions could have before.

I'm sure many of you can relate to the fact that my children are deeply fascinated with the details of my social engagements and friendships. Admittedly, it was fascinating as a child to eavesdrop on the adult conversations that happened around our house. In similar manner, I can't think of a time I've been on Facebook where one of my preteen children hasn't quickly made their way to the computer to read my news feed asfastastheycan before I shewed them away. Facebook is fun. There's games, there's pictures, there's video links, funny stories, and inside jokes that involve people the family knows.

When my eldest preteen child began asking me to get a Facebook account earlier this year, I wasn't surprised. She had been telling me that many of her friends were on Facebook for awhile. Facebook has become so much of the fabric of how we communicate these days. Her request was somewhat benign, like asking for an email account. Security and monitoring features in place...check. What else is left to do? Enter birth date....wait, what?

The Facebook minimum age requirement is 13 years old. Interesting. Dilemma. Excellent social tool, yes. Old enough to start an account, no. Now, the dilemma unfolds. Do I as a parent lie for her, or indicate to her to go ahead and lie herself?

I posted this dilemma on Facebook as I was sorting this all through. The responses I got where varied, as one would suppose. I began to see the layers of logic. The first logic layer begins something like this: Is lying o.k.? Your options: Always, Never, and .................somewhere in between. No one that I heard from would agree to always lie. What logically was left: Option 1: Never and Option 2: Sometimes is fine.

Sometimes. Sometimes is a difficult option in logic. In parenting, one of the things we repeatedly counsel young parents to do is be consistent. If you tell a child they will get a reward or a consequence for doing something, then do it. Pick your hills to die on, then make sure you win and win decisively. Nothing creates more turmoil in a child's heart and in homes then inconsistency in follow-through. Consistency is HARD for us parents. Because we get tired, we get burned-out with work, people hurt us, we get tired...and more tired. There are times when my husband and I have went to our kids and apologized to them for seasons when we were lax, and struggled to be consistent with our parenting. We knew it wasn't fair to them, to keep changing the rules.....spontaneously......whenever we felt.....tired.

Sitting down at the computer, faced with a belief system in front of Facebook. Never, Sometimes. The thoughts run..."Will it really matter? Can't I just do it, and ask forgiveness later? They aren't young children any more. Surely they understand that this type of lie doesn't matter; it's the big ones they better not try."

Sometimes....when are children old enough to determine the "some" times?
When they are 12, and they glance at the person's test paper next to them ("That's what I thought the answer was anyway.")
When they are 14, and they sneak some cash out of a parent's purse ("She would have given it to me if I would have asked.")
When they are 16, and they tell you they went where they said they would go. ("She doesn't need to know about Jordan's house. That was just an extra stop.")
When they are 18, and the boss asks for their time card ("Last Friday was on the house. For all the grief he's given me lately, he can pay me to leave early.")
If I would take a poll of parents, even these things would be hotly debated as to which ones go in the category of a Sometimes.

As a family, it's important to us to have a standard to raise our children. We use the Bible as that standard. One of these passages is I Samuel 15. In this passage, the Lord tells Saul clearly to do something. Saul mostly does it, but blames the people when he's confronted by the prophet Samuel for not doing it completely. In several statements, Saul even claims to have obeyed the Lord. Having heard enough excuses, Samuel conveys the consequence, leading out with this (from The Message): Then Samuel said, Do you think all God wants are sacrifices— empty rituals just for show? He wants you to listen to him! Plain listening is the thing, not staging a lavish religious production.
Samuel then tells Saul that the Lord is going to remove him from being King of Israel.

Saul mostly obeyed, but Saul got a swift and significant consequence. Perhaps, Saul thought it was a Sometimes.

This is one of the Bible passages that we use when we teach our children not to lie. The Lord is clear with what He requires: obedience. Plain, and simple. From me to Him; and from my kids, to me, to Him. We've worked hard to teach the kids that lying isn't just lying, but being deceptive, shifting blame to others, exaggerating, etc. are also forms of lying. In the Lord's eyes, there aren't any Sometimes. We shalt not do it.

So, when faced with a small decision that opens up a big opportunity for my child, I choose to wait until she's 13. Because one small step like fabricating a birth date would undermine my own work, my own integrity with my kids to live a life of honesty and to lead them to do likewise. It seems like such a little inconsequential decision, but I would venture to say that it's those things that mark their young minds.

Does what I say match what I do?
That always matters. Guaranteed.