Thursday, September 30, 2010

Sacred Parenting

So its been awhile since I posted something and I knew I was long over due. I have been so busy with homeschooling, studying my doula stuff, keeping house, trying to get my Mary Kay buisness going and so many other things I haven't had a chance to sit down and share some of what God has been teaching me these past few weeks. I have been learning many valuable lessons but that one I wanted to share today is from a Bible study I am attending called, "Sacred Parenting".

I dont know how many mothers are like me, but when it comes to my children praying for their safety and protection has always been a top priority. I have never really and truly prayed for their spiritual maturity and character. Sure I have said, "Lord I pray they grow to love and serve you", but that was the extent of my prayers for their spiritual condition. I was too busy focusing on their protection and their comfort in this life. The book, Sacred Parenting, has been an a real eye opener for me and I have only read the first two chapters. One passage that really stuck out to me was this. "If our kids never hurt; if they never sin but are only "sick"; if they never fail but just get "cheated" by an unfair coach, teacher, principal, and so on - they will never sense their need for a savior. They will always take Adam's lame approach, blaming someone else for their own spiritual failing. Yes, it hurts us when our kid's hurt, but it devastates our kids' eternal perspective far more when we hide their need for a savior. Our hardest hurt may actually be their most important hurt. What a tragic loss if the hurt we spare ourselves is bought at the price of our childrens salvation". This passage really spoke volumes to me. I was reminded what the heavenly Father went through when He allowed His son to go through intense suffering and to ultimately die on the cross for the salvation of mankind. How hard as a parent to watch your child suffer, but yet knowing the greater future good choosing not to spare him from the pain and suffering.

Here is the sobering truth that I learned. If God allowed his own Son to suffer - and He is our model as a parent -- we can expect times when we will have to watch our children suffer for a greater good. Its spritiual cowardice to shield our children from difficulty and suffering, the very things that temper us. Romans 5:3 says, "We also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perserverance; perserverance, character; and character, hope". If we never let our kids face difficult times, they'll never become strong enough to make a difference in a very cruel world.

"We cannot feel unmoved watching our children suffer, yet living in a fallen world ensures that they will. So whats the alternative? We parents can be so conscientious, so concerned, and so seemingly caring that we inadvertantly raise overly soft boys and spoiled girls. Spared from any real pain, kept hidden from real sacrifice, removed from any real sense of loss, they grow up without any sense of the agony Jesus experienced on the cross. And if you remove the cross from Christianity, all that remains is some wise moral teaching not terribly different from any other religion. In the name of sparing our children these difflclties, in reality we are trying to spare ourselves the hurt of seeing them hurt".

I am learning so much and God is revealing so many things to me. I am realizing that sacred parenting calls me to accept the hardest hurt of all -- for the sake of God's kingdom and for the sake of my chilren's own development. I need to allow my kids to face challenges, failure, rejection, and pain, and then teach them how to use these seemingly negative events to fuel their sense of mission and to foster their dependence on God.

Monday, September 13, 2010

The Power Of Forgiveness

Wow, so these past few weeks of my life and have been a challenge to say the least. Its easier to tell someone else to forgive then to actually have to practice forgiving someone. A dear friend of mine shared an article with me on forgiveness and it really impacted me in a positive way. I wanted to share just a small facet of what spoke to me the most.

I never realized the King David had felt the pain of a friend's betrayal. In Psalm 55he pours his heart out to God about this. In our stuggle to forgive we are not alone! Our Father is with us. We can actually come to a place of experiencing personal peace over a once-overwhelming heartache. And we can forgive. When we forgive someone who has truly wronged us, we take part in a miracle! Forgiving is a miracle; it is love's greatest work. When you forgive a person who hurt you deeply and unfairly, you are performing a miracle that has no equal! In the act of forgiving, our character is changed. We become more like Christ, and we bestow the blessing of mercy to others. Forgiveness is essential if we want to be forgiven of God. We pray the Lords prayer say, "forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us". We are asking God to forgive us to the same degree that we forgive others. Matthew 6:14-15 says, "If you forgive men when they sin against you, your Heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins." This is very serious.. we must forgive others!

Why is this act of forgiving so difficult? Because it conflicts with both our fallen nature and our fallen sense of "justice". Our fallen nature wants to hold onto hurts, keeping them tightly sealed so they can fester and grow and create bitterness. Our fallen sense of "justice" wants to put down the offender as evil, sick, or depraved and to reap vengeance on him in "righteous" anger. These two fallen senses battle with our need to forgive, and make the act of forgiving very hard.

Forgiveness is essential for four reasons. First, it is the commandment of Christ for His followers. If we call ourselves Christians, we must forgive. Second, it is a necesarry component for lasting and honest relationships. If we are the body of Christ, and members of one another, our relationships have to take top priority! Right relationships are forgiving relationships. Third, it is in the character of God which is love. If we are to grow in godliness, we need to impart Christlike forgiveness. Lastly, we ourselves need to be healed of the hurt inside us. Holding on to hurts, creating bitterness, putting the offender down and being angry destroys us. To withhold forgiveness harms no one but ourselves!

Putting the offense in proper Godly perspective can help. No one has been more wronged than Jesus Christ. No one has been more personally hurt, more betrayed by a friend, or more denied by those closest to Him. Remembering the forgiveness Jesus freely gave can strengthen us to forgive. Forgiving is something we do regardless of the offender does. Reconcilliation is possible only when both parties come together to resolve an offense, but forgiveness is a solitary act. It is done by us alone. Reconcilliation involves brothers; forgiveness involves one person. Reconcilliation is a work of unity; forgiveness is an individual decision. Forgiveness must take place in our hearts, even if we never acheive reconcilliation with our brother. The truth is, we must forgive the person that offended us, whether he apologizes or not. True forgiveness is not dependent on anything.

A helpful mental process is to seperate the person from the hurt he caused, and let it go. In doing so begin to see the person differently: not so much as evil, but as under the influence of Evil; Not so much as wicked, but as weak and fallible. Remember we are weak and fallible to!

And so we forgive, as God in Christ forgave us. Freely, sincerely and completely. No matter how hard it may be. No matter how long it takes. Whether the person apologizes or not. Regardless of the person's willingness to be reconcilled with us. Without excusing the sin, but bodly facing it and releasing it as "against" our brother or sister. We forgive. When we have truly forgiven, we have performed a miracle.

This is my prayer today and every day.. "Lord help me to walk in this kind of true forgiveness, not matter how hard it may be. Build my character, help me to share in your sufferings so I may be more like You! Amen"