Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Godliness in parenting...

Parenting is by far the hardest, most demanding responsibility I have but at the same time it is the most rewarding. I believe God uses my responsibility as a parent to teach me many things about myself, His character and my relationship with Him, or better said, the relationship He desires to have with me. I am working through the book Shepherding a Child's Heart by Tedd Tripp and am discovering many things about myself, mind you the majority of which is not very attractive. I am also learning more of what my responsibility is as a parent, primarily to Shepherd my children's heart toward a right relationship with God.

On this journey to aspiring godliness, in parenting, I am sure this has never happened to you. I am getting ready for work. Breakfast is fixed and served for my oldest child with instructions to sit properly and focus on eating, a feat most often difficult for this child. Needless to say, the cup of milk spilled on the table soiling the many papers sitting nearby.

What would be your inclination? Is your inclination to get angry, scream, throw something or worse yet, physically punish your child (which according to Tedd Tripp is child abuse (SIN) because you are acting out of anger). After all, the papers on the table are now stained with milk, which after a day or two will start smelling sour.

After the mess was cleaned up and an opportunity was taken to share God's word with my child I had some thoughts. In the grand scheme of things what is more important, the papers sitting on the table which will likely disappear one way or another in a matter of weeks as their immediate importance fades with time or the lasting character of my child.

In the matter of obedience, the child's obedience to the parent and the parent's obedience to a Holy God, who has the greatest responsibility? I concluded the parent, who has experienced the transforming power of the Holy Spirit and has had a heart of stone replaced with a heart of flesh, has the greatest responsibility to obedience. I am not excusing a child's responsibility to obedience, after all, Ephesians 6:1 commands children to obey their parents because they belong to God and this is a good thing, being the first commandment with a promise, that it will go well for the child and the child will have long life. But let's face it, doing this without the unction of the Holy Spirit is most difficult if not at times impossible. Although I must continue to teach my children the ways of the Lord, it's not to instruct them to do it within their own power but to lead them to the cross of Jesus Christ so that they can come to receive faith unto belief, by God's grace and will.

I have the greatest responsibility to obedience. I am required to be a faithful steward over what belongs to God. As a faithful steward I am not to create stumbling blocks for my children that may cause them to sin greater. As a faithful steward I am to treat my children with the same grace and kindness God has shown me; God had his son die for my sins even while I was shaking my fist in defiance toward Him and He is faithful and just to forgive me of my disobedience (SIN) when I confess to Him. As a faithful steward I am to have self control and not become angry and worse sin in my anger.

My child's character is of greatest importance but not just his character but the condition of his soul. Parallel in my journey in aspiring godliness I am also laboring to share that journey with my children. My primary responsibility as a parent is to evangelize my kids; to proclaim the gospel day and night, upon waking and going to sleep, on the road and at the dinner table. My heart's cry to God is that He will call them by name and draw them to Himself; that they will be sheep that hear the Shepherd's voice and follow Him. With spilt milk, or whatever incident may occur to give me these opportunities, may I continue to obey God's commands and trust His promises in my journey to aspiring godliness in parenting.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

"Holy, holy, holy..."

There is so much time and so little to do.... wait, scratch that, back up and reverse....you know what I mean....This endeavor to chronicle my journey in godliness has been more difficult than I imagained. Not only is the fact I have very little free time to compose posts, the very act of thinking and processing what to compose has been the most challenging. God is doing so many things in my life, in my growth, in nourishing my soul, in convicting my flesh, renewing my mind and in changing me to be even a fraction closer to what He wants me to be; I often times don't know where to begin.

First, I have been challenging myself to read the Bible in 90 days (more or less). Haven of Rest Ministries (http://www.haventoday.org/) has a reading plan my husband and I are working through together. This has been so wonderful and refreshing to read through the Bible from beginning to end to absorb the big picture of God's redemptive work through His Holy Scriptures. I have to confess, I have never read through the Bible, completely, from cover to cover. One might ask, "why?" as my boss did when I told him. Not only for the self challenge (which I enjoy) but because I beleive I have missed the big picture by reading only snippets from the Word, a story hear, a parable there, an epipstle here...you know what I mean. Just in the last couple of weeks, as I am now in Joshua, I have a deeper sense of God's holiness that I have never had before. After reading Leviticus 10, coupled with reading Gospel Worship which Jeremiah Burrows uses Leviticus 10:3 as the starting point for mulitple sermons, then moving on to Leveticus 11 where God makes it very clear to Moses, the Isrealites and US "I am the LORD your God, Consecrate yourselves therefore, and be holy, for I am holy...For I am the Lord who brought you up out of the land of Egypt to be your God. You shall therefore be holy, for I am holy." It doesn't get much simpler or more complicated than that! Why am I to consecrate myself? Because God is the LORD! Why am I to be holy? Because God is the LORD and He is holy! He has brought be, better yet, BOUGHT me with the blood and body of His own Son so that He will be my God! My only response should be and may it always be, "Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a woman of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts!" May I join with the angles in heaven and cry, "Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory!"

I honestly believe I will not be the woman of God, set apart to be different, denying myself for the sake of the Gospel if I don't completely understand to my fullest ability and responsibilty the holiness of God. How can I truly be repentant of my sin without the fullest understanding of a holy God who is unable to even glance or be in the presence of sin? How can I truly be appreciative of the sacrifice of Jesus and the call he has on my life without truly grasping the severity of the separation of God's holiness from sin? How can I truly embrace the responsibiliy God has communicated in His Word without completely realizing my sin will always distract me from what is right and only His righteousness and holiness, through the circumcision of my heart, will I ever be able to act and live a godly life? The answer, at least to me is obvious, I can't. Jeremiah Burrows says in Gospel Worship, "I beseech you, brethern, to consider this. God stands upon nothing more than to appear to all the world to be a holy God. There's the glory of God's name in an eminent way. God does not so much stand upon this, to appear to be a strong God, to appear to ba a powerful God, to be a God of patience, long suffering (or a loving God I might add). God does not so much stand to be an omniscient God, though these atributes are dear to God, but that He may appear to be a holy God, that He stands upon." There is no other attribute the angles cry out but, "Holy, holy, holy."

This is serious business! May God have mercy on us, because that will be the only attribute of God that will save us, if and when we treat his Holiness flipantly!

Thursday, January 17, 2008

I have read Gospel Worship once through and absolutely love Jeremiah Burroughs. He certainly isn't for the faint of heart but the content in his sermons are incredible. I am convicted everytime I read him and encouraged as I work out my own salvation according to the Word of God. He is an incredible resource for any believer who wants more. As his sermons are lengthy and indepth it is easier for me to have a snapshot of his sermon, what perhaps he may have preached from if he used outlines. It helps me process what I am reading and I hope if you pick up this classic and add it to your reading list it will assist you in your journey through Gospel Worship. Due to the format of blogging the outline doesn't look great on the post but I will be more than happy to forward a copy (work in progress) to any who would like to see it.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Do you struggle with pleasure?

Our pastor has been doing a Sunday morning teaching series regarding Calvinism (not a bad word, I promise) but more specifically how this viewpoint affects our everyday life. Yesterday he taught about pleasure; how and what we do for refreshment. It never ceases to amaze me how God brings all the different resources in my life to speak to me. I have recently been struggling, well maybe more like wrestling, with the concept of making the Lord's Sabbath a day of rest unto him. I have never been taught or encouraged to make this day separate let alone know how or what it looks like. Just for an example, is it okay to watch NFL football on Sunday?

First, the scripture he took us to was Ecclesiastes 2. Solomon realized that all things "done under the sun" were all vanity. So, first, if we do things without a Higher purpose in life it's all vanity. The advantage Solomon had was he could do all the things that brought him pleasure in about a year (he was very wealthy) where it would take the majority of us our whole life to realize all we did "under the sun" was vanity. Sadly enough, many people do come to the end of their life with many regrets.

Here are three principles we can gage the way we enjoy pleasure...
1. Pleasure can be anything that refreshes that doesn't diminish or distort our final goal in life (which would preclude we know our ultimate goal...)
2. Any pleasure, however good, if not kept in balance will distort reality or destroy your appetite (MODERATION!)
3. If refreshment adversely affects the next days duties, it's not pleasure but excessive feasting (Revelry)

These were extremely helpful on my continued journey to godliness as I work to make Sunday a Sabbath, a day of rest.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Who is Aspiring Godliness?

My closest friend will likely laugh at this next thought but I have to share it anyway (I know she doesn't laugh to jest, only in agreement). I am easily frustrated with tasks that do not have a purpose or at least a purpose I have determined as worthwhile. Oh, I know, blogging has all sorts of purposes but I guess I think there has to be a purpose within the purpose. Let me explain, no, let be sum up (The Princess Bride)....It would be "okay" to have a blog to express my everyday life (although uneventful most of the time) but what would be the real purpose in that. Are people all that interested in reading the ramblings of wife and mother about her not too exciting life? (My friends with blogs have much more interesting lives than mine and sometimes I live vicariously through them.) Probably not! I am sure those that would be interested are my closest friends and family who would visit my blog to be nice and supportive, which is great, I guess. But I want more; I always want more....
You see, I've never been one for small talk. Don't get me wrong, I can do it but I am quickly bored with it. I am not all that funny (or at least I don't think I am, especially in verse) so I don't think my posts will bring on the giggles, let along the belly shakes (but hope to bring a smile every now and then) as my friends are excellent at doing. I want more....
I don't read the "popular"books or books just to go blah (although I have read a few books I would consider "mind candy" but reserve those for "before bed" to go to sleep by) and wouldn't know what to do with myself in most book clubs. I don't read newstand magazines or the like as I am not that interested in who the world says is important and that's what I should be attaining to. I want more...
"All right, get on with it already!" I can hear you saying. What DO you WANT? I want depth. I want meaning. I want purpose. I want to be changed and I want to help others change. I want to be more like God. I want to be more loving, more joyful, more peaceful, more patient (especially with my family), more kind, more good (not correct English but appropriate in this context), more faithful (especially toward my responsibilities to God), more gentle, more self-controlled.
Colossians 3:23-25 says "Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ." In context, these verses come after Pauls exhortation to wives to submit to husbands, husbands to love wives and slaves obey masters. So verses 23-25 could be interpreted solely in relation to our work, job, profession, hiho, hiho, it's off to work I go... But I understand these verses to be more than that. Again, in context, Paul says in verse 17, "And whatever you do, in word or deed, do EVERYTHING in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him." (emphasis added)
I am certainly not a biblical scholor or inspired preacher and there is much more in the letter to the Colossians than I could possibly tackle in this forum but I think this explains a little of what I am getting at. We, professing believers and children of God, are to do EVERYTHING in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. "Everything" doesn't leave anything excluded. My whole life is to be done in the name of the Lord, for HIS GLORY!
I am not even close to this thus the reason for my blog title but by heart's loudest cry and desire is to obtain "this", only to know I will not fully attain this on this side of heaven. And what is "this" you might ask. In short, GODLINESS! I Timothy 6:11 says, "But as for you, O man (or woman) of God, flee these things. (See prior verses) Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness." Godliness is only one of the things in the list Paul exhorts for us to pursue but I think godliness, in light of entire scripture, sums up what we are to aspire to.
Are you aspiring godliness? I hope so, but if not, let me encourage you to begin; begin now (Hebrews 3:13). "Seek the Lord while he may be found; call upon him while he is near; let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the Lord, that he may have compassion on him, and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon." Isaiah 55:6
So back to the beginning... I found my purpose in creating and maintaining a blog. "Therefore encourage one another and build one another up..." I Thessalonians 5:11 I am tired of feeling like I am walking this journey alone. I want to know you are on this journey with me. This journey is difficult; I want to be able to share my struggles and victories and I want to know yours. So, if you are aspiring godliness, let me know who you are. I am looking forward to what God will do for us as we encourage and build each other up.

Getting Started...

Several of my closest friends all have blogs. They advertise it's a great way for people all over the world to keep up with you and it gives the blogger a chance to express him or herself however they deem fit. I am personally on the computer 40 to 50 hours a week as it is with my profession so I find it very difficult to set time aside to read other blogs, or let alone, create a blog for my own self. With all that being said, I have decided to give it my best shot so that I, too, can chronicle my journey and share my life with those of you who are interested, who may perhaps be encouraged, and for those who also may share some wisdom and encouragement with me. With that being said, here we go...