January 9 – Obedience is Life and Death (Jenny)

pais

One of the sorest subjects around our house in our entire marriage involved an animal. Let me be more specific: a 120 pound black lab puppy. (He was not the first pet to be a part of this story, but I won’t go back that far!)

I completely dropped the ball when it came to helping this active and enthusiastic dog. Of all the obedience training I attempted to put in place while Lorenzo was at work, nothing seemed to stick! Several places on our home’s light beige carpet stuck around to prove my ineptness. In spite of all the success of my sisters and other friends and family with their pets, I just couldn’t get it to sink in.

Truthfully, I was too inconsistent to see any real progress! We do live in a society that values obedience training in our pets. And I know lots of animal lovers that do an amazing job. But the stakes really get high when we start talking about the pursuit of obedient children.

My husband has always said that whatever we see in our 2 year-old that goes uncorrected, “multiply that particular behavior” by a 16 year-old. It usually doesn’t give a pretty picture. Research has shown that the foundation to our children’s character is formed by the time they turn five.

What may look like cute antics right now in our toddlers won’t be so cute when they are ten, or older. In much the same way as our dog, (and even more so), our children are begging us for boundaries! They not only need to know “yes, no, who’s in charge, and I love you,” but they need to be trained how to respond in certain situations.

All of us have moments we need our children to stay close to us and not run off. So when our first three children were four and under, I would take them to the mall (a big, safe space) on a morning that wasn’t busy, and I would tell our older two that “our job today is to stay by mommy.”

Then we would walk around the mall, as I reminded them of the goal as I pushed the baby in the stroller. If one of them ran off, I would bring them back and give them a gentle reminder. After fifteen minutes of this kind of training, we’d all be ready for a reward.

Moments like that can really pay off in the long run. We can practice situations at home that will come up later, such as eating in a restaurant, sitting quietly through a wedding, etc.

Obedience doesn’t come just because we demand it, or even from using discipline, it comes from building a relationship. And it is life and death, because we can all face a time when a child tries to run towards a busy street. Then, obedience can save their life.

God loves an obedient heart. He’s certainly not into condemnation, nor does He hold our wrongs against us.

Mistakes will be made. But just as Jesus willingly went through the last moments of his life as God revealed His will to him, so should we cultivate the riches of obedience in our children. And their response to us will always reflect the level of our obedience to the Father as well. Spend time training your heritage towards obedience.

And these words which I am commanding you this day shall be [first] in your [own] minds and hearts; [then] you shall whet and sharpen them so as to make them penetrate, and teach and impress them diligently upon the [minds and] hearts of your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down and when you rise up. Deuteronomy 6:6,7 AMP

 Biblical Meditation: James 1:25

Favorite Source: Hints on Child Training by H. Clay Trumbull

Advertisements

January 6 – Strange People

DSC_0539Little babies provoke people into grabbing them, even if it’s a child they don’t know.   When we had our first child, I really had a tough time with the ‘grabbers.’ I was not very fond of sharing my baby! I can only imagine what Mary and Joseph were going through when Simeon takes their baby out of their arms and begins to walk around with him! Even if he was saying a blessing over the boy, this still must have been a little bit hard to swallow.   If that wasn’t strange enough, a little lady in her nineties starts throwing her hands up and praising God, all the while telling everyone their child is going to ‘set them free!’ Now granted, with the angel visits and the sheepherders’ arrival, Mary and Joseph were probably not too taken aback. However, I don’t care who you are, these people were a little strange!

Take Anna, the ninety-one year old praising widow. For eighty-four years, she lived in the temple, night and day. That’s like camping out in one of the local congregations 24/7.   Not only that, but she was apparently known as a prophetess, and if you know anything about the Old Testament prophets like Samuel and Elijah, you can imagine her conversations were not “light and fluffy!” All of this, coupled with the fact that her diet consisted primarily of fasting and prayer.   Nonetheless, this strange woman’s story is highlighted in the best-selling book ever written. And not only that, for all of us who know that baby as Jesus, the Lord and Master of our souls, she is a witness.

This Anna brings to light one of my favorite definitions of the word “strange.”   In Webster’s 1828 Dictionary, “strange” can mean “foreign; belonging to another country.” So what does that tell you? Maybe all of us should “deluge” ourselves with the Master and His ways until others think we are from another planet!   Seriously, stop right now and thank God for all those strange people you’ve passed off as crazy, or just a little annoying. Who knows, God may have them on a special assignment to change your life.  

Anna the prophetess was also there, a daughter of Phanuel from the tribe of Asher, She was by now a very old woman. She had been married seven years and a widow for eighty-four. She never left the Temple area, worshiping night and day with her fastings and prayers. At the very time Simeon was praying she showed up, broke into an anthem of praise to God, and talked about the child to all who were waiting expectantly for the freeing of Jerusalem. Luke 2:36-38

Biblical Meditation: Luke 2 & 1 Peter 2:9

January 5 – Coming Through!

 IMG_1923

I read a quote one day. “Remember: God sends children through you, not to you.” I remember thinking out loud, “Wow, that’s good!” It wasn’t until years later, when I was holding my own precious babies, that the quote really jarred me. All of a sudden, I felt out of control and powerless. Their destinies are in the hands of the One who sent them.

Dr. Luke’s historical account of the child who would one day be known as John the Baptist is quite insightful. What an entrance he made into the world! An angel pronounced his birth, a woman past the age of childbearing carried him, and a daddy who couldn’t speak declared his unexpected name.

So, you knew this baby was on his way to the top of his class and would surely be the next High Priest of Israel. On the contrary! The Bible says he lived in the desert. This great man was hidden from mainstream society most of his days. For all practical purposes, he was a social misfit; I mean the guy had a diet of grasshoppers and wild honey!

But, at the proper time, God brought his purpose to light. Everyone then and now can see and receive the precious Gift of God because he followed God’s plan for his life. Maybe you wonder if your “spirited child” will ever get it together. Be encouraged.

Our children are in His grasp. To Him, they are time capsules set to go off at the proper time. Indeed, they have landed on this planet through you, but always remember to Whom they ultimately belong!

 And the child grew and became strong in spirit, and he lived in the desert until he appeared publicly to Israel. Luke 1:80 NIV

 Biblical Meditation: Psalm 127

January 4 – What’s Your Name?

green-name-tag

I grew up in Midland, Texas. We moved away when I was 12, but it is still “back home” to me. If you went there and interviewed some of my old buddies, you wouldn’t find out much. This is not because they have been sworn to secrecy.

It’s because they know me by my nickname, “Jude.” My mom says that the old Beatles song, “Hey Jude,” described what life would be for me and those I encountered.  I would “take sad songs and make them better.”

 It wasn’t until we moved to Oklahoma that mom required me to start using my birth name. I will never forget that day as long as I live. I felt like I had put on shoes that weren’t mine.  To me, “Lorenzo” was my dad, not me.

Oh, how I struggled! Teachers would call roll and I wouldn’t even answer because I wasn’t accustomed to my real name. It wasn’t until I was in my twenties that I encountered the power of my identity. I was reading this passage in Luke around the Christmas holidays and there it was.

It jumped off the page. “And you are to give him the name John.” The next few verses described why his name had to be John. It was all about the purpose for which he was born. At that moment, I went and looked up the meaning of Lorenzo Leon.

The meaning of Lorenzo is “crowned” and Leon is “brave lion.” I have to tell you I laughed when I read that my name meant “crowned lion.” (I put my first and middle name’s meanings together.) I saw myself as anything but a lion, let alone a king. But that is right were God nailed me between the eyes.

God planned before the ages for me to bear that name for His purpose in the earth. And even though “Jude” had a place in my life, it did not adequately describe my destiny.

What’s your name? Find out the meaning and post it somewhere you will see it daily. Start calling yourself by the meaning. There is a great book I use that gives scripture connotations so I can quote God’s word over my name.

The book is called “The Name Book” by Dorothy Astoria. If you are anything like me, you will be overwhelmingly surprised at how insignificantly you’ve viewed your name and contribution in the sight of God.

God wants all of us to know He plans to use our name in the service of His Kingdom and we or no one else has a right to discount it. So, let Him unlock your name today and introduce you to the you He sees.

11 While Zechariah was in the sanctuary, an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing to the right of the incense altar. 12 Zechariah was shaken and overwhelmed with fear when he saw him. 13 But the angel said, “Don’t be afraid, Zechariah! God has heard your prayer. Your wife, Elizabeth, will give you a son, and you are to name him John. 14 You will have great joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth, 15 for he will be great in the eyes of the Lord. He must never touch wine or other alcoholic drinks. He will be filled with the Holy Spirit, even before his birth. 16 And he will turn many Israelites to the Lord their God. 17 He will be a man with the spirit and power of Elijah. He will prepare the people for the coming of the Lord. He will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children, and he will cause those who are rebellious to accept the wisdom of the godly.” Luke 1:13-17 NLT

 Suggested Biblical Meditation: Luke 1

 

January 1 – In His Name

june+11+shadow+1

The other day, my wife had one of our kids pick up some supplies from town. Our town is small, so periodically we have to go into a nearby town to shop.

She didn’t have any cash on her, so she sent her credit card. Now that credit card functions like a check, in many ways, because it tells the business you are trading goods and services with that you have a source of supply that will cover the purchase price. And if you should by chance fail to do so, they have a means to collect your name and personal information.

My son or daughter was just the “representative.” They went in our name and on our behalf. They were in no way obligated to “afford” the items on our list. And consequently, they have never had a problem with helping run to town in our stead.

Today’s focal verses are a beautiful reminder of our role as representative of Heaven’s Kingdom on Planet Earth. God has already established His Will and His Way. And He made sure it is well documented as His Word in the Book of Testaments, The Bible.

Every single day of our new lives in His son Jesus are to be spent mastering this one thing…Kingdom Deliveries! We don’t write the rules or laws, we just represent the Lawmaker. In His Name is our purpose and thus, our place of provision.

Matt. 18:18-20

18 Verily I say unto you, Whatsoever ye bind on earth, shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever ye loose on earth, shall be loosed in heaven. 19 Again, verily I say unto you, that if two of you shall [a]agree in earth upon anything, whatsoever they shall desire, it shall be given them of my Father which is in heaven. 20 For where two or three are gathered together in my Name, there am I in the midst of them. (GNV)

18 “Assuredly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.19 “Again I say[a] to you that if two of you agree on earth concerning anything that they ask, it will be done for them by My Father in heaven. 20 For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them.” (NKJV)

18Truly I tell you, whatever you forbid and declare to be improper and unlawful on earth must be [a]what is already forbidden in heaven, and whatever you permit and declare proper and lawful on earth must be [b]what is already permitted in heaven. 19Again I tell you, if two of you on earth agree (harmonize together, make a symphony together) about whatever [anything and [c]everything] they may ask, it will come to pass and be done for them by My Father in heaven. 20For wherever two or three are gathered (drawn together as My followers) in (into) My name, there I AM in the midst of them. (AMP)

Context of Meditation: Matthew 18:21-35

November 30-Bullies and Other Giants in the Land

2 Chronicles 20:2 The Message Bible Jehoshaphat received this intelligence report: “A huge force is on its way from beyond the Dead Sea to fight you. There’s no time to waste-they’re already at Hazazon Tamar, the oasis of En Gedi.”

I first knew of the fight with the Bully when I came to the spot my sister and I met to walk home together. My sister wasn’t there. But I looked to my left, over by the cedar trees, there she was…an enormously big girl was all up in her face. I knew my sis and I could tell she was terrified. If I didn’t do something quick, this mountain of a girl was going to squash her! Just then, I saw my sister’s purse on the ground where she had dropped it in the midst of all the drama. I came behind the giant swinging my sister’s purse like a sling shot. WHAM! I clocked the bully in the head, grabbed my sister’s arm, and we ran for dear life.

I don’t advocate violence, but what do you do when you’re faced with a fight and you are overpowered and outmanned? This is a picture of the above incident with King Jehoshaphat. He was minding his own business when some bullies decided they wanted to fight. Jehoshaphat wanted no part of it. As a matter of fact, he was afraid of the outcome. He knew he couldn’t win.   But unlike me at eight years old, Jehoshaphat turned to God for help (vs. 3). He also got others to pray with him. Bullies come in many forms and in this life there’s no way around them. For you, the issue might be gigantic, but it’s minuscule to God! So what if there are giants in the land! There are no giants too big for your God!

 

November 20- No Need to Fuss

“If God gives such attention to the appearance of wildflowers—most of which are never even seen—don’t you think he’ll attend to you, take pride in you, and do his best for you? What I’m trying to do here is to get you to relax, to not be so preoccupied with getting, so you can respond to God’s giving. People who don’t know God and the way he works fuss over these things, but you know both God and how he works. Steep your life in God-reality, God-initiative, and God-provisions. Don’t worry about missing out. You’ll find all your everyday human concerns will be met.

Matthew 6:30-33

When I was a boy, I loved to get in the sun and throw shadows. I would be walking along and all of a sudden I’d come upon a wall. My shadow would make me look like I was ten feet tall. It was always fun to come up behind my buddies and make them think I was an adult or one of the big boys. Sometimes they would get all nervous until they realized it was just me.

Have you ever found yourself making a big fuss over something only to find out it was just a shadow? Growing up, penicillin was the wonder-cure for everything. My mom was a nurse, and if I ever even acted like I was coming down with something she would threaten to take me to the doctor to get a shot of penicillin in the backside!

One day the visit was inevitable and I got to fussing, “Momma, NO! I don’t need a shot. Please, Momma, It’s gonna hurt!” I worried myself sick all morning over that shot of penicillin and the mean doctor that was going to stick it to me. What I didn’t know is my mom worked with the doctor and had already arranged to give me the shot herself in his presence. I didn’t feel a thing, except a little foolish for making a big fuss over nothing!

Listen, life is no different then a shot of penicillin when God is your Papa. He’s not going to let anyone or anything stick it to you. Open your heart and hear what He’s saying to you today. He loves you and He knows your needs better than you do. All your problems are just sophisticated shadows that have no true power to harm you. Let His Word comfort and guide you. It matters not what the issues are. There’s no need to fuss, Daddy’s got you covered.

Lorenzo

Suggested Bible Meditation: Matthew 6:25-34 and Luke 12:22-34