Category Archives: God

Saturday Short – Raising Adults – Part 1 – Responsibility Is Two Words

[Adapted from my presentation at a home-school conference. Part 2 – Raising Adults – Creating a Culture of Serving can be found here.]

Being a parent is a humbling work…one way or other, it takes us to our knees at some point. In thinking about how we shape our little ones and raise them into adulthood, I was driven to prayer…a lot.

“Oh God, You have given us such crucial work in raising our children to adulthood. Help us to be faithful to live in the tension of remembering they are still small/young and yet pointing them to their place in this world and Your Kingdom. In Jesus’ name. Amen.”

In the book of Genesis, we have a beautiful picture of God’s work – His eye for detail, His gift of order – He provided everything that was needful…including work for us.

God has given us all work to do. It was His plan from the beginning… In training up our children, we will always push against the counter-pressure of entitlement in our kids’ lives (and in our own)… but we are not alone. He’s already promised that “His yoke is easy, and His burden’s light”.

The Scripture is full of wisdom pointing us toward teaching our children to become responsible adults…understanding the importance of showing up, working in whatever capacity they can.

So we built the wall and the whole wall was joined together to half its height, for the people had a mind to work.Nehemiah 4:6

Anyone who can be trusted in little matters can also be trusted in important matters. But anyone who is dishonest in little matters will be dishonest in important matters.Luke 16:10

Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it. Proverbs 22:6

Whatever you do, do it enthusiastically, as something done for the Lord and not for men, knowing that you will receive the reward of an inheritance from the Lord – you serve the Lord Christ.”Colossians 3:23-24

What goes into raising adults? Teaching our children and giving opportunity to see the value of work, to treat people and possessions appropriately, and to see themselves as a responsible part of a larger community. When does it start? Very early.

Author and parenting coach Reggie Joiner talks about the key to raising responsible adults is to give them responsibilities…now.

We are called, by God, to work…from the beginning…to have dominion…and to essentially clean up our own messes. As we learn to do that at home – caring for ourselves and contributing to our family – we can quite naturally expend the effort, and extend that, toward our larger community.

Joiner defines responsibility and counsels parents how to train it:

“Responsibility is an interesting word.
It’s actually two words.
Response and ability.

Do you see the link between the two concepts? If you want to raise kids to become responsible, then lead them toward a life where they develop the right attitude toward work and tasks. Give them chores at every stage.

  • Lead so their response reveals their ability.
  • Lead so their response matches their ability.
  • Lead so their response grows their ability.

Think about it this way:
Home should be the first job every kid ever has. What kind of experiences are you giving your children to prepare them to be responsible adults?”
Reggie Joiner

Raising Adults – Reggie Joiner

Sometime ago, I was listening to a podcast from Liberty University (would have linked it but it is no longer at the original link). The guest was writer, thought leader, and world-shaker-upper Karen Swallow Prior:

Prior talks about this being the anxiety generation. Some of that anxiety revolves around the pressures coming out of social media. “There is an existential anxiety that goes with having so many choices in front of you and being afraid you’re going to make the wrong choice and miss out and go down the wrong path.” – “Everything you do in life [marriage, work, weekends] is supposed to be this huge self-fulfillment…such that you can post it on social media.” Too often, our experiences aren’t fulfilling and then the anxiety comes, “did I make the wrong choice?” – Notes from the podcast with Karen Swallow Prior

Dr. Prior supports education as a help in correcting the “tunnel vision and distorted vision” that can evolve in young people’s thinking. Work throughout our children’s growing up years can also impact thinking as well…restoring perspective.

One of my favorite books on this topic is Escaping the Endless Adolescence by Joseph Allen and Claudia Worrell Allen. The Allen’s write about the “failure to launch” generation. Teens who are exhausted at what seems required of them to be adults and therefore resist doing more than the minimum, coasting through life.

Instead of asking: “What will keep our teens out of trouble?” “What will make them happy?” or “What will get them into college?”, we need to switch our focus to a different set of queries: “How can we introduce realistic elements of adulthood into their worlds?” What activities best provide real feedback about their effort and skill?” and “Which other adults can we recruit to help pass our values on to them?” In short, we need to switch our focus from activities that reflect living happily as a teenager to activities that let our young people actually use their energy, connect with adults, and make choices that matter in order to begin moving successfully into adulthood.Allen & Allen

In their helps for parents of teens (and younger children), the Allen’s coach how to guide kids to become contributing members of the family, how to give genuine, real-world feedback toward maturity, how to connect their kids with role model adults (including the parents themselves), and how to positively stretch their kids toward skill- and confidence-building.

Writer and stylist Jo-lynne Shane shares a ‘raising adults” system she used with her three children.

[Her] system based on the following principles:

  1. logical consequences vs discipline and anger
  2. choices vs commands
  3. questions vs lectures
  4. no nagging
  5. no idle threats
  6. no yelling

You see, when you allow them to experience the natural consequences of their choices rather than resorting to nagging, yelling, idle threats, and unrelated punishments, you put the responsibility for their actions on their shoulders.  Too often parents make their kids’ problems their problems.  Then the parents get angry and the kids learn nothing. 

By giving them choices rather than commands, they don’t have the option to disobey.  The key is to give only choices that you can live with, and then to be willing to follow through. 

Asking questions instead of lecturing encourages kids to think for themselves and be discerning. – Jo-lynne Shane

Raising Responsible Kids – a Series – Jo-lynne Shane

Finally, writer and parent Cara Sue Achterberg offers this exercise:

List the abilities and qualities you hope your children will have by the time they are eighteen.

Back track from that point and begin thinking of chores and responsibilities you can give your children now which will help them attain those abilities and qualities before they leave home.

Instead of thinking in terms of what they can’t do, begin to see them as the capable human beings they are and discover what they can do.Cara Sue Achterberg

Are You Teaching Kids Responsibility? 50 Simple Challenges to Get You Started – Cara Sue Achterberg

…and then they were grown.

All our children are, bit by bit, becoming adults. [Like we are often told, it comes faster than we can imagine.] We as parents recognize the adult inside each one and build scaffolding, just enough support, to help each child grow into that adult. At every age, they can see it matters that they show up. It matters.

15 Tips to Raise a Responsible Child Dr. Laura Markham

Are You Teaching Your Kids Responsibility? 50 Simple Challenges To Get You Started – Cara Sue Achterberg

Practicing What You Preach – Raising Responsible vs. Entitled Children – Marsha B. Sauls

The Goal Is Not to Raise Good Kids, but Great Adults – Dave Ramsey

I Took ‘Adulting Classes” for Millennials – Andrew Zaleski

Monday Morning Moment – Turning of One’s Attention

MomMom praying.

This week we have a special guest in our home. Dave’s mom. I don’t know about your relationship with your mother-in-law. Hopefully it is a good one. If not, I’m genuinely sorry. If there is any chance at all, don’t miss her…you never know what she would bring to your life if invited (back) in.

My mom-in-law prays. Her life has been one of serving others. Now, she is somewhat slowed down, but her devotion to God and others is still very much alive. Some might say hers is a small life…as my own mom’s appeared to be…to outsiders. This is not so for either of them. Where they lacked ambition to be known or powerful, there was/is no lack of love and wisdom. On the things that matter most.

When she comes to visit, we scramble to find the tv programming that she’s used to…encouraging to her. It’s nothing we watch really when she isn’t here, but when she is here, we catch some of the great music, teaching and reporting she listens to regularly.

Here’s an example. Tonight she was watching Kirk Cameron‘s Takeaways. He had two entertainers on his interview docket for this show. Mark Lowery and Zach Williams. I joined her for the Zach Williams’ interview. I’ve written about his music a couple of times. Gritty lyrics, great deep voice. He knows how to connect with his audiences – whether an arena of church folks or a prison cafeteria. He has stories to tell that touch people – a life going one direction with success as a musician, including drugs, fast living, and a marriage unraveling. Then his life turned quite a different direction.

The Takeaways interview isn’t linked yet, but below are two videos of Zach’s story.

We don’t have to keep going down a road leading nowhere good. I have that in my own life story. It’s for another day, but I’m thankful for my sweet mother-in-law who points us to life-giving attention-getters.

Prayer, focus on truth, and sacrificial love are three great gifts she gives us, whether sitting in our family room, or operating out of her own home.

Who or what helps you to shake off the doldrums and points you to a life of greater purpose and joy? Tonight my attention is captured by a a musician’s experience of a God who was never far from him. When Zach Williams was shaken in his tracks and turned his attention…God was there.

Thankful for a praying mom, mom-in-law, and grandmothers who remind us of a way to live that gives hope, joy, and real confidence. Enjoy some of Zach’s music below…and one piece by Brandon Lake about a praying grandma.

Worship Wednesday – On Suffering and a God Who Is Present With Us – When I Survey the Wondrous Cross – Isaac Watts

Photo Credit: Heartlight

Even though I suffer as I do, I am not ashamed; for I know whom I have believed, and I am convinced that He is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him for that day. Hold on to the pattern of sound teaching you have heard from me, with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.2 Timothy 1:12-13

Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial that has come upon you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice that you share in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed at the revelation of His glory.1 Peter 4:12-13

The verses above are just a few representing many in Scripture, walking us through the experience of suffering. The Apostle Paul was writing to Timothy from a Roman prison. Facing a death sentence yet his understanding of and love for God were not dampened. The Apostle Peter wrote his letter to the persecuted believers scattered across the Roman provinces in Asia Minor. He encouraged them to persevere and remain faithful to a God who also experienced suffering. Peter would also die for his faith and would know the great joy of seeing Christ in all his glory.

Suffering is something we struggle to understand. We want to have an answer, a reason…to explain it to our own hearts or to someone else hurting. Why is there suffering, especially if God is all-powerful and wholly good? This question is a common objection held by those who reject Christianity.

Our dear late brother Tim Keller included this trouble with suffering in his study The Reason for God.

Photo Credit: The Reason for God, Tim Keller, Pinterest

Going through Keller’s study, I was reminded that it is not for me to offer up explanations or reasons. This is not a cop-out but a real and straight-up “I just don’t know why”. Because my walk with God through suffering has only caused me to cling to Him all the more.

Now, I haven’t lost a child (twins in utero but not a child whose face I knew and heart I loved). Nor have I lost a husband, or home, or my health. However, through all the losses across this life, God was there. Sometimes quieter than I would prefer…but there. Present. Through a peace beyond understanding, through verses in the Bible illuminated for me, through the company of friends and families who keep showing up, and through the strength to keep going by His grace alone.

Tim Keller’s Answer to “How Can a Good God Allow Suffering?” – Kevin Ott

The Apostle Paul speaks about joy in suffering (Romans 5:3-6) and the hope we can know because of God’s love revealed to us through the death and resurrection of Christ.

Photo Credit: Heartlight

The Lord has his reasons…and I can wait to know them. What matters more is I know Him. The comfort He has given on so many occasions of loss is that of One who not only knows our wounds but bore wounds for us Himself.

If we have never sought, we seek Thee now;
Thine eyes burn through the dark, our only stars;
We must have sight of thorn-pricks on Thy brow,
We must have Thee, O Jesus of the Scars.
The heavens frighten us; they are too calm;
In all the universe we have no place.
Our wounds are hurting us; where is the balm?
Lord Jesus, by Thy Scars, we claim Thy grace.
If, when the doors are shut, Thou drawest near,
Only reveal those hands, that side of Thine;
We know today what wounds are, have no fear,
Show us Thy Scars, we know the countersign.
The other gods were strong; but Thou wast weak;
They rode, but Thou didst stumble to a throne;
But to our wounds only God’s wounds can speak,
And not a god has wounds, but Thou alone.
Edward Shillito

Worship with me using the great Isaac Watts’ hymn, drawing our heads upward to the Savior:

When I survey the wondrous cross
On which the Prince of Glory died
My richest gain I count but loss
And pour contempt on all my pride

Forbid it Lord that I should boast
Save in the death of Christ my God
All the vain things that charm me most
I sacrificed them to His blood

See from His head His hands His feet
Sorrow and love flow mingled down
Did ere such love and sorrow meet
Or thorns compose so rich a crown

Were the whole realm of nature mine
that were a present far too small
Love so amazing so divine
Demands my soul my life my all
*

Photo Credit: Timothy Keller, Quote Fancy

Photo Credit: Heartlight

*Lyrics to When I Survey the Wondrous Cross – Isaac Watts

YouTube Video – When I Survey the Wondrous Cross Hymn Story with Lyrics – Story Behind the Hymn – Isaac Watts

YouTube Video – When I Survey the Wondrous Cross – (arr. G. Martin) – St. Olaf’s Choir

Postscript: I want to return again to Horatio Spafford, writer of the poem “It is Well with My Soul”. This poem, turned into a much beloved hymn, focuses on the cross of Christ. Written after Spafford lost all four of his daughters in an oceanliner accident. In the poem, he clings to the cross of Christ. For many reasons, I’m sure, but he must have drawn great comfort from a God who drew near to us through suffering, and a God who knew the pain of losing a child to death.

Monday Morning Moment – “It’s a Wonder” – Altering Perspective

What a wonder the beauty that surrounds us! We miss it when we aren’t looking. Let’s take a moment.

Wonder is my word for this year. It is defined as “a splendid or conspicuous work, a miracle, a marvel”. We are surrounded by wonderful, beautiful, tangible objects, processes, and people. And wonders beyond our reach that cause us to pause and…well, wonder.

Our short-sightedness at such things can be an effect of where we settle our gaze, or hearing, or thoughts. Screens can either point us to wondrous things beyond our experience or shrink our worlds to the size of a phone, tablet, or computer/TV.

Look up. Get close. Be quiet a moment and listen.

Let’s never lose the wonder of the beauty that surrounds us. The beauty we experience…even in hard places. Even in suffering.”

Deb Mills Writer

I get lost sometimes in the woes of this world – our national debt, the unnoticed poverty of our neighbors, the myriad ways people find to destroy life and relationships.

It’s a wonder we haven’t already completely annihilated ourselves and that actually speaks to the wonder of God. The fact that we are still here, that Spring comes, and babies are born…all a miracle really.

We take such things for granted and continue to brood over the world’s “going to Hell in a handbasket” condition. Doom’s Day thinking will change nothing.

Today, I choose to be lost in the wonder of God’s provision of all the good in the world – of grace in suffering, of the possibility of finishing life well and dying beautifully. What is our place in all the world’s woes? It isn’t to be so enraptured in the wonder that we don’t wade into the hard.

Wonder takes me to a more hopeful place – of seeing the worst of this world with eyes wide open and holding place with God in ways, small and large, to lighten the load. Leaning into the painful realities of those around us, knowing God is at work everywhere… He doesn’t need me to help…but just maybe He calls us to enter in and discover He’s there, and His presence illuminated through us to those in need.

If you want a quick study on the mercy of God and how He bears with a forgetful and rebellious people, read Psalm 78. Are there consequences of our going our own way and disregarding a loving and holy God? Absolutely. Yet, He is always ready to restore us and to redeem our situations, when we repent and remember Him. Hallelujah! What a Savior!

Photo Credit: James Houston, Heartlight
Photo Credit: Godly Ladies

Postscript: The wonder of God in the circumstances of our lives – including when we lean in to the lives of others. What if Wintley Phipps hadn’t responded in comfort to that distressed person (see video below)? – What if the Horatio Spafford, writer of the poem “It is Well with My Soul”, had grown bitter in his grief instead of clinging to God? So much wonder!

Worship Wednesday – PrayerFULness – Heal Our Land – Kari Jobe

Photo Credit: Rachael M. Colby, Tattoo It On Your Heart

[Adapted from the archives]

If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land. Now My eyes will be open and My ears attentive to prayer made in this place. For I have now chosen and consecrated this temple so that My Name may be there forever. My eyes and My heart will be there for all time. – 2 Chronicles 7:14-16 

“Then let this be known to all of you and to all the people of Israel: It is by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified but whom God raised from the dead, that this man stands before you healed. He is ‘the stone you builders rejected, which has become the cornerstone’. Salvation exists in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.”Acts 4:10-12

First of all, then, I urge that petitions, prayers, intercessions and thanksgiving be offered for all men … Prayer of this kind is good and God our saviour is pleased with it — it is my wish that in every place men shall offer prayers with blameless hands held aloft, and be free from anger and dissension.1 Timothy 2:1–8

At every opportunity pray in the Spirit, using prayers and petitions of every sort. Pray constantly and attentively for all God’s people.Ephesians 6:18

Dave’s Mom, my sweet mother-in-law, prays. Every day. Through the day. In her 80s, Julia carries the baton of her own Godly mother who has long since gone to be with the Lord. She prays not out of duty or self-interest. She prays in obedience to God and out of love for Him, for her family, her church, her country, and the world.

As long as Julia lives, I know that daily our names echo in the great halls of Heaven before the God of the universe. When my own mom died, now 20 years ago, a silence sounded in our lives that I had never experienced before. She, like Julia, was a pray-er. Mom prayed faithfully for us, her children and grandchildren. She also had hope borne out of prayer for the church and our country. Since Mom died, I am trying to run the race she left for me…praying for those God has lovingly and strategically placed  in my life to lift up to Him.

Photo Credit: Kirtland AFB

In the US, we are moving into the season of political rallies with widely varying displays of patriotism, anticipating the 2024 election year. The news media is full of disheartening reports on our country’s status in the world, its moral and cultural decline, and partisan viewpoints on what’s the cause and who’s to blame.

God is not surprised by anything. Nor is He disinterested. He loves all peoples and He has certainly not forgotten those who call themselves Americans.

We as believers search for meaning in the chaos we see around us. We, too, are tempted to assign blame.

What if…what if the cause of our country’s racial and sociopolitical divides…the violence and opioid epidemic…abortion and poverty…related less to politics and more to prayerlessness?

God doesn’t seem to mind small beginnings (Zechariah 4:10). He is also a world-shaking finisher (Philippians 1:6).

What if two or more of us gather agreeing and pray (Matthew 18:20)? For each other, our church leaders, our country, the nations. God’s kingdom come, God’s will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven (Matthew 6:10).

Movement Church has had many seasons of prayer…many small beginnings. For some time, we had a tiny ministry called Play ‘n Pray. It was moms and grandmothers with little ones who came together each week briefly to pray. During COVID, a handful of us sat outside, circled together, socially distanced, in singular mind, to pray down the Spirit of God on our church and community. This summer as a part of our local mission effort to know our city better and to pray with the city in view, we are all participating in a prayer scavenger hunt.

Many of the world’s spiritual revivals began with just a handful of believers. It can happen here…

“One of the great uses of Twitter and Facebook will be to prove at the Last Day that prayerlessness was not from lack of time.” John Piper

Our vision at Movement Church includes a God-glorifying movement of prayer that will spread through our church, extending into our community, city, and the world. Small beginnings but with a great God. One day we believe that He will take the small embers of this many efforts over time and flame them up into a redeeming work only He can finish.

Prayerfulness does take some spiritual formation…habit formation. Last night, we had a friend over and we talked at length about the spiraling nature of our culture, the lack of true life-giving compassion, the anti-Christian sentiment, and the disinterest in a holy God (or any god outside of one’s own making). Our conversation was dark…and too familiar. What if…we prayed instead? Talking not ABOUT chaos to one another but praying WITH one another, taking those same things to God. Praying FULL of hope and faith.

As I write this morning, our dear praying mom, Julia, is sitting in her favorite spot, Bible open in her lap, praying. She knows the God who draws her to prayer is at work. One person, one of His daughters, trusting Him with what He lays on her heart. One by one…two or more…all over this country and this world…prayerFUL. Anticipating what God is about and what He will complete. To Him be all glory.

Worship with me to the Kari Jobe‘s call to prayer “Heal Our Land”:

You take our lives
Flawed, yet beautiful
Restore, refine
Lord, You’re merciful

Redeem, revive

Spirit of God
Breathe on Your church
Pour out Your presence
Speak through Your word
We pray in every nation, Christ be known
Our hope and salvation, Christ alone

New power, new wine
As divisions fall
One church, one bride
Jesus, Lord of all

With one voice we cry

Spirit of God
Breathe on Your church
Pour out Your presence
Speak through Your word
We pray in every nation, Christ be known
Our hope and salvation, Christ alone

So, God we pray to You
Humble ourselves again
Lord, would You hear our cry
Lord, will You heal our land
That every eye will see
That every heart will know
The One who took our sin
The One who died and rose
[x2]

And when Your kingdom comes
And when at last You call
We’ll rise to worship You alone

Spirit of God
Breathe on Your church
Pour out Your presence
Speak through Your word
We pray in every nation, Christ be known
Our hope and salvation, Christ alone

Spirit of God
Breathe on Your church
Pour out Your presence
Speak through Your word
We pray in every nation, Christ be known
Our hope and salvation, Christ alone*

*Lyrics to Heal Our Land – Songwriters: Scott Ligertwood, Brooke Gabrielle Fraser, Karie Jobe, Cody Carnes

YouTube Video – Heal Our Land – Kari Jobe (Song Story)

If My People – Tony Evans

Prayerfulness: A Grace to Seek – Claude Lopez

Character Traits of the Spiritual Life: Prayerfulness – Richard Hollerman

Photo Credit: AZ Quotes

Worship Wednesday – Psalm 46 – Lord of Hosts – Shane & Shane

Photo Credit: Atlanta Trails, Eric Champlin – Chattahoochee River, Georgia

God Is Our Fortress [To the choirmaster. Of the Sons of Korah. According to Alamoth. A Song.]

God is our refuge and strength,
a very present help in trouble.

Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way,
though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea,
though its waters roar and foam,
though the mountains tremble at its swelling. Selah

There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
the holy habitation of the Most High.
God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved;
God will help her when morning dawns.
The nations rage, the kingdoms totter;
he utters his voice, the earth melts.
The Lord of hosts is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress. Selah

Come, behold the works of the Lord,
how he has brought desolations on the earth.
He makes wars cease to the end of the earth;
he breaks the bow and shatters the spear;
he burns the chariots with fire.
“Be still, and know that I am God.
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth!”
The Lord of hosts is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress.
Selah. – Psalm 46

Psalm 46 is a glorious and victorious psalm to encourage and embolden a people beleaguered by hardship (we don’t have details but given the context it was war, or some sort of calamity or terror). The psalmist was reminding the people that God is with them (with us) and will pierce through the noise of battle, with His powerful and persevering presence. He is here today just as much as He was with His people in the psalmist’s day.

Our part, like theirs, is to turn our ears, and our hearts, to Him.

Psalm 46 begins, not with a lament or cry for help, but an anthem of praise. “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear”. Then the psalmist goes on to talk about super fearful things…yet from a place of awe and certainty. Even as he speaks with great confidence about God’s presence and provision in times of catastrophe, the Lord Himself enters the psalm with the command “Be still!”

Not just “Be quiet” but “Be still”. Stop!

God calls both His people and our enemies to essentially “put down your weapons!”

Especially to His own people, He urges them (and us today) to ‘snap out of it,’ ‘wake up,’ ‘stop fearing’—acknowledge who God is—be in awe! For us to take His “Be still” and treat it as “be quiet” is not incorrect, it’s just not enough to describe what God is truly saying.”

In the midst of whatever struggle we find ourselves, God tells us to stand still and remember who He is.

There is probably good reason for not knowing exactly what to do to go forward or how to answer a culturally dividing question. When all we have is an “I don’t know”, then we need to stop trying to solve or explain things on our own. God is Lord and has already told us He will fight our battles and take care of our enemies. We are meant to deal with hard situations with patience and steady reliance on a God who cares for us and others in beautifully loving and faithfully complete ways.

When we still our hearts and minds and surrender ourselves again to God, peace comes, even when the earth gives way, or the mountains crumble (verse 2), or when nations go into an uproar and even kingdoms fall (verse 6). Life and work can overwhelm, and getting even more busy seems our only solution, remember Psalm 46:1, “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.” We run to Him, we lay down our weapons and we fall into His arms. He is God and He is exalted in the earth.

We are to be still and know that He is God.

In this passage the Psalmist shows his trust in God and God affirms His own trustworthiness.  It so reminds me of Moses, leading the children of Israel out of Egypt. That day when their fresh joy turned to sheer terror as, on their heels, the Egyptians came in hot pursuit.

Moses said to the people, “Fear not, stand firm, and see the salvation of the LORD, which He will work for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall never see again. The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to be silent.”Exodus 14:13-14

When we cease striving, drop our weapons, and lean in to God in all His fullness. He fights for us…and for those we love. Rest in that. Stand in that.

What Does “Be Still and Know That I Am God” Really Mean? – Liz Auld

What Does ‘Be Still and Know That I am God’ Mean in Psalms 46:10? – Joel Ryan

Psalm 46 – Confident in God’s Protection and Power – David Guzik

Chickahominy River, James City County, Virginia

There is a river. What does that call to mind for you? For me, living in a state that is criss-crossed with many rivers, it is a place of peace, of refreshment, of life, of abundance. My husband has a high-responsibility, sometimes high-pressure job. When he can, he finds his way to a river. Abraham Joshua Heschel has said, “If you work with your mind, sabbath with your hands, and if you work with your hands, sabbath with your mind.” Fishing on such a river allows a sabbath rest for that husband of mine.

Psalm 46 calls us to live in a sabbath rest with the Lord. We can’t always get to a river, but the river (so to speak) is always available to us in remembering the mighty God ever with us and ever battling for us.

Worship with me to Shane & Shane‘s rendition of Psalm 46 “Lord of Hosts”.

O come behold the works of God
the nations at His feet.
He breaks the bow and bends the spear
and tells the wars to cease.

O Mighty One of Israel
You are on our side.
We walk by faith in God who burns the chariots with fire

Lord of Hosts, You’re with us
with us in the fire,
with us as a shelter,
with us in the storm.
You will lead us
through the fiercest battle,
oh where else would we go,
but with the Lord of Hosts.

O God of Jacob, fierce and great,
You lift Your voice to speak.
The earth it bows and all
the mountains move into the sea

O Lord You know the hearts of men
and still you let them live.
O God, who makes the mountains melt
come wrestle us and win.
O God who makes the mountains melt
come wrestle us and win.

Lord of Hosts, You’re with us
with us in the fire,
with us as a shelter,
with us in the storm.
You will lead us
through the fiercest battle.
Oh where else would we go,
but with the Lord of Hosts.

Though oceans roar, You are the Lord of all,
the one who calms the wind and waves and makes my heart be still.
Though the earth gives way, the mountains move into the sea,
the nations rage, I know my God is in control.
Though oceans roar, You are the Lord of all,
the one who calms the wind and waves and makes my heart be still.
Though the earth gives way, the mountains move into the sea,
the nations rage, I know my God is in control.

Lord of Hosts, You’re with us
with us in the fire,
with us as a shelter,
with us in the storm.
You will lead us
through the fiercest battle.
Oh where else would we go,
but with the Lord of Hosts.

You are with us
with us in the fire,
with us as a shelter,
with us in the storm.
You will lead us
through the fiercest battle.
Oh where else could we go,
but with the Lord of Hosts.*

*Lyrics to Psalm 46 Lord of Hosts – Songwriters: Josh Miller, Jennie Lee Riddle, Josiah Warneking & Shane Barnard

YouTube Video – Psalm 46 (Lord of Hosts) – Live from the National Day of Prayer – Shane & Shane

YouTube Video – Behind Psalm 46 – Shane & Shane

Psalm 46 (Lord of Hosts) by Shane & Shane – Introduction – The Worship Initiative

How to Practice Sabbath (From a Beginner) – Holly Ragsdale

Quotes from John Mark Comer’s “The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry”

Quotes from Abraham Joshua Heschel’s “Sabbath”


Monday Morning Moment – On Fathering

Photo Credit: Heartlight

Fathering…it’s an intriguing topic for me, and I’ve written a lot on it [see here].

My biological father was fairly absent from my life. Even before he and my mom divorced. Our father’s own abandonment of us had an impact on us kids developmentally (even possibly affecting how we parent today).

[My brothers and me when we were younger]

Fortunately I had a kind and loving step-father. Sadly missed by his first family as he poured himself into my siblings and me. He tried to love them well, too…but…

My mom’s dad was an alcoholic who dealt poorly with the Great Depression and his inability to provide well for his family… isolating himself from his children. I remember as a child following him around the woods when we visited. Wish I could have known him better.

The father of my own children was and is a present, loving dad to our bunch. I hope they feel how much he loves them…still and always.

[These four, Morocco]

You have your own fathering stories.

Fathering matters.

“Fathering, like mothering, is not an easy job. So much dying to self. So much responsibility. What a delight for us when the men in our lives take fathering on their shoulders as they might a sleeping child. Surrendering themselves to the serving of those younger than them. I thank God for men who humble themselves in prayer for their children and who go to work every day to support their families. Working, studying, and life-long learning passed on to their children and others.

These dads are too-often taken for granted in the shadow of fathering that falls short. The absent, neglectful and downright abusive fathers cut wounds so deep that decent fathers are sometimes judged by the same measure. We watch for “the sins of the fathers to be revisited on their children” (Numbers 14:18).

Today, let’s reflect on the good fathers. Those who were present at our births, or those who came later in life to us, or those who father us out of their own great hearts. Imperfect, sure. All of us are. Yet, there are those men who go many more than second miles for us, and we are grateful.”Deb Mills

In thinking about fathers, with the approach of Father’s Day here in the US, I pulled all the books on fathering from my bookshelves. There weren’t many (more on parenting, but just these few on fathering itself). Maybe we miss the crucial nature of this role in children’s lives, such that we don’t feel training is needed. I don’t know.

Dr. Danny Huerta, with Focus on the Family, has written a short and important book on 7 Traits of Effective Parenting which especially touches on how weighty the presence of fathers is in the lives of their children. These traits, he extols, are:

  • Adaptability means you handle stress and what is coming at you as a dad in healthy and effective ways. It also means you have the mental flexibility to help your child feel understood and noticed by you.
  • Respect brings you fully present to your family. Through respect, you model looking inward and managing yourself well so you can listen, see, effectively respond to, and love all image bearers of Christ that surround you each day.  
  • Intentionality helps you create goals and focus on what you’re building in your children’s lives. Intentional affection, instruction, conversations, mealtimes, playtimes, and encouraging words can all have life-giving impacts on your family.
  • Steadfast love allows you to love deeply and give your family the strength that stems from a father’s unconditional love.  
  • Boundaries allow you to model and teach healthy ways to engage with opportunities, relationships, and interests.
  • Grace and forgiveness present the ministry of reconciliation that Jesus began through his death and resurrection. A dad can truly make his home debt-free and spiritually strengthened by modeling grace and forgiveness.
  • Gratitude provides a father with a loving and humble perspective that helps him lead his family well. 
Photo Credit: Calvin & Hobbs from the blog of Kenneth Reeds

Parenting is challenging for sure. Through all the seasons and stages of life. From the birth of our children through when they are grown…really until we are gone. Challenging, but also a beautiful work of the heart and mind, as we seek to win the challenge. For our children’s sake, and for our own. If we weren’t fathered well, we can determine to take the steps for it not to continue in our own parenting. The resources we have available to parent well today are plentiful.

We can be grateful for good fathers and hopeful for those overwhelmed by (or unfortunately unaware of) the challenge of parenting well.

…Let’s live in hope that those fathers who struggle to be present or loving may one day gather themselves together, awaken to what was left behind, and reach out to the treasures they missed along the way…and may they find us within reach.” Deb Mills

Fathering – Celebrating Men Who Did It Well; Forgiving Men Who Didn’t – Deb Mills

Saturday Short – Fathers and Father’s Day – Deb Mills

Fathers (and Mothers), Do Not Provoke Your Children – Tim Challies

7 Ways Parents Unfairly Provoke Their Children – Tim Challies

Christian Books on Fatherhood – Top Books for Fathers

Biblical Fathering – 4-part Series on Being Fair, Flexible, Firm and Forthright – Don Strand

The Significance of a Father’s Influence

50 Best Christian Fathers Day Messages and Bible Verses

“As to my children, you are now to be left fatherless, which I hope will be an inducement to you all to seek a Father who will never fail you.”Rev. Jonathan Edwards, his last words to his children, as he lay dying.

Slow to Chide, and Quick to Bless: Vision for Earthly Fathers – David Mathis – excellent article for any dad

Train Them Up in Jesus: The One-Verse Vision for Dads – David Mathis – excellent article, by the same author above, for any dad but especially Christian dads

Lastly, one powerful little Tweet:

The Audacity of Calling God “Father” If I call God “God” I speak truthfully. If I call God “Lord” I speak submissively. If I call God “King” I speak servilely.

But if I dare to call God “my Father,” I speak with a brassy audacity, chutzpah, that is shockingly familiar and intimate. So it seems anyway.

You dare to call the Master of the Universe “Father”? You dare to call the One who controls heaven and hell “Father”? You call the Omnipotent one “Father”?

Who do you think you are? It is difficult to imagine a more audacious act than to stand before the Creator of the world and to name him “Father.” And mean it. And not only to mean it, but to act and speak as a child acts and speaks before a loving and doting Dad.

It’s shocking. It’s exhilarating. And it’s beautiful beyond words.

But here’s a secret: it’s not really chutzpah. It’s not some brassy boldness that we work ourselves into, nor it is gained by swallowing a bottle of liquid spiritual courage, as it were.

To call God “Father” is simply to live in the space which Jesus created. To move from residing far from God as his enemy; or on the other side of town from him as a stranger; or down the street as an acquaintance; or in an adjoining house as a servant; and to move into our own bedroom as a child in his family. To wake up in the morning and see our Father sipping a cup of coffee and saying, “Good morning, my child,” as we respond, “Good morning, Father.”

You see, when we live in this house, when we move into the room built by Jesus, we inhabit the home not merely of a Master or Lord or King, but the one who’s given us his name and made us his own, now and forever.

“Our Father”: two of the most amazing words ever uttered.Chad Bird

Photo Credit: Tim Challies, Charles Spurgeon

Worship Wednesday – Believe – Blessing Offor

Photo Credit: Heartlight

And we have come to know and believe the love that God has for us. God is love; whoever abides in love abides in God, and God in him…There is no fear in love, but perfect love drives out fear.1 John 4:16, 18a

Behold what manner of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God. And that is what we are! – 1 John 3:1

Today, thanks to Blessing Offor’s beautiful song “Believe”, my heart has been fixed on the beauty of God’s love. In fact, He is love (1 John 4:l6).

We can rest in that, no matter what. Do you ever struggle thinking you have to somehow earn God’s love? Some of us were raised in homes that our parents’ love was based on some sort of performance on our parts. I wasn’t raised in such a home, but that message, through others, or culture, or the Evil One himself settled in my heart.

This belief of performance-based acceptance has generated a ridiculous state of mine that has, of late, been called “imposter syndrome”. I write about this from time to time to wrestle it to the ground and regain perspective – as in “Stewarding Our Current Situation”:

On my worst days, I struggle with doubt and insecurity. The dark cloud of imposter syndrome hangs over my head and heart. Having known great favor in most of my career, those successes almost haunt me and disturb the joy of life that is meant to be ours…today…no matter our situation.

The thing is – whether we are high performers or not so much, whether we have a seat at someone’s table or not, whether we are hard on ourselves or not…none of that alters anything about the love of God.

He loves us. Period. Full-stop. He is a good father. Nothing keeps Him from loving His children. Nothing surprises Him, and nothing causes Him to turn away from us. He is the Father running down the road to His returning home prodigal son. He is the Redeemer God who will receive us Home one day.

Blessing Offor‘s prayer of a song reminds us of this.

Worship with me.

So You catch me when I fall, right?
And You hear me when I call cryin’
And You fix me when I’m broke, right?
And that’s all I need to know
So the storm is gonna break right?
And the sun is gonna start shining
And everything is gonna go right
And that’s all I need to know

[Pre-Chorus]
But what if You know something I don’t?
What if You will something I won’t?
If You don’t give me what I want
But You give me what I need
Is that enough to…

[Chorus]
Believe, believe, believe, believe in Your love?
Will I still
Believe, believe, believe, believe in Your love?

[Verse 2]
So nothing’s ever going wrong, right?
And every day I’m gonna be smiling
Turned my water into good wine
And let the good times roll

[Pre-Chorus]
But what if You know something I don’t?
What if You will something I won’t?
If You don’t give me what I want
But You give me what I need
Is that enough to…

[Chorus]
Believe, believe, believe, believe in Your love?
Will I still
Believe, believe, believe, believe in Your love?
Believe, believe, believe, believe in Your love
Will I still
Believe, believe, believe, believe in Your love?

[Bridge]
Do I want You? Do I want You?
Do I want You or what You can do for me?
Do I love You? Do I love You?
Do I love You or what You can do for me?
Sometimes I don’t know
But all I wanna do is

[Outro]
Believe, believe, believe, believe in Your love (Yes, I do)
Believe, believe, believe, believe in Your love
(All I wanna do, all I wanna do is believe)
Believe, believe, believe, believe in Your love (Yes, I do)
Believe, believe, believe, believe in Your love
(Believe in Your love)
Believe, believe, believe, believe in Your love (Yes, I believe)
Believe, believe, believe, believe in Your love
(I believe, I believe, I believe)
Believe, believe, believe, believe in Your love
(In Your love, in Your love, in Your love)
Believe, believe, believe, believe in Your love*

In her Bible study on Believing, Kay Daigle writes:

Believing requires commitment and intellect when feelings aren’t there. A time of trial has been, for me, a time where God is saying, “Do you really believe what I say in My Word? . . . Do you really believe that you can trust me?”

For several years, our family has been under a lot of stress. We have been through many emotions with the situations and with the Lord. But what we have learned is that the details of the trial are not what is important. Seeking the Lord, drawing near to Him when we don’t feel like it, looking for and finding flowers in the desert – evidence of His Hand – these are the things that sustain us. In seeing His provision in unexpected ways, we see His love and hold on tighter to the promises in His Word. While we don’t see the purposes, we do know and believe that He is working all things together for His good [our good and His glory], because we are called to His purpose.Kay Daigle

Photo Credit: Heartlight

*Lyrics to Believe – Songwriter(s): Blessing Offor & Hank Bentley

Blessing Offor Gets Gut-Level Honest on Vulnerable Song, “Believe” – Lindsay Williams

Religious Faith Can Lead to Positive Mental Benefits, Writes Stanford Anthropologist Tanya Luhrmann – Sandra Feder – a fascinating, researched, completely secular take on how believing impacts our health

Photo Credit: Heartlight

Worship Wednesday – You’re Not Done – Leeland & Charity Gayle

Photo Credit: PictureQuotes

Let us not grow weary in well-doing, for in due time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Galatians 6:9

He gives power to the weak and strength to the powerless. Even youths will become weak and tired, and young men will fall in exhaustion. But those who trust in the LORD will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint. Isaiah 40:29-31

Thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ! Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast and immovable. Always excel in the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.1 Corinthians 15:57-58

You know where you are right now. I can’t begin to stand in your shoes or carry the burden that’s yours right now. We rejoice together in the glorious days of victory. The long haul and the momentary defeat both draw us into ourselves…searching for what can get us over the next hill.

Two things. Christ and community.

I just heard this song for the first time this week. “You’re Not Done”. It was written by the band Leeland inspired by a friend gravely ill with COVID. Struggling to breathe. After this friend recovered, these lyrics poured out, as coming from the Lord, remind us of God’s sovereignty in all matters. “If you still have breath in your lungs, you’re not done.”

God is with us always…whatever is pressing in on us. Of the many graces He gives us for the battles in our lives, community is one of our greatest strengths. Leaning on Him, and leaning on each other.

If you are battle-weary, the song title “You’re Not Done” may not encourage your heart at first, but dig into the lyrics. They are meant to speak love, truth, encouragement, and mercy into our hard place. Don’t lose hope. The Lord’s in the battle with us. He knows what it is costing you. In the fighting and in the waiting, He will not leave your side. The victory is His and ours.

Worship with me to “You’re Not Done”.

I know you’re tired, I know you’re weak
And all of that fighting’s got you down on your knees
You’re desperate for change, desperate to know
There’s a light, still a light

[Chorus]
Child, lift up your eyes
For your help draws nigh
Child, lift up your eyes
It’ll be alright
Every tear you’ve cried
Let the sunlight dry
Every tear you’ve cried
It’ll be alright

[Post-Chorus]
If you still have breath in your lungs
If you still have breath in your lungs, you’re not done

[Verse 2]
I’ll be your strength and I’ll be your song
I’ll be the solid Rock you can stand on, oh
I’m with you always, you’re never alone
‘Cause I’m right by your side

[Chorus]
Child, lift up your eyes
For your help draws nigh
Child, lift up your eyes
It’ll be alright
Every tear you’ve cried
Let the sunlight dry
Every tear you’ve cried
It’ll be alright

[Post-Chorus]
If you still have breath in your lungs
If you still have breath in your lungs, you’re not done
No, you’re not finished, hey
If you still have breath in your lungs
If you still have breath in your lungs (Hey)
If you still have breath in your lungs (God’s just getting started, yes, He is)
If you still have breath in your lungs
If you still have breath in your lungs
If you still have breath in your lungs (What the enemy meant for evil)
If you still have breath in your lungs
If you still have breath in your lungs (Oh, God is turning it around for His glory and your good)
If you still have breath in your lungs

[Chorus]
Child, lift up your eyes
For your help draws nigh
Child, lift up your eyes (Ooh, oh)
It’ll be alright
Every tear you’ve cried
Let the sunlight dry
Every tear you’ve cried

If you still have breath in your lungs
If you still have breath in your lungs (God isn’t finished)
If you still have breath in your lungs (Keep on keeping on)
If you still have breath in your lungs (He’s making a way)
If you still have breath in your lungs ([?])
If you still have breath in your lungs (Oh), you’re not done
You’re not done (No, no)
If you still have breath in your lungs (My child)
If you still have breath in your lungs (Look up where your help draws nigh)
If you still have breath in your lungs (He’s not done)
And if you still have breath in your lungs (Oh, yeah)
If you still have breath in your lungs (God)
If you still have breath in your lungs (He’s just getting started)
If you still have breath in your lungs (Don’t give up)
If you still have breath in your lungs (Keep on breathing)
If you still have breath in your lungs (Yeah)
If you still have breath in your lungs (He’s your hope)
If you still have breath in your lungs (He’s your joy)
If you still have breath in your lungs (Yes, He is, yes, He is)
If you still have breath in your lungs
If you still have breath in your lungs
If you still have breath in your lungs (Hey, keep holding on)
If you still have breath in your lungs

[Outro]
He’s making streams in the desert place
He’s making a way in the wilderness, yes, I know
(If you still) If you still have breath in your lungs
If you still have breath in your lungs, you’re not done*

*Lyrics to “You’re Not Done” – Songwriters: Leeland

Song Review: “You’re Not Done” by Leeland and Charity Gayle

Leeland

Charity Gayle

YouTube – Unfinished – Mandisa – Lyric Video

Monday Morning Moment – Waiting – a Waste or a Way to Wisdom – Deb Mills

Waiting – Deb Mills

Worship Wednesday – My One Comfort – Dustin Kensrue

Photo Credit: Dreamstime, Heidelberg Catechism

My One Comfort. What would you say is yours?

We look to loved ones and friends for comfort. Sometimes we even lean on rickety counterfeit comforts (food, drugs/alcohol, entertainment) to help us get through…or escape from…the challenges of our lives.

This song “My One Comfort” is new to me, although it’s been out for several years now. The lyrics deeply resonated with my heart and mind. The Lord is truly our one solid and forever comfort. He is the rock of our lives, no matter the storm. Because of Him, we can stand against whatever comes.

Through this song, I discovered the Heidelberg Catechism. It has not been part of my church or worship tradition. Studying it this week has been a blessing.

The first Question and Answer of the Catechism reads:

What is Thy only comfort in life and death?

The answer is:

That I with body and soul, both in life and death, am not my own, but belong unto my faithful Savior Jesus Christ; who, with his precious blood, hath fully satisfied for all my sins, and delivered me from all the power of the devil; and so preserves me that without the will of my heavenly Father, not a hair can fall from my head; yea, that all things must be subservient to my salvation, and therefore, by his Holy Spirit, he also assures me of eternal life, and makes me sincerely willing and ready, henceforth, to live unto him.Heidelberg Catechism, Lord’s Day 1

Scripture Annotations for the Heidelberg Catechism, Lord’s Day 1 – Jan van Bruggen

Heidelberg Catechism (pdf)

Singer, songwriter Dustin Kensrue‘s treatment of the first Question & Answer above brings it to us beautifully.

Worship with me.

My one comfort both in life and death
Is that I am not my own
I was bought with blood and I confess
I belong to You alone

[Chorus]
By the Father’s good decree
Jesus, You’ve delivered me
By Your Spirit set me free
To follow You

My one comfort both in life and death
Is that I am not my own
I was bought with blood and I confess
I belong to You alone

By the Father’s good decree
Jesus, You’ve delivered me
By Your Spirit set me free
To follow You

[Bridge]
Jesus, You have taken hold of me
And in Your grip of grace, I’m finally free
By the Father’s good decree
Jesus, You’ve delivered me
By Your Spirit set me free
To follow You*

*Lyrics to My One Comfort – Dustin Kensrue, The Modern Post – inspired by the Heidelberg Catachism

P.S. This morning as I was sitting down to write, a friend’s post on my social media reminded me of the greatness of God and His presence in our lives. She’s a young mom training up warriors and worshipers. The post was about fairy tales and dragons, but it struck me as very real and instructional (as only G. K. Chesterton can be). What a glory and mystery the God of the universe accompanies and empowers us in this life!!! Dragons, whatever they are, can be killed. He knows, He is near, and He is able.

Photo Credit: PicturesQuotes, G. K. Chesterton

Thank You, Lord!

Photo Credit: Charles Kingsley, Heartlight