4 Signs That Fear is Ruling Your Life and How to Overcome It

 

  1. You lack peace:   (Ex. you lie awake at night and cannot fall asleep due to thoughts that are running wild)  God gives us the solution when He says in Isaiah 26:3 AMP “You will keep in perfect and constant peace the one whose mind is steadfast [that is, committed and focused on You—in both inclination and character], Because he trusts and takes refuge in You [with hope and confident expectation].” Here are a few ways you can keep your eyes “fixed” on God.
    1. Read the Bible and think about His truth therein
    2. Pray and talk to God
    3. Ask for His perfect peace in the midst of your circumstances
    4. Listen to Christian worship music in your car
  2. You lack faith, and may even be angry at God:  The words you speak lack faith and are negative and reveal that you expect the worst out of a situation.  Instead, remember that God is the only person Who can accurately predict the future, let Him do His job and you do yours.  God tells us that our one job is to ‘believe Him.’  John 6:29 (ESV) “Jesus answered them, ‘This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.’”  God is clear in Scripture as to who our enemies are and it is never Him.  He is all we need.
  3. You lack confidence and worry about what other people think of you or your actions: We become concerned about what other people think when we are putting ourselves as the main character in the story instead of God.  Next time you wonder about what a person thinks of you, replace that person with Jesus in the same scenario and determine to only concern yourself with what He would think. Philippians 2:13 (AMP) “For it is [not your strength, but it is] God who is effectively at work in you, both to will and to work [that is, strengthening, energizing, and creating in you the longing and the ability to fulfill your purpose] for His good pleasure.”
  4. You lack sound thinking and self-control: which causes you to make decisions based on emotions v. wisdom and prayer.  Fear distorts reality and can cause us to act irrationally and become driven by our emotions instead of led by the Spirit.  Romans 8:14 AMP “For all who are allowing themselves to be led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.”
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When we see the outcome of what can occur when we act in fear (which is always sin of some sort) and not faith it is easy to understand why God, in His great love for us, would tell us so many times in His Word to have no fear!

Written by Jamie Shaver

 

 

7 Secrets to Experiencing More Freedom in Your Life

God sent His Son Jesus to die for our sins and to make us free from the power and penalty of sin in our lives.  God wants us to have an abundant life free from fear and doubt.  God also wants us to be free from:

  • worrying about what other people think
  • anger, bitterness and envy
  • greed, pride, doubt and many other human “ailments” that keep us from enjoying life to the fullest.

God wants us to have great faith and to obey His Word.

Faith + Obedience = Freedom and the first key of the equation to have more freedom is to have faith and believe God.  Obedience is the second half of the equation and is really where we get to exercise our faith.  Our faith leads to obedience and obedience brings freedom and peace.  In Colossians 3:1-20 (AMP) we are given some instructions on how to obey God and I’ve underlined them below

Colossians 3:1-10 Amplified Bible (AMP)  Put On the New Self

3 Therefore if you have been raised with Christ [to a new life, sharing in His resurrection from the dead], keep seeking the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 

2 Set your mind and keep focused habitually on the things above [the heavenly things], not on things that are on the earth [which have only temporal value]. 

3 For you died [to this world], and your [new, real] life is hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ, who is our life, appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory.

5 So put to death and deprive of power the evil longings of your earthly body [with its sensual, self-centered instincts] immorality, impurity, sinful passion, evil desire, and greed, which is [a kind of] idolatry [because it replaces your devotion to God]. 

6 Because of these [sinful] things the [divine] wrath of God is coming [b]on the sons of disobedience [those who fail to listen and who routinely and obstinately disregard God’s precepts], 

7 and in these [sinful things] you also once walked, when you were habitually living in them [without the knowledge of Christ]. 

8 But now rid yourselves [completely] of all these things: anger, rage, malice, slander, and obscene (abusive, filthy, vulgar) language from your mouth. 

9 Do not lie to one another, for you have stripped off the old self with its evil practices,

10 and have put on the new [spiritual] self who is being continually renewed in true knowledge in the image of Him who created the new self—

 How do you put to death that which is earthly in you (or in other words “get over yourself”) and experience greater freedom in your life?  We put on our ‘new self’ in Christ by doing the following:

    1. Seek things that are above - the approval of man is not things that are above - psychologist have noted that everyone has a box in our minds that they label the ‘generalized other’ and the people in the box are the people to whom we GIVE the power to determine whether who we are or what we do has value.  When we are not set on the things above we are likely trapped in approval seeking or approval addiction.  Constantly trying to explain ourselves & manage the ‘others’ views of us or what we THINK their views are and seeking for them to agree with us or think a certain way about us; perhaps that we are very well connected so we become perpetual name droppers, that we are not wasting time watching television we may add a disclaimer such as “I don’t watch a lot of tv but the other day I saw something…” or giving reasons and excuses as to why something was not done as promised so the others will understand, agree & ultimately APPROVE of how you handled things.  People pleasing and approval addiction is not FREEDOM.  

    2. Set your minds on things that are above - your reason for being here is much bigger than the things the ‘world’ complains about and sets their mind on.  This also helps us with our pride because when we are focused on the Lord above, we won’t be looking down on others.  (*my son wrestles and one of the first things your taught is to go for your opponents head…because the body always follows)

    3. Put to death & deprive of power that which is earthy in you - I want to get over my ego, my need to be liked by people I meet - my need to look successful, my need to be right, my need to be in control…how much of your life are those things running?  Part of putting off the old self is to give up the ‘right’ to being ‘right’.  I once heard that people will work harder to be right than to be successful.  What are you trying to be right about?  Write it down right now.

Have you decided that your child, spouse, mother-in-law or someone else in your life will “never change”? Where’s the faith in that statement, where is the expectation? Are you working harder to be right or to be in right relationship with God by believing that “all things are possible with God” and obeying His commands?  In order to correct this type of thinking we must die to ourselves, our understanding and experiences with people or situations doesn’t make us God and determine that we know a person will never change.  “Lean not on your own understanding and in all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your path.”  Ps. 3:5

    4. Rid yourselves completely of - anger, rage, malice, slander, and obscene (abusive, filthy, vulgar) language from your mouth.

    5. Do not lie to one another - remember the truth sets you free

John 8:32

 

    6. Put off the old self - Scripture shows us a city that burned all their magic books once they came to know Christ.  Is there anything you need to ‘burn’ or completely get rid of so that you may be in right relationship with God? 

    7. Put on the new self which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator. (God’s Word brings a supernatural cleansing that washes your mind and emotions from the contamination of the world, the memories of past experiences, and the lies that the enemy has tried to sow into your brain.  When you make it a priority to fill your mind with truth from God’s Word, your mind is renewed and you become inwardly strengthened and very hard to deceive.)  You know Francis Frangipane writes in his book ‘In Christ’s Image Training’ “a Christian is not just a person going to Heaven.  Shouldn’t a Christian also be a person coming from Heaven, with the goods, power and virtue of Heaven?”  When we put on the new self that is exactly what we are doing, we are bringing things from Heaven, including our freedom in Christ into our current situation.

In what areas of your life would you like to experience more freedom?  

Written by Jamie Shaver

Violated by a Drone

Have you ever had a bad ‘feeling’ about someone or something? 

     My teenage daughter and I were at a beautiful resort in northern Minnesota last week paddle boarding on the lake wearing our bathing suits.  When we were approximately 20 yards from the shoreline we were approached by a drone.  Suddenly this drone was flying very close to my daughter’s face, then going up and down as if it was scanning her body.  This activity went on for about two minutes.  It was far enough away that she couldn’t swat it down with the paddle, but close enough to feel very violated.  

    Obviously uncomfortable my daughter asked another teen girl passing by on her paddle board, “What is this thing doing?” because it was not moving out from in front of her.  

    The young woman responded “Oh, I asked too because it was happening to me, but someone said it’s just a dad filming his wife and kids, so you have nothing to worry about, it’s not some creepy guy.”   

    “Oh good” my daughter laughed, and the drone quickly flew away.  

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    I had a sick feeling inside.  I felt like I just watched my daughter being recorded from a distance and I could do nothing about it.  I don’t know when exactly the drone flew off because I was looking for the ‘wife and kids’ which were nowhere to be seen.  Deep inside I wanted to believe I was overreacting, besides I didn’t really know if this person was taking pictures or recording my daughter in her bathing suit from multiple angles without my consent.  That’s when I realized ‘I really have no proof’ and maybe this person is allowed to fly the drone here, seems strange to me, but maybe.  I hate to admit this next part…I DID NOTHING, I SAID NOTHING.  Seriously, what person does this?  If you were telling me that this happened to you I would have had a list in my mind about what ‘I would do’ in this situation, yet here I was in it, feeling oddly paralyzed.  This occurred on a Wednesday afternoon, and by Friday morning at 3 a.m. I had lost nearly a full night of rest thinking about this situation because of how violating it felt to be totally helpless and that ‘bad sense’ was only getting stronger.  Why didn’t I ask people on the beach who owned the drone?  It is truly amazing how many good ideas I had about what I ‘could have...should have’ done at 3 a.m. 

    Later that morning I made a few calls to people who I thought may have some knowledge and learned that this person regardless if he was recording and taking pictures with the drone; did not have permission by law to fly it so close to people, due to wind gusts that could make it quickly become a flying object that could cause harm.  Next, I learned it was illegal to fly it on a private beach without written permission.  I filed a report with the hotel and local police department.  My daughter, I learned had watched the drone fly back to its owner and had a physical description of the man which we provided to both the resort and authorities.  

    Unfortunately, the resort and the police do not have the name of the guest that was using this drone on the beach.  Had I acted immediately things may have ended differently.  I hope that you are never put in an awkward situation, but if you are here are some verses to apply.

  1. - Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.  Proverbs 3:5 ESV If you have a ‘bad’ feeling or ‘sick’ feeling put your trust in the Lord, pray to Him, that “feeling” is often His Spirit warning you and making you aware that something is not right. 
  2. - If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.  James 1:5 ESV.  Ask God immediately ‘what should I do about this?’ 
  3. -An intelligent heart acquires knowledge, and the ear of the wise seeks knowledge. Proverbs 18:15 ESV  Take the time to learn what the laws are or what other opportunities may be available for you to protect yourself or others in the future.  

I’m happy to report that the resort is putting in place a protocol for employees to follow to address any future use of personal drones on the property.  The resort is making it clear that drone use is prohibited and wants to ensure that this does not happen to anyone else in the future.  

When you speak out you do not know how many others you may have spared a similar disturbing experience.  Is there anything you need to speak out about? 

Written by Jamie Shaver

What's The Role of Parents of Adult Children? Part 2

The greatest need your adult children have is the need for an intimate relationship with the Lord and His Presence in their lives. They need Him more than they need you. Keep in mind that if you really love them, you will not seek to be their ‘savior’, but you will always point them to the One Who is their Savior—the One Who will never leave or forsake them, Who loves them perfectly, and Who knows them best and loves them the most!

Model to your adult children what it means to have a close, personal relationship with God. In order to model such a relationship with God, you must have such a relationship, which is only gained by spending time with Him. Time studying and meditating upon His Word, time in prayer with Him, and time in fellowship with others who encourage you in your faith. ‘You can’t give away what you don’t have’. We as parents of children of all ages must put the Lord above every other relationship we have—otherwise those other relationships are idols in our lives. I often see parents who put their relationship with their children above their relationship with the Lord, and when they do, they not only dishonor God, but they also are modeling idolatry to them. The best thing you can do if you love your children is to first love the Lord with all of your heart, soul, mind, and strength, for it is only then that you truly will be able to love your children unselfishly and as they need to be loved by you.

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Below are some things you also should do if you love your adult children:

1) Pray! First, pray that God will give you the grace and wisdom to parent your adult children in the way that He desires and to put on your heart what He wants you to pray for them. Secondly, diligently pray for them, regardless of whether they are walking with the Lord or not.  Either way, they need Him and His Presence in their lives! Some things you may wish to pray for them include: praying that they will live for God’s glory and pleasure by walking by the Spirit so they will not gratify the desires of their flesh (Isaiah 43:7; Galatians 5:16); pray that God would give them the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of Who He is, that the eyes of their hearts would be enlightened so they would know the hope to which He has called them, and know the riches of His glorious inheritance and the immeasurable greatness of his power toward those who believe (Ephesians 1: 17-19); and pray that they would have the faith to comprehend how high, wide, deep and long is their Heavenly Father’s love for them, and that they be filled with the fullness of Christ (Ephesians 3:14-19).  Do not ‘worry’ about them, but ‘cast all of your cares upon the Lord’. (Psalm 55: 22; 1st Peter 5:7)

2) Trust the Lord with your children’s care. Remember, although entrusted to you for their care, your children are first and foremost ‘God’s’.  You can ‘trust the Man Who died for them’ with their lives (Romans 8:32). As you ‘release them to Him’, BELIEVE that He is able to do ‘exceedingly and abundantly beyond what you could hope or imagine’ with them (Ephesians 3:20). Praise God that He has them in His hands and look to see Him at work in their lives as you truly surrender them to Him. I often derive comfort from knowing that not only does God love my children because they are His, but I also am confident that His love for me extends to my children-- since I am precious to Him and they are precious to me-- they also are precious to Him! I derive comfort from the scriptures that tell us that God’s faithfulness, covenant and steadfast love extends to those who love Him and keep His commandments, to a thousand generations. (Deuteronomy 7:9; Exodus 20:6; 34:7)

3) Confess your sins before your children. If you have been convicted that you did not parent in the way that God’s word commands when your children were young—whether you were too harsh and unloving in your disciplining of them, or too permissive and failed to instruct them and mete out consequences for their disobedience-- then I strongly encourage you to not only confess your sin before the Lord, but to go before your adult children and humbly confess your sin to them. Share the insights you have gained from God’s word, that you wish you had known and applied that truth when you were raising them. Your children need to see authentic Christianity demonstrated by you; that alone can open the door to you having a closer relationship with them, and more importantly, help them to see that God is merciful and willing to forgive sins when we choose to humble ourselves and confess our sin (1 John 1:9). Share with them that He longs for us to walk in truth and righteousness for our sake, and that every command He has given is not to restrict our freedo, but to ensure our freedom from the bondage of sin. The recently released movie and true story ‘I Can Only Imagine’ is a great example of how God can restore a fractured parent-child relationship when a father confesses his sin to his son and asks for his forgiveness. We should always model true Christianity by being willing to humble ourselves and seek forgiveness from our children when we have misrepresented their Heavenly Father to them.

4) Listen to the Holy Spirit and follow His leading regarding how you can interact with your children to foster a closer relationship with them, and how you can help to foster their relationship with the Lord. Demonstrate your love for your children by truly listening to them and responding to them in a way that reveals God’s truth as well as His heart of love for them. For your adult children who do love the Lord and walk in His truth, your role is to continue to disciple them in the knowledge of God's truth and to encourage them in their faith and 'spur them on to love and good deeds'.(Hebrews 10:24) If your children are not walking with the Lord, you  certainly cannot force them to have a relationship with Him. However, you can be a stumbling block to them wanting to have such a relationship by: never or rarely saying anything positive about the Lord and what He means to you; by leading a hypocritical life before them; or ‘by shoving Him down their throats’. Jesus never forces anyone to be His disciple; He always gives us a choice regarding whether we will choose to follow Him. He lets us know what it costs to follow Him, and what it costs not to choose Him. If your children are not walking with the Lord, in a Spirit of love and humility you should let them know that you respect that is their choice—but also let them know that there is a cost both here on earth and for all eternity for not choosing Him. You can show love for your children without condoning their poor or sinful choices. Reach out and give them a word of encouragement when you can sincerely do so, express interest in them and their lives, and engage them in meaningful conversations about the purpose of life, their relationships, and their work in which you ask them questions without putting them on the defensive. Do not be afraid to ask them why they believe what they profess to believe if it is contrary to your belief in Jesus, and ask them what caused them to fall away from the faith if they once professed to be a believer. As you respectfully listen to them—even when their views differ from yours and God’s word, you earn the right to speak truth into their lives.  Be quick to listen, slow to speak, and seek the guidance of the Holy Spirit regarding what to say, how to say it, and when to say it. And, be obedient to Him when He does tell you to speak.

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5) Confront your child in truth and in love if he or she is choosing a lifestyle of sin. I am heartbroken every time I read through the bible and come to the part where Eli the priest did not rebuke his adult sons, and he and they suffered the consequences of their sin, as did generations to come. King David failed to admonish his sons Amnon, Absalom, and Adonijah, which led to rape, murder, and the bloodshed of many ‘innocents’. Both Eli and David enabled the sinful behavior of their sons by remaining silent. Do you know of anyone who is enabling his or her adult children’s sinful lifestyle by saying nothing, or even indicating approval of their sinful behavior? I am heartbroken when I hear parents who state they can’t ‘do anything’ because their child is an adult, and yet, they have remained silent about their child's sinful choices. For example, I know of many parents who have a child who is living with someone outside of marriage and they say, “There’s nothing I can do about it.”  And when I ask them if they have said anything to the child they most often say, “No, it wouldn’t do any good to say anything because they’re going to do what they want to do anyway.” It may or may not change their adult child’s heart or their behavior. But you cannot remain silent because what is at stake is too great—it is the life of your child that has been entrusted to you! If we as parents humbly speak to our adult children and confront them with their sin in love, and the child continues in the sin, then the sin is ‘on their head’. If we, however, disregard our parental role of warning our children of their sin and its consequences, then we are sinning by omission and failing in our parental duty. You cannot force your adult child to do what is right, but you are to share the truth in a spirit of humility and love and to sound the warning that sin—unchecked and un-confessed-- always has negative consequences.   If we truly love our children as Christ—Who is ‘Truth’---has loved us, we will confront them with the truth of God’s Word regarding their specific sin, assuring them of our and God’s love, yet letting them know because of our love for them that we cannot condone their sin. If we really understand the nature of sin, we will know that it always is destructive by its very nature; if we love our children, why would we allow them to be on the path of destruction? There’s two reasons and both stem from self-love: we love ourselves more than we love God, for we fear our children’s rejection more than we revere God and His Word; and we love ourselves more than we love our children or we would be willing to risk their rejection in order to keep them from harm. God tells us clearly that if we love anything more than we love Him —including our family members and ourselves-- we are not fit to be His disciples (Matthew 10:37; Luke 14:26). We have been called to rebuke and admonish our brothers and sisters in Christ when appropriate for their sake. Should we not be even more willing to rebuke and admonish our own children whose care has been entrusted to us, and for whom our love should be so great that we will always desire that they know and live by 'the truth that saves'? (Matthew 18:15; Colossians 3:16; 1Thessalonians 5:14; 2 Thessalonians 3:15) There’s an expression you may have heard, ‘if you care, you have to share’, and that is certainly applicable when it comes to a parent sharing the truth of God’s Word with their adult children who are choosing to live a lifestyle of sin.

Lord, I am completely inadequate on my own to be a parent, and I ask you to give me the grace, strength, courage, boldness and wisdom to parent my children in righteousness, truth, and love, as You parent me! Amen

Written by Julie Van Gorp

You may also wish to read What's the Role of Parents of Adult Children? Part 1 https://www.trueviewministries.org/blog/2018/6/15/whats-the-role-of-parents-of-adult-children

What's the Role of Parents of Adult Children? Part 1

Have you ever heard the question, “Will my job as a parent ever end?”  I have, and many times from parents who wryly make the comment after their child has moved back home post-college-- or for a number of reasons, they see their adult child’s life ‘imploding’ and they wonder what it is they can and should do.

This topic is near and dear to my heart as I am the parent of four grown children, and I want to make sure I am fulfilling my parental role at this stage in their lives. I have reflected upon many scriptures as well as God’s character to gain insight into what the role of parents is for their adult children.

Parenting doesn’t ever end; it is a ‘life sentence’. Regardless of the age of your children, your primary job is to represent to your children the heart and character of God and to reveal His truth and love to them. That includes helping your children of all ages to learn ‘to die’ to their selfish desires and to learn the joy of living for the glory of God, which truly is the key to joyous living! Although we always have parental responsibilities, how you carry them out changes when your children become adults who have moved out of your home. We in the West have been led to believe that the responsibility of parenting ends when a child turns 18, and although there are legal and financial responsibilities that may change at that age, parents have been entrusted with God-given responsibilities-- no matter the age of their child.

As hard as it may be for moms of babies and toddlers to comprehend, it can be even more difficult to be a parent of adult children because you have far less ability to influence their choices than you did when they lived under your roof. In addition, you can be haunted by the fruit of the poor parenting choices you made when your children were young, which can lead to great suffering for your adult children-- as well as for you. In general, your role as a parent of adult children is to be an advisor, counselor or coach to them rather than to be an instructor and disciplinarian as was the case in their youth. The degree to which you instructed, disciplined, and set the stage for open, honest, constructive communication when they were growing up will definitely impact how open they are to listening to your counsel when they are adults.

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If you instructed your child in God’s Word, in the spirit of His love when he or she was young, then parenting will be less challenging as your child grows older, even into adulthood. In fact, if you assumed the correct role of a parent when they were growing up, then when they are adults you likely will have the joy of a ‘friendship’ with them, and you also will have gained a ‘brother or sister in Christ’.

If, however, you did not teach your children in God’s word and His ways—likely because at the time you were ignorant of God and His wisdom—or if your children chose to rebel against the truth of His word that you taught them, then your children most likely are pursuing the 'desires of their flesh' and not ‘walking in the Spirit’ so they—and you---are now ‘reaping what was sown’ (Galatians 6:7-8). If this is the case with you, I want to encourage you: do not despair! God’s grace is sufficient for every need, and He is able to forgive every sin, and to make ‘beauty from ashes’—even from the parenting mistakes you made, and the sin your child has chosen! (1 John 1:9; Isaiah 61:3) You can be assured that your children will face trials in their lives that are bigger than their ability to handle them, and those situations are often the very door through which God enters and reveals to them that He is Sovereign and All Loving!

It is NOT your job: to try and control and micro-manage your child's behavior; to manipulate or 'bribe' them so they will comply with your will and desires; to assume responsibility for poor choices they made that were contrary to your instruction and advice; to 'rescue' them from facing the consequences of their poor or even sinful choices when doing so will not teach them anything positive and instead will enable them to continue in selfish, self-destructive, or sinful behavior. Your job is to represent the love of God, His character and His ways to your children, which you do by praying for them, trusting their lives into His loving and capable hands, speaking the truth in love to them, and applying His life-changing Word to all of your dealings with them and all of the situations in your life. It is a job we can only do by the power of the Holy Spirit at work in us. May you--and I--be found faithful to assume the parental role God has entrusted to us, regardless of our children's ages!

Written by Julie Van Gorp

Look for next week's blog that will focus specifically on what you must do if you truly love your adult children.

You may also be interested in reading 'A Two Letter Word That Spells Love' that may help you with parenting--and all of your relationships. Click below https://www.trueviewministries.org/blog/2018/6/7/a-two-letter-word-that-spells-love

A Two-Letter Word That Spells Love

Princess Bride is one of our family’s favorite movies. The story is all about ‘true love’ and it begins with the farm boy Wesley winning the heart of a lovely woman named Buttercup. He wins her over by continually responding to her every request with the words, ‘As you wish.’ That kind of response makes for a delightful fairy tale, but when given without restraint in real life relationships it can lead to horror stories. ‘True love’ in real life means we must be willing to say ‘no’ to our children of all ages; to others we love; and especially to ourselves.

Unfortunately, I have observed that many parents today either don’t tell their children ‘no’-- or if they do, it seems to be more of a suggestion than a command, and the child’s failure to comply rarely results in any negative consequences. I have also witnessed many children authoritatively shouting ‘no’ to their parents, and then getting away with such disrespectful behavior!  I have noticed a lack of disciplining by parents of children of all ages—from those whose three year olds basically decide their bedtime, to parents of teenagers who won’t say ‘no’ to coed ‘spend the night’ parties or parties where they know drinking and drugs will be readily available.

I believe that there are many reasons why parents fail to say ‘no’ to and discipline their children. Some of those reasons are: laziness; believing saying ‘no’ will somehow hurt their child’s ‘self-esteem’; the desire to be their child’s friend; the desire for their child to be popular by having or doing what other kids have/do; thinking that love means giving the person whatever they want; not having been disciplined themselves when they were children; lack of confidence regarding what is the right thing to do; not knowing how to effectively discipline their child for disobedience; and ignorance of or disregard for what God’s word says about the importance of discipline and ‘reaping what we sow’ (Galatians 6:7-9).

I readily admit when I was  a teenager I felt that when my parents said ‘no’ to me that they didn’t really love me. I felt they were out to keep me from what in my youthful wisdom I knew was best for me. I remember as a teenager my parents saying no to: my wearing halter tops; my going to certain concerts; my staying out past my designated curfew; my dating someone they didn’t think was a good choice for me. My problem was that my focus was entirely upon ‘me’ and my desires and feelings. Like virtually every child, I wasn’t wise and mature enough to consider the consequences of my choices, which is why God entrusted my parents with the job of instructing me and setting boundaries for me. How presumptuous of me to think that I knew better than my parents what was good for me! I realize now that my parents were secure in the rightness of their decisions because they knew and believed God’s word, and they loved me enough to remain resolute and not give in to my pleadings. Even though I often rebelled against their ‘no’ to me, I learned what was right and what was wrong by their giving me boundaries for living and decision-making. They honored God by instructing me in His righteousness, which as I grew older I did 'not depart from'(Proverbs 22:6). I am certain I wouldn’t be who I am today if they had taken the easier path and caved into my every self-focused wish and desire.

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I am grateful that my parents often demonstrated their love for me by saying ‘no’ to me, and I am even more grateful that my Heavenly Father loves me and His other children so much that He tells us ‘no’ when that is in our best interest, and that He gives us consequences when we disobey. If you have a problem saying 'no' to your children, I encourage you to consider that God-- Who is All Loving and All Wise-- gave us the 10 Commandments which are filled with 'thou shalt not' statements; clearly, God does not have a problem telling His children ‘no’!  

The Bible tells us that ‘God disciplines those He loves’ (Proverbs 3:12; Hebrews 12: 6; Revelation 3:19). The word ‘discipline’ and ‘disciple’ are both derived from the same Latin word ‘discipulus’, which means ‘pupil’. It is essential that children be instructed by their parents, their teachers, religious leaders, and other authority figures regarding what is right and what is wrong.  That includes saying ‘no’ to choices that are not in the child’s best interest, and correcting the child when he disobeys. 

In the Garden of Eden, God told Adam and Eve that they could eat from every tree in the Garden…except one. He told them ‘no’ to eating from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil because He knew that if they did so they would suffer horrible consequences. They chose not to listen to God’s ‘no’ and therefore they were cursed and cast out of the Garden. God knew what was best for them, and even though He knew in advance they would disobey Him, He didn’t change His mind about the directive nor did He choose to overlook their disobedience. He didn’t consider whether meting out the consequence for their disobedience might affect their self-esteem, or cause them to pout and give Him the cold shoulder. He loved them so much that He gave them clear instructions regarding what they could say ‘yes’ to, and what they should say ‘no’ to. And, He held them accountable for their disobedience. He knew it was imperative that they learned that He always means what He says; God is always a ‘Man of His word’.   After meting out the consequences for their disobedience, He extended His grace to Adam and Eve, and although all of mankind has suffered from their disobedience, we also all have been recipients of God’s grace. Every aspect of God’s ‘parenting’ of Adam and Eve was due to His love for them, as is true of His ‘parenting’ of us.

We have been created in God’s image, and we glorify Him when we follow His example as well as when we obey His formal commands. When we instruct our children in what is right and what is wrong, when we hold them accountable for obeying us, and when we say 'no' to their selfish, lustful, destructive desires, we accurately model to them the character of their Heavenly Father.  May we faithfully represent Our Heavenly Father by parenting our children as He so wisely and lovingly parents us, His dearly beloved children!

Do you need to confess to God or to your parents any disobedience that the Lord has brought to your mind while reading this? If you are a parent, is the Lord convicting you that you need to ‘instruct your child in the way he should go’ by saying ‘no’ to things that you have allowed him or her to get away with doing? When your children disobey you, do you consistently follow up with consequences that will teach them that your ‘yes is yes’ and your ‘no is no’ so that they will learn to respect and honor your word, as well as God’s word?

Written by Julie Van Gorp

3 Requirements of Love

Over the Memorial Day weekend I had the joy of having our four grown children, their spouses, our 4 grandchildren, and my 90+ year- old parents at our home. All of us hadn’t been together since last August when we had the joy of being at our eldest son’s wedding. It was a memorable weekend full of ‘catching- up’, as well as deep conversations; competitive outdoor games like corn hole and pickle ball; intense card games; loads of laughter from all—amid much noise-making and running around from the grandkids; and my favorite—a sweet time of prayer! The only downside was that it went by far too quickly; it was very hard for me to see the weekend come to an end since we have no way of knowing when the next time will be that we'll all be able to gather together due to my parents’ ages, and the fact that we all live in different locations—including one who lives overseas. I am so grateful that we had the opportunity to come together and demonstrate our love for the Lord and for one another!

There were several moments throughout the weekend when I was consciously aware of choices that we all made to show our love for one another. It also occurred to me that the way in which we demonstrated our love for one another is how we can--and should-- demonstrate our love for our Heavenly Father.

Engage: When we love someone, we will be engaged with him or her. We will want to be ‘connected’ to them, and we will indicate to them that who they are and what they say is important to us. We will give them our undivided attention when they are speaking to us, 'actively listening' to them. Some of the ways in which we show we are engaged with others include: communicating with them—whether via audio calls, Skype or Face Time calls, emails, letters and cards; and when in their presence, we will look them in the eyes when they are talking. It will mean removing distractions that would cause you to lose your focus upon them and what they are saying. I was so blessed to see my children’s willingness to converse with my parents-- as well as with one another-- and to set aside looking at their cell phones to actively listen to what other family members were saying.

Do you set aside time each day to focus upon God and to truly listen to what He has to say to you in His Word, and through the Holy Spirit as you pray to Him? Do you meet with Him in a room where you know that you won’t be distracted and do you put away anything that might keep you from giving Him your undivided attention?

Respond: When someone speaks to us, it’s important that we respond by letting him/her know that we have heard what he/she said. Ways in which we do that is by: nodding our head; by saying ‘I understand’ or something to that effect’; by asking questions to get greater clarification; by making a statement that asserts that you agree or disagree with what has been said; or by obeying if a request or directive was given. In general, it is having a two-way conversation with the person in which you acknowledge and affirm what they are saying. For example, there were times when I spoke to my four-year old twin granddaughters and they readily acknowledged that they had heard me, however, there were other times when they were too caught up in what they were doing and they chose to ignore me. Their ignoring me communicated that it was more important for them to do what they wanted to do than it was to respond to me; in other words, their lack of response indicated to me that their love for themselves was greater than their love for me. I immediately was convicted of my own self-love and wondered, ‘How often do I demonstrate to God that I love myself more than I love Him by ignoring His Words to me?”

We are commanded to love one another ‘as Jesus has loved us’, which means making their needs a priority over our own. Jesus also tells us that if we love Him, we will obey Him (John 14:15). That statement also implies that when we ignore or disobey Him we demonstrate that we love ourselves more than we love Him.

During your quiet time with the Lord, do you take the time to reflect upon what it is that you ‘heard’ the Lord stating to you? Do you write notes in your Bible or in a journal regarding what you heard Him say, including instructions and guidance He has given to you? Do you demonstrate that you heard His Voice by obeying His commands? What about His greatest command’ to love Him with all of your heart, soul, mind and strength’? And ‘to love others as He has loved you’?

Serve and Sacrifice:  A heart that truly loves someone will desire to serve that person. When you love someone, you will look for and take advantage of opportunities to meet the other person’s needs and their desires, if doing so is in the person’s best interest. I vividly remember that shortly after my husband’s and my first date, I felt compelled to go and get something special for him (OK, it was just a meal from McDonald’s, but I knew he would appreciate it!)

Van Gorp Family

Jesus says that He did not come to be served but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many (Matthew 20:28). We are most like Christ when we serve others. He tells us in Matthew 25:36: I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ (ESV) He goes on to tell us that if we serve others in need, we are in effect serving Him. (Matthew 25:40) Jesus said that if we even give a cup of cold water to others out of our love for Him, we will not lose our reward (Mark 9:41), and we are told that true religion is helping widows and orphans (James 1:27).  Other scriptures encourage us to do good to everyone, and especially to the household of God. (Galatians 6:10; Romans 12:13)

Serving others necessarily involves some kind of sacrifice on our part. A dear sister in Christ demonstrated her love for the Lord and for me by going out of her way to drive to my house to bring food that she had made for me to serve to my family over the weekend. All of my children and my parents came by plane or by car and gave up a long weekend for us all to gather together, and my husband and I spent many hours preparing for our reunion.

Even ‘simple’ ways in which we serve one another requires a sacrifice on our part because we choose to spend our time doing something to bless others instead of merely serving our own needs and desires. I so appreciated my children serving our family and me over the weekend by preparing meals; setting and clearing the dinner table; washing dishes; putting down their cell phones in order to converse with other family members; and playing games that weren’t their preference in order to please others. Loving others means putting their needs above your own according to 1st Corinthians 13:5, and Christ’s life certainly demonstrated sacrificial love in all that He did-- from healing the diseased, casting out demons, preaching to and feeding the multitudes, and of course by giving His life on the cross in our place (John 15:13; Ephesians 5:2; 2nd Corinthians 5:21).

The greatest way to serve someone and show your love for them is by doing what you know truly pleases them. Jesus came to earth for the purpose of saving sinners from the power and penalty of sin. He longs for others to know His great love for them and He has commanded us to ‘go and tell and make disciples of all nations’ (Matthew 28:19). We serve Him best by sharing His love with others and telling them about the Source of our love. I am convicted and humbled every time I hear my daughter’s heart of love for the Lord that has compelled her to go overseas and make His Name known where He currently has few friends. Sharing the truth of Who Jesus is and His great love for the people He created is an act of service that we all are called to do, regardless of where we live, and it is the act of service which best demonstrates whether we truly love Jesus and others.

In what ways are you demonstrating your love for Christ by serving others—those within your own family; those within the household of God; and those who are in need who are ‘outside’ of your family of origin or the family of God? Are you faithfully serving Jesus by sharing the gospel with those whom He came to save?

 Lord, help me to keep my eyes and attention fully focused upon You and engaged with Your word, acknowledging my love for You by responding in obedience to all that you have called me to do. Open up my eyes to the opportunities that exist all around me to demonstrate my love for You by serving others. May I be found faithful to help to meet others’ physical needs, and may I especially be found faithful to share the ‘good news’ of Your sacrificial love with those who need to hear of your life-transforming love!

Written by Julie Van Gorp