A Resolution Revolution

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New Year’s resolutions are more than statements of proposed changes in our lives. They identify the deep desire we have to specifically alter our path forward. And so, I ask you, “What is your greatest desire as you enter 2016?” I do not negate the value of healthy living and the curbing of ill habits. I do not underestimate the need for self-improvement and advancement on this earth. I do, however, exhort you to examine your priorities—are they earthly or heavenly? The only resolution we can make on earth that transforms our spiritual well being is to know God in a deeper and more awesome way. Therefore, let us make our spiritual health the most important resolve of 2016.

Are you ready for a Resolution Revolution in your life? This question seems far out coming from a woman of forty-eight years of marriage with five grandchildren. But then, who better to encourage your attention to the presence of God in your daily living? The prophet Jeremiah who was dishonored in his own generation spoke words that enlighten us to God’s desired placement of our resolve…

This is what the Lord says: Let not the wise man boast of his wisdom or the strong man boast of his strength or the rich man boast of his riches, but let him who boasts boast about this: that he understands and knows me, that I am the Lord, who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth, for in these I delight, declares the Lord.  Jeremiah 9:23-24

It only takes one to start a revolution. On this sixth day of this New Year I resolve to seek God with all my heart and soul. Let’s make it two! As one advanced on the time line of New Year’s resolutions, I can attest to the fact that if you make understanding and knowing God your priority focus, all earthly resolves will be met with God’s resolve to accomplish His plan in your life on earth. Want to get it done in 2016? Begin a Resolution Revolution. The heavens will rejoice and the earth will be glad.

Secure your 2016 Resolution to delight God by knowing and understanding him. Deposit these verses in you heart’s vault:

For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.  1 Corinthians 2:2

O God you are my God, earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you, my body longs for you, in a dry and weary land where there is no water. Psalm 63:1

As the time approached for him to be taken up to heaven, Jesus resolutely set out for Jerusalem. Luke 9:51

When 2016 has run its course let us be able to say together that we were true to our New Year’s Resolution and that it is well with our souls.

Opp (opportunity for action). Let us incrementally and steadily sow our Growing Robes in faith in 2016. Each month we will focus on the corresponding principle for the Twelve Things I Desire for our Children. Each of these features a quote from Faith Feedings…12 principles to nurture your child’s spiritual development . #1 Live in the Presence of God. Bring God into the moment in the life of your family.  Start by thanking Him out loud for the simple pleasures you enjoy as a mother.
https://thegrowingrobe.com/12-things-i-desire-for-our-children/

Faith Feedings…12 principles to nourish your child’s spiritual development
Available at: http://Amazon.com                     http://Christianbook.com

Shelter In Place

 

The term Shelter in Place did not echo from the mountains of Central Pennsylvania when I was raised in the valley. It was not sounded in the years of schooling for my children. Sadly, however, Shelter in Place is a “must know” concept in the era of my grandchildren. It is noteworthy to me that I stated that my next blog would be called Shelter in Place two days before the terror invasion in Paris. How timely. My oft repeated words are fitting: The Lord knows!

The police directive to Shelter in Place is a warning that violence is at hand. Our increasingly volatile world demands such caution to be exercised. Shelter in Place signifies the imminent possibility of danger and the need for finding refuge from those who would willfully snuff out human life. While it is true that this public safety alert is new to our present realm, it is not a new message for God. He has been bidding His created to Shelter in Place since the beginning of time on earth. God is our Shelter. The psalmist knew God as his shelter: He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, ‘He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust’ (Psalm 91:1-2)

God is our Divine Protector. Everyday, all day, all night dangers and risks loom around us. They can be as apparent as gun violence and as secretive as a lurking disease. Our need for God’s protection and presence comes to us in our homes, our travel, our schools, our public places and even in the need to shield our personal identity.

As a young mother, I vividly recall the nights when my physician husband was called out at all hours of the night. Every time, I had to make a choice either to be fitful with concern for his safety or to trust God with my husband. I knew he was fatigued and stressed about what he might find when he reached the hospital. I knew he was traveling into a characteristically unsafe area. And I didn’t want to even think about life without him. Thank God I knew something greater than all my fears and nighttime thoughts. I had committed a Bible verse to memory: On my bed, I remember you; I think of you in the watches of the night. Because you are my help, I sing in the shadow of your wings (Psalm 63:6-7). I Sheltered in Place in the Lord.
Reflect during the next seven days on the times when you need God’s covering and refuge. Listen for God as He bids you to Shelter in Place in Him. Days and nights of travail are sure to be on the horizon for each one of us. Trust in the One who has your eternal back. I earnestly pray that you will never hear the shout Shelter in Place on this earth. Even more, I pray that you will Shelter in Place in Him daily. Let us sing together in the shadow of (his) wings—remembering always that the Lord knows!

I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace.
In this world you will have trouble.
But take heart! I have overcome the world.

John 16:33

OPP (opportunity for action): Teach your children how to live in the presence of God. Allay their fears and concerns by incrementally exposing them to the precepts of the Bible. Start with Hebrews 13:6 The Lord is my helper, I will not be afraid. Help them commit it to memory—T L i m h, I w n b a-f (The Scripture Code…unlocking spiritual wealth by DeeDee Cass). Make God known as a shelter and refuge in your home. Compile your own list of scriptures that build your faith and give you confidence before the Lord. Let your family observe you as you Shelter in Place.
Recommended reading and memorization: Psalm 91

On Guard!

imageOne of these things is not like the other! The products in this picture guard against germs and threats to our health and well-being.  Advertising and marketing campaigns, news reports and word of mouth advice encourage us to be proactive in our fight against harm to our homes, possessions, and bodies. In Proverbs 4:23 King Solomon imparts the wisdom of applying a protective guard for the sake of our hearts. Above all else, guard your heart for it is the wellspring of life. This Bible verse urges us to make guarding our hearts a priority because everything we are and do flows from the heart. The robe that Hannah fashioned for Samuel was a priestly robe. (A Robe for Samuel--April 07, 2015)  Samuel donned his robe to carry out his priestly duties. The robe set Samuel apart as a priest of the Lord.  Samuel’s Growing Robe framed his behavior.

We want to impress on our children the value of guarding their hearts since their conduct before God is at stake. The conduct of the faith community matters to God because our conduct reveals how much God matters to us. In his letter to the believers in Philippi, the Apostle Paul advised them concerning their conduct. Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. (Philippians 1:27). Understanding the relationship between the condition of their heart and the resulting conduct is life-long. I am living proof of that! Here are some “On Guard” principles to encourage your children in their pursuit of conduct worthy of the gospel.

Give your children an eternal perspective of life. The essence of the Christian faith is eternal life through Jesus. Our physical bodies will pass away, but our hearts will live forever with God. (John 10:28)

Build a bridge between your child’s conduct and their gratitude for what Jesus has done for them. Emphasize how much God loves them personally.  Godly conduct flows out of a heart of thanksgiving for a God who provided eternal life through His Son. (John 3:16)

Cultivate your child’s conscience toward God (Faith Feedings…12 Principles to nourish your child’s spiritual development is written for the purpose of securing the conscience of the next generation for faith in God).  Introduce the Biblical code of conduct that will serve to teach them to do what is right in God’s eyes.  (Psalm 19:8)

Elevate the concept of being clean before God. Take the lead from one of the numerous commercials that stress the value of everything from clean hands to clean clothes. The truth of the Bible cleans our hearts. Jesus even prayed for us to be clean before God.   (John 17:17)

The products in the picture came from my own shelves. I do not minimize the need for practical guards for the sake of safety and disease prevention. Ultimately, however, we are eternal beings and God is our shield. God makes protecting our hearts a priority. Let’s follow His lead and train up a generation who are bent on protecting their hearts from the wiles of the world. Indeed, out of our hearts our conduct flows.

OPP (opportunity for action): Begin to sew (sow) Proverbs 4:23 into your child’s Growing Robe.  Grab your closest bottle of hand sanitizer and say to your child or grandchild, “ You know, God wants our hearts to be clean too.” You can take it from there, Mom.

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Bully Proof

FullSizeRenderBullies have been lurking in the shadows of school playgrounds for time eternal. They seem to find their voice in third grade recess. The art of bullying has advanced to unfathomable heights. The school yard has expanded to cyber space. Technology has spread the occurrence of bully abuse like wildfire. No child is safe. It is entirely possible that your own child’s heart, mind and soul has been penetrated by the verbal bullets of a bully. I want to share three concepts to Bully Proof your son or daughter—value, identity and influence. Each of these protective shields is covered in my book Faith Feedings: 12 Principles to nurture your child’s spiritual development (Faith Feeding 3 which is entitled You are God’s Good Idea). Let’s get a leg up on Bully Proofing you kiddos.

Value—“In our homes and schools, our young people are revealing a value crisis. “I am valuable” is being drowned out by the “I am too’s”—too tall, too fat, too ugly, too thin, too anything but God’s good idea. Every day we hear value indices: the strength of the dollar, the price of gold, the rise and fall of stocks. And every day we hear the results of the value famine of the human soul: insecurity, moral failure, addiction, eating disorders, bullying, crime, murder, suicide. “Then God said, let us make man in our own image, in our likeness” (Genesis 1:26). Now there’s a value index. Those fourteen words are like rain from heaven. They replace self-image with God-image. Together let’s bring on the rain and end the self-worth famine in our own lives and in the lives of those we influence. We live in an age of labels and logos. Made By God surpasses them all.”
Identity—“Personal identity goes beyond name and family lines. Our children want to be what they are not. What they want to be is determined by what they find appealing in others. Our tendency to want to be anything but what we are is fed by our lack of the understanding of our identity. True identity is not found in our earthly heritage. True identity originates with our Heavenly Father. When we know the truth of whose we are, we will have the freedom to choose who we will become. Such assurance of purpose, undoubtedly, is a missing element in today’s child. We have a great opportunity to edify our children by helping them realize their value to God and grasp their identity in Him. What a privilege! What a responsibility!”
Influence–“If there is one thing this generation is missing, it is awareness of the individual’s power to influence others. Influence is forever linked with value and identity. Children who know their value to God and their identity in God will find meaning and purpose in being an influence for God. Every child needs to grasp their potential for influence because every child needs to know that their life matters.”

Whether you have a child who is a bully risk or a child who has a bully tendency, I urge you to speak God’s love for them into their lives. Knowing that they matter to God will give them God-esteem. That will trump a bully’s bullets every time! The Lord is my strength and my shield; Psalm 28:7.

OPP: Ask God specifically how you can strengthen your child’s self perception. Be deliberate about connecting him or her with a God who loves and values them. Go slow on this. Changing from self-confidence to God-confidence takes a childhood—or even an adulthood!
Google: Dominic Zaffino and read this 10 year old’s Instagram response to bullying.
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