August 2012

“Little Angels” Grow Up!

As a new Christian and young mother, I chose Proverbs 22:6 as a guiding scripture for raising my children. This admonition says parents are to “train a child in the way he should, go and they will not depart from it.” A decade later, however, my parenting didn’t seem to be working the way I wanted it to. I wasn’t reaping the results I had expected. I had expected easy teen years (ha!). And, I’d expected to be my daughters most trusted confidant. Really, I thought I would be their BFF!

I realize now that this ideal scenario is a blessing to those who enjoy it. But, it is not guaranteed for every parent / child relationship – even in Christian families. There are individual struggles and challenges to each and every parenting relationship. You yourself may worry that you do not have what it takes, or didn’t begin early enough to guide your children successfully in God’s ways. Maybe the family you grew up in was not a Christian family. Maybe there are some wounds between you and your children that need to be healed.

God knows and God knew. He knows all about it — all about what you missed, and all about what you know and don’t know about being a Christian family and mom. And, God knew all about it when He placed your children in your care.

I want to encourage you that God is the author and finisher of your faith and your life (Hebrews 12:2). He is the source that covers your failings and gives hope for your future. God is also the author and finisher of your children’s faith — which can give us hope at any stage of our children’s lives!

Question: How does it encourage you to know that God is ultimately the One responsible for your child’s faith?

Special Contest Announcement – Today’s the last day to enter!
To share our excitement over launching our new website, we’re offering a fun contest where you can win exciting the entire After God’s Own Heart library of books – 17 total books! Plus, we’ll be giving away copies of our brand new books, A Woman’s Guide to Making Right Choices and A Man After God’s Own Heart – Devotional. Click here for details to submit your entry today.

From Jim for Men: The Benefits of Memorizing Scripture

If you’re like most teens, you have no problem at all memorizing the lyrics to your favorite songs. I see teen rocking in the car or singing along with their headsets. The words are stored in their minds and coming out of their mouths. Well, that’s how easy and natural memorizing God’s Word can be, if you choose to make it a part of your life.

The Bible also tells believers to “hide” God’s Word in their hearts. Why? So they won’t sin against Him (Psalm 119:11). When you have the Bible in your heart, it serves as a safeguard against sin, against making wrong choices, and against suffering the painful and shameful consequences that go along with making wrong choices.

Mary, the young teen who became the mother of Jesus, was passionate about memorizing portions of the Bible. How do we know this? Because Mary was a girl who treasured and pondered God’s Word in her heart. When she opened her mouth to praise God for the blessing of the Savior, out came Bible verses — she cited at least 15 passages from the Old Testament (Luke 1:46-55). These were verses and truths Mary had memorized on purpose (a choice!) and learned by heart. They became her language. When she opened her mouth, her lips leaked God’s Word. And it was His Word in her heart that helped her live out God’s plan for her to become Jesus’ mother.

So, here’s a special assignment for you. What is your favorite verse in the Bible? Write it out and be sure to memorize it. Make it your own! And if you can’t think of a verse, use one of the two below to get you started:

Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go. (Joshua 1:9)

In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight. (Proverbs 3:6)

Just think — the Bible is all yours, all the time. And it’s the ultimate source of truth and power. God’s Word makes its way into your heart. It turbo charges your soul. And it changes your views about yourself, other people, and the things that are happening in your life. Do you want a more rewarding and fulfilling life? Good news! You can have it. Your better life is as close and as easy as making the choice to pick up your Bible each day, open it up, and take a few minutes to let God speak directly to you. When you do this, you’ll know what to do and how to handle everything that comes along in life.

Question: How has memorizing Scripture helped you make a tough decision or calm you in a difficult situation?

Special Contest Announcement:
To share our excitement over launching our new website, we’re offering a fun contest where you can win exciting the entire After God’s Own Heart library of books – 17 total books! Plus, we’ll be giving away copies of our brand new books, A Woman’s Guide to Making Right Choices and A Man After God’s Own Heart – Devotional. Click here for details to submit your entry before the deadline.

Life Without a Cell Phone

Can you imagine not having cell service? For most people, this would be the world’s greatest nightmare. It would be like solitary confinement in a prison cell with four walls and no windows. It’s almost too horrible to think about. But, that’s exactly what Elizabeth and I face every time we drive up to our home in Belfair, WA. Oh, there’s a final spot several miles away at The Red Barn Bar and Grill where cell service ends. In fact, The Red Barn has extended its parking lot so that I and others can pull in for one last phone “fix” before entering the dreaded “dead zone.”

Obviously, you can see I’m being a little over-dramatic, right? Or am I? I’m just like you and everyone else who is hooked and dependent on their mobile phone as they talk, text, blog, surf, shop, tweet, Facebook, blog, email, and even view movies on their phones. But, as I’m at my desk right now, I’m at peace, not worrying about what I’m missing, because there is nothing I can do about it–I’m totally unable to use my phone. Instead, I’m fully focused and writing. My mind is racing. It’s filled with fresh ideas. I can’t type fast enough to get all my thoughts down into text.

I wonder sometimes if God does me a favor by putting our home in the middle of a “dead zone.” Could it be that God is wanting me to make this an “alive zone” by redirecting my attention away from the world and toward Him? Is God encouraging me to heed His advice in Psalms 46:10, which says, “Be still and know that I am God”? Is the Lord giving me the gift of silence so I can be with Him in prayer and Bible study, or so I can concentrate more of my time, heart, and mind on writing truth-filled books to benefit others?

Is God asking you to “be still” and give up some of your phone time today to spend time with Him? Life without a cell phone may not be so bad after all! Try it for an hour or so!

How to Pass-On God’s Word to Your Kids

I don’t know what’s in your heart, and I’m working on what’s in mine! But God tells both of us what is supposed to be there, what He wants to be there, and what we are to pass on to our children. Here it is: He says, “These words which I command you today shall be in your heart” (Deuteronomy 6:6).

And here’s the scene surrounding these words: Moses is in the final weeks of his life. It has been 40 years since God’s people left Egypt, 40 years of homeless wanderings in the desert. At last, a new generation was poised to enter into the Promised Land.

This new generation was to fill the land and build a great nation for their children, and their children’s children. And on this momentous day, Moses addresses their spiritual responsibility as parents. As Moses speaks, he doesn’t want these moms and dads to merely hear the words of the Law and the Ten Commandments. No, he wants more, way more! He wants the words of the Law to go beyond their ears and reside in their hearts.

Other passages in the Bible send us this same message:

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly. (Colossians 3:16)

This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night. (Joshua 1:8)

My son, keep my words, and treasure my commands within you…bind them on your fingers; write them on the tablet of your heart. (Proverbs 7:1,3)

The message is repeated…loud and clear, isn’t it? God’s Word is to be in our heart. He asks this of you and me as parents. Why? Because when truth resides in your heart, then you have something to pass on to your children. They benefit!

And you benefit too: As a parent you have something to guide you when you need help, strength, wisdom, and perseverance in your role as parent and leader of your children. Don’t get me wrong — having and raising a child is perhaps the greatest earthly blessing you will ever enjoy. But, at the same time, it is the greatest challenge. But take heart! God’s Word will always be there in you, with you, and for you as you guide your child in the ways of the Lord.

So…part of God’s assignment for you as a parent is to be committed to His Word. You are to do whatever it takes to embed the teachings of the Bible in your heart, soul, and mind. As the saying goes, “You cannot impart what you do not possess.” To teach and guide, lead and raise a child after God’s own heart requires that God’s truth be in your heart first. Then you possess something to impart. Then you have the most important thing to pass on to your child — the truth about God and the grace He extends through His Son, Jesus.

Question: What godly characteristic have you seen God grow in your life or a family member’s that you hope to foster in your children? What characteristic of yours do you need to lay before God, so that it does not pass on to your children?

Special Contest Announcement:
To share our excitement over launching our new website, we’re offering a fun contest where you can win exciting the entire After God’s Own Heart library of books – 17 total books! Plus, we’ll be giving away copies of our brand new books, A Woman’s Guide to Making Right Choices and A Man After God’s Own Heart – Devotional. Click here for details to submit your entry before the deadline.

Parenting – You Can Do It!

The task of raising a child is daunting to say the least. You may feel inadequate to face the responsibility of guiding your children into the knowledge of God. I definitely felt this way. Perhaps the most encouraging wisdom and insight I received as young, clueless parents was shared by another father and mentor to my husband, Jim.

We clung to its message while our girls were in their formative years and living at home. And guess what? We still draw comfort from it as grandparents today. Jim’s mentor said, “The ground at the cross is level when it comes to child-raising.”

This experienced dad went on to explain that he had learned not to judge other parents because the way is hard for all mothers and fathers. No parent has done or will do it all perfectly. It’s a mega-challenge for each and every parent.

This mentor also encouraged us that the end results are never fully evident because God is in the equation — that only time will reveal the outcome of our parenting, which is intermingled with God’s sovereignty and grace. No matter what appears to be real, whether rough seas or smooth sailing, all parents need God, and with God, all things are always possible.

So know that your mission is to begin where you are to follow the Lord. Just as it is never too late to receive Christ as Savior, you can choose any day — today, if you haven’t already — to begin diligently teaching your children and talking to them about the God you love and who loves them. Raising children is never done perfectly, but it is usually done with a heart of immeasurable love…and hope.

You know what this means, don’t you? That you and I as parents must always be praying hope for our children regardless of their age or stage in life. In fact, this is yet another one of God’s “missions” for moms and dads: We are to be diligent prayer warriors. We are to do battle through prayer on behalf of our precious children.

Pray for their spiritual growth into a man or woman after God’s own heart as your calling, your mission assignment from God. One of my favorite verses to pray for my children is Ephesians 1:17, “I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ…may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know Him better.”

Commit to doing your part and trust God to do His!

Question: What additional verses or thoughts do you pray over daily for your children or those children in your life?

Special Contest Announcement:
To share our excitement over launching our new website, we’re offering a fun contest where you can win exciting the entire After God’s Own Heart library of books – 17 total books! Plus, we’ll be giving away copies of our brand new books, A Woman’s Guide to Making Right Choices and A Man After God’s Own Heart – Devotional. Click here for details to submit your entry before the deadline.

A Golden Rule for Parents

When I was a new Christian I was a new mom as well. I was full of questions about how to teach my little one’s about the Lord, whom I had only just discovered as an adult. I Was amazed when my eyes landed on Deuteronomy 6:5-7! God was actually showing me His guidelines for raising my own little daughters. And in only three verses! How practical is that? Here’s what I read over and over again and finally memorized:

“You shall love the lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. And you shall teach them…”

I adore these verses because they are packed with clear communication to parents. God goes straight to the heart of the matter—the parent’s heart. Before telling us how to teach our children, He tells us that we must love Him first. This is because He knows that we become what we love. So He is utterly straightforward about where we are to place our love: We are to love Him supremely.

We “love” a lot of things for a lot of different reasons. But God prescribes perimeters and scope for our love. He tells us what not to love: “Do not love the world or the things in the world” (1 John 2:15). And He tells us in Deuteronomy 6 what we are to love and where our love is to be focused — we are to “love the lord” (verse 5).

But hold on. The Lord goes a step further and demands all of our love. He wants us to love Him with every fiber of our being — every breath, every ounce of energy, every thought, every emotion and passion, every choice. He wants us to love Him. He wants us to think first of Him and to desire above all else to please Him. And He wants that love to be intense and total.

Now, apply this information about the strength of this kind of love for God and think about the love you have for your children. I’m sure you’ve heard others say, “There is no love like a parent’s love.” And it’s true! From the split second parents know that a baby is on the way, all our thoughts, dreams, prayers, and goals are channeled toward that little one. We are completely consumed and preoccupied by this tiny being.

But as much as we focus on an approaching child, God wants us to obsess and focus even more on Him. That’s because the more we love Him, the more we will know about love. And the more we know about love, the more we will know about how to love. And the more we know about how to love, the more we will love our children.

If you are a sold-out, on-fire, hot-hearted, committed-to-God Christian, you will be infinitely further down the road to being the kind of parent who, by His grace, can raise a son or daughter after God’s own heart. Because all your love centers upon God, and because you follow Him with all your heart, you will qualify to lead your children to follow God too!

Question: How does the one command to “love the lord God with all your heart” simplify the many parenting concerns that you might have?

Special Contest Announcement:
To share our excitement over launching our new website, we’re offering a fun contest where you can win exciting the entire After God’s Own Heart library of books – 17 total books! Plus, we’ll be giving away copies of our brand new books, A Woman’s Guide to Making Right Choices and A Man After God’s Own Heart – Devotional. Click here for details to submit your entry before the deadline.

Teaching is Not Just for the Experts

Hooray! The kids are back to school and parents get a break, right? Not so fast — God calls us to teach our children to have a heart for Him, not just educate them in the world’s strategies. But how do we do that?

Deuteronomy 6:7 says, “You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up.” The word diligent carries a lot of meaning — to be industrious, meticulous, careful, thorough, attentive, conscientious…

I was once an elementary teacher. I quickly learned that you cannot merely wing-it when teaching children. I had to think ahead about the year’s l schedule. I searched for materials and creative ideas. I planned out each lesson.

Likewise, God gives us the job to prepare our children in their spiritual lives. We cannot leave this vital teaching to Sunday school teacher or educators. All parents seeking to raise a child after God’s own heart must be committed to the teaching of God’s ways.

If you are in this position, shouldn’t you be committed to:

  • Instructing your children in God’s ways?
  • Planning to some extent how you will accomplish this goal?
  • Scheduling a time each day for some kind of formal Bible time?
  • Encouraging your child to have some time alone with God?
  • Coaching them in ways to have daily devotions?
  • Searching for age-appropriate materials and fellow parents ideas for helping children grow?
  • Praying daily about this mission from God, this teacher role He has personally given you?

In his book Shepherding a Child’s Heart, author Tedd Tripp gives this challenge to parents:

“You shepherd your child on God’s behalf. The task God has given you is not one that can be conveniently scheduled. It is a pervasive task. Training and shepherding are going on whenever you are with your children. Whether waking, walking, talking or resting, you must be involved in helping your child to understand life, himself and his needs from a biblical perspective.”

Wherever and whenever the two of you are together is God’s opportunity for you to teach your child about Him. So take advantage and be purposeful with the gift of such times. But, if they are too few and far between, plan, schedule, and determine to make them happen as if it were your most important job on earth — for it is!

Question: What discussion or activity will you plan today to guide your child into a better understanding of God?

Special Contest Announcement:
To share our excitement over launching our new website, we’re offering a fun contest where you can win exciting the entire After God’s Own Heart library of books – 17 total books! Plus, we’ll be giving away copies of our brand new books, A Woman’s Guide to Making Right Choices and A Man After God’s Own Heart – Devotional. Click here for details to submit your entry before the deadline.

From Jim for Men: A Timely Leadership Lesson from Nehemiah

The Old Testament book of Nehemiah recounts, in thrilling detail, a monumental time in Israel’s history led by an unlikely exile. I encourage you to read it for yourself to discern in full the qualities of a great leader — patience, confidence, and trust in God alone.

Nehemiah, the leader credited for rebuilding the wall around Jerusalem, could not have risen to such an exalted position unless he had been dedicated and passionate about his service to the king. He spent months and months planning what was needed, planning on what to say, planning on what to ask for.

At the same time, he chose to harness his emotions and wait and pray patiently for God’s timing. He didn’t try to break down any doors. He didn’t try to push himself into the king’s presence. He didn’t try to rush the process through manipulation. But once God opened the door and created the opportunity, Nehemiah was thoroughly prepared to unveil his well-prepared plans with genuine passion and compelling persuasion.

How are you at balancing your passion while waiting on God’s sovereign timing? How do you handle your great idea, dream, or noble cause with grace and patience when you’ve done your planning and are eager to persuade others to get on board? Follow Nehemiah’s example. Temper your passion with an absolute confidence in God’s ability to produce the desired outcome…in His time.

Wait on the Lord; Be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart! (Psalm 27:14).

Question: How do you react to Nehemiah’s patience in the face of a dream that he knew God had called him to?

Special Contest Announcement:
To share our excitement over launching our new website, we’re offering a fun contest where you can win exciting the entire After God’s Own Heart library of books – 17 total books! Plus, we’ll be giving away copies of our brand new books, A Woman’s Guide to Making Right Choices and A Man After God’s Own Heart – Devotional. Click here for details to submit your entry before the deadline.

Spiritual Growth Requires Time

God will honor the time we commit to learning more about Him, the time we find, redeem, save, allow, and schedule for our spiritual growth. An image from Scripture encourages me here. The prophet Isaiah wrote, “Those who wait on the LORD shall…mount up with wings like eagles” (Isaiah 40:31).

The time we spend in solitude with our Bible and our prayer list, our secret life spent with our heavenly Father, is time spent waiting upon the Lord. Then, in the fullness of time, in God’s perfect timing, there is the mounting up, the taking flight like that eagle. We are able to soar because we’ve been with the Lord — as the lives of many heroes of the Bible illustrate.

Moses was the adopted son of Pharaoh’s daughter and, as such, experienced every known privilege for 40 years. But then God took him into the desert to be a shepherd, a nobody, for the next 40 years of his life (Exodus 3:1). After those 40 years of God preparing him, Moses burst on the scene with signs, wonders, miracles, and faithful service to God (Exodus 3–14).

Joseph served ten years as master of Potiphar’s household (Genesis 39). But one day Joseph found himself in prison, a nobody, forgotten as the days and months rolled by. Then, after some years, which God used to prepare him for leadership, Joseph burst on the scene, helped save his people, and served as second in command over the entire known world (Genesis 41).

And then there is Jesus. As God in flesh, He was never a nobody. But He too put in His time in obscurity, away from the crowds, involved in the mundane. According to God’s plan, Jesus spent time as a child in Galilee with a family, time inside a carpenter’s workshop, and time in the wilderness for 40 days of prayer and fasting (Matthew 4:1-11). And then one day Jesus burst on the scene exhibiting the power and glory of God in action! But after 30 years of preparation, His earthly ministry lasted for only three short years.

God’s perspective on time is different from ours, and we may question His use of time. We may be tempted to think that quiet, hidden time with Him doesn’t count — that it doesn’t show, it doesn’t matter, and no one cares. After all, nobody sees it. There’s no glory, no splash, no attention given to those weeks, months, years of waiting on God. No one sees us read and study God’s empowering Word. No one is present to watch us memorize and meditate on God’s life-changing truths. God alone sees us on bended knee in the heart-wrenching work of prayer, work He uses to prepare us for ministry.

But then, just like the heroes of the Bible and just like our Savior Himself, one day we are prepared. When the timing is right, when the opportunity for ministry presents itself, we too mount up with wings like an eagle — ready to do God’s work! We are then privileged to live out the saying that, “success comes when preparation meets opportunity.” God is responsible for presenting the opportunities — in His time, place, and manner — but we are responsible for humbly cooperating with His efforts to prepare us, including the times of waiting.

Question: How are you encouraged by the truth that God’s timing is different from ours?

My Wake-Up Call as a Husband

Elizabeth and I have been working on the last several chapters of our next book, A Couple After God’s Own Heart. I have to say, it’s been quite an exercise! It reminds me of being told, “Don’t pray for patience because you’ll have to go through trials to get it!” Well, all I can say is, don’t study the subject of marriage unless you’re willing to let God work you over as a husband or wife. That’s exactly how it’s been for Elizabeth and me during our writing process on the topic of marriage. Ouch!

One of the couples I researched is Ananias and Sapphira. Did I ever get a fresh jolt when I read Acts 5:3 where Peter made this shocking statement to Ananias and his wife, Sapphira: “Why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit?” What a wake-up call! All I could do was shake my head and think about the spiritual warfare that’s going on in Christian marriages. It’s incomprehensible to think that this couple agreed together to deceive the early church fathers by lying about their offering, and Satan was right in the middle of their evil actions.

Immediately, I wondered, “If something like this is possible, how can a couple–including Elizabeth and me–defend themselves and their marriage from the schemes of Satan?” And then I remembered the apostle Paul’s solution, to “put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil” (Ephesians 6:10).

“Put on the whole armor of God.” God has given me and my wife a set of armor, but He expects us to put it on daily. I am responsible to put on my armor–no one else can do that for me. And, although I can’t make Elizabeth put on her armor, one of my greatest acts of love is to do all I can to insure that she, my fellow soldier and mate, also arms herself each day.

As a former Army Reservist, I see my role as a last minute equipment check for the upcoming battle of today. For example, Elizabeth’s brother was trained as an Army Ranger. One of the areas of his training was parachute jumping. The last precaution made before a Ranger jumps out of the plane is a “buddy check.” Each soldier checks the equipment of the man in front of him to make sure they are ready for the jump.

It’s the same for you. Every morning, you and your mate must get ready for your “jump.” One or both of you are going off to work, or to take the kids to school, or to tackle any other endless number of couple actions one of you takes throughout the day. You jump, like that paratrooper, into a free fall. You don’t have any idea what you are going to experience as you “fall” through your day. You are blown about as you drop toward your objective of making it home safely at the end of the day.

But the level of the safety of that jump goes up when each of you, as partners in marriage, has been cleared for the jump by your buddy. I hope you see the analogy. Your mate is your buddy. Your greatest act of love toward your spouse is to encourage one another to “put on the whole armor of God.” Your responsibility toward the love of your life is to make sure they are ready to do battle against the forces of evil. Can you commit to put on the armor for yourself, and to buddy check your spouse? And can you both commit to do this for each other today, tomorrow, and all the tomorrows of forever?

 

© Copyright 2017
Elizabeth & Jim George


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