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Refusing the Temptation of Take Matters into Our Own Hands

 13.4.14

This is not the first time that I buy a book on Kindle, start reading it and end up buying a "real" copy to be able to underline it and write my notes -with real pens-, and truly make it my own. The book I am now talking about is by A.W. Pink and it is entitled Gleanings from Paul: The Prayers of the Apostle.

I plan to share some portions of it with you as I read through.

In Romans 1:8-12 we read one of the prayers of Paul, and among other things he asks the Lord to make it possible for him to visit the Christians in Rome  (v.10). Pink comments on this passage,

"Let it be duly noted that he refused to take matters into his own hands and act upon an inward urge. Instead, he subordinated his own longings and impulses to the will of Him whom he served. This is very striking and blessed. Paul did not consider what many would regard as 'the Spirit's prompting' a sufficient warrant. He must first be assured, by His providences, that this journey was ordered by His Master. Accordingly he spread his case before God, committing the matter to His decision and pleasure."  (emphasis mine)

I don't know about you, but for me the temptation to take matters into my own hands is real, which means that reading these words was convicting.

However, as with all temptations, there is way out; and we the effectual remedy against the temptation of taking things into our own hands is Prayer.

I read once that dependency is the heartbeat of prayer; and now think about this, when we decide to take things into our own hands -instead of praying and trusting in God and in His Providence- we are in a sense saying, "God, I don't think you can handle this. I know which things need to be  done and I will start doing those few things that must be done right now -before it is too late-." Sisters, as we start acting in urgency, responding to our own longings, impulses, and feelings we are in reality denying our dependency on God.  And that, we all know, is a sin from which we need to repent.






Really, Sisters, if we keep insisting into taking all the difficult circumstances into our hands instead of bringing them in prayer to God we will only going to make up messes. A.W. Pink reminds us, "Unless we 'rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for him' (Psa. 37:7) only confusion and trouble will ensue."


Prayer is the only way to resist and overcome the temptation of taking things into our own matters because in prayer we say, "God, I cannot handle this on my own. I need you. Give me patience to wait in you, in your Providence; draw me to your Word, Oh Lord. Grant me a humble heart to seek advice, and a quiet heart to trust in your timing. I am wholly dependent on you, my sovereign Lord."

Praying with you as we learn to be wholly dependent on Him at all times,

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Because We Never Stop Being Moms -Book Club- Chapter Ten and Conclusion-

 9.4.14

It has been a good thing to read this book with you all; thanks for reading along, for your emails, your messages on Facebook, and your comments here.

The last chapter in our book is about the time in which our children get married and we start increasing the members of our family. A chapter in life that my husband and I will start living -not only reading about!- soon. As I read this chapter and the conclusion, five principles stood apart which I want to remember in the years ahead:

1. Your children's marriage is sacred.  As our children get married, they will start their very own family, in which their primarily concern will be to please their spouses, not me or my husband.

2. Respect should always be present. In my relationship with each one of my children and their spouses respect should never lack. By respecting their decisions, their dreams and desires, "their obligation to raise their children according to their own conscience and convictions, remembering that the Lord has put them in charge of our grandkids," we will be strengthening our relationship with them.

3. Become a source of blessing to your children and grandchildren. Through respect, wise conversations (in which listening plays a major role), laughs, prayer, willingness to help, and generosity, we can bless our children, their spouses, and our grandkids.

4. Trust God for your children and grandchildren. My God is a faithful and sovereign God who loves to save families. Who has promised to be faithful to a thousand generations. I believe in Him and in such Rock I stand. As one mom who from fear moved to trust in this stage, beautifully said,

"The outcome belongs to the Lord. I really have a sense of freedom having this attitude. The other idea is that I don't have to know everything that they are into, who they are with, or where they are going, because the omniscient, omnipresent Lord knows. I don't have to take up that "burden" (so to speak) which belongs to Him. Therefore I am really free to focus on building the relationship and at peace to trust God to work his perfect will." (emphasis mine)

When we parent in fear or through worry we are in fact not parenting in love. We are not building a relationship, instead we are pulling it apart.

5. Pray and ask for help. Always prayer before action, is what my wise friend told me once. And the action to take at times is to ask for godly advise.

Sisters, we have a great challenge before us every day. No matter in which parenting stage we are now, we need God's grace, God's wisdom, and God's Word. But all those are not hidden from us. God has given us, his children, grace to endure every season in our life. He has promised to give us wisdom (and wisdom in abundance!) when we ask for it. And we have His living Word, our sure anchor, a light to our feet! We have all that we need to do this. God is faithful and we can rest assured that His plans for us and our children are perfect.


 Under His sun and by His grace, 






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Because We Never Stop Being Moms -Book Club- Chpater Nine

 1.4.14

Thank you, Friends, for coming again to our weekly meeting to discuss the book, We Never Stop Being Parents.

This week it is an honor and a great joy to introduce you to my friend Angel Warner. We met a few years ago when we left our sons in College, and we can honestly say that our sons have been blessed by this family. The Lord has given them grace to raise godly children and many of us are now enjoying the blessings of their hard labor. God is good!

Thank you, Angel.

****************


Chapter Nine.

Our Dreams, Their Dreams, though unsure of the source, I have often heard it said that the most important decision after choosing to serve God with one’s life is the answer to the question: Alongside whom shall I serve Him? 

For parents, even of children who have been given grace to rightly choose God as their master, the potential answer to the second question can be the source of much concern, and rightly so. As married people themselves, parents know firsthand the pitfalls of being joined into one flesh with another sinner. Moreover, married couples are joined to new families who are likewise comprised of sinners. The potential for conflict and trouble grows exponentially, but so do the opportunities for all involved to grow in wisdom, maturity, humility and grace. In chapter nine, the authors do a wonderful job of demonstrating some of the ways in which parents can fall off the rails if they are not seeking to guide their adult children by biblical principles. Deferring to preference when our children are selecting life mates has the potential of doing serious and long-lasting damage to our relationships. But, as in all stages of parenting, we have God’s Word to guide us toward prudence.

As has been pointed out in the other chapters we’ve read so far, our relationship with our adult children must shift from authority to counselor. The same holds true as our young adults select spouses. Because we want the best for our children, Christian parents begin praying early that God will be preparing godly spouses for them. As we pray, we naturally begin to envision the ideal characteristics we’d like to see in our future sons and daughters-in-law. There’s nothing wrong with that, of course. The problem comes when we create idols: phantom men and women who will be members of our particular church, children of our dearest friends, skilled and witty conversationalists, gifted musicians or artists, on it goes, even down to physical features. As the authors so wisely point out, the problem is that these are our daydreams, and our children have no biblical obligation to make our dreams come true. For parents to try to impose such an obligation where none exists is to usurp the authority that belongs to the Lord as the sovereign over our lives and those of our children. In some Christian circles, fathers have been taught that they are the supreme authority even over their children’s marital choices. It is true that, for a season and to illustrate heavenly realities, fathers act as prophets, priests, and kings in their homes. However, this temporary authority is designed to help fathers point their children to the Lord who is the true Sovereign. Fathers who can see themselves and this temporary authority rightly should delight in relinquishing their adult sons and daughters into the care of a King whose judgments, mercy, and leading are without error. Thereafter, parents must trust their children and all their decisions into His care. Our dreams are not as important as God’s will. 



We have been through this process four times now, and I can say without reservation that it can be challenging. We have one son-in-law, two daughters-in-law, and one daughter-in-law to be. We dearly love each one of them, but we have had to confront our pre-conceived notions each time. I have to admit that this was most pronounced with our daughter, not because of her choice, but simply because she was a daughter. We had taught her (and all her brothers) the principles of biblical roles in marriage and male headship. It is one emotional milestone to marry off a son; it is quite another to walk one’s baby girl down the aisle and place her into the care of another man who will become her head. My husband and I found that it required us to exercise a new level of trust in the Lord’s care for our daughter. In contrast, when sons marry, there is something very humbling about watching the father of a young woman walk down the aisle and place his baby girl into the care of your son. This has been a summons for us to pray fervently that our sons will be godly, merciful, tender, strong, and faithful servant-leaders who will love these women who have been entrusted to them. In either circumstance, trusting God to lead our adult children in our stead is both freeing and sanctifying. Our children are called to their own journeys and their own struggles. They may choose spouses who surprise us. They may handle their trials in ways that we would not. Yet, if we truly believe that God is sovereign, we can trust that God is using these things to mature them in grace. We have seen this at work in the lives of our married children and have been amazed at the refinement that is being produced through trial. Likewise, we can see how God has used our relationships with our married children and their spouses to refine our own growth in grace.

One thing I most appreciated about this chapter was the continual exhortation to exercise love, even if we are disappointed in our children’s choices. It is so easy to be critical and narrow in our definition of who warrants our love. The biblical principle, however, is that we are to exercise love toward others—no qualifiers. There are times when adult children may enter into relationships that go beyond mere preferences crossing the line into sin. In the section “We Are Free to Love and Welcome”, the author states:

"By remembering the gospel message, that we are both sinful and flawed yet loved and welcomed, we can welcome this uninvited visitor warmly. When you keep the doors open, you’re helping your own cause because the uninvited visitor will view you as a friend and perhaps even a counselor. No one wants to take counsel from someone who really doesn’t like them. If you openly welcome your child’s new friend, you will remove the pressure of disapproval, and your child may then actually invite your counsel." (p. 144) 

Of course, there is a distinction between loving a sinner and enabling sin. True love does not make provision for the practice of sin. I believe this makes the author’s point above more poignant. It’s a fine line to walk, but when we are warm and loving, our children are more likely to be understanding of our refusal to facilitate immorality. Here again, obedience to the biblical principles, in this case exercising love and upholding righteousness, may not be easy, but God plainly tells us that He will bless faithfulness to His commands. Thus we have another opportunity to take Him at His word and show our children that our faith is genuine.

Finally, after reading this chapter, I found myself reflecting on two underlying theological aspects of the larger discussion. The first is indicated in the initial illustration about the father who refused to embrace his daughter’s romantic choice simply because the young man held doctrinal positions that were different than his own. While his reaction was extreme, if most of us were honest, we’d probably have to admit to this same type of bias in our own hearts. Of course, we would prefer that our children marry people who embrace our theological leanings. It certainly would make for fewer potential landmines in table conversations. Yet, to look askance at someone who does not is evidence that we are not discerning the body of Christ as we should. His church is much larger than our particular segment of the Christian faith, and we should embrace opportunities to exercise grace toward our Christian brothers and sisters. How much more so when they are part of our own families?

The other theological principle is that of generational faithfulness. If we truly believe that we and our descendants are in a covenant relationship with God, then we ought to be thinking in terms of how we are part of God’s plan to pass on the truths of the covenant to future generations. There is simply no way we can be part of this plan if we jeopardize our influence by ungracious behavior toward the parents of our grandchildren. Any hard-heartedness on our part will prohibit our witness. We must earn the right to be heard; we must demonstrate that we can be trusted; we must humble ourselves taking on the attitude of servant-hood to our adult children, loving them and showing them respect. Only then can our message convey a sincere love for our Lord and His covenant.


May our Lord help us to live with grace as we seek to be a blessing to the next generation.

Angel Warner

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Angel Warner is married to her best friend, David. They are parents of eleven (7 by birth, three by marriage, and one by engagement). Their greatest earthly delight is their family, which now also includes a grand-daughter, their first grandchild. More than anything, Angel lives in wonder and gratitude for the continual faithfulness, love, and mercy of the Father. She, her husband, and youngest daughter live in beautiful Geneva, Illinois, and are in the process of restoring a 1927 home—their third historic restoration project.




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Because We Never Stop Being Moms -Book Club- Chapters Seven and Eight-

 26.3.14

Last week I was busy enjoying my adult children and their friends in a beautiful beach in Mexico; maybe that explains why I didn't post here.

Chapter seven has three main principles that we don't want to overlook.

1. We are responsible for raising our children in the Lord, they are responsible for their own choices, but God alone can save our children.

Sovereign saving grace, God's desire to save the lost, and His covenantal faithfulness should be our hope and comfort.

What a wonderful reminder to our heavy souls that God is the one who does the changing in our children's lives. Not us. We don't have the power to change their heart.

What a convicting exhortation to parent our sons and daughters not motivated by guilt and fear but by genuine love that has learned to rest on God alone.

"Our dollars won't buy their love or repentance, and we can't fund their admission into God's Kingdom. Only the Holy Spirit can change their hearts."


2. We need help. We need help. We need help. Yes: WE NEED HELP!

"If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given to him." James 1:5

The author says it in such a clear way that we cannot miss the exhortation:

"[T]he Bible is the only sufficient source of wisdom for our lives. In faith we need to trust in His Word, rather than merely following our own thoughts and feelings." 

And then, an encouragement to seek the advice of godly people:

"We need objective (and sometimes tough) godly advice from friends who are not afraid of wounding us by their counsel when necessary (Prov.27:6)"

3. Saying "no" is many times the louder way to say, "I love you."

"Only with the Lord's help will we be able to be as strong and as patient as needed."
I appreciated very much that under this principle, the authors advice parents to involve their pastors and elders (when the children are members of the church) in specific situations, even to the point of church discipline.

Understanding the role of the church as we raise our children is an important part of understanding the covenant bond among us.


It is important, however, to remember that saying "no," or making drastic changes, doesn't mean that we should totally shun them out of our lives. Maybe, you have the huge blessing of not having  wayward children, but remember that we must apply these love principles with our friends' children to. Let us be always hospitable, waiting in hope.




**************

Chapter Eight is, in my opinion, kind of repetitive. Do you agree with me?

It is a chapter about money management and how we should not finance our children's irresponsibility or sinful lifestyle. However, many of the important, wise, and timely advices the author mentions here, he has already pinpointed somewhere else in the book. So I want to avoid doing the same thing...


Next week we'll be talking about chapter nine: Marriage: Our Dreams, Their Dreams. I hope you can join us.


Praying for grace as we keep pressing on, 


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Because We Never Stop Being Moms -Book Club- Chapter Six

 13.3.14

First of all sorry for the late post, and thanks for grace and understanding!

This chapter is the perfect one in which differentiating between a principle and a method is important.  The examples the authors give at the beginning of it are more of methods based on the principles that further in the chapter the author will tackle. Understanding the difference is essential in order to embrace what one must do -Biblically speaking- in our relationship with our adult children and what we may do in specific circumstances.  

For example: one may or may not have a curfew for his 19 yo daughter living at home (method), but one must protect her. That is a biblical principle.

Chapter six is about us not about our children, and as I read it I was challenged by the biblical principles that the author points here.

First of all, we, like our children, are sinners. Not because we are older and -hopefully-more wiser are free from sin. No. We often struggle with the same kind of sins that our children struggle: self-righteousness, pride, selfishness, bitterness. We need a Saviour too and we need to be washed with the Word every day. We need to ask forgiveness and be forgiven. And pride, I think you might agree, might be the most prevalent as we parent our children. The author says,

"Pride blinds us not only to our sin but also to the true struggles of others."

And what is the opposite of pride? Humility. Thankfully humility is not something we produce in ourselves by trying hard. Humility is, the author reminds us, "the fruit of the Holy Spirit's work in our hearts as he convicts us of sin and overwhelms us with reminders of our unmerited blessings."


"Humility is that quality is Jesus' life that enabled him to deal gently with sinners... Humility caused him to empty himself and become like us -to share in our weakness- to bear with our frailty."
So, the principle is clear: we need humility to deal with our children.That is the starting point no matter which method we end up using.

"Humility is the eyewash we need to use every day."

The authors say that we specifically need humility in these areas:

1. Humbly convey clear expectations. And I would add, humbly ask forgiveness if your expectations have not been clear or if your expectations have not been real (by this I mean that you are expecting from them to allow you to micro-manage their life under the cover of "submission").

2. Always offer humble respect. 

"Nagging will always damage a relationship because it is not the fruit of humble respect. It is the fruit of pride and impatience."

3. Humility speaks little and listens much. When we have a humble attitude we will find that it is more easier to listen fully and attentively -not thinking at the same time of a response with which to strike harder- (Read James 1:19, Prov. 20:5). Listening, Newheiser reminds us, is a skill that not only requires humility but love. It takes effort to be a good listener.

"Because we are sinful and proud, the majority of us are poor listeners. We're accustomed to doing most of the talking while our kids listen to us. Listening is an easy way to demonstrate that we are sincerely interested in them as human beings. Careful listening demonstrates humble respect for their opinion and perspectives."

 When we listen humbly we are persevering in communicating with them. And as one mom pointed out, this only happens when "we refrain from interrupting or correcting our adult children." Humble listening, of course demands that we recognize that we don't know the correct answer at all times and that other times we have erred.

A good question to ask ourselves to see if we are humble listeners would be, "When I listen to my son/daughter's perspective, am I  open and willing to reconsider my position?"

4. Humility makes an effort to communicate. Communicate clearly all your expectations, don't assume that they will read your mind on all sorts of manners. I firmly believe that a clear communication clears the way to build stronger relationships.

5. Humility respects their individuality. 

"Humble respect for our kids' individuality flows out of the truth that each one, though different, is created in the image of God."

6. Humility admits sin and wrong. I love, love, love this principle which I think summarizes all the rest:

"Relationships can only survive where there is grace. Not only do our children need grace from us, but we also need grace from them."

We need humility to ask forgiveness and seek reconciliation.  Ann Voskamp said it well somewhere else: "First to listen is wiser. First to forgive is freest. First to begin afresh again is happiest."


"We need to incorporate grace in our parenting. Nothing must ever stop us from loving our children. "

7. God's grace helps us assume the best of our children because "Love... hopes all things" (I Cor. 13:7).  But at the same time God's grace will help us see the sin in our children and be blind to it. 
I was reminded here of the book by Puritan Richard Sibbes, The Bruised Reed; if you have not read it and the kind of faith you see in your child 's life is only a weak flame, I recommend  it to you. It will sure help you see with hope those sparks of faith.






8. Humility overlooks and forgives. Our own children can hurt us, but we sin against them when we don't forgive them quickly, but instead let bitterness be rooted in our hearts.  Humility, I would add, recognizes that God is in control of our children's lives. Humility draws us to God in prayer for them and gives us hope when we seem there is none. 

9. A humble heart will say, "I want to spend time with you because I enjoy being with you."

10. A humble attitude will always be willing to give. Always give your children grace in a thousand tangible ways.

The questions at the end of the chapter are very good. Don't overlook them. I was convicted of some things as I answered them.

Note: Next week I will be traveling and might not have an easy access to Internet. So, I ask you to bear with me if you don't see me posting timely next Wednesday.

God is good and Him our hope is secure.



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If I am happy it is because of God! God, in His sovereign grace, has called me out of darkness into His Admirable light. He has opened my eyes and has shown me the way to Eternal Life. He has set my feet on a journey, and now I am walking Daily on My Way to Heaven. I did not find Jesus, He found me. I did not seek Him, yet He called me. I did not love Him, yet He loved me. I deserved death and He gave me Life. This is the place where I keep a journal of my life under His sun and by His grace!
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Borrowed Words

"It becomes us to spend this life only as a journey toward heaven... to which we should subordinate all other concerns of life. Why should we labor for or set our hearts on anything else, but that which is our proper end and true happiness?"

Jonathan Edwards

"I am still pondering God's greatness in His creation. I have so many questions that I would like to ask the Lord about the universe, creation, the fall of man... But when I'm in heaven, I wonder if I will even remember them. At that time, being in the presence of God will be enough. I'm thankful that I can look forward to that day."

-Persis

“Heaven is not here, it’s There. If we were given all we wanted here, our hearts would settle for this world rather than the next. God is forever luring us up and away from this one, wooing us to Himself and His still invisible Kingdom, where we will certainly find what we so keenly long for.”

- Elisabeth Elliot, Keep a Quiet Heart



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