Inadequate Moms and the Gospel

Last week, I asked Moms to share with me their most common, or most difficult, struggles that they face in motherhood.  The response was overwhelming. Someone needs to write a book on Mom guilt, like now!  Besides guilt, another common response was feelings of inadequacy as a mother.  I heard things like, "No matter what I do it never seems like enough," or "I'm not good enough."

I want to share a few thoughts from the gospel that might encourage you and change your perspective on parenting.

  1. Failure and inadequacies are a given. That's why Christ came to die because none of us had the ability to get ourselves right.  That won't change until you see Jesus face to face.
  2. Personal failures and inadequacies are means of pointing your children's focus and dependence away from you and on to Christ.  A lot of moms are worried that their mistakes and inadequacies are going to screw up their kids.  I see them as a means to rejoice in God's grace and ability to redeem the brokenness in our lives.  Side question: As a Christian, are we to be living in the rear view mirror, looking at how bad our parents screwed us up, or are we to be looking to Christ and His strength to overcome the "hand" that life has dealt us?" Your kids will need to learn to do the same with you.
  3. In the gospel, God provides the means of living all of life for Him in HIS POWER and not your own.  Read Romans 7:4-6As humans, we want a rule or a law or an expectation to live up to and, if we achieve it, than we can feel good about ourselves.  Living this way tends to produce pridefulness or despair.  There's a better way.  According to Paul, we are freed from rule keeping in our own effort so that we can BELONG to Christ and live in the NEW WAY OF THE SPIRIT.  In this new way of living fruit is produced in our lives from our union with Christ.  Through our union with Him we now have divine power in us (2 Peter 1:3-4).  Belonging to Christ comes before bearing fruit.  So, our focus shifts away from how I'm measuring up to simply enjoying my relationship with Christ and living a humble and dependent life in Christ.  (Read and mediate on Romans 6-8)

Remember, "it is no longer I who live BUT CHRIST who lives in me!" (Galatians 2:20)  Submit your inadequacies to Him. Enjoy belonging to Him and ask Him to parent through you and fill in the gaps of your inadequacies and watch what He will do.

 

Entitlement: A Relationship Killer

One of the biggest relationship killers in life is having a heart of entitlement.  Entitlement is the belief that we are owed something, or that we have a right to something. This is the American way!  There are things in life that we believe we deserve because it's our right. Things that we love and value rule our hearts, and we arrive at a place where we think we cannot be happy unless we get what we deserve out of life.  An entitled heart takes good desires and turns them into demands, takes good things and makes them "god-things," and views people as problems.

A person with an entitled heart can happily co-exist with people under one condition: they give them what they want.  Do you see the problem here?  Two people are trying to exist together, are both seeking to get what they want from the other person, and both of them are unable to fully meet the other person's perceived "needs."  This is a recipe for relational conflict all day long.  More than that, it is outside of God's plan for relationships.

The design for relationships, according to Jesus, is this: love one another as I have loved you (John 13:34).  Biblical love, in this context, is not primarily a feeling or something you fall into; it is a choice and it involves attitudes and actions found in 1 Corinthians 13.  Love is patient, kind, does not envy, does not boast, keeps no record of wrongs, does not rejoice in evil but rejoices in the truth etc.  Jesus defined the greatest act of love as laying one's life down for another (John 15:13). Entitlement and love do not go hand in hand unless you're speaking in terms of loving self.  Paul called the church in Philippians to do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit and to not look only to their own interests, but also to the interests of others.

So, what can we do to be free from an entitlement mindset?

  1. Remember what we're really entitled to: an eternity in hell under the justified wrath of God for our rebellion against Him.  Other than this, we are owed nothing.  Amazingly we are given everything by God (check this out). Let your heart gravitate towards thankfulness and enjoy what God has given, and rest in what He chosen not to give you because of word of Jesus.
  2. Repent from the selfish desires and beliefs that rule your heart.  Confessing and agreeing with God about these things is the first step to being free from them.  Don't hide! The gospel provides an environment of grace to deal with the still-changing condition of our hearts.  Take the steps necessary to stop living as if you're owed something and instead being thinking about how you might give something to others.
  3. Realize that Christ purchased for you the ability to stop living for yourself (2 Cor. 5:15) and believe that by HIS GRACE (2 Cor. 12:9-10) He will enable you to surrender your entitlement mindset to Him and instead have the mind of Christ (Philippians 2:5).
  4. Reach out to someone who loves God--someone with whom you can live openly, share your struggles, and seek wisdom.

*** Here are some diagnostic questions for you to ask yourself to see if you have an entitlement mindset: 16 Signs You Have An Entitlement Mindset

 

13 Reasons for Hope Part 1

maxresdefault_0_111.jpg

Ecclesiastes 9:4 says, "those who are gathered with all the living have HOPE!" Hope might be one of the most key elements of life.  People that I come in contact with who have struggled with suicidal thoughts have one thing in common....hopelessness.  Oftentimes their circumstances have so piled up on them, coupled with the belief that nothing can or will change, and they are left with a suffocating hopelessness.

Recently, Netflix released a new show called "13 Reasons Why."  The show is based off of a young adult novel written by Jay Asher in 2007.  The show captures the story of a teenage girl who chooses to end her own life and leaves behind 13 cassette tapes explaining why she did it.  In a culture that allows for the taking of life before it starts, we should not be surprised as it moves more and more towards romanticizing the taking of life after it begins as well.  

To give some credit to the show's producers, there was some motive in the way they tell the story that they hoped would deter suicide in others by showing it's brutal outcomes.  The show can also serve a purpose in creating space for tough, yet important discussion, regarding youth culture in America and call for Christian parents to teach their children to engage with their peers and care deeply for others. (Let me say that this can be done without watching the show. This series is a brutal depiction of human depravity and sin.  You can simply read articles about the show itself. Hopefully, these articles I'm writing will be helpful as well).

I am writing this article as a call to the Church, God's people, to open their eyes to people around them who may be drowning under life's problems.  We are to be people of hope and love.  So, how can we as Christians provide 13 Reasons for Hope to those who are hopeless and in despair?  I have read through an article to discover what were the 13 reasons that the fictional character, Hannah Baker, chose to end her life.  I will share those reasons in general and show how we might convey hope in a meaningful way to others who might be struggling in the same way.  Here are the first two reasons for hope.

  1. A Slandered Reputation: This is a recurring theme in the show as the main character in the show is frequently misunderstood, lied about, and slandered behind her back.  I don't know of a single person who enjoys have their name and character torn to pieces.  Yet, it is common occurrence, not only amongst youth but adults as well, to have someone torn to shreds by the words and actions of another.
    1. Where can a victim find hope?: Jesus Christ came into our world and suffered some of the most brutal verbal attacks that anyone has ever endured, even by his closest friends.  If you find yourself in a place of having your name and reputation torn apart, turn to Jesus first because he cares for you (1 Peter 2:22-241 Peter 5:6-7)
    2. What can we do to give hope?  Share with this person how Jesus can identify with their pain.  Don't ever participate or allow this sort of thing to occur in your presence. (Ephesians 4:29-32). Be a true friend.  Help clear up the rumors.  Pray and ask God to help clear their name (Psalm 43:1).  Christian young people today have to fight the desire to fit in and be accepted because they know they are deeply loved and accepted by Christ.  Only then can they be free to be a real friend to others.
  2. Loss of Close Friendships: Hannah suffers the loss of close friends over very trivial circumstances.  For a girl who was already on the outside because of gossip, losing a close friend added to her growing sense of despair.
    1. Where can a victim find hope?: In the most crucial moments of Jesus' final hours of life on this earth, Jesus lost just about all of his friends.  One sold him out for money, another denied their friendship three different times to strangers for fear of being associated with Him, and most of the rest simply abandoned Him in fear.  On one side of hope Jesus knows what this feels like and on the other, HE NEVER ABANDONS HIS CHILDREN! (2 Timothy 4:16-18)
    2. What can we do to give hope? Don't be a fair-weather friend.  One of the most important things we can offer to others is just simply sitting with someone in the ashes of their lives. (Proverbs 17:17)  A friend loves at all times and a brother is born for adversity.  The world is desperate for real love, the kind of love that Jesus first loved us with, and He has called us to give the same to others.  Can you get past the "what's in it for me mindset" and give your life away to others?

If you, or anyone you know might be suicidal, please go to https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org or call 1-800-273-8255

Guest Post--Waiting: Hope and Expectation

2 Corinthians 4:6

For it is God who commanded light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.

The Saturday after Good Friday is known by many as a day of waiting.  What are we waiting for exactly?  2 Corinthians 4:6 sums it up.  We are waiting for the light of Salvation for all mankind to shine out of the death and darkness of the tomb!

As we go through life there are many times of waiting.  Waiting can be a time of great expectation and joy or it can be a time of sorrow, confusion and pain.

As we reflect on the death of Jesus, we see a time of waiting between His horrific death on the cross and the joyous moment of time when He rose from the tomb!

Scripture tells us very little of what took place on that day.  We do know that in Matt 27 scripture tells us that the Pharisees and Sadducees had great concern that Jesus’s body would be “stolen” from the tomb so they came before Pilate and requested a guard. Their biggest concern was that others would deceive them.  Perhaps they were also a little concerned that what Jesus claimed about rising from the grave would take place.  As though they could stop God.

In their waiting they were strivers.  Strivers try to make things happen or prevent things from happening in those periods of waiting.

The disciples were likely a mixed group with folks filled with doubt, confusion, sorrow and even faith.

Doubters second guess and question everything that they have seen and heard during this period of waiting. 

The confused didn’t know what to believe or think.  They would be easily swayed by any of these groups.

The sorrowful had little to no hope.  They couldn’t see past their own grief and sorrow.

What these three groups have in common is that they were distracted and in their present state were at best ineffective to the worst scenario of useless to God’s mission.  How often in our periods of waiting do we become useless for a season?  So overcome by our circumstances that we can’t do anything else.

These disciples didn’t yet have the resurrection to look back at to give them hope, it was still many hours away.  So they waited.  Some waited well and some didn’t.

Our last group of those who waited were those who waited in faith. Faith that Jesus would rise again as He said He would.  Perhaps they didn’t understand when or how, but they had faith that He would.  Even in their grief, sorrow and confusion there was still a foundation of faith that came from believing the truths and promises Jesus shared when He was among them.  They believed and had hope.  They were effective in their waiting.  Even through their tears and sorrow they were able to do what needed to be done. 

Looking at Matt. 28, while we can’t be certain we can surmise that Mary Magdalene and those with her had this type of faith. They may not have known Jesus would rise that morning nor how He would fulfil His promises, but they had enough faith to rise up early that morning and take action by going to prepare Jesus body as the custom of their day dictated they should.

Which type of waiting best describes you?

As we spend time waiting and reflecting on Jesus death and the coming resurrection let’s be the type of people who wait with hope and expectation knowing and trustingthe promises of our risen Savior! 

Guest Post: The Need for Righteousness

For the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness peace and joy in the Holy Spirit
— Romans 14:17

Righteousness: The quality of being morally right. (Click here for further study on the word)

The bible has a lot to say about righteousness. Why? If given enough thought, it becomes apparent why righteousness is such a big deal. From Romans 14 we see that the kingdom of God is a kingdom of peace and joy that owes its existence as such to this thing called righteousness. Matthew tells us that we should seek after righteousness as a foremost priority (Matt 6:33). When you come to the understanding that for a society to exist in a state of perpetual peace and joy, that can only happen if everything contained in that kingdom functions in a proper, or “right” manner. As soon as anyone or anything functions in an unrighteous manner, then the peace and joy of the kingdom vanishes. That is, in effect, what happened in the Garden of Eden when Adam acted contrary to the direction of God. You can easily see what a mess that act of unrighteousness plunged us into!

Although there is an abundance of information in the bible that tells us what righteousness is, Jesus told us that the 2 greatest commandments are to love God and love each other. Adam's infraction was a lack of love toward God. He essentially told God to take a hike. He was going to order his own affairs as he saw fit even if it meant defying Gods direction to not eat of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. That act of defiance (unrighteousness) separated man (all of Adams descendants) from a harmonious relationship with God and thus His protection, direction, and provision. However God in His love for us knew that He had a plan to restore us to what He originally intended and allowed our sinfulness to produce the pain and suffering that comes naturally from that unrighteousness so that it would act as an impetus to turn from our unrighteousness back to Him.

One of the most exhilarating thoughts that comes from our understanding that unrighteousness is the direct cause for the pain and suffering of our current existence, and that God has a plan for restoration to perfect righteousness, is that we have a promise from God that He will ensure that in His everlasting Kingdom of righteousness ALL of the suffering we are currently subject to will be eliminated!

Submitted by Steve Bushnell