April 2013

A Mother’s Day Focus

Spring is bursting with full force! And the busy birds building their nests and tending their young remind me of my busy days as a young mom. We are now the proud grandparents of eight. And from my two grown daughters I get a bird’s-eye view of the day-in, day-out issues, accidents, and squabbles that occur in every modern family… right along with the tender, oh-isn’t-that-sweet moments. But, the days of raising our two girls to love and follow God are near and dear to my heart.

So, these two weeks before Mother’s Day, I want to put a special focus on encourage and equipping all mom’s – both young and old –  to carry on the good work of raising children after God’s own heart.

As a mom, God has graced you with an incredible calling. Opportunities abound to love, encourage and serve your family and others in ways that no one else can. You spend every waking hour of your day encourag­ing others. And at the top of your list is encouraging your children, helping them grow up (and of course driving them here and there)!

Do you desire that your children love God with all their heart? If there is one thing that I could shout from mountain top to every frazzled mom it would be, “Pray! Pray! And Pray some more!” Put your desire for your children right at the top of your prayer list.

Secondly, be diligent to live a life that reveals your love for God. Matthew 5:16 says, “Let your light so shine before men [before your children], that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.” A woman—a mother—who loves God is a light in dark­ness. Pray for the Lord to help you be that light for your children and family. And, pray diligently that the Lord will work in their little lives to grow them into a light that shines before all men!

A Prayer to Pray:
Dear Father, let my lips sing praises, speak requests, and make frequent mention of Your mercy. Give my children ears to hear of Your goodness so that they turn to You, their heavenly Father, with ease and delight.

Do you have a busy mother in mind, who needs encouragement or direction? Both of my books, A Mom After God’s Own Heart and the companion devotional would make great gifts to accompany any mom on her journey.

What Does Faithfulness Look Like?

In all areas of our lives, including family life and friendships we should be ready to embrace an active faith. So, how can we put faithfulness in action?

Let’s consider the actions of a faithful woman. She is a mom, wife, and friend, who walks faithfully with God and follows through on whatever she has to do, no matter what. She shows up for her family and others. She keeps her word. James 5:12 says, “Let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No.'” So, we must keep our commitments and be reliable – always.

We must also be devoted to diligence, as Jesus was when He came to do His Father’s will. I’ve met so many women who change their minds like the weather. This, in turn, changes their loyalties, prior­ities, and standards. The question to ask as a woman after God’s own heart is this: You can count on the Lord. But can He count on you?

A Prayer to Pray: Lord, may You search my heart and find me to be faithful in my actions and thoughts. Let me put real energy toward being faithful as a wife, mom, friend and woman of God.

Today’s devotional is taken from one of my favorite little gift-books for moms. A Mom After God’s Own Heart Devotional contains over 250 short messages to refresh and recharge busy moms with God’s Word.

God’s List of People to Avoid

That doesn’t sound very nice, does it? But the Bible is very clear and specific when it speaks to us about who to befriend… and who to avoid! Here’s a short look at God’s list of people to reject as friends. As you read through these verses, make a note about the speech, character, or conduct of those who are not to be your friends and the negative effects they can have on you.

  • He who walks with wise men will be wise, but the companion of fools will be destroyed (Proverbs 13:20).
  • Make no friendship with an angry man, and with a furious man do not go (Proverbs 22:24).
  • I have written to you not to keep company with anyone named a brother, who is sexually immoral, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or an extortioner—not even to eat with such a person (1 Corinthians 5:11).
  • Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness?… Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever? (2 Corinthians 6:14-15).
  • Do not be deceived: “Evil company corrupts good habits” (1 Corinthians 15:33).

Did anyone come to mind? Are there a few people who should not be in your life right now? Is there a friend or family member with whom you should establish some boundaries or emotional distance? Establishing boundaries does not mean that you cut people out without explanation or rudeness. Perhaps discussing with them why you can no longer be in their company or join in their activities will influence them, rather than the other way around.

And, then there are situations when truly you must cut ties with a particular person entirely. This may feel like a daunting task that is easier to just avoid. But believe me, it is truly better to have no friend but Jesus rather than have the wrong friends!

Question: Who’s in your crowd? Is Jesus a part of it?

Friendships are important to us all at any age. For more encouragement in seeking the right friendships read my book, A Woman’s Guide to Right Choices. To help your children also choose their friends wisely, see our new resources for youth, including A Girl After God’s Own Heart and A Boy After God’s Own Heart.

Finding Friends

As a Christian, you already have a perfect friendship. You have a friend in Jesus Christ. God’s Son, Jesus, has chosen you to be His friend. Just as with His disciples, Jesus speaks of you as His friend: “You are My friends… I have called you friends” (John 15:14-15). With Jesus as your friend, you really don’t need anyone else.

But God also provides other people with whom you can and should have friendships. Women you meet at church are a natural starting point. And what about making friends with those in your community? Recently I spoke at a women’s conference in California, and while I was there, I spent time visiting with a former next-door neighbor I hadn’t seen in several decades. Amazingly, we picked up right where we had left off, before we both moved away those many years ago!

There are two other sources of friends that we often forget about. One is your parents. There is nothing weird about having your mom and dad as best friends. They are God’s gift to you. No one loves you more, or cares for your best interests more, than your parents. Make it a goal – and put in the time, effort, and money – to develop a deeper level of friendship with your parents. Work on it today and every day. And in later years you will be blessed and so glad you did.

Two, you also have friends in your brothers and sisters. As a child, you probably thought, Friends with my goofy brother? No way!  or Friends with my pesky little sister? You’ve got to be kidding! But in truth, your friends throughout life come and go. You may stay in touch with some, but most of your friends will move on.

But your family is just that – your family. They will always be there, especially if you work at building and maintaining friendships with them. And that goofy brother of yours is all grown up and not so goofy anymore. And that pesky little sister is a woman with a family of her own. So pray for your family members, and your nieces and nephews!  Make an effort to stay tight and close to your family.

A Prayer to Pray: Lord, help me to always see you as the most important friendship in my life. And help me to seek and develop relationships that are healthy, godly, and meaningful to both my life and theirs.

Please read my book A Woman’s Guide to Making Right Choices for more insight and encouragement for becoming a woman after God’s own heart.

From Jim’s heart… A Lifetime of Discipleship

If you knew you were going to die in the near future, what informa­tion would you want to pass on, and who would you want to pass it on to? That was Paul’s situation. He was on “death row,” waiting his execution for preaching the gospel of Christ. The letter of 2 Timothy is his last will and testament.

Of all the people Paul has known over the years, he chooses to write one last letter to his spiritual son in the faith, Timothy. Instead of trying to drum up sympathy or pity for himself or stir up reprisals against an unjust and godless governmental system, Paul writes to comfort and encourage and motivate Timothy.

Before he dies, Paul wants to pass on the mantle of ministry to Timothy, his trusted assistant. Concerned that Timothy may be in danger of spiritual burnout, Paul writes to encourage him to continue being faithful to his duties, to hold on to sound doctrine, to avoid error, to expect persecution for preaching the gospel. Above all, he encourages Timothy to put his confidence in the Word of God as he preaches it constantly.

He reminds Timothy of his assets for the ministry – a genuine faith that had been modeled for him by his mother and grandmother, his calling and giftedness, a resolve to hold tightly to the truth of God’s Word, and a loyalty that will last even under the most difficult of circumstances.

Paul then challenges Timothy to prepare others to follow him in the ministry. Timothy is to discipline himself like a soldier, an athlete, and a farmer, and to follow Paul’s example of endurance. In his dealings with others, Timothy must not get entangled in useless controversies. In his dealings with himself, he must flee youthful lust and keep his life pure.

And Paul exhorts Timothy to never waver in his use of the Scriptures to combat this growing problem. In fact, it was these same Scriptures that God had used even in Timothy’s childhood to made Timothy “wise for salvation” (2 Timothy 3:15). These Scriptures are “God-breathed” and will now equip Timothy to combat erroneous teaching and heresy.

To the very end, Paul is thinking of the personal and spiritual needs of others more than he is thinking of himself.

Question: How does Paul’s utter disregard for himself strike you? Are you so busy focusing on yourself and your perceived needs that you are failing to notice the people around you? Look outside yourself. You are sure to find plenty of people who could use a helping hand or a word of encouragement, particularly a message from God’s Word delivered to them… by you!

If you wish to learn more life lessons for men from the people in the bible like Paul and Timothy, you will find a great resource in my book,  A Leader After God’s Own Heart.

A Sticky Note Challenge

I have what I call a “sticky note habit.” I can’t help myself. Every store I shop in, I look at the sticky notes. In my office supply cupboard you’ll find them in every color, size, and shape. And I use them – on my computer, my planner, my refrigerator, and my microwave door. They’re even on my bathroom mirror so I see them first thing each morning. Well, here are four questions you can put on a sticky note on your mirror—and everywhere else. Happy learning!

  • What new thing can I learn today?
  • Who can I learn from today?
  • How can I be stretched in some aspect of my life today?
  • How can I become more Christ like today?

For more daily steps to living God’s plan for you in every area of life, pick up a copy of my book, Small Changes for a Better Life. You will find dozens of highly practical tips for every area of daily life, including your marriage, family, home, place of work, friendships, health, finances, and personal growth.

Learning from Those Around You

Learning as a lifestyle is not a solitary endeavor. Of course, you can gain much from reading books and listening to teaching, but don’t neglect gleaning wisdom from believers around you.

“A wise man will hear and increase learning, and a man of understanding will attain wise counsel” (Proverbs 1:5).

Choose to ask questions. Everyone is an expert on something and has something to teach you. Find out what that something is, and learn from these people. Approach every person as your teacher. Is there someone who is doing something you would like to learn about? Do you like to cook? Who can expand your abilities in this area? Are you thinking of home schooling? Who can you meet with to find out more about what’s involved? Want to find out how to study the Bible? Ask someone who’s passionate about it.

Choose to observe the lives of others. Look around you for models you can follow—or basket-cases to avoid!  Who seems to have their act together? Who seems to be a mess? Who seems to be living a godly life, moving in the direction you want to go? Observe both the good and bad. Take note of both. Then copy the good actions of others, and avoid the bad.

Choose to learn from the experiences of others. It’s been noted that the person who is limited to depending upon his or her own past experiences has relatively little material to work with. Say, for instance, you want to be a writer. Where should you start? You can ask an author or read a writer’s instruction on how they wrote their book. You will hear insight about both what to do, and what not to do. The same goes for your questions about a job change or fun hobby. Just ask someone with experience. It’s never too late to learn.

Choose to learn from God. I will never cease to say it again and again – don’t forget your Bible. The Bible is the best of all books for learning from the experiences of others. We have seen these past weeks through our devotionals on the faithful men and women of the Bible. Most importantly, our relationship with God, and the truth in his word, is “living and active” (Hebrews 4:12). God himself through the Holy Spirit will guide and counsel you (John 14:26).

Question: What is a topic that you have an unanswered interest in? Who is in your life that might have some answers to those questions?

If you are interested in learning from the experiences of the faith-filled women in God’s word, pick up a copy of my book, Walking with the Women of the Bible.

Why Keep Learning?

One of the reasons that we should never stop learning is that we can then pass on our knowledge to our children and others in our sphere of influence. But, don’t worry. God doesn’t expect you to have a teaching degree! But He most definitely expects you to be your children’s primary teacher. I counted at least 20 times where some form of paren­tal teaching is mentioned in the book of Proverbs. For example, Proverbs 22:6 says, “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.”

No matter what the obstacles, no matter the lack of immediate payoff, no matter how tired you are, or even if your teaching doesn’t seem to be making a difference—stay at it! Bringing up your children to love the Lord and serve Him faithfully is what being a parent is all about.

Are your children grown? Have I got news for you, my dear friend! You’re still on assignment. And this is a word not from me, but from God. He says the “older women” in the church are to teach and admon­ish the young women to love their children (Titus 2:3­4).

Are even your grandchildren grown? Well, God is calling you—His older, wiser, more experienced mom—to pass on what you know about raising chil­dren. Do you have nieces and nephews? Are there chil­dren in your church? Just look at the opportunities you have to be that mature, godly woman in the life of someone younger. You’ll discover more benefits to acquiring age (and the wisdom that comes with it) than you ever thought possible!

A Prayer to Pray:

Lord, you have given me the important responsibility of raising a child. I will not give up! I rest in the promises and guidance of Your Word as I teach my child to love You completely. Even when they are grown, I accept that I am still on assignment. I have so much of Your love to share with other moms and kids. I want to be used by You in every season of my life.

For more encouragement for a woman’s soul see my book, A Woman’s High Calling, which includes ten ways to eliminate the clutter and chaos of everyday life and focus on the areas that God considers truly essential. There’s no higher calling for a woman than making God’s priorities your own. This book will help you become eager to simplify your life, adopt God’s essentials, and pass them on by mentoring other women.

Part 3 – Learning as a Lifestyle – Open Your Eyes to Those Around You

Learning as a lifestyle is not a solitary endeavor. Of course, you can gain much from reading books, but don’t neglect gleaning wisdom from believers around you.

“A wise man will hear and increase learning, and a man of understanding will attain wise counsel (Proverbs 1:5).”

Choose to ask questions. Everyone is an expert on something and has something to teach you. Find out what that something is, and learn from these people. Approach every person as your teacher. Is there someone who is doing something you would like to learn about? Do you like to cook? Who can expand your abilities in this area? Are you thinking of home schooling? Who can you meet with to find out more about what’s involved? Want to find out how to study the Bible? Ask someone who’s passionate about it.

Choose to observe the lives of others. Look around you for models you can follow – or basket-cases to avoid!  Who at church is doing things you would like to learn how to do? How about in your neighborhood, or your workplace? Who seems to have their act together? Who seems to be a mess? Who seems to be living a godly life, moving in the direction you want to go? Observe both the good and bad. Take note of both. Then copy the good actions of others, and avoid the bad.

Choose to learn from the experiences of others. It’s been noted that the person who is limited to depending upon his or her own past experiences has relatively little material to work with. Say, for instance, you want to be a writer. Where should you start? Find someone who has written a book or has published articles in magazines. Ask her how she got started and what advice she can give you. The same goes for your questions about a job change or fun hobby. Just ask someone with experience. It’s never too late to learn.

Choose to learn from God. I will never cease to say it again and again – don’t forget your Bible. The Bible is the best of all books for learning from the experiences of others. We have seen these past weeks through our devotionals on the faithful women of the bible. Also, our relationship with God and the truth in his word is “living and active” (Hebrews 4:12). God himself through the Holy Spirit will guide and counsel you (John 14:26).

Question: What is a topic that you have an unanswered interest in? Who is in your life that might have some answers to those questions?

If you are interested in learning from the experiences of the faith-filled women in God’s word, pick up a copy of my book, Walking with the Women of the Bible.

Part 2 – Learning as a Lifestyle – Choose to be a Zealous Reader

For several decades I enjoyed a mentoring ministry to women at my kitchen table. What a blessing to spend time each week with “girl talk” and have the opportunity to get to know these awesome sisters in Christ and pour my life into theirs!

One of the conditions I set for our meetings was that they commit to reading every day. Number one on the list of books to read (as I’m sure you can guess) was the Bible. Beyond that, if a woman was married, she was to select, purchase, borrow, or check out a book on marriage and read five minutes a day in that book. If she was a mom (you guessed this too), she was to find on raising children and read five minutes a day in that book.

And because every woman lives somewhere, each choose a book on home management and read five minutes a day in that book. Beyond that, all my gals were to identify an area where they desired to grow as a Christian (like prayer, self-discipline, worship) and – you got it! – read five minutes a day in that book.

My goals for these ladies? First of all, to ground them in the faith. And second, to help them be on their toes with fresh input and reminders through their reading for tending their priority relationships and roles. And for all, married or not, to be growing as a Christian and preparing for future life and ministry…just by learning something each day that they could pass on to others. All this -accomplished in only minutes a day!

Ruth Graham, wife of the famed evangelist Billy Graham, told her daughters: “Keep reading and you’ll be educated.” The same applies to you, dear friend, so one of my primary suggestions for embracing learning as a lifestyle is to choose to be a zealous reader. Reading is the window to all learning. Reading exposes you to the entire globe and to the knowledge and experiences of others. In a very short time, you can know most of what another person has gained in a lifetime of experience.

You have only so much time, so be selective in your reading. Choose books that will build you up – books that will encourage and inspire you! Books that will teach and train you. Whenever I’m asked what kinds of books I like to read, the answer is always “Biographies!” I learn so much from others’ experiences as leaders, wives, and moms. I soak up their faith experiences with sorrow, loss, prayer, suffering… and great victories and triumphs. Reading is a quick way to learn from people’s successes as well as from their mistakes.

Don’t forget – the first book you want to read and read again and again is the Bible. Read it a little at a time from cover to cover, over and over, for the rest of your life. It is the only book that can help as you face cancer, deal with difficult problems with your children, and anything in between. The Bible – often referred to as “the Book” is the best book to guide you through life.

Question: Do you often feel that reading the Bible is intimidating? Or, is reading not really your favorite thing to do? Please don’t let this keep you from learning. In just a few minutes a day you can connect with God’s truth through a Daily Reading Bible or one of our many devotional books.

A great resource to keep learning about God’s priorities for you is my book,A Woman’s Guide to Making Right Choices.

 

© Copyright 2017
Elizabeth & Jim George


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