Friday, July 24, 2015

Showing Off vs. Showing How

Standing in a patch of fireweed with Daddy on our property...
Did we plant this patch of fireweed?  No, but we allowed it to grow.  It's a natural flower bed. 

I read the cutest little book by Jo Ann Stover and the words that hit me the hardest were, "Don't Show Off, Show How."  I believe I've been guilty of a lot of "Show Off" and not so much "Show How." 

How do we raise godly children in an ever growing ungodly time?  The same way it's always been done, through the strength and power the Lord Jesus provides.  It will be His wisdom, and His understanding that He will grant those who ask.  He sees the future, that is why we trust Him and not ourselves.    

Just like those fireweeds, it is possible to have beauty amidst the ugliness of the world and its ways. 
The last few weeks have been incredibly challenging in so many ways but yet "Faith is the Victory!" No matter what goes on in our political arena and our daily lives, we can say, "It is well with my soul."

My teenage daughter was singing this same old hymn the other day as she was doing her chores and I was so blessed to realize that no matter what my children do or where the Lord should take them they can always say, “It is well with my soul.”

My teenage boy was sharing with me about a recent book he had read entitled, “Rescue the Captors,” by Russell Stendal.  He explained to me what the author had suddenly realized… his Columbian Captors were really the ones in captivity, not him. God took the gospel deep into the heart of a guerilla camp.  My boy is now reading “Rescue the Captors II”, written from the parents perspective of the captive.  The oral book report he gave me was so exciting I couldn’t wait to borrow the book from him!

My soon-to-be other teenage daughter was curled up on the couch the other day reading to three of her younger siblings so that I could sleep in on the morning of a particular long and difficult night with our precious newborn.  It was definitely well with my soul on that morning!

My seven year old daughter prayed and asked Jesus to help her not be so bossy with her younger siblings.  Our greatest strengths can also be our greatest weaknesses.  She can sweetly care for and Mother/ lead  them in a gentle way or demand they obey.  Oh, how well do I know that challenge as my brothers used to call me Miss Bossy. 

My 7 year old also shared an analogy during family time yesterday.  It is always exciting when they began to relate to life in this way.  It’s a sign of growth and maturity.  She was describing God’s sovereignty without knowing the technical term.  She spoke of playing Lego’s and how they build these towns and play with the people and how she knows what is going on all the time even before the Lego people do because she’s the one orchestrating it all. 

I reminded her that one major difference is that we all have a free will and can choose to do what we want whenever we want, it’s just that there are consequences and rewards for everything we choose.

My five year old, dear fireball, responded to this with, “Well, I can’t do whatever I want!”  “Sure you can,” I said, “It’s just that you’re supposed to be obedient to the rules the authorities set before you, whether they be parents or the government.”  I explained how he was really free to do whatever he pleased within the constraints of law.  I believe this little one feels the constraints much more often than his other siblings did…..

We, authorities, will answer to God for how we’ve cared for, lead, and set limits on our “people.”  Setting too many limits is as destructive as not setting enough. 

I allowed my two year old little girl to play in a mud puddle a few days ago. So did two of her siblings.  Another Mother had allowed her daughters and their two girl friends to play as well, but also allowed them to remove all their clothing.  Yes, it was shocking!  Even though the little girls were young, 5 and under, it didn’t seem right being in public not to mention the dirt and pebbles sitting in the puddle as well. 

My seven-year old and fireball had been playing in the puddle first.  They were building islands out of pebbles with their clothes on.  When they saw the nudity they turned their backs and continued to build their islands.  They didn’t judge or stare.  Eventually after a few minutes they left the puddle because they were uncomfortable and weren’t enjoying their freedom to build anymore. 

I continued to enjoy my freedom to nurse my baby in public and visit with this Mother as two of her little girls ran off.  We no longer enjoyed visiting.  The rest of the time was spent in her chasing and conjoling her 4 little girls to get dressed and go home for lunch. 

This Mother is highly educated, college degree, etc.  Earlier I heard her speak with such respect to her daughters and their friends and you could tell she earnestly wanted to teach them how to love and respect one another.  Why, suddenly a complete disregard for common decency in the mud puddle?  She spoke all the right words but her actions proved something different.

I believe she didn’t think through the consequences of what she was agreeing too.  It all happened so fast.  They wanted to be naked.  She allowed them without taking the time to think about whether or not the time and place was right.

As I pondered all this and thought about the latest Supreme Court decision to legalize gay marriages I realized the issue is much the same except they’ve had plenty of time to think about the consequences of their actions and have completely disregarded the wisdom of God found in the Scriptures and have been doing so for quite some time. 

We all want love and respect.  We are all teaching and instilling this in our children or we couldn’t have families that get along and function well as a team. 

My children were building and creating something in that puddle when they were outnumbered by others who only wanted to exhibit their new found freedom and enjoy themselves.  My children didn’t demand anything from them, but they took away their peace and joy.  They were uncomfortable with viewing something they already knew as right and wrong.  My children simply left the puddle and busied themselves somewhere else.

Our forefathers were building and creating a nation to please God and train up the future generations in Biblical principles and godly morals as well as spread the Gospel to the nations.  As usual, there’s always someone who refuses to believe there is a God and doesn’t want to obey His law.  However, they have the freedom and right in our nation, and always have had to practice that unbelief and still be respected as a person. 

Now, our freedom as Christians to teach and exercise our faith is being repressed.  Because we’ve strayed from God’s law we lack wisdom and understanding as a nation.  As a people group we have not thought through the consequences to our new laws.  We are not bringing more freedom to more people.  We are digging ourselves into a pit of moral filth and wanting everyone to be OK with it.  It’s not going to happen….

 “Let the religious element in man’s nature be neglected, let him be influenced by no higher motives than low self-interest, and subjected to no stronger restraint than the limits of civil authority, and he becomes the creature of selfish passion or blind fanaticism.  On the other hand, the cultivation of the religious sentiment represses licentiousness…inspires respect for law and order, and gives strength to the whole social fabric, at the same time that it conducts the human soul upward to the Author of its being.” (Quote by Daniel Webster on July 4, 1851, taken from the Encyclopedia of Quotations, “America’s God and Country.”) 

I hope that in the future days to come we, as Christians, will not give into the temptation of showing off, but instead, showing how.  How is it that we can say, “It is well with my soul?”  It is because God knew all of this was coming.  We can have peace and joy amidst the decay of our nation.  We can continue to show our nation and our world HOW… How to have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: the Gospel message will not change, we trust, believe and obey God’s word and live at peace with our fellow man.  Just stay the course: one step at a time, we are already victors and the battle is already won!

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