Showing posts with label Finding Faith Series. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Finding Faith Series. Show all posts

Thursday, October 11

How will I shape my children and their faith?

Other parts from this series, Finding Faith
I. Where do you come from?
II. Do you own your faith?
III. Where is my faith going?
IV. How will I shape my children and their faith?

Finding Faith Series Deut 4 29 with Jess at LifeintheWhiteHouseI touched on this idea a bit in my last post, a very little bit. To me, this is something I pray about more than I do my own faith. This, to me, is the very crux of my existence. How and what will I do that will help my children become the followers of Christ that I long for them to become?

I honestly lay awake at night, sometimes working myself into a frenzy about all the ways I am FAILING miserably in this.
A while back I read a book entitled “When You Rise Up” by RC Sproul, which revolutionized my entire thinking about raising successful children. It redefined, for me, what I think of as “Success”.

I think this is one of the biggest points of contention between Christian parents: Do I raise a child with the idea of making them successful by the world’s standard? or by God’s standard?

But so many parents, myself included, get blinded by raising children that will be successful in the world, with only a passing, secondary thought to their success by God’s standard. Which is more important to me, that they live a God-Glorifying life or one that is successful and self-serving? God-Glorifying absolutely. Hands down. No argument.

But what about their success in the world? They need to be educated, they need to know how to function and operate in this world. Yes, they do. But through living a God-Glorifying life they will be successful and ultimately better able to function in this world.

To the world, my husband and I are not successful people. We scrape by each month, with nothing saved for our retirement. We live in and old house, that is literally falling down around us {our back foundation is crumbling under a poorly constructed addition}. Our cars are not fancy. Our clothes are not designer. We are that family that others look at and think, “Sheesh, and they have HOW MANY kids?!”

“Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, yet your Heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?”
~Matthew 6:26

Now, I’m not saying we’re successful by God’s standards, we fail miserably at living a life that glorifies Him. BUT we seek to trust Him. We seek HIM. We know that He will take care of us and provide for us, through and in all things. Even when we start to get a bit squeamish about being able to pay the bills.

Honestly, I can’t guarantee that my children will grow to love the Lord as they should, glorifying Him in all things, trusting Him through all things. But, I can start by redefining what I consider to be success, to be most important. We can live in abject fear that if they are not drilled on worldly subjects that they will end up homeless and incapable of providing for themselves and their families. Or we can trust in God’s faithfulness.

Now, does that mean I’m going to let formal education take a back seat, not bothering to educate my children in the subjects of worldly success? No, it doesn’t. In order to glorify God, we must educate ourselves and our children in His word. We have to know how to fight against our enemies, and the way we do that is by knowing our enemies and how and why they do and believe as they do.

“These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.”
~Deuteronomy 6:6-7

So what exactly are we DOING then?

Right now, we’re memorizing bible verses, we’re reading the bible together, we’re reading bible verses, we sing songs that praise God, we talk about the things that God wants us to do, what things we can do for others to show them God, we spend time together, as a family, praying and worshiping {it is for this reason that my children won’t attend a Sunday school class that takes place during worship}.

We have begun doing the little things, which will, prayfully, turn into the big things. And even at these things we fail miserably, but that’s where trusting Him comes in. Even if we don’t do these things all the time, we are trusting that the time that we do spend in these things to Him.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this little series of mine. That it has, in some way encouraged you as well as made you think. I’m sure there will be more to this someday, but for now I rest all of these words in His hands, to do with as He pleases.

Monday, October 8

Where is my Faith going?

Other parts from this series, Finding Faith
I. Where do you come from?
II. Do you own your faith?
III. Where is my faith going?
IV. How will I shape my children and their faith?
Finding Faith Series Deut 4 29 with Jess at LifeintheWhiteHouse

Isn’t that something we all want to know, where our paths will take us. Which choices will result in which outcomes? I know I do, and I know in my faith I am no different.

Wouldn’t it be easier if I just knew that I was going to go home to the Lord at a ripe old age, surrounded by friends and family who love me and, more importantly, love the Lord? Of course it would, but there would be consequences to that.

If I knew that I would be in heaven with our Father, wouldn’t that, potentially, make me rather lazy in my pursuit of Him? Couldn’t I grow cocky and remiss in my actions and purposes here on earth? Yes. Isn’t it the Lord who asks us to pursue Him? Yes. If we knew that we were guaranteed the best seat at the concert of the century, would we bother rushing and putting effort in to getting that seat? No, we wouldn’t. We would rest on our laurels.

I can’t pretend that my relationship with Christ is going to grow and increase exponentially through the years. I don’t know how I’m going to react to life events, whether I will cling to the Cross or turn away. I do know that in my past experiences I have had the desire to fall to me knees and pray, but looking back none of those things, as devastating and difficult as they were, were not, in retrospect, life-shattering. At the time they were, and some still are, but there was still LIFE.

If something thing were to happen to my husband or one {or all} of our children. I don’t know if I could forgive God. I’d like to think that even in my anger, my pain, I would still crawl to Him, but that is not something I know {and not something I want to test}. Even Job, as tormented and blessed as he was, God did not resurrect his family, that pain was still there. There was still just cause for Job to abhor God.

My faith can only go ahead in each moment.
His grace is not something that I can store up for a rainy day.

“…for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.”
~Lamentations 3:22-23

While I can’t guess as to my future, there are certain things that I can do to insure my future. I can live a life that glorifies the Lord. I can do my very best to spend time in His word. I can see to it that my children feel His love and grow in His word in their lives, having the foundations for their own relationship with Him. I can make the best possible decisions I can TODAY, for the life I hope to live in Him.

Sitting idly by and thinking “what’s the point if there are no guarantees” never did anybody any good. If we all did that we would still be sitting outside of the Garden wondering what we do now. Faith is a conscious choice, a conscious decision to pursue God, despite not knowing what tomorrow holds or whether we will be rewarded for our faithfulness.

“Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day can bring forth.”
~Proverbs 27:1

Thursday, October 4

Do you own your faith?

Other parts from this series, Finding Faith
I. Where do you come from?
II. Do you own your faith?
III. Where is my faith going?
IV. How will I shape my children and their faith?

The other day I posted about where one's faith comes from. For myself, that's my grandfather, he allowed me to hash things out, without fear of being accused of blasphemy. Finding Faith Series Deut 4 29 with Jess at LifeintheWhiteHouse

Which of course got me thinking: Do I OWN my faith? Not necessarily whether I have faith or not or whether I practice what I preach, but do I draw it toward myself, make it a part of myself. Do I live my life in a way in which others see my belief in Jesus, leading a life that exemplifies and glorifies Him. And for the record, let me just say that I fail, miserably, at this.

I think for many beliefs are handed down to them from their parents or whomever and just accepted because that is what was expected. It was just a passing along of a gift, without ever opening that gift themselves.  I don't know about you, but the gifts I get to rip open myself are usually a lot more fun, but no less meaningful, than the ones I just have handed to me.

While it was my Opa who helped me along the path to Christ, it is something that I've had to come to on my own. For many people there is a defining moment, or series of moments, in which they realize, or don't, that Jesus died for them, that He truly cares for them, that He has a profound and deep impact on their life.
For me, that was dealing with Matt's back and infertility within the first year of our marriage.

While I had my faith before, it was those years of blackness that drew me to the Cross, to my knees before God. We didn't know which end was up, we didn't know if Matt's back would ever be whole. We didn't know if we would ever have kids; if we would be able to afford our bills, let alone infertility treatments or adoption.

In some ways I do think I own my faith, for myself at least. I am able to approach God with my petitions and thoughts and feel that He will take care of them in some way. Even if I don't like how He answers my prayers, that he does use all for His glory. For us, He he has taken care of us through so many more difficult and trying things, than anything we're going through now. I certainly don't always understand the whys or hows, but I do believe He WILL.

So what exactly do I believe then?

I believe that there is a loving, almighty God, that actually cares about me and my life. That this existence is not totally random; that we don’t live our life, die and that's it. I believe that we have a purpose here and the people who truly figure that purpose out AND act upon it, to His glory, are incredibly blessed.
"If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer". 
~ Matthew 21:22
I believe that not everyone will get into Heaven, that just by being "good people" or even saying we believe in God, but still go about our OWN business, we won't receive an automatic PASS to eternity with Him.

"For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened."
~ Romans 1:21

I believe that He is a loving and merciful God, but just as we love our children we punish and discipline them, our Father will punish and discipline us, perhaps not here and now, but at judgment. We will have to answer for our faults, our mistakes, our dis-allegiances to Him and what He has asked of us, we will have to suffer the consequences of living a life for ourselves and our own selfish desires. He will not be mocked or made a fool of.

"Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest, and repent."
~ Revelations 3:19

The question still stands....Do you OWN your faith? Do you make a daily and conscious effort to not only have, but GROW a relationship with the Lord? Do you live a life to His glory and not your own?

None of it is easy, and I certainly know that I fall short of being worthy of His glory, as all do. But, yes, my faith is my own, my belief is my own. It is not something that I believe because it's been handed down to me, or something that I've just blindly accepted, never questioning and discovering for myself. I have experienced His faithfulness and love, I have felt His comforting hand on my brow, I have known He loves me and cares for me, as no one else on this earth can.

I know that He is my God.

Monday, October 1

Where do you come from?

Other posts in this series, Finding Faith
I. Where do you come from?
II. Do you own your faith?
III. Where is my faith going?
IV. How will I shape my children and their faith?

I've been thinking about my faith a lot lately. Not so much what I believe or why I believe it, but HOW I believe. A lot of the time I feel like a fraud. On the surface I'm a Christian, on the inside I'm a Christian, but am I really? It's been a while since I've had 5, 10, 15 minutes to sit down and actually read the Bible for myself. Even when I had time it certainly wasn’t a priority.

I'm frequently in thought with the Lord. I carry on a mental dialog with Him during the day and before sleep comes I have an “off-loading” with Him about how things went, what could've gone better, what's coming up tomorrow, and what and who are weighing on me. But does that make me a Christian?

I'm going to the Allume conference in the fall, which is for CHRISTIAN WOMEN BLOGGERS: Is that me? Am I real enough, devout enough, authentic enough, intentional enough to even be attending such a thing? God is certainly not my default response to anything in my life.

So back to my first question: Where do you come from? Or more accurately, Where does your FAITH come from?
“But from there you will seek the Lord your God and you will find him, if you search after him with all your heart and with all your soul.” Deuteronomy 4:29
I've never NOT gone to church; no, I haven't been there EVERY Sunday, but I've always been attending a church. Growing up it was mass confusion: I was baptized in the Lutheran church, attended a Presbyterian, then a non-denominational, then a Baptist church. Now, I attend an Episcopal church.

My dad didn't start going to church with us until I was older, then we switched to a new church when I was 16 and I just really never felt at home there. Then once Matt and I started dating {I was almost 18} I would go with him and his family to the church we now attend.

We didn't have family devotional time or prayer time growing up, we didn't really discuss Faith and Jesus and God. We said grace and our prayers at bed time, but that was about it. I think my own parents were really only coming into THEIR faith when I was a teenager, and even then it was only their beginning.

The odd thing is: When I was 14 or so I wanted to be a pastor. Don't ask me where that came from: I have no idea. Obviously I'm not a pastor, but at that age I so wanted to write sermons that would call people to Christ, to know His Love, and redemption. I guess, in someway, that is what I would like blogging to become for me.

My faith didn't really come from my parents. So where did it come from?

Looking back I would have to say my {maternal} grandfather, Opa. Some of my first memories are going to church with him and sitting in on his Sunday School class when we visited. I don't remember much, just being there.

Finding Faith Series Deut 4 29 with Jess at LifeintheWhiteHouseAs I got older my Opa and I would talk. With him I could discuss my questions, my issues with being a Christian, my problems with the church’s hierarchy and traditions {which I still have major issues with}, without worrying about being told I was wrong. I could say things such as I believed that the process of evolution exists, but not that we come from apes, without fearing that he would brow-beat me for saying such things.

His love, his life, was more of an example to me about being a Christian, about following Jesus, than anything else. If anything, my faith comes from him. He allowed me to question without condemnation, he allowed me to talk through what I did and did not understand. He was my "Rabbi". 

With him there was no fear, on his part, that my questions would lead to renouncing God or Jesus. There was just open acceptance that we do have questions, and in having those questions we can seek answers, and through those answers come to know Christ better.

Where is this path leading me? Who will I touch? How I will I shape my children and their faith? Where is my faith going? Those are the REAL questions aren’t they?