A Mother’s Encouragement

As I get older and (hopefully) wiser, I am realizing more and more that it is better to see this life on earth as temporary. I am just passing through the fire, so that I am ready for the wedding feast in heaven. And part of that passing is to encourage and build others up in the hope and glory of Jesus!

Paul instructs us to do this very thing, “…encourage one another and build each other up…” (1 Thessalonians 5:11). Life is hard to live; and the one way we can make it easier for each other to stay the course in God’s hope while facing our tribulations is to encourage one another through them. And as a parent, we must do this ever so more for our children. They look to us for this very thing.

One way to encourage our children is to teach them to persevere through the difficulties they face vs. allowing them to run from them.  I have not always been good at this as a mom. Like most moms; I have wanted to protect my child from suffering. But as I grew in my parenting skills, I learned that the truth of the matter is this, my children will suffer! And I can’t always keep them from this. But the one thing I could do was teach them a new perspective, help them to walk obediently through the fire, and prepare them for the wedding feast in heaven. After all, who would attend a grand ball in tattered clothing?  To dress our children for the wedding feast in heaven, it takes meticulous preparation and often times that prep time requires suffering.

Now the story I am about to share with you is a bit extreme. Hopefully none of us will encounter this type of suffering, but I share this, so that you will learn from the mom in this story. She is the focus, not the child. Reading from the Foxes Book of Martyrs a young child of seven was called out of the multitude and asked this question, “Tell me, whether you think we should worship one Christ, and in Christ one Father, or else should we worship many gods?”

The boy replied “…certainly we affirm that God is one and that this one is unique and in as much, Christ is unique; as He is the one true God. For that there be many gods, we children do not believe.  Of my mother, with whose milk I sucked in this lesson, that I must believe in Christ.” From this confession, the child was treated as a young villain and traitor and was sentenced to suffer for his faith. Now most moms would want to protect her child; and she may even be persuaded to deny Christ and teach her child to do the same..all in fear of seeing him suffer horribly. But the mother of this child did not give into this temptation. She encouraged her child to stay the course.

While the child was hoisted up and scourged, the mother said to her sweet babe, ‘Do not crave cold water, instead thirst after the cup that the infants of Bethlehem once drank of, forgetting their mother’s milk and their paps.’ She willed her son to remember little Isaac, who willingly would be sacrificed; she gave this counsel as the tormentor harmed her son. The mother cried to her child, ‘Suffer, my child! And soon you will pass to Jesus. Your naked head now will be crowned in eternal glory.’ Denying her own pain, she encouraged the babe with a smiling countenance. And finally as the child would be beheaded, the mother sang this song to her son ushering him into the glory of heaven:

All laud and praise with heart and voice,

O Lord, we yield to thee:

To whom the death of this thy saint,

We know most dear to be.

“O Lord, we yield to thee…” is the purpose of every Christian mom and dad when it comes to their children. Our offering to the Lord is their little life being filled with the knowledge of our Lord. This mother knew that to hold her child here on earth in denial of Jesus was to give him the most evil gift of all. For she knew that it is better to reign in glory forever and ever with the Lord than to reign a few short years with the most evil of people on earth. She gave her son the gift of encouragement to press on and pass through.

Our current circumstances may not be so severe, but we can learn from this mom, to teach our children that their trials are opportunities to stand firm in their faith and to encourage them step by step to press on until one day they dine with Jesus. We do a disservice to our children to teach them to quit, give in, and remain unchanged. May we work hard among our children, admonishing them, holding them in high regard, and with great love, the love of our Christ, teach them to set their minds above so their souls are strong for the task at hand.

 1 Thessalonians 5v11


Confession Gains Us Power

“…This calls for patient endurance and faithfulness on the part of God’s people.”

(Revelation 13:10).

We consider that today’s crisis in the middle east is evident of the worse human atrocities that have ever been seen; then we step back in time to the year of 177, to a place most wretched as Lyons, Gaul (France) and realize today’s crisis is only a replica of the past. Lyons beheld one of the most wretched tortures of human life. Yet, it was not Lyons, Gaul that made this a breeding place for evil; it was (then) and is today the hearts of people who have given themselves fully to the devil and his work of wickedness.  For the Christian, how can we patiently endure? How can we be faithful to the end? How can we gain the power needed to stay firm in the midst of such malevolent anguish? We learn from those who have gone before us.

When I think of patient endurance and faithfulness that Revelation 13:10 calls for, I can’t help but think of a poor slave girl, weakened by gender and frail by size who endured such torture, yet showed the most power in weakness. Her name: Blandina of France.

Blandina, along with many other Christians, was tortured for her faith. In some cases their torture was used as entertainment, not just for recantation. (Wickedness of the worse kind is to see someone tortured for the pure sake of satisfying one’s thirst for blood. Something is very wrong with a person who desires entertainment of such a kind!)

From being burned alive, chained over a grate of burning coals, to being ripped apart limb by limb by hungry beasts, and being thrown via a catapult to the bulls, these Christians found strength in one thing: confession of their faith.

A battered, broken, yet power filled Blandina was so tortured that her persecutors were worn out by the cruelties they inflicted on her. She would not recant, nor would she die, instead she continued to believe in her Lord. Her stance in faith heaped exhaustion and fatigue upon her oppressors. What gave her the power to withstand? Her confession: “I am a Christian, and no evil is committed by us.” Once her confession was spoken, Blandina was filled with supernatural power to overcome the wickedness she faced. This power annihilated the very pain being afflicted upon her and the power itself within her was too much for the persecutors to handle. And her resolve fueled strength and inspiration into the Christians who were in line to be tortured next.

Maybe frail and weak she was, but spiritual strength by her confession was her salvation, “…for it is with your mouth that you confess your faith and are saved” (Romans 10:10). Salvation is found in eternity; it is found in forgiveness of our sin; it is found in new life in Christ, but it is also found on earth in the midst of persecution. This confession does not preserve life on earth (Thank God!), but it does preserves time on earth to exhibit great faith – it is a confession that strengthens our brothers and sisters in their faith and one that makes a mockery of the evil one and his followers.

Blandina teaches us that confession of who we are in Christ is our greatest power to overcome evil. The main way to patiently endure and remain faithful to Jesus in the midst of trial is to confess Him as Lord of our life and then boldly state who we are in Him, “I am a Christian.” This will not save your life on earth as this is not the goal anyway, but it will preserve your mind, heart and soul’s perspective; and then it will model for others that there is power to persevere in our struggles as we stake our claim firmly in our identity.

As noted in the Foxes Book of Martyrs, Blandina, “showed that those things that appear unsightly and contemptible among men (torture and death from this life) are most honorable in the presence of God…” We find that when we “on account of (our) love to God’s name is exhibited, real energy” is obtained. We do not find our strength in “boasting and pompous pretenses.” Man may boast about life and success on earth, but when all is stripped away, what will man recant? His temporary life on earth? His successes? His flesh? Or will he recant his Lord, Jesus? To recant our life, successes and our flesh on earth is to live in power with Christ. Otherwise the alternative is to suffer frenzied anxiety and agony forever and ever.

i am a christian

Stake your claim in who you believe in; then in the face of trial and/or (great or small) persecution, repeatedly speak boldly who you are, “I’m a Christian.” Then watch God grant you the power you need to patiently endure and live faithfully to God’s name until the very end!

We can do this, for, “We are Christians!”

How to Gain Victory Over the Devil!

What gives us the upper hand over the devil?

The devil uses his manipulative tactics to confuse our minds and lead us astray; he scares us with persecutions; and then he molests our thoughts with the gods of this culture. They key word in my statement above is ‘tactics.’ They are all tactics – all maneuvers to gain an advantage over us. What can we learn from our former counterparts in the faith who have been goaded, persecuted and even lost their lives this side of heaven because of him?  How did they triumph over him?

After Jesus’s ascension, we hear much about the apostle Peter and Paul, but not much about the other disciples. That does not mean they did not do just as much as these two. Every single one of the apostles of Jesus Christ served and suffered for Him with great loyalty and love. But in all that suffering, they had the upper hand of victory. Andrew is such a good example. His martyrdom is the most encouraging to me, because of how he approached his death, not just that he died without denying Christ.

Reading the account of Andrew’s martyrdom from Foxes Book of Martyrs, we learn that Andrew, the brother of Peter, did preach! He preached to the Scythians, Sogdians, Sacae (where the Ethiopians now live). He was eventually martyred by Aegeas, the governor of Edessenes. From the account of Bernard and St. Cyprian, we now have the exact confession of Andrew’s testimony and execution.

Andrew resisted the wicked counsel of Aegeas. He boldly told him that to be a judge of men, he must first know the Judge which lives in heaven and then worship Him. He told him that in worshiping the One True God of Jesus Christ, he would then be able to revoke his mind from the false gods and blind idols that he followed. The proconsul was not happy with Andrew’s words. Andrew went on boldly telling the proconsul that the gods he honored were not gods, they were actually most cruel devils – enemies of mankind. And by worshiping them he offended God and to offend God meant that God would turn from him. And to be left without God was to be left alone to his evil deeds, which meant to be alone with the most wicked heart that had no end at the evil it could produce.

The proconsul commanded that Andrew stop teaching such things; and if not he would be “fastened to the cross with all speed.” Being constant in his faith, Andrew did not stop. He said, “He would not have preached the honor and glory of the cross, if he had feared the death of the cross.”  Upon this statement, the proconsul sentenced him to his crucifixion.

What stands out to me the most in this story is how Andrew approached his death. Please bear with me in this story as what I am about to say to you is exactly how we need to embrace our persecutions (the crosses we bear in life)! Andrew’s response:

“Andrew, going toward the place where his cross was prepared did not change in countenance, did not lose his color, his blood did not shrink, he did not fail in his speech, his body did not faint, neither was his mind molested by fear and what ifs, his understanding did not fail him (as does most men in this circumstance), but out of the abundance of his love for His Savior, his words were kindled with sparks of glory, he said, ‘O cross, most welcome and long looked for! With a willing mind, joyfully and desirously, I come to thee; being the scholar of Jesus who did hang on thee: because I have always been thy lover, and have coveted to embrace thee.’”

How many of us face our persecutions (small and large) with such fervent eagerness?  When we do , we become like Andrew who triumphed and like those who will follow suit over the wiles of the devil just as Revelation 12 speaks,

“They triumphed over him (the devil) by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death.” In their waging with the devil, they kept God’s commands and held fast to their testimony of faith in Jesus Christ. (Revelation 12:10-11; 17).

Andrew loved the cross because he loved the blood of the Lamb which saved him from his sin, and this love gave him a fervent desire to share in the sufferings of His Lord. He was not afraid of the cross, because he was not a man who lived his life for this life on earth; he lived it for eternity. His focus was untainted by the gods of this world; he knew their falsehoods and pointless end. For Andrew, to embrace death on the cross for His Lord was to love Christ even more.

May we follow Andrew’s lead and not fear the devil. Triumph is yours, my friends! Triumph is our destiny even if it comes by way of persecutions. It still comes! And we will stand dressed in white robes holding the palm branch of victory! Oh may the words on our lips drip with “At the cross You beckon me…” (Sweetly Broken by Jeremy Riddle)


Are You Doing the Right Thing?

To justify simple sins in our lives is to join ranks with the false prophets that Isaiah speaks about in chapter 9 verse 15, “…the prophets who teach lies are the tail,” and the tail is controlled by the Great Red Dragon of Revelation who is the Devil. (Revelation 12:3-4:9). To justify sin in our life is equal to deceiving ourselves. If we are able to deceive ourselves, then we can deceive others.

The overcomer in this is the one who first recognizes they are in sin, and then chooses to do the right thing. For many, doing the right thing is not an easy task. It can be hard, because the right thing may mean giving up something we really want for ourselves. If you find yourself arguing to defend an action that seems wrong to others but right to you, you might want to check yourself and see if you have stepped into a deceptive ring with the Devil.

The worst of this is not just about you and me. It’s about those we influence around us and under us. Our deception not only can destroy our leadership credibility and the gospel of Jesus Christ, it can kill another’s walk with God. Sadly, when we think of doing something wrong, we see big instead of small. We justify small sins with, “It’s not sexual. It’s not blatant theft. It’s not murder.” The reality is this, sin never starts big, it always starts small. In those silent moments of justification, it’s much like a seed that is planted in the garden. We plant inappropriate sexual thoughts, we steal ideas, we plagiarize, we commit white-collar theft (embezzling money/things/time from our employer on a small scale), and we may murder by way of slandering another’s reputation through gossip. These are the small seeds that grow into the big trees of full-size public sins.

James says it directly “…it is sin to know what you ought to do and then not do it” (James 4:17). It really doesn’t matter how well you have justified and manipulated the small sin; if you know the right thing to do and don’t do it, it is sin. What’s a believer to do? What’s a leader to do?  We are to DO THE RIGHT THING, regardless of whether we like it or not. This is not only the righteous thing to do, it’s the mature thing. Maturity is often marked by the sacrifices we make for the good of others and the honor of the gospel vs. the plethora of knowledge we have accumulated and the charisma we display. Are we mature is the question? Or have we decided to remain an adolescent in our walk with God?

King Asa of Judah in 2 Chronicles 16 decided to remain an adolescent. He relied on the King of Aram and not on the Lord. Therefore, what he did was not right, what he did was foolish. His foolishness brought him great affliction even to his physical health. King Asa trusted his own vision and not God’s. He trusted his own power to solve his problems. And his vision failed. In the end, he sought his own glory, and he had no reverence for the Lord. (Take note, you can’t  revere the Lord and seek your own glory at the same time – it’s like oil and water, they don’t mix – the oil always wins!)

God, seeking to draw Asa back to reliance upon Him, He reminded King Asa of past successes in his life. Through Hanani, God said to King Asa, “Were not the Cushites and the Libyans a mighty army with great numbers of chariots and horseman? Yet, when you relied on the Lord, He delivered them into your hand.” Hanani concluded with, “For the eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to Him. You (King Asa) have done a foolish thing, and from now on you will be at war.” (2 Chronicles 16:8-9). King Asa became full of pride so much so that even in his severe illness (a disease in his feet), he still did not seek the Lord for help but only from a physician – man alone. In my opinion, his real illness was a heart of pride and unfortunately, that crippled his feet of continued influence.

We cannot do the wrong thing and have a heart that is fully committed to the Lord. When our heart is divided between “my way” and God’s way, we can only expect God to withdraw from us, not support us. As a Christian He is always there, but if we choose to live in sin, His support and strength will be at bay until we repent and DO THE RIGHT THING. If we continue to do the wrong things, we will not only distance our relationship with God, eventually others will catch on and we will be (at war) or in conflict with them. All because we support self above the righteous acts that God wants us to do.

Dear Friend, save yourself the troubles, and simply do the right thing. It’s what really matters in light of eternity! Is what you are doing now truly worth the withdrawal of God’s strength, or being the stumbling block to those in your influence, or worse bringing dishonor to our Lord Jesus Christ? Is it? No, my friends, it is not. DO THE RIGHT THING!

Doing What's Right

A Love Like This…

The human heart is fickle. In its fleshly nature, human love is dependent upon circumstances, feelings, and its selfish needs. In reality, human love is so opposite of Godly love that we can confidently call it hate. You see, hate has no patience to endure; it detests any sacrifice on its part. It cannot bear with another; and it has an aversion to commitment.

If we have been in church long enough we would all know the “Love Chapter” in 1 Corinthians 13:4-8. We say we understand this kind of love’s nature; we may have even recited this passage as vows at our wedding; we may promise to love others in this way. But when we are hurt, angered, or the circumstances change from pleasant to pandemonium, our human love may kick in. And then we live out this chapter with a human love vs. the way God intended.

“Human love is impatient, human love is unkind. Human love envies, it boasts, it is proud. It dishonors others, it self-seeks. Human love is easily angered; it keeps a record of wrongs. Human love delights in payback (evil), and it abhors acknowledgement of one’s own failures (truth). It does not protect – it harms. It does not trust – it is cynic, it does not hope – it desolates. It never perseveres – it withers. Human love fails every time.”

It’s always good to look at the opposite to truly understand the horrible disobedience of God’s word that we often practice. We see this human love played out in our everyday lives. It marks the mood of our culture and taints the very marriages that at one time proclaimed its opposite on their wedding day

I am thankful that God did not love us this way. I’m glad that His love was not dependent upon the circumstances of my fleshly condition. I’m glad that while I was still a sinner, He loved me enough to die for my sins, so I could receive His Godly love and live it by the power of the Holy Spirit. The reality is this we cannot love God’s way without God’s Spirit. We must submit to this way of love by way of decision and submission. The best way to tear down the walls of human love is to confess our sin of failing at it. Then pick up the baton of obedience. Then by the power and might of God’s love we can truly love the unlovable, forgive the unforgivable, and serve the undeserving.

Love is patient. It waits for the other to grow in their faith; it sees beyond the now and looks at the awesome changes God is making in the person we love. Love is kind. It gently guides and prays for the one we are in conflict with. Love does not envy and want what another person has; it appreciates what God has given. Love is not proud and unwilling to see our part in the conflicts at hand. It humbly accepts its own responsibility to changes.

Love does not dishonor others; it respects the other person who is anointed by God as His child, not just our spouse. It realizes that the one we love is the daughter or son of the King on High. And who would dare dishonor the one who God anointed as His child?

Love does not self-seek; it lives out the mind of Christ always wanting to do better and more for the other person. It rejoices in sacrifice! Love is not easily angered, because it looks inward at its own faults and realizes that “I am just as corrupt as anyone else.”

This love keeps NO record of wrongs; it sees only the progress toward good. It sees the other person through the backdrop of the cross. It does not delight in evil – slandering the other person. It doesn’t try to one up the other. Instead it is humbly rejoicing in the truth of their own faults as equals to the other person. True Godly love helps the person realize that they are undeserving of this kind of love. It makes them grateful they are loved therefore; they can love in the same way. This love protects, and never seeks to damage the other. It always trusts, confidently expecting the best; it always hopes as it anticipates great achievements of the other; it always perseveres as commitment is its strength.

How can a love like this ever fail? It always wins.

Godly love is a love that conquers the heart that hurts, the heart that feels betrayed and the heart that wants to payback wrong for wrong. A love like this changes the one who loves while also changing the one who receives. What you beget is what is produced. Just as easily as dirt attracts dirt, love attracts love. To love in this way makes us more and more like Christ. And Christ is a Winner! Human love is the loser.

Close to God

The Urgency of Teachable Moments

Parents, there is one thing that your children want you to take advantage of in their life: teachable moments.

A teachable moment cannot be planned. It is often an interruption to your schedule of events. It will seem as if it is taking you off track of something very important. It often changes the curriculum. However, a teachable moment is a gift from God. They come as unwanted blessings, but if taken advantage of, they can become opportunities to pavé well-worn paths to eternal Godly principles in your child’s mind and heart. The challenge is this, if we don’t take advantage of these teachable moments, rest assured someone else will. Do you really want another person to pavé the way of well-worn beliefs in your child’s life? Especially if these beliefs are contrary to yours.

Now, I’m going to tread on a very controversial subject to prove my point. It will point out that if we don’t take advantage of the teachable moments with our children, there is one waiting (even strategically scheming) to do so for you. Will we let them do this? Or will we intentionally seek out those moments, so we can prepare our children with the truth that opposes the empty and dangerous beliefs of our culture?

From the book, The Homosexual Agenda, written by Alan Sears and Craig Osten, a story about a gym teacher who taught a kindergarten class is shared.

She was out as a lesbian in her school. One day a student (5 years old) asked if she had a husband. She said no, and then another student asked if she had a boyfriend. She said no, ‘As a matter of fact…I have a girlfriend.’ After some of the children said, ‘Ohhhh!’ as if shocked, they asked if she kissed her girlfriend. She said she did.

She responded: ‘Some people think it’s okay, and some people think it’s not okay.’

Then the gym teacher asked one of the boys in her class, ‘Do you ever kiss your father goodnight?’ He replied, ‘Yes.’ She asked one of the girls, ‘Do you ever kiss your sister to show her that you love her?’ ‘Yes,’ the girl responded. She then used the analogy between those kisses and her lesbian kisses as she told the children, ‘Some people will tell you that you shouldn’t love some people…but your heart tells you who to love.’

‘This was a very teachable moment…I was not in any way going to lie to my students,’ this teacher said of her conversation with the kindergarten gym class. ‘At the elementary school level, the teachable moments are the really critical ones.’”

Now I would agree with her on that last statement, “At the elementary school level, the teachable moments are the really critical ones.” But sadly, she took advantage of it and taught this group of kindergarteners a sick and twisted belief of sexual immorality as if it was natural and normal. In most Christian homes, her explanation of her lesbian relationship is contrary to their belief system. And it was filled with such confusion and corruption. To relate her “romantic” relationship with her “girlfriend” to the relationships these children had with their family members is sick in itself; I wouldn’t have even done that with my heterosexual relationship with my husband. But then to try and dumb down and desensitize the sin of homosexuality was not only crafty it was evil.

I don’t know how these children were prepared for this type of conversation at such a young age, but I hope with all my heart moms and dads of these youngsters were preparing them by taking advantage of those teachable moments with the truth of God’s word in the home, in the car, at church, and wherever they find themselves along life’s path.

This is just one of many topics that a child will meet in their life, today. Paul warns us, Be very careful, then, how you live – not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil” (Ephesians 5:15).  I think we would all agree that the times we are living in are certainly evil. Evil is almost praised where truth and righteousness are scoffed.

However, the important lesson learned is we as parents must take advantage of every teachable moment our children give us. In these, parents have the upper hand to teach their children truth, warn them of the deceptive beliefs in our society and give them answers to these fallacies so they are not enticed, drugged down and led astray. Instead, they can learn to stand firm in their beliefs and even defend the gospel truth to a  lost and dying world about them.

Seek those teachable moments as if they are gold, seek with urgency and with potency; be a fortress for your children, where they can come to you and have all their questions answered from the truth you give them by the Word of God.


What the Polar Bear Teaches Moms

In rest and enjoyment, this mama polar bear comes out from her hibernation to soak up the sun. Her cubs follow her lead. Losing half of her weight after hibernation for so long, she still has in reserve enough milk to provide for her young. While resting, an urgency arises instinctively as she knows that she must hunt for the seal before the ice breaks up. This will give food for her cubs and herself.

What can moms learn from the mama polar bear? We see three key virtues that can guide the care we give our children:

  1. Rest – It’s important that a mom takes time for rest and enjoyment. But the challenge is this, we should only rest for a small amount of time, for if our rest is too long, we can become lazy and may neglect our children. On the other hand if we do not rest at all, we run the risk of becoming a tired worn out tyrant that lords over our children with harshness instead of leading with love.
  2. Provision – From our rest, we work. We work to provide for our family. Nourishment of food and drink is a comfort to our children. Running from fast food place to the next is not only unhealthy; it has a way of diminishing the needed conversations our children have to feel valuable in this life. Notice that the mama polar bear lay quietly and contentedly as her young feed and play. Eating at home provides this same kind of relaxed environment. There is nothing more loving than to be provided a home cooked meal prepared by mom. And in this loving environment, confidence, direction, and values are allowed time to saturate in our children’s beings.
  3. Urgency – Urgency surfaces from a planning parent – one who looks beyond the moment to the future responsibilities she has. Moms who waste no time in preparing for their child’s near and distant future are moms with purpose. The interesting thing is this, a mom with urgency usually raises children with purpose and direction, too.

We can learn some great virtues from the creatures God has created. This mama polar bear lives the very life God gave her to live. Not steering from it, she is faithful to her calling. Like her we must stay focused on the beautiful path God has given us as a mom. We have the privilege to mold, mentor, and nurture the little lives God has given us. (I just wish I could hibernate through the winter and lose half my weight, too.)

 A mom “…gets up while it is still night; she provides food for her family…(she) sets about her work vigorously; her arms are strong for her tasks. She sees that her trading is profitable and her lamp does not go out at night…(she is) clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come. She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue. She watches over the affairs of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness.” (Proverbs 31:15, 17-19, 25-27).

Watch this faithful mama bear take care of her cubs and keep in mind that you are a “mama bear” with cubs to cherish and nurture, too.