Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Laying It Down

Over a month ago, on a Sunday evening, I was approached by Ken about praying whether I should give up watching dramatic shows. I have a few I watch on a weekly basis, all of which I have followed since the first episode: Grey's Anatomy, Desperate Housewives, and Brothers and Sisters. He had expressed his dislike of the Oprah Show before, and I had given it up for over a year now. But, I felt he was literally telling me not to watch anymore TV. After all, I don't watch TV during the day when I am teaching the children. I enjoyed my nighttime shows, but at the same time I knew these shows did nothing for my spiritual growth.

Before Ken confronted me, I had been bothered by an episode on Grey's Anatomy, when one 28-year-old resident student in the hospital was ridiculed by her colleagues that she was still a virgin. The 28-year-old woman felt ashamed of this fact and she tried to deny and hide this secret. I continued to watch the shows week after week, because it was what I've always done on Thursday evenings.

As I began to evaluate all these shows after Ken told me to pray about it, I realized it was not Ken telling me to let these shows go, but it was the Lord. I was ashamed that I had allowed these immoral shows become part of my life for so long.

How can I teach my children to commit to their spouse for life when I am watching shows where adultery is committed and accepted? If I tell my children that God hates divorce and He says so in His Word, then how can I continue to condone actors on these shows that consistently divorce and remarry season after season? Just 10 years ago, I wouldn't have come across same-sex relationships accepted on TV, but now it is politically correct to include homosexual relationships in almost all shows. The 3 shows that I watched had all of these situations portrayed. I was at a place where I couldn't continue to watch these shows if I was to continue to raise my children in spirit and in truth. I needed to ask for forgiveness of sin and give up my old ways. It has been over a month since I've seen an episode. But I am realizing that when it comes to living an intentional Christ-like life, I need to go cold turkey, rid of all viewing; there was to be no weaning off the shows. I no longer watch Dancing With the Stars anymore once I begin to be evaluate all of my TV viewing. I felt I could not watch men and women dressed like they are out to seduce their partners, when I am teaching my children to dress modestly. Since I've made that decision to evaluate what I allow myself to watch on TV, I thought I would struggle with temptation, but I have felt more freedom than bondage.

My prayer in sharing this private life of mine is to not to convict you of your TV watching. You may not have the same guilt as I do and you may watch the same programs, but we should all be open and sensitive to the Holy Spirit's convictions in all areas of our lives. If we deny and resist the calling to change, we become more and more hardened to His voice, eventually not able to reach the potential, and useless to reaching others for Christ. (I Corinthians 10:23-24 NKJV, All things are lawful for me, but not all things are helpful; all things are lawful for me, but not all things edify. Let no one seek his own, but each one the other's well-being.) If we give up worldly things, then we have room for the spiritual things.

I know some of you may accuse me of legalism. I do know that our works don't save us - - it's our faith in Jesus. But if we are in Christ, we must do good works (what He has called us) for the glory of God. We are created for this purpose. (Ephesians 2:10 NKJV, "For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.") Therefore, I want all my activities to be pleasing to Him because I love Him, not for personal gain or for His favor. Would you join me in giving up the worldly things for more godly things?

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Blessing of the Fruitful Womb

I am frequently asked if I’m going to have any more children. My quick reply is if the Lord allows me to have more, I’m willing. It has been a long journey for us to reach this point where we can say, “Lord, we are willing.”

I love my position in being a keeper at home, wife to Ken, and mother of 5 children, soon to be 6. I am grateful for the freedom to home school my children, developing a close relationship with them, and the honor to teach them the Word of God. Most of all, I am thankful that I have a godly husband, who desires God’s best, and is willing to lead and provide for his family, under the authority of Christ. God has given us a multi-generational vision to raise our children to be mighty warriors for His kingdom. We know after we are gone, they will continue to carry the banner to raise their offsprings for the Lord.

There are some (maybe many) that feel we have enough children and should stop the reproduction cycle. We’ve heard so many reasons why we shouldn’t have any more children, we’ve even tried to reason with each other why we should not. But when we set aside human reasoning, we realized that if we were to really trust the Lord, we feel we must trust the Lord in all areas of our lives, and this included allowing Him to dictate the number of offsprings. Children today are considered an expense and a burden, but God’s Word never speaks of this. God calls them a reward. (Deuteronomy 7:13-14, And He will love you and bless you and multiply you; He will also bless the fruit of your womb and the fruit of your land, your grain and your new wine and your oil, the increase of your cattle and the offspring of your flock, in the land of which He swore to your fathers to give you. You shall be blessed above all peoples; there shall not be a male or female barren among you or among your livestock.) Sadly, it is the only reward we no longer pray for or desire an abundance. Stacy McDonald, in Passionate Housewives Desperate for God says, “ Under the leadership of a godly man, children are considered ‘arrows’ aimed against ungodliness.” (Psalm 127: 3-5, Children are a heritage from the LORD, offspring a reward from him. Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are children born in one’s youth. Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them. They will not be put to shame when they contend with their opponents in court.)

We have gone through two major moves due to job loss and plant closings since we have married. In the midst of it, we continued to trust the Lord to provide for our needs. We’ve seen how God provided for our needs at a much later time, even though we felt the provision from God could have been sooner, to alleviate much stress and confusion on our part. But, we realized that God sees the bigger picture and knows what’s best. Now, we are less than 4 weeks away from expecting our 6th child, and our eyes are unfolded to what He is once again doing in our lives, providing us a 12-passenger van, inexpensively, and without needing to take out a bank loan. We’ve been praying for a bigger vehicle to transport all of us legally ever since we found out we were expecting, and we are now seeing His answer to our prayer. We know of many others before us that have lived with much less and have had more children, and their grown children are living testament for the Lord, powerfully advancing His kingdom.

I have recently gone into the Word and reread the two passages of women in the Bible, Sarah and Hannah. In Genesis 17:17, “Abraham fell on his face and laughed, and said in his heart, “Shall a child be born to a man who is one hundred years old? And shall Sarah, who is ninety years old, bear a child?” Abraham didn’t believe what he was hearing from God. Genesis 17:15-22, “Then God said to Abraham, “As for Sarai your wife, you shall not call her name Sarai, but Sarah shall be her name. And I will bless her and also give you a son by her; then I will bless her, and she shall be a mother of nations; kings of peoples shall be from her.” Then Abraham fell on his face and laughed, and said in his heart, “Shall a child be born to a man who is one hundred years old? And shall Sarah, who is ninety years old, bear a child?” And Abraham said to God, “Oh, that Ishmael might live before You!” Then God said: “No, Sarah your wife shall bear you a son, and you shall call his name Isaac; I will establish My covenant with him for an everlasting covenant, and with his descendants after him. And as for Ishmael, I have heard you. Behold, I have blessed him, and will make him fruitful, and will multiply him exceedingly. He shall beget twelve princes, and I will make him a great nation. But My covenant I will establish with Isaac, whom Sarah shall bear to you at this set time next year.” Children were not only important to Abraham and Sarah, but it was also important to God to have godly people raise offsprings. Even in Sarah’s old age, God prepared her womb to have a son.

In I Samuel 1, Hannah was not able to have children. What struck me is that in verse 5 it states that “The Lord had closed her womb.” Hannah was tortured by her rival, Peninnah, because of her inability to have children. Why did God choose to close Hannah’s womb? I do not have an answer, but God did open Hannah’s womb, and she had Samuel and dedicated him to the Lord. What joyous celebration this was in Hannah’s life?! She must have been so elated to experience the pregnancy and delivery, and to have the opportunity to love and raise him.

From these 2 examples, God chose the number of children for these two women. We only know from Scripture they had 1 child, but that one child was God’s plan. He opened and closed the wombs of these women.

Jehovah Jireh knows us, and He knows our finances. We are allowing the Lord to dictate the size of our family. I feel in a lot of ways, Ken and I are tremendously blessed with 6 children to raise already. Can we tell God we are satisfied with our 6, and opt for the tubal ligation or vasectomy? As children of the Almighty God who loves us so much and gave up His Son for us, how can we not want to surrender to our human desires, and give Him all of our lives, to look forward to Him saying to us, “Well done, my children.” ? We view the opportunity to bear and bring up children a high honor given to us by the Lord, and it is not a lowly burden to endure. We rejoice that we are able to be called by Him to bring little ones into the world to be souls that will glorify Him, and warriors who will contend with the enemies of God. How can we say no to more souls that will glorify Him and build His kingdom?

Monday, November 8, 2010

Men’s Rewards or God’s Pleasure

The photo of this scrapbook page was taken in September 2006.

This afternoon, Ken and I were confronted with how to train our children to accept failure and disappointment, without placing ourselves above other parental ways. We even asked each other what was the best way to train Godly character in our children.

Ken and the four oldest children participated in the Pinewood Derby in our church today. Our two youngest children, ages 7 and 5 were disappointed that they didn’t win the speed contest against their age groups. As we tried to encourage our two youngest of their effort, we began to also notice that many of those vehicles may not have been made by the children themselves, and we began to
wonder if there was much child involvement in developing the vehicles before the event this afternoon. Joshua told us that one child admitted the parent made all of it, and he was not present for any of the car making. Caleb even told us he wanted Ken to make one for him next time. In the meantime, we encouraged our children to enjoy themselves and not to focus on trophies, but we saw that it was difficult for them to handle the disappointment.

On our way home, we explained that we were proud of their car designs. We reminisced over this past week when Ken and the children excitingly picked out their paint at Wal-mart, they even spent some time drawing the cut-out of their vehicles, and sanding and painting together. It was a worth-while family event that each one had enjoyed. When Joshua pointed out to everyone in the van again that some of the vehicles there were made by the adults, Ken had to explain that he would not trade the fun in all the building with his children for many trophies. He then asked the children if they had fun this week, and each one agreed they enjoyed making the cars themselves.

We are not to judge the motives and effort of other parents, nor do we want our children to be bitter of other children’s awards. The most important life lesson today is that we want our children to give the Lord glory in all things, whether they win, lose, or even forfeit. (I Thessalonians 5:16-18, “ Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” ) We want them to learn to rejoice with others when they win, and be gracious to those that lose when we win. Their effort may not be noticed with flashy trophies or ribbons by men, but God sees their effort and He is always proud of their endeavors. In Matthew 6, Jesus speaks of prayer and fasting done in secret will be rewarded, but it is important our children learn from an early age not to perform for men, but to do everything to glorify God and to please Him. (Colossians 3:23, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters.”) I know they will have many more opportunities where they will be confronted with desiring the rewards of men. Therefore, I will be praying that Ken and I will not tire in cultivating Godly character into their lives.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Submission or Rebellion

This scrapbook page was done for Valentine's Day, Feb. 2007.

A few days ago, I was in a conversation with a couple women about submission, and its difficulty to respect our husbands’ decisions when we believe these decisions could cause problems in the near future. This led me to think about how Sarah (Genesis 12) must have felt when Abraham asked her to lie to the king that Abraham was her brother. In Genesis 20, this happened again, when Abraham was confronted with almost the same situation, and he lied to King Abimelech about his relationship with Sarah being his sister. At first, it baffled me that Scripture didn’t note Sarah’s response to Abraham’s lie. I can conclude that Sarah didn’t confront Abraham in front of the king, but I wondered if she may have gently and privately confronted Abraham’s actions and lie, especially before they came up with the plan. Abraham had a conversation with Sarah that since they were traveling on dangerous grounds, they can protect themselves by saying they are siblings. He admitted to telling Sarah, “This is how you can show your love to me: Everywhere we go, say of me, He is my brother. (Genesis 20: 13).

I am sure Abraham was fearful for their lives, and had forgotten that God was with him, and He was in control. Despite Abraham’s lack of faith, Sarah didn’t disobey her husband’s request, nor do I believe she confronted Abraham of this misleading. Abraham’s responsibility as a husband was to protect his family, and Sarah allowed him to lead and guide her. Sarah’s story is lesson for all women, because so many times, we find ourselves in judgement of our husbands’ spiritual downfall. Some of us express our displeasure with words, while some may show with their actions and expressions while being silent. Our husbands always sense these passive-aggressive ways, after all, we are created for them. In the case of Sarah, the Word tells us that Sarah was reproved, which means ‘set right’. Sarah was “set right” by Abimelech’s rebuke, and I believe she was “found to be right” because of her humble submission.

God was protecting Abraham and Sarah both times. Abraham didn’t need to tell lies, but Abraham needed to learn his lesson from God, not Sarah. We can be glad that Sarah didn’t take matters into her own hands, because she could have hindered God’s teachable lessons for Abraham. Perhaps this could all be training for the crucial moment when God asks Abraham to sacrifice Isaac. (Genesis 22:2, Then God said, "Take your son, your only son, Isaac, whom you love, and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains I will tell you about.") God was able to refine him through these life lessons, and God must have been pleased that Sarah didn’t take matters into her own hands. (These have come so that your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. I Peter 1:7)

Ken is a great leader for our family. I am forever grateful for a godly husband who takes his commission seriously, provide and protect his family. I may not see eye-to-eye in everything, but I am grateful that God gives grace to me when I fall short, and that grace is given more often than less.

Wives have the power to build and bless her home or pluck it down. (The wise woman builds her house, but with her own hands the foolish one tears hers down. Proverbs 14:1) As Christian women, we are called to submit to our husbands, whether they are believers or not. It just seems, that no matter how aged we are, we all have to deal with dying to ourselves to one degree or another . (Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. Matthew 10:39). Do we want to be rebellious and unwanting to be subjected to our husbands like the world, or do we desire to be submissive, meek-spirited women that the Bible says we should be? It is much harder to strive to be the latter, but yet the world thinks the latter are the weaker women - the door mat. Hardly so!

I Peter 3:7, “Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers.” The goal of the marriage says it all here, becoming heirs together of the grace of life. The difficult, but attainable task will be to achieve it and then maintain it.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Conversion Experience

Over a week ago, Ken and I were sitting in the living room while all our children were sitting at the dinning room table having a snack before bedtime. The conversation they were having caught my attention. Joshua, Aimee and Caleb were telling our youngest daughter, Rachel that she needed to accept Jesus to be saved and be able to go to heaven when she dies. As I was listening to the conversation, I was able to see Rachel’s face from the living room. I then heard her say, “I know Jesus.” But, I also saw some confusion.

I chose to not act on this conversation, but to wait and figure out what was God's best to handle this situation. Throughout the week, I wondered what Rachel must have thought. Ken and I have taught all of our children at home, biblically and academically. They have Bible as a subject that they study. We open our Bibles during devotion and reading times. During the day, I may even have Bible songs playing softly, or we may have a short worship time together. From birth, we have taught Rachel that Jesus loves her, and we believe she loves Him. She is receptive to our corrections, and has a desire obey Jesus. The 3 older children have all accepted and prayed to accept the Lord as their Savior at an early age.

It made me wonder if children born into a Christian home, where the Word of God is read and studied daily, would naturally accept the biblical teaching from their parents. Therefore, they'd accept the Lord as their Savior.

I'd like to pause here to note that Ken and I do not believe that children of Christian parents are automatically grandfathered into the Book of Life. There is no guarantee that children of Christian parents won’t fall away, nor does the promise of salvation guarantee a person not to fall away. But when we teach and train our children at home, we are taking and applying God’s commands and promises by faith (Deuteronomy 6:5-9, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be upon 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. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.”, Proverbs 2:26, “Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.”), which in this case means faithful covenantal parenting, just as the promises of salvation assume that one is applying scripture’s promises by faithful living. Of course, believing parents can fail to pass on the covenantal blessings, like the generation that followed Joshua (Judges 2:10, “Therefore the LORD was very angry with Israel and said, "Because this nation has violated the covenant that I laid down for their forefathers and has not listened to me”), and they can raise their children to worship idols (Ezekiel 16:20, “And you took your sons and daughters whom you bore to me and sacrificed them as food to the idols. Was your prostitution not enough?” ). From the Word, God wants believing parents to be faithful in parenting their children. That is why a qualification for church leaders is to have faithful children. (I Timothy 3:4-5, “He must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him with proper respect. If anyone does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of God's church?”)

Ken and I discussed over this issue Saturday night. On Sunday morning, the church had a baby dedication (I call it parents’ dedication), where we took an oath to faithfully teach and train our 2 year-old in the admonition of the Lord. After the parents’ dedication, the church had a deacon in-training of the church share his testimony. His testimony was only a few minutes long, but it was revealing to me. He grew up in a Christian home where he always knew the Lord. He vaguely recalled giving his life to Christ around the age of 5 or 6, but he had always loved the Lord and served Him all his life. I know this man and his wife a little because they attend the same Sunday School class. They have struggled much financially this past year or two. He has lost his job and is still waiting for God’s provision for another job. In the meantime, he and his wife work part time as it becomes available. They also have grown sons who are faithfully serving the Lord. The couple have not turned their backs from their faith, but they are living it out on a daily basis.

A friend of mine shared this with me: Jack Hayford said in one of his Bible studies many years ago, that he had two young ladies that came to the Lord around the same time. One girl had many baggage to overcome, while another didn’t have as much, the girl with less baggage God was able to use her in the ministry sooner, while the other had to sort through her struggles before she was able to be used by God. So children that grew up knowing the Lord early is an advantage for the kingdom of God. I am in no way saying that my children will be without baggage and sin to deal with, they will indeed, and are struggling with their sin nature now, lying, stealing, disobedience, impatience, etc. My children are still in training, and even though by imperfect parents, with God’s help and parental commitment, the children can be used mightily and powerfully when they are grown.

I took the time this morning to talk with Rachel about Jesus' love for her and asked her if she would like to ask the Lord to personally live in her heart and help her live her life for Him. She right away wanted us to pray for her. I consider it pure joy and an honor to be able to celebrate this moment with her. Her conversion experience was sweet and peaceful.

My prayer is that our children will not only have the knowledge and wisdom of God’s Word and His promises, but they will experience a faith that is true, beautiful, and fulfilling so they will never want to depart for the worldly idols.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Here I Go

I've been contemplating on starting a blog about my life for a couple of years now. I wanted a place where I can journal my thoughts and experiences so close friends and family can read and be updated. I had even started a simple web site with the name, Lessons By Grace over a year ago, but it was very simple and I still needed to learn how to do many other things. After Ken helped me with the building of this site, I was still hesitant. I do not expect hundreds to be reading my blog, only just a couple of handfuls, the ones closest to me that desire to know what is going on in my life, but I still considered this undertaking seriously. I realized that a blog is more than just writing in a notebook everyday. My writing will be on the world wide web and anyone can read my entries. I knew what I write in this blog, I am accountable to the Lord for it. Words are important and once published and read by others, it cannot be taken away. Someday, I'd like to share this blog with my children, in hopes they will appreciate the effort. So with the approval of Ken, some nervousness and excitement, I will begin this new adventure.