Sunshine, beaches, lakes, family, road trips, sports, no school…and no church? Summer is a great time to be with family. But, did you know summer months is also a very challenging time for many church members? As a pastor, I’ve seen “Christians” take these three vacations every summer…
#1 – Take a vacation from church!
Every summer people get out of the habit of attending church. It usually starts with “legitimate reasons” around family, work, or play. But, after a while a thought enters the mind, “I don’t need church to have a relationship with God.” Obviously, we can walk with God outside of church, but we’re stretching this idea to benefit our self centered interest as well. I’ve never seen a spiritually mature Christian who is not committed to their local church. During the summer months, when you are in town, attend your local church! When you’re out of town, listen to your church’s podcast, watch their videos, church emails, etc. You will enjoy life more when you stay connected to the biblical community God has put in your life. There is no substitute for corporate worship, serving others on weekends, and encouraging others in person, who are walking by faith. Your presence at church encourages others! Incidentally, when you are out of town, go to church! It’s great opportunity to see God move in other churches! Maybe God has a word for you!
#2 – Take a vacation from giving!
Every summer there are people that stop honoring God with their finances. Usually the logic is, “I’ll pick it up again after summer ends.” So, they use their tithe or offering, that typically goes to God, and give it to beaches, road trips, lakes, or summer toys in their life. Sometimes there is a thought that, “I’ll catch up later.” Both thoughts are not realistic. Rarely, does someone come to church in September, with a check for missed tithes in June, July, and August. It just doesn’t happen. Something practical you can do is set up automatic giving through your bank. This will ensure your giving stays strong during the summer, and you don’t take a break from honoring God with your finances. After all…who do you think has blessed you to the point that you can enjoy the good things of life? BTW, expenses do not change in the summer months in most churches! Enjoy your vacation. Honor your God.
#3 – Take a vacation from reading your bible!
Every summer trip involves a new routine. We are routine oriented people. When we’re out of our routine, it’s very easy to get out of good habits, like reading your bible. Be intentional about spending time with God, even on your vacation! You will discover you will actually be more enjoyable to others, and you will have much more patience for others too! Most of all…maybe God has a word to share with you during that summer break! Some of my greatest moments with God happened while I was reading my bible…on my vacation. When you open your bible, spend time with Jesus Christ. Don’t rush through scripture or prayer. Learn to talk to have conversation with the one who loves you.
By Pastor Ruben Villarreal
Ruben is the founding pastor of ThornCreek Church in Thornton, Colorado. He and his wife, Grace, moved to Thornton in September 2002 to start ThornCreek. They have been married for 23 years, and have two wonderful children, Josiah and Hannah.
Splitting up is a sad and life-changing problem for all individuals involved, especially the children. The best answer is not to do it but if that does not happen, here are ten things to consider to make a negative situation moderately better for your kids.
#1 – It Will Never Be Perfect – There is no way to “make splitting up right” with your child because you can’t make divorce right if you go that far. It will always be a problem in the child’s life, and it’s crucial that you understand the nature of the problem or you may be discouraged by the ongoing difficulties that divorce cause children.
#2 – Each Child Is Different – Every child is different, so what you say depends on the maturity of your child. Some children will process the divorce quietly while others may act out their thoughts. Either way, splitting up a family is like a seed that you plant in their hearts, and you won’t know how it will affect them entirely until years later.
#3 – Their Ages Matter – The age of the child makes a difference. If the kids are young, you will not be able to say much to them. They do not have categories or discernment to grasp adult problems. Think of it like having the sex talk: you can’t tell them the full scoop when they are young.
#4 – Tell Them the Truth – According to how a unique child can understand it, share what you’re able, even in the most simplified ways, e.g., “Mommy and I are not getting along now, so we have separated.” You are telling them the truth, and you’re keeping it simple for the age of the child.
#5 – Expect Fallout – When your child does act out, consider the source of the behavior. In some way, you’ll see how it’s connected to what happened to their family. Though you will need to correct the child, you must discern the complicatedness that the “shaping influence” of divorce causes. This reality requires much prayer and wisdom.
#6 – Breakups Cause Insecurity – Every child needs security more than anything else, which is why divorce is so devastating to them. The “big people in the room” are the primary ones to provide a secure environment, and when they don’t, there will be adverse consequences, i.e., tempted to find security through other means.
#7 – Don’t Presume on God’s Grace – Some parents flippantly think, “Oh, God will take care of this” or “it’s better this way.” It’s not better “this way.” The reason God permits divorce in some situations is that of hard-heartedness. God may “protect” your children in spite of you, but you do not want to take God for granted.
#8 – Watch the Legalism Trap – Parents of an unwanted divorce may think they have ruined their children for life. While a failed marriage is not right, God transforms all of us by His grace rather than by our works. One trap (#7) is presuming on God’s grace while the other is thinking your “works” are the most significant thing.
#9 – Never Stop Stewarding – You must always discern the contours of your child’s life while bringing care to the ever-changing problems that divorce causes as the child grows. While they are young, their resilience will not be needed as much. As they grow up, they’ll have more thoughts and temptations that will require more competent care.
#10 – Never Speak Evil – Don’t be that person that creates a tension in your child’s heart by speaking critically about your spouse. Regardless of what your spouse has done, he (or she) is still the child’s parent. Don’t make your child choose who he will like more. And when the kid speaks critically of your former spouse, be mature enough to help him change his attitude.
(This article is intended for parents who are married. It is not for those who are already divorced. My desire is to warn any spouse, who is unwilling to make the necessary changes in his/her life to repair their marriage, to repent, and not pursue a divorce. There is no desire to heap guilt on those who are living out an unwanted divorce, as I have been living for more than thirty years.)
There are many bad things on our cultural landscape today that will never go away until Jesus returns. Drugs, homosexuality, abortion, and wrong religion are four of those things that quickly come to mind.
- Using Drugs: a broken home is a temptation for children to find escape through drugs.
- Being Gay: a broken home is one way children become confused about sexual identity.
- Having an Abortion: a broken home tempts young girls to look for love in all the wrong places.
- Ineffective Religion: a broken home can tempt a child to reject God, especially if the parents profess Christ, but were not authentically living for Him.
- Then there is divorce.
Not the Best
I have seen the common denominator of a broken home as the catalyst to all of these outcomes, plus many more in my life as a counselor. In that way, the family is more important than a local church because it is families that make up the church body.
A local church body cannot be stronger or better than the family; the church is submissive and dependent upon the health of its constituent families. If the families are weak, it weakens the more substantial body that makes up that localized group.
Because the whole is made up of its parts, this makes the need for healthy God-centered, God-loving families a non-negotiable if you want healthy churches.
The preacher can preach until he is blue in his face, but if the preaching and all the other ancillary equipping ministries of the church are not appropriated by its families, for the transformation of the families, the church will always function from a position of weakness.
If the question is, “Are divorced children worse off than non-divorced children,” the answer is an absolute yes.
Someone may say that their marriage was so horrible that the best thing for their children was for the parents to divorce. That reality is not the issue I’m discussing here. In a vacuum, the problem in view here is whether divorce is better for children or not.
Divorce is always wrong and never right for any child. It may be better if we are talking about the battle between the lesser of two evils–a horrible home situation vs. a divorce. Neither one is the best outcome for a child.
There is no debate here; divorce is never right for the children. Period. You cannot go against God’s design, even if you have a biblical divorce, and the church encourages you to get a divorce because it is biblical and your home life was horrid.
Not God’s Design
It reminds me of what our Lord talked about in Matthew 19:3-12, where He said that divorce was never God’s will, but because of the hardness of the people’s hearts, He had Moses pen Deuteronomy 24:1-4. This truth makes “hardness of the heart” a pivotal phrase in this discussion. (See Hebrews 3:7-8, 4:7; 1 Timothy 4:2)
The problem was that the good Lord’s creation–at least some of them, though not all–did not want to do it the right way; they had hard hearts. Whenever hard-heartedness is the case, it will always create problems that people can’t resolve–even when the other spouse does not want the divorce.
A simple look at the process that leads to these kinds of un-resolvable problems in the lives of folks who choose to divorce could be like this:
- There is only one right way: do not divorce.
- Okay, but you divorce anyway, whether biblical or not.
- Because you chose to do it your way, there will always be collateral damage, e.g., innocent people hurt (e.g., the spouse that did not want a divorce will suffer), church people will divide, problems never fully resolved, and children divide too. Plus, more issues, ad infinitum, that will continue to roll out once divorce becomes the redefinition of marriage.
If the two spouses do not mutually agree that there is only one right answer (John 14:6) for living well with others on God’s earth (Philippians 2:3-4), there will be problems they can’t resolve. This reality is real even if a person can biblically divorce while honoring God’s Word (Matthew 19:3-12; Mark 10:2-12; Luke 16:18; 1 Corinthians 7:1-16).
Once you go to another answer (Proverbs 14:12) besides the only right answer, even if you have permission for a divorce (Matthew 19:8), there will be problems, conundrums, questions, mysteries, riddles, dysfunction, confusion, un-resolvable conflict, and a boatload of other issues that only the future will reveal.
Being left with the divorce option, regardless of how the person came to that decision, is never the ultimate right answer, as in the best option, because even a proper reason for divorce happens because of the hardness of somebody’s heart.
That adverse situation is not the answer that anyone wants to hear (Matthew 19:10). The truth is that if the response a person is looking for is something cleaner, purer, and more holy when there is sin involved, there will be one more disappointment added to their problems. There is no “clean” and satisfying answer when a person in a relationship chooses to sin–unless that answer is repentance, which leads to God-glorifying reconciliation and restoration.
There has never been a satisfying answer to the sinfulness of man except for a sin-crushing solution (Genesis 3:15). Deuteronomy 24:1-4; Matthew 19:3-12; 1 Corinthians 7:1-16 are not sin-crushing solutions, but second best permissions that allow people to tread in the waters of sin because all the people in the marital mess were not choosing the only right answer.
The cross is the ultimate solution; on it, Christ conquered sin (John 19:30). The answer for God’s children is to emulate that cross work in their lives (Luke 9:23; 1 John 1:7-10). If that does not happen, we’re all left trying to make out the best we can, giving half-satisfying solutions, showing compassion where we can, confronting when needed, while trying to patch up (but never heal) the sickness that is among us.
You Can Divorce
I’m not suggesting that you should have gone back to a horrible marriage. I am not even talking to you if you are divorced–regardless of how it happened. I’m strictly dealing with one question: Are children better off with divorced parents?
It is possible that your children can be okay. Ironically, my parents did not divorce, but it would have been a better situation, I do believe if they had divorced. Our home life was horrid. And even though I came from a broken home, where my parents never divorced, we were not better off by being in that kind of environment.
- Would divorce have made us better children? No.
- Would living in a dysfunctional home make us better children. No, it didn’t.
Two of my brothers went to prison and later murdered. Another brother has never trusted Christ. Two brothers trusted Christ. And even though God regenerated two of us, we have spent our entire lives working through the horrible shaping influences from our upbringing. If we are discussing the lesser of two evils, both of them are evil.
- Marriage dysfunction breeds children dysfunction.
- Divorce dysfunction breeds children dysfunction.
Honoring the Lord in your marriage is the only right way. Whenever a person presumes that divorce is best for the children, they are either (1) self-deceived, (2) self-centered, or (3) they are weighing the divorce option in a lesser of two evils scenario.
Here is a short-list of some of the fallout that happens when divorce happens. This list is not exhaustive, nor is it put in order of priority. These are some of the things I have experienced when dealing with families and divorce. These things are in addition to the four problems at the top of this piece: drugs, gay, abortion, and religion.
#1 – When divorced children are young, the vision of the parents can be myopic: they cannot see into the future. Children are not as challenging to parent in every way while they are young. They are mostly oblivious to the evil in our world due to a lack of experience.
#2 – Fear of man (Proverbs 29:25) will be one of the early pressures as they soon realize that they are different. Being shuttled to one parent or the other, and the many other disruptive things in their lives will communicate a clear and steady message: something is wrong.
#3 – Looking for acceptance will be one of the kid’s strongest desires as they try to deal with the insecurity (fear of man) issues in their hearts. They will be compelled to find anything or anyone who feels like love to them.
#4 – Guilt and shame are kissing cousins in the hearts of the divorced. As they grow older, there will be days when they will say, “I can’t hang with (my friends) this weekend; I have to be with my dad.” Just the thought of that stirs guilt and shame as it divides the child between being with his friends and being with his dad.
#5 – Anger will soon follow because he realizes that his parents should not have put him in that position. The division in his heart began when his parents chose to divide the marriage. He will have a hard time mortifying the bitter anger that he will feel.
#6 – His relationship with God will suffer because he has a skewed view of who God is and how God relates to His creation. His dad (or mom) will be distant at best. His dad cannot be on the scene all the time, even if he has custody of the child.
#7 – One parent will create a distance from the family dynamic because being together cannot be successfully maintained. This concept is why the courts mandate custody–an ungodly way of giving a faint picture of a family after divorce destroys it.
His job, maybe a new wife, maybe new children, having to create an entirely new home life with unending responsibilities will keep him at a distance, no matter how hard he tries.
#8 – Teenagers will drift from the family because there won’t be anything to persuade them to do otherwise. They will create their communities where continuity of relationships is more comfortable to maintain.
#9 – The child will overreact to his upbringing. He has no choice. He will either respond in anger or react by running as far from it as he can. Either way, he will not be balanced (Read: God-centered). He will be overly shaped by what happened to him.
#10 – The child’s future marriage will struggle because he had no template or training on how to love, learn, and lead a wife. If we’re talking about a girl, she will also struggle differently because she never had a biblical template for relationships.
#11 – Divorce perpetuates dysfunction. Unless the gospel comes into their lives, children of divorce will struggle mightily. Apart from the Lord’s imposing mercy, as experienced through the gospel, it always works out that way.
Call to Action
I have only given you eleven points. There are so many more, and each one of them should take a full article to unpack and explain. The repercussions of divorce cannot be under-estimated. The effect on children is incalculable.
If I speak from a “human responsibility perspective,” a couple’s best play is to repent of whatever that is hindering their marriage from looking like Christ and His Church. If that does not happen, there will be inestimable fallout.
Yes, it is true that the grace of God is the means that can clean up all our sin. It is also true that we should not presume on His grace, by expecting Him to clean up our messes so we can do whatever we want to do.
Keep back your servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me! Then I shall be blameless, and innocent of great transgression. – Psalm 19:13
A Patriotic Call for Revival in America
Write a few words in a card … check.
Eat meals together … check.
Buy him a new shirt … check.
Do your kids run a similar checklist through their heads each time Father’s Day circles round? How about giving them some creative ideas for how they can honor their father?
As far as influencing children about their father, mothers hold an unequaled voice. Proverbs 1:8 says, “Hear, my son, your father’s instruction, and forsake not your mother’s teaching,” affirming the influential role mothers possess. And Paul tells us in Ephesians 6:2 that we should teach children to “‘Honor your father and mother.’” With Father’s Day coming up, consider suggesting to your kids a few practical ways to display honor to their father.
Here are 10 ideas to get you started, with appropriate ages assigned to each:
- Obey your father (age 3 and up).
Your kids’ obedience can be the highlight of their dad’s day. Disobedience, on the other hand, can weigh it down like a sand bag.
When I was about 10 years old, my family enjoyed a special day out together. The four of us were driving home and, despite my parents’ repeated requests, my sister and I would not quit bickering. Our disobedience crossed the line and scored us a substantial consequence. The air was thick with emotions, and sadly, this is the only part I remember about that day.
Kids will be kids—they can’t help it. But kids also have the God-given ability to obey if you present clear expectations. Christ daily displayed an allegiance to His Father, obeying Him even to the point of death (Philippians 2:8).
Mothers, you occupy the prime position to encourage your children to obey their father, despite his failures. You may be surprised how a respite from dealing with disobedience can honor him.
- Replace complaints with praise (age 4 and up).
A child’s nagging and whining can sap everyone’s capacity to experience the goodness of a moment. As a mother, you know this well.
Since complaints spring from a heart of discontent, consider priming your kids to develop a posture of thankfulness for all their dad does for them. Suggest they think of three things they admire about their dad to tell him on Father’s Day.
Contemplate what a word of esteem, as small as it may be, could do for his spirit. You may not know the impact a few words of thanks can have.
- Start a “Dad journal” (age 5 and up).
Before each Father’s Day, help the kids record any remarkable or even just plain silly things the kids did with Dad over the past year. (I would write about the new dance moves he debuted in our kitchen while listening to Imagine Dragons.) Make a tradition of rewrapping the journal for him to open each year and laughing together as you read each new entry. It will give him something to look forward to every Father’s Day, knowing his kids have captured what meant most to them.
By the time your kids are grown, the journal will be saturated with memories that honor the role he has played as a father. Creating a fun, personal method of capturing memories is perfect for reflecting moments down the road. Priceless.
- Surround him with his favorite things (age 5 and up).
How do parents determine a theme for their child’s birthday parties? Most likely, the theme reflects the child’s favorite movie, activity, or location. We celebrate the child by surrounding him or her with what they enjoy.
Why can’t Father’s Day be the same way? While you don’t need to throw a party, you can create an atmosphere that creatively celebrates who he is.
Turn on his favorite ‘80s tunes and listen as a family. Play his favorite card game after dinner (“Up and Down the River,” anybody?). Make his favorite treat. Simple but meaningful things on Father’s Day can honor the quirks, tastes, and personality God gave him.
- Volunteer service (age 8 and up).
Encourage your kids to honor their father by washing his car without being asked, or by completing one of his household chores.
We see Jesus honoring His disciples when He washed the grime and filth off their callused feet (John 13:5). He truly loved others well, even when it required something of Him. Maybe your kids need a little nudge in the direction of self-sacrifice this Father’s Day.
- Ask him questions (age 10 and up).
I’m guessing your kids already know how to ask questions. Maybe too many!
However, the skill of asking good questions is invaluable. Good questions can make recipients feel valued and interesting, especially when paired with good listening skills. I’ve loved watching my dad light up when he talks about how many hours he played basketball in his backyard or reminisces about the chocolate chip cookies his mom used to make.
Prompt your kids to ask their dad questions like:
- What were your childhood birthday traditions?
- What was your favorite thing to do with your friends growing up?
- Who were the most influential people in your life (aside from your parents)?
- What toys were special to you when you were young?
- Which candy bar was your favorite?
- When did you learn how to play (insert an instrument or sport)?
- What made you fall in love with Mom?
There’s nothing wrong with feeding your children some thoughtful, bite-sized, questions they can ask during a Fathers’ Day meal or as you’re driving in the car.
- Reflect on the past (age 12 and up).
Does their father grow nostalgic at times? Does he reminisce about when his kiddos were just wee ones and fit snuggly in his arms? My own dad often remembers my “rosebud lips” that he loved pinching when I was little. Their father may not express it often, but he probably wishes he could have those sweet, early years back every once in a while.
If your kids are old enough to reflect on the past, encourage them to designate space during Father’s Day to look back on the past together. Sit on the couch and flip through photos and watch home videos. Pull out a board game that once frequented your dinner table. Let your sides ache from laughter and cheeks grow wet with tears.
You might be amazed at how a father is honored by the fact you would reflect with him. It communicates: “I have not forgotten. You were special to me then, and you still are today. I will never be too old to treasure what we have.”
- Extend forgiveness (age 13 and up).
I’m sure you cannot count how many times you’ve told your children to forgive each other. Among many other things, they hit, tattle, lie, and provoke each other, meriting the classic script: “I’m sorry for what I did. Will you forgive me?”
Yet, have your children ever extended forgiveness to their parents? I’m sure they have for trivial things, like when dad was late to pick them up from choir practice or when he ordered the wrong kind of pizza. But what about those deeply seeded offenses that your kids have buried in their hearts? Have they festered to the point of resentment?
Remind your children of the power in forgiveness. Paul entreats us to, “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you” (Ephesians 4:32). Because Christ has forgiven us of so much, He helps us forgive others in turn. This Father’s Day could turn their relationship 180 degrees through the simple statement: “I forgive you, Dad.”
- Encourage a restored relationship (age 16 and up).
But maybe you feel it’s too late. Perhaps your children never developed a secure relationship with their father. Or something happened to sever it. If this is the case, I want to encourage you to at least think through helping your kids restore their relationship with their dad.
I understand. Maybe this isn’t the appropriate season for restoration. Or maybe you simply see it as an impossibility. But it is also possible that your children need your confidence and support to make the first move toward reconciliation. God is in the business of making broken things whole and old things new. Your family dynamics are not out of His bounds.
A simple phone call on Father’s Day can be an honorable first step.
- Let your kids see you honor your dad (any age).
Lessons about honoring parents are caught just as well as taught.
Have you ever sat down and written a tribute to your father? Consider collecting a list of things you admire about your dad. Even if he hasn’t been the perfect model of fatherhood, can you recall snapshot moments in your youth when you were happy together, or specific things he said that built you up? During your Father’s Day celebration, step up to present it to him in the presence of your family. Honoring him publicly with your words can have a lasting impact on all involved.
(As a guide to help you write a tribute, consider reading The Forgotten Commandment, by Dennis Rainey.)
Your position as a mother is a gift. Use it this Father’s Day. May your children be greatly inspired to honor their father this holiday and over the years.
Article by Lauren Miller
Join us June 17th at 6:00 pm for an incredible evening of music by Mercy’s Well.
For any rising, young Christian vocal group, each new recording and each church or concert appearance spawns the hope of making an indelible mark on the life of each individual who hears the music that group presents. Before the first note has been played or the first lyric has been sung, the commitment is made to strive for perfection. Nothing less can be said of talented trio, Mercy’s Well.
Originally organized in 1998 as a duet, Mercy’s Well, under the leadership of group founder, Brad Strider, soon made the natural transition to a trio. The group’s first three single releases paved the way for their first Top 80 single in 2005. Throughout the past six years, the group, which is based in Greensboro, NC, has continued to produce chart topping singles and has gained national attention from fans, music critics, pastors and promoters alike.
Your Change Can Change Lives! IBC will have bottles available April 29, 2018. Place change, cash or checks to fill the bottle and then return the bottle on or before May 20th.
Each year, baby bottles are dispersed to churches, businesses, and other groups across Forsyth County in efforts to raise funds for the mothers and children that visit our center. Every baby bottle filled with loose change, cash, or check provides live-saving assistance as well as loving, practical support for mothers in need. Whether it is diapers, clothes, or parenting classes, you are helping provide the compassionate, emotional support these women so desperately desire. We greatly appreciate any funds that are raised to support the women we try to encourage every day!
Salem Pregnancy is a safe refuge for hurting women who find themselves in an unplanned pregnancy. They listen to your fears, your questions, and your personal struggles with compassion and offer real solutions. They provide you with factual information so that you can make an informed decision about your next decision.
ABOUT SALEM PREGNANCY CARE CENTER SERVICES
Free lab-quality pregnancy tests
Information regarding community resources (housing, food, medical care, parenting classes, etc.)
Pregnancy Medicaid Assistance (pregnancy test verification)
Non-judgmental, confidential guidance and help
Free maternity and baby clothes
Parenting program and faith-based study for pregnant women
FREE Mobile Ultrasound (for qualified clients). Following a positive pregnancy test, a vaginal ultrasound may be approved. This procedure will determine the following: whether the pregnancy is viable (detect a fetal heartbeat), if the fetus is stabilized in the uterus, the gestational age, and the due date.
How often have we asked ourselves these questions? . . . When should I pray? . . . What should I say? . . . Where should I pray? . . . Why should I pray? . . . Will my praying really make a difference? . . . and the question for this month is . . . What is prayer? By examining God’s Word, we can discover ‘what prayer is’ and ‘what prayer is not’. We read many prayers of faithful saints throughout the Bible and Jesus gave us clear instructions as He modeled prayer and taught His disciples how to pray.
‘Lord teach us to pray as you prayed’
Jesus is our perfect example for prayer as He modeled a love relationship between Him and His Father during His time here on earth. Jesus lived a lifestyle of praying before His disciples – they even asked Him to teach them to pray as we read in Luke 11:1 – ‘And it came to pass that, as He was praying in a certain place, when He ceased, one of His disciples said unto Him, Lord, teach us to pray…’ The disciples had witnessed Jesus spending many hours praying with His Father. Jesus stepped away often from the busyness and the crowds to spent time with His Father praying before decisions, praying for strength when tempted, praying for direction, praying the Father’s will, praying in the garden before He paid the sacrifice for our sins at Calvary. Prayer does not come naturally to most believers – it is learned as it is modeled by others, taught, and put into practice. Our prayer is that all of us will develop such a love relationship with our Heavenly Father that we will pray without ceasing as we bring glory to God and see Christ’s Kingdom work accomplished here on earth.
- Prayer is not to be feared
Prayer is living in the presence of God as we engage in intimate conversation with a Heavenly Father Who is always pursuing a love relationship with His child. We were created for His pleasure and fellowship as we read in Revelation 4:11b- ‘You have created all things, and for Your pleasure they are and were created’. God loves us so much that He provided a way for our salvation so that He could fellowship with us. Jeremiah 33:3 tells us that God promises to answer us if we call on Him and He will show us mighty things that we could never know. Our loving response back to God should be the same as the psalmist David in Psalms 42:1 ‘Father, as the deer pants for water, so my heart pants for You’.
- Prayer is not primarily about you
Prayer is focused on God, Who He is and His desires. The model prayer that Jesus taught His disciples in Matthew 6:9-13 begins and ends with praise and adoration for God – ‘Our Father, Who are in Heaven, hallowed by Thy name . . . for thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever and ever.’ As Elaine Helms shares in her book, Prayer101, ‘We become like who we worship, so keeping our eyes on Jesus as we pray will draw us closer to Him. Getting to know the names and attributes of God will help us know what our objective is in becoming more Christlike.’ (for further study, names and attributes of God related to the monthly focus will be found under the tab ‘Listening and Responding to God’)
- Prayer is not having to wonder what to pray
Prayer is listening to God speak through His Word and the Holy Spirit directing us to pray back to God His Words so His will is accomplished on earth as it has already been in Heaven (Matthew 6:10). The priority of prayer is the will of God. As we ‘delight ourselves in the Lord’ (Psalms 37:4), our heart will line up with His and we’ll know what to pray. The more we read His Word, the more we will begin to see our world from His perspective. He will direct our prayers and as Elaine Helms shares in her book, Prayer101, ‘God will include us in His work here on earth as He invites us into partnership with Him to implement His own decisions in the affairs of mankind.’ This is why we are prompted to intercede on behalf of the spiritually lost, our family, those in authority, our churches, other Christians, the work of missionaries around the world, etc. It is ‘joy unspeakable and full of glory’ as we work with our Heavenly Father by praying the prayers He wants prayed to accomplish His plans and to see the glory of God in our world today. A quote from Andrew Murray – ‘My prayer life must be brought entirely under the control of Christ and His love. Then, for the first time, will prayer become what it really is, the natural and joyous breathing of the spiritual life, by which the heavenly atmosphere is inhaled and then exhaled in prayer’.
- Prayer is not about giving God a wish list of wants
Prayer is a moment by moment trusting and believing that God knows what is best for us in every situation. Jesus tells us in the model prayer that we are to ask for ‘our daily bread’. God has promised to provide our daily needs and He will as Jesus tells us in Matthew 6:25-34. Our first and foremost desire should be as stated in Matthew 6:33 – ‘Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things shall be added unto you.’ He wants us to depend on Him daily for our needs just as the children of Israel were given manna for each day. The motive for all that we ask should not be our own selfish wants, but that God will be glorified in our relationships, careers, family, finances, ministry, etc.
- Prayer is not passive
Prayer is actively engaging in a battle against the Enemy for souls and Christ’s Kingdom. Satan doesn’t want us to have an intimate love relationship with our Father. When we become a child of God, we are identified with Christ and become an enemy of Satan as we read in Ephesians 6:12 – ‘For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.’ As a solder in God’s army, He provides us with the uniform of His Spiritual armor (Ephesians 6:10-19), as we prepare for battle using the Word of God and prayer as our offensive weapons against the Enemy. Our charge as praying Christians is unity. To use a few of the words in the song ‘Onward Christian Soldiers’ – ‘Like a mighty army moves the church of God; We are not divided, all one body we’ emphasizes the strength of all of us actively engaging in prayer together. Jesus’ prayer for His disciples and us in John 17:21 was and still is today – ‘That they may all be one, even as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You, that they also may be one in Us, so that the world may believe that You sent Me’. Elaine Helms shares in her book, Prayer 101 – ‘We can link arms with intercessors around the world like highways on a map and bring the power of God to earth as it is in heaven’. Let’s stay alert in the Spirit and persevere in prayer to set captives free from the enemy. We are blessed to be a solder in God’s army.
‘The Holy Spirit has us by one hand as He indwells us and Jesus has us by the other hand as He is at the right hand of God – so we’re in pretty good company when we are praying’. (T. W. Hunt)
Despite the passage of time, despite the cultural differences, mothers of the Bible still speak profoundly to us today. All mothers need the timeless wisdom of moms who made a difference and can teach us to do the same.
The Bible is replete with narratives of mothers who grappled with many of the same issues we face today. Their stories help us navigate our own, creating a rich tapestry of faith that continues through each successive generation.
Eve, the mother of all, probably is best remembered as being duped by Satan. From Eve we can learn the importance of being aware of the enemy’s schemes, his desire to ruin families.
When we have important decisions to make, are overwhelmed, or are facing a trial of some sort, that’s when the enemy moves in as he did with Eve and says, “Did God really say …?” When we are most vulnerable, Satan wants us to doubt God’s character and his words to us. Don’t ever question what God says in his Word. If you begin to doubt, doubt your doubt. Sounds confusing, but it works. Be discerning and stick close to God.
Satan approached Eve when she was alone and vulnerable; from this we can learn the importance of staying in community. Join a women’s group at church or invite some Christian moms into your home for fellowship.
The widow of Zarephath struggled, as many mothers do today, with putting food on the table. Whether a single mom or in a family facing economic hardship, many moms are worried about having enough food. The woman of Zarephath was asked by God to give what little she had to someone else, something we probably don’t consider, believing that we need to conserve and ration what little we have. Give our food to someone else? Ludicrous! But not in God’s eyes. It’s in the giving that we receive, in the trusting that provision transpires.
Trust God as your Provider. If all you can spare is a single can of corn, give it. Take it to the local food bank or homeless shelter as a step of faith, believing that God will provide for your every need. Even a single can of corn is a beautiful sacrifice in the eyes of God. If we could easily do without it, it wouldn’t really be a sacrifice. May we be willing to say with David, “I will not sacrifice to the Lord my God that which cost me nothing” (2 Samuel 24:24, author paraphrase).
Hannah reminds us that our children really belong to the Lord; they are with us for just a brief time. I’m sure Hannah cherished every minute she had with Samuel, yet she knew from the very beginning whose he really was.
As moms we have the wonderful privilege of raising our children for however long they are with us. Yes, they are loud, they sap our energy, and at times they get on our nerves. But they are also beautiful, unique, and a wonder to behold. Enjoy every step of the parenting journey, for these children grow up way too fast.
The Canaanite woman reminds me of myself: stubborn, persistent, dogged. Like a mother bear protecting her cub, this mom wasn’t about to give an inch as she pleaded with Jesus on behalf of her child. I like that. Jesus did too, and said to her, “Dear woman, your faith is great. Your request is granted (Matthew 15:28).
No matter what you are going through, never give up. No matter how much your child rebels, never give up. If you are waiting for your prodigal to come home, keep waiting and never give up. God loves a persevering woman.
Mary watched her beloved son die on the cross, a pain so intense I’m sure she felt as though the nails were piercing her heart as surely as they were piercing her son’s hands. Mary grieved, but she kept on living. She became a “mom” to the disciple John.
Parenting can be painful, but it’s worth it. Perhaps you’ve loved and lost a child; I’ve lost three children myself through miscarriage. Maybe your prodigal has left home and you haven’t heard from him since. Or maybe years of infertility have left you barren. Become a mom to the motherless. My husband and I are in the process of adopting a child. Or be a much-needed spiritual mom to a kid who could use some godly guidance. Whatever you do, love with all you have.
While these are just some of the mothers of the Bible we can glean from, perhaps the greatest cumulative lesson to be learned is that the responsibilities of motherhood are great, but the rewards are even greater.
By Tammy Darling