Getting Through The Empty Nest


My husband and I are experiencing the empty-nest stage of parenting. One by one, a child leaves our home.

This process reminds me of the time Abraham placed his son, Isaac, on the altar as God had commanded. We may not be putting our kids on an altar to be sacrificed, but we are placing them in God’s mighty hands.

As parents, we enjoy being needed by our kids. Being needed may not be all bad, but if we are not careful, we can make the mistake of allowing ourselves to be little gods to our children, trying to do all we can to manipulate and control their world. Naturally, we want them to be kept safe; but if we are honest, we also want them near for they provide us with great comfort and companionship. In our case God never intended for our children to be with us forever. Our role was never to keep them under our protection for a lifetime.

God called us to empower and equip them for His plan and His purposes. In this, we must never be a hindrance or roadblock to the divine path God sets before them. In all honesty, the safest place our children can be is on the altar of our God or a better illustration is they are most secure in His hands rather than ours.

After all, my hands have limits. They are too weak and frail to bless my kids truly in the way they need to succeed in this world. On the other hand, God’s hands have no limits. His blessings know no bounds. He gives immeasurably more than what I can even think up much less pray.  Where I am finite, He is infinite. Where I am only the runner, He is the reward. I equip for the here and now; He equips for now and eternity.

Just like throwing a rock in the pond, I am only the pebble that can make a splash of influence on my kids; but in God’s hands, He is the stone that makes ripples which exceed the borders of the shore.

Maybe you are in the same boat that I am in. Maybe your kids are venturing off. They will succeed and they will also make mistakes. I know I have done both as a young and older adult. However, no matter our kid’s ups and downs, letting them go does not mean to let them jump off a cliff into the unknown, it means to give them to the Lord and allow Him to refine and perfect them by His power and presence in their life.

When in the empty nest season, what is our job as parents?

First off, I believe it is to trust our God and His infinite wisdom to perfect what He has started in our child’s life. He is true to His word and His promises. For He promises that “He who began a good work in you (your kids included) will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 1:6).

Secondly, we are to be there for our kids, for they will come home from time to time to seek our advice or to celebrate their victories. We counsel them as they need (no lectures, mind you), celebrate with them and remember to consecrate them daily to the Lord. Acknowledge that God IS their rear guard and their shield.

The good news is this parents; God is also faithful to you and me. He promises to be our comfort in this changing season!

“Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Spirit.” (Romans 15:13). 

 

 

Remove the Biggest Roadblock to God’s Miracles


When it comes to prayer, we can make the mistake of allowing what we deserve as sinners to keep us from asking God for His provision. While it is true, we are undeserving of God’s grace and His good gifts; we misunderstand the reason He answers our prayers. I know this has been true for me.

I have even gone as far as to intentionally not ask for my deepest desires; in essence, I have decided to punish myself for God. I consider that my sinful nature or things I have done in the past deserve His punishment and His rejection. So, I have held back my requests. I have ignored that one on one relationship that I need and He desires. I wonder how that has made Jesus feel? I’m sure very disappointed and hurt. Not trusting Him has to be painful. But even more than that, my reluctance to seek Him in prayer is not to let Him be who He is; it is to interrupt His character and will. It is to put a roadblock in His pathway.

Not only do I miss out, but He also misses out on fulfilling His very nature in my life. It’s like inviting a cook to your home to prepare a meal for you and your guests; you buy all the ingredients for a wonderful meal, show him everything in the kitchen, and then tell him he can’t cook. Or it’s like telling an Olympic swimmer who has practiced for years for the Olympics, and then the big day comes to compete; she arrives, then you tell her she can’t swim. To not petition God is to stand in the way of what He does best.

He wants to answer our prayers.

He must practice His grace.

It’s essential to His very being to be faithful.

Jesus answers our prayers because He loves us, not because we deserve the answer. And true love decides to love based on forgiveness. Our justified standing before God is not based on what we do or didn’t do, but on what Jesus did.

Jesus is our faithful Savior. If He can see through His death on a cross to the very end while we are yet sinners, so we can experience freedom from our sin, why would He ignore yours and my petitions that we ask of Him today?

No matter how big or small of a thing you ask or seek, Jesus is at the door ready to open. He will invite you into His Presence. He will grant you what you need without hesitancy. He will not give you a stone or a snake. That is what the devil gives. You can expect good gifts, for the Father of lights only gives what is good. There is no variation or shadow cast with His blessings. He is not a trick or treat kind of god; He is all about treats! He is good.

You may be sitting there reading this thinking, “But I have not been faithful to Him.” I have had that very thought. Out of guilt for my sin, I have decided I don’t deserve a good answer. But Jesus died for that. He covered my infractions.

You might say, “But what if what I am asking is just too far-fetched for God to answer.” I have said that. Are we serious? If He can raise Himself from the dead, what else could we ask that is more far-fetched than that? Our barriers to the requests we seek are not God’s inabilities, it’s our lack of faith and seeking.

James put it well, “Now if any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives to all generously and without criticizing, and it will be given to him. But let him ask in faith without doubting. For a doubter is like the surging sea, driven and tossed by the wind. That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord.” (James 1:5-7).

There are some key phrases I want you to note in this passage:

God, who gives generously – another word for generous is charitable. To be charitable is to give to an undeserving person. When one gives charitably, they do it because of who they are not because of who the person receiving is. God gives. It’s what He knows to do and be. I have never given money or food to the homeless person on the street because they deserve it. I don’t even know them. I give because I love and care that they have what they need. I’m human. How much more is God than me?

God, who gives…without criticizing – another word for criticizing is condemning. When we give our lives to Christ, we cross over the line from being condemned to no condemnation. The only accuser we will encounter is Satan. He accuses best whereas God blesses best.

Ask in faith without doubting – to doubt is to mistrust. It’s to think that God is not really who He says He is. It’s to disbelieve His ability. It’s to take our eyes off Him and put them on the circumstance. It is to hold the impossibility set before us above the One who can do the impossible. That’s idolatry! Faith pleases God. On the contrary, to not believe displeases Him.

A doubter….should not expect to receive anything from the LordThe roadblock to miracles in our life is not God, it’s our doubt; it’s our lack of faith; it’s you and me. Rand Hummel says in his book, Fear Not, “If I refuse to seek God’s will or purpose on a matter, God is under no obligation to deliver me.” When we concern ourselves with our problems and ignore God’s ability to solve them, we cannot expect deliverance.

God is rich in mercy.

He is great in love.

His grace has no limits.

There is no end to His glorious riches.

Miracles are His specialty.

All He asks of us is to have faith. He does not ask us to come to Him with a perfect record. He does not ask us to be upstanding citizens who live on the right side of the tracks. He asks us to believe Him humbly; for it is our faith that will move mountains. It is our faith that sees answers. It is what we choose to believe that will change our life (negatively or positively). If we choose to believe in the God who can do what’s impossible and does good by His love, we will see great and mighty things we did not even know or ask. It will be more than we could imagine. But if we choose to focus on what we deserve, we will keep ourselves from His goodness; we only gaze upon the goodness we could have.

I would imagine that Jesus walked away quite sad from His hometown. It was here that His earthly family did not believe in who He was. While they were astonished at His wisdom when He taught, they could not get passed their unbelief in seeing Jesus as their Savior and Lord. So, what did Jesus do? “He did not do many miracles there.” (Matthew 13:58). It was their unbelief that stood in the way of Jesus’ power to bless them. They were the roadblock to God’s grace, mercy, and love.

Our prayers are effective! We never need to doubt their power. We can truly trust that God is faithful to His word! The questions for us are:

Will we allow God to be good to us?

Will we knock on our Savior’s door?

Will we step out of the darkness of disbelief and experience the power of faith?

“Keep asking, and it will be given to you. Keep searching, and you will find. Keep knocking, and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who searches finds, and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.” ~ Jesus 

 

 

 

 

How to Face Opposition


When we face opposition, the temptation is to cave, pull back, quiet down or simply quit. Is there a way to help us stay the course of truth?

Jesus was constantly up against opposition, yet He stood His ground in His Father’s plans. He did not reduce Himself to human standards, nor did He entrust Himself to man.

For He knew the heart of man; it is deceitful and wicked beyond measure. He also knew that man is limited by his sight. Jesus’ resources came (and come) from His Father in Heaven.

Jesus was not careless or frivolous with His Father’s plans. His time on earth was intentional, efficient and successful. While His mission was primarily to provide redemption for mankind, He also exposed darkness, shed His light, gave hope, shared God’s love, made devoted followers of Him, and equipped others to do the same.

His mission was a three year seminary for His followers and He did not have time to waste. He did not delay based on man’s timing; He waited on God’s timing. But when God’s hour came, Jesus moved, regardless of whether man would approve or disapprove.

Jesus knew the next step of His mission because He spent regular time with His Father in prayer receiving directions. He said of himself, “…what I have heard from my Father is what I tell the world” (John 8:26). His next move was found in the on-going relationship He had with the Father.
  
What did He find in this time? Not only answers, but He found the resolve to stand in the midst of assault and challenge.

If we are not spending regular time in prayer with the Father, then how is it that we can possibly know the next step to take in our own life? I encourage you (and myself) to cut off the radio during the long commute to work and pray and listen. After all, part of praying is listening, too.

Go to bed ten minutes early, and pray. In the middle of the night when the insomnia intruder wakes you, pray. Sometimes our greatest revelations from the Father are in the middle of the night.
  
Close your eyes from time to time throughout the day and take a moment of silence, and pray. In these quiet places where the world stops spinning, you will discover great riches that you do not even know about. You will discover our Savior and the plan for your life. Like Jesus, you will know your next steps.

Jesus taught, “If you hold to My teachings, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth and the truth will set you free” (John 8:31-32).

You are probably saying, “Hey, wait a minute! How can you say that I need to be set free? I am no one’s slave!” Really?

Then why do you feel overwhelmed? How much of man’s ideas control your actions? To whom do you give most of your resources? What worldly truths are you singing in your heart? I challenge you to think again. If you are not at peace – who chained you? If you are feverishly climbing the corporate ladder – who’s driving you? If you have nothing to give to others – who robbed you? If you are singing lyrics that uphold man – who is teaching you?

The Jews had the same reply to Jesus when He said they needed to be free. What was Jesus’ response?

“You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies….Whoever belongs to God hears what God says. The reason you do not hear is that you do not belong to God” (John 8:44-47).  

Now those are harsh words, but nonetheless truth right from our Savior’s mouth! Truth is often times hard to swallow; however, if swallowed and given the chance to digest, the rotten is discarded and the good is shaped.

Jesus wanted to radically redeem and change the heart of mankind. There was no time to waste in his three years of ministry. He often used a sledgehammer to communicate His truth pointedly.

Yes, there are those times of soothing quiet rebukes, but we usually receive them that way because our heart is ready to listen, not because the hammer was any gentler.  

Don’t plan your life by human standards or limit it through man’s sight – be free, go beyond, seek what lasts not what rusts.

Jesus taught us the practice of Jeremiah 33:3,

“Call to Me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.”

Be still. Know that Jesus is God. In the silence discover His plans for you. 

Why Eat White Bread When You Can Have…


Many today feast on white bread made with refined flour that is chemically bleached and stripped of all healthy nutrients. Once the flour is stripped of all good nutrients then gluten, preservatives, and sugar are added – products that are causing type II diabetes and allergic reactions to many. 

Eating white bread may taste good, but it’s damaging to the health of humans. 
Likewise, many also feast on the counterfeited truth of this world. Culture gives a fabricated wisdom filled with the lies of the devil. 

Remember, the devil comes to steal, kill and destroy. He takes the truth and twists it so that it is much like the chemical bleaching process of white flour. All that was good is replaced with what is corrupt, immoral, and wicked. Sadly, so many feast on his bread instead of The Bread of Life. 
Jesus says, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty” (John 6:35). The words of Jesus are Spirit and Life but so many do not believe. They would rather eat the gluten infested bread of this world and be swollen with falsehood, deceit, and fictions. These, they believe will give them hope; but with this filling, these people only walk away hungry, thirsty and bloated with a dreary existence. Their flesh may have the form of life, but their life is lived in death. The things of this world only speak to the flesh; but Jesus says, “…the flesh counts for nothing…only the words He speaks is filled with the Spirit and life” (John 6:62). 
We know that God’s word gives us hope; we know that looking to Jesus and believing in Him gives us eternal life. He gives lasting food for now and forever. Joy is known in God’s truth, however, joy is only hoped for and never realized in the “truth” of this world. 
So, why is it that some woke up this morning and watched the news or read the paper instead of the words of Jesus? Why is it that T.V. shows and secular novels fill up the downtime of so many when action, inspiration and confidence can be found in the words of the Lord? 

Why do some conclude their day with a constant fabricated truth that digs them deeper in despair, when they can have the assurance of peace and promise in Jesus’ words? 
Do you want to know who Jesus is? Do you want to know what food the Savior of the world consumed? 

His food was to do the will of God and to finish His work. His downtime was prayer and conversation with His Father. His work was sharing His Father’s love with all the people: healing, preaching, guiding, and forgiving. 
After Jesus preached a hard teaching in John 6, many deserted Him. They chose the fabricated gluten white bread of this world instead. When they left Jesus’ chosen twelve remained. He turned and asked them, “You do not want to leave too, do you?” 
Simon Peter replied, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and to know that you are the Holy One of God” (John 6:67-69). Amen, Peter! 

  
What bread are you eating today? The Bread of Life or the white bread of the devil?