Preparing a Child’s Heart To Know Christ

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I’m thrilled that gardening season is here!  Each day I enjoy going outside and tending to each potted plant, window box and flowering bed.  I pull off dead blooms, fluff the tender foliage so it will hang beautifully over the edge of the pot, and then give a gentle showering of water so it can soak into the roots, adding growth.  From time to time I also add Miracle Grow – a plant food that speeds up the growing process and makes sure the plants are healthy.  The results are beautiful!!

As we’ve talked all week about a child being saved, every one of the steps above, regarding tending a plant, could be applied to bringing a child to the place where they understand their need for Jesus Christ to be their Savior.  We need to harvest the garden of their hearts so it will be their early understanding that they are sinners who are in need.

Making the plant application, let’s look at a few practical ways that parents can help their children get to that point early on in life.

  • Pull off dead blooms – This involves seeing that something is in their life that shouldn’t be and literally “nipping it in the bud!”  =)  When they disobey, for instance, we don’t overlook it or redirect their attention to a “better option,” NO!  That sin must be dealt with in a biblical manner.  Even from the time they’re very young they should understand that obeying isn’t simply making mommy a happier person – obeying mommy means you’re obeying God!  Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.  Galatians 6:1  Teach them that simple verse by saying it each time they disobey you.

    “Disobedience is sin.  Each time you disobey Mommy, you’re sinning against God.  But God loves you.  Let’s ask Him to help you obey.”

    Using God’s Word as your guide, teach the child that what they’re doing is sin that makes God sad.  “You needed a Savior so God sent Jesus to die for your sin!”  You don’t have to preach a message, just those simple statements about God’s holiness (you didn’t say it that way, but that’s what you’re teaching) and His love, points them to their need for Jesus when they sin.

  • Fluff the tender foliage.  Encourage any tenderness the child shows towards their sin.  Let them cry, but then comfort them and remind them that God loves them and so do you, and God wants to help them NOT sin.  Any time they want to move forward in an invitation, or they ask questions in family devotions, encourage that!  Listen.  Answer their questions. Be supportive!
  • Give a gentle showering of water to encourage growth.  Sprinkle truths about God, His Word and the application of it through everything you do each day.  It’s far more meaningful to see a mom live out the Gospel each day and share out of the overflow, than to occasionally get a “lecture” every now and then from an inconsistent life.  Consider:
    • Let thankfulness be in your words about God’s provision for your groceries, your home, your clothing…everything you have.
    • Point out the beauty of God’s creation when you are outside.  Speak Scripture – “The heavens declare the glory of God – Hey kids, how does that sunset tell about God’s glory?”
    • Speak about what you learned in your Bible reading and how it applies to what’s going on at that moment.
    • Whenever there is a need, stop and pray.  Show your child that you’re dependent on God in every situation. – If you see an ambulance or a car accident, why not pray for those involved? If they’re anxious about a test they’re headed into school to take, stop and pray before they get out of the car.
    • Be living out the Gospel by sharing it with others when you’re out, when people are in your home and at church.  Your children need to see your example of a Christian who is a follower of Christ.
    • Read Scripture with your child.  I love the idea of reading the psalm of their age every night of that year!  Most psalms in the early chapters are very short, so I imagine that both you and your child  will have it memorized before the year is out!
  • Add some Miracle Grow – Make sure your child is regularly in places where they will receive extra doses of the Gospel outside of your home – Sunday school, church services, revival meetings, Youth group, youth activities, and Christian camp.  Don’t send your child to church services – go with them.  Then send them on their way to the extra outings, praying that the Gospel will be proclaimed and their heart will be tender.

Tending to my plants is messy and daily.  My hands end up covered with dirt, and if I neglect their care, you can only imagine the ugly results!  The same also applies to the tending of our children’s spiritual needs.  It’s a daily discipleship that is often messy and inconvenient, but the results aren’t just for a summer of glory – it’s for eternity, and it’s such a blessing to be a part of that! This is our heart as parents, is it not? ~

I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth.  III John 1:4

God is the One who will bring the fruit.  We just need to be faithful to plant and water, then leave the results with Him.

What are you doing today that will point your child more towards Christ? 

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It’s the Little Things That Help

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Ever heard that it’s the little things that count? It’s so true!

I look at people who spend an hour or more working out at the gym and I groan.  That’s just not my style of working out.  Instead, I choose to walk the country roads of my neighborhood.  I also do a 15 minute calisthenics routine in attempt to tone my muscles.  While I might not be making the fast strides that those folks at the gym are making,  those little times of working out do help

I don’t spring clean my house each week, but every day I do something.  I may dust or mop the floors, clean the windows or vacuum.  Also each night before I go to bed, I make sure that things are tidy and put away.  I might not clean everything all at once, but those little jobs keep my house in order every day.

Each morning for years I have read the Proverb for the day (there are 31 chapters, one that can be read each day of the month).  It doesn’t take long, but since I’ve made this a habit for so long, I can finish many verses before reading it.  Those little times of pouring God’s Word into my heart haven ingrained those practical truths into my heart. 

Memorizing Scripture passages takes time and I can only memorize one verse at a time.  I might only get one or two verses a week in my memory, but eventually I get the whole passage memorized by doing little bits, one verse at a time.

I attend women’s conferences twice a year and they are a blessing, but in order to help my spiritual growth, I create my own little daily “conference” by listening to Revive Our Hearts and Love Worth Finding.  That little time of hearing God’s Word while I get ready in the morning has probably done even more for me than conferences!

It really is all the little things that make my life richer – especially in spiritual matters.  It’s a reminder to me that I have no excuses for not doing what is right!  It doesn’t require BIG amounts of time (though when I can take more time, I want to take advantage of that!).  It really only requires making habits of doing little things consistently to have a life that is fulfilling and fruitful.  

When I look and see a tiny little bit more of a toned arm or a clean kitchen, I see how rewarding those little things were. But even more rewarding are the little things that push me towards being like Christ.  They all matter.  They all make a difference!

Are you taking time to do the little things?  If you’re not in the habit, pick one and watch the difference it makes in your life!

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The Resale Value of Your Christian Life

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After over 200,000 miles on the road, even a favorite automobile has to be laid to rest and replaced with newer wheels, a stronger engine and less numbers on the odometer.  That is the story of our dearly loved and used Toyota Highlander.  It served us well, but there were issues that needed to be addressed – and so as we prayed, we began looking for its replacement.

No matter what we chose, any car we sat in was definitely going to be an improvement. We would never choose one with more miles than our Toyota.  The upholstery would be newer and the accessories in the dashboard would surely be an upgrade, maybe even including a back-up camera or navigational system!  But the blessing was that Toyota Highlanders seem to hold their value and have a good resale.  So, we had planned to trade the car in, which would, of course, help us purchase a car that was a newer/better model.

When most people shop for a car, they’re looking for the real deal – something that will be dependable and road-worthy.    However, if I’ve learned anything, I have come to understand the importance of buying one that has good resale value (I’m a typical girl-y girl who usually goes for what looks good! I’m learning!!).  Resale is really important in the long-run.  If others want what you own, it will profit you and them!

That is also true in the life of a genuine Christian –  a person who has put their complete trust in the cross-work of Christ on behalf of their sins.  A Christian should be like a “New model” of the “old” sinner they were.  Like that old car, they have gotten an upgrade!  Old things are passed away and all things are become new!

People will look at that kind of Christian and want what they have because:

  •  They don’t do the things they used to do.  Their motivation is eternal rather than temporal.  Their longing is for a heavenly reward, rather than the praise of men.
  • They don’t grind away at their job, complaining and grunting their way through their day!  They work hard.  They serve others with a smile and a sweet spirit.
  • They have purpose now – they’re living with the Holy Spirit of God inside them, and longing to be more like their Savior every day they live!
  • They’re constantly being changed by the conviction of the Spirit of God.  Though they fall, they will rise up and keep going, with God’s help.
  • Their life has purpose and meaning.  Even though the tears may fall in times of trial, they have an inner peace, because they know the One Who is triumphant over sin, death and the grave.

A true believer who lives out the Christian life makes others want what they have!

Does that describe you?  Can the world tell the difference between you and an unsaved person?  There are many Christians “on the lot” that are just your standard, no-frills-added believers.  They “got saved one day” but they:

  • Don’t tell others about Jesus, or about their own salvation.
  • Don’t live out the Gospel in their every day life.
    They fail to ~

    • Love people – especially the “hard to love”
    • Forgive those who hurt them
    • Serve as Christ did
  • Don’t separate from the world.
    • They do what everyone else does.
    • They succumb to peer pressures and the World’s philosophy.
    • They look and act like everyone else.
      • This doesn’t mean you have to wear culottes and tennis shoes!  Nor does it mean you can be careless about necklines and hemlines.
      • If the world says ballgames are on Sunday, they go!  If teams have practice on Sunday, they practice.  If they’re too tired to attend services, they listen to their flesh instead of depending on the Spirit to help them.
  • Their lives look just like everyone else on their street.

Friends, I’m not talking about us being perfect Christians any more than I think we’ll ever find a perfect car.  But what I’m begging us to consider is, Do others want our life as a Christian because they see its value, its power, and its transforming work going on in our lives every day of the week?

It’s time for each of us to be the best model of a Christian so that others will look at us and know that what we have is what their empty hearts need, too!  Let’s live up to the precious resale value that we truly possess!

How are you living out your Christian life today in a way that makes it desirable to others?

Lovingly,

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Behind the Clouds

I first posted this a couple years ago, but I feel the need to share it again.  I have many friends and loved ones going through hard things right now, and in the light of Easter coming this weekend, I pray this post will be an encouragement!

This past Saturday morning I headed out early to purchase the last items I needed for my Easter dinner.  I was filled with excitement as I anticipated Easter Sunday and the joy of worshiping and remembering the empty tomb! The sky was kind of gray and cloudy as I headed out, but I needed to get this done.

As I drove into town, my mind went to the first Easter Saturday – that very day after Christ had been crucified.  I thought about the disciples, the many other people who had heard Jesus and believed He was Who He said He was, and of those that had seen His miracles and had turned in faith to Him as their Savior.  How must they have felt on that day after?  I’m sure many were filled with mixed emotions.  They had seen Him suffer, some had buried Him.  He was dead. Many must have felt hopeless, gloomy and discouraged.

“Oh!” I thought, “if only they could know what we know now they would never have doubted!  They would be as excited as I am as I anticipate Easter’s arrival tomorrow!”    They wouldn’t have been filled with sadness, gloom or despair if they could know what we know!

It was then that the Lord whispered in my heart,

“If you could know what I’m at work doing right now in your life, you wouldn’t be filled with despair in your trials either.”

How right He is!  Why do I doubt Him?  Why am I filled with sorrow in difficult days?  It’s because I believe the enemy’s lies when he says – “Nothing good could come from THIS!”  “Your life should be happier!”  “This is never going to get better – give it up!”

No!  My God is at work fulfilling His great plan for my life – to make me into the image of His Son.  It may take cloudy days, days of pain or suffering, but He’s got a reason, and I must trust Him!

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Still in my car and carrying on this dialogue with the Lord, I looked up to see that the sun had burst through the clouds in splendor and beauty.  It was a visual of the lesson He had just spoken to my heart.  Something lovely is behind the dark clouds; wait and watch!

What dark cloud of difficulty are you staring at today?  Keep your eyes on Christ! He is at work on a plan that will leave you speechless!

With love,

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Why I Attend Ladies’ Retreats When I Don’t Feel Like It

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I’m going to be really open with you here – being away from home is not my favorite thing.  I’m really, completely a home-body.  I could stay within the walls of my home for a week or two and be totally content!  But there are times that I choose to push past my tendency to stay where I’m most comfortable and go places, even when I don’t feel like it.  One of those times is when Christian retreats are offered for women.  I speak at retreats, so that probably sounds really odd, right?  Let me explain:  I love it when I’m there at the retreat.  I bask in the fellowship, the teaching, the worship, the encouragement, but it’s all the stuff beforehand that I struggle with.  I’m talking about:

  • Packing
    • All those decisions!
    • All the things I have to remember to take…just in case!
    • What if I don’t want to wear that when I get there?  Better add another outfit!
  • Getting the people in my house ready for my departure.  Even though it’s now just my husband, he has needs I must consider.  When my girls were home, it was even more difficult to go away.  They weren’t always crazy about being left behind, and that was another issue that had to be dealt with.
  • Finances – It’s sometimes hard to get the funds to go.  I’d ask myself if we could afford it, but my husband would always insist that God would provide (and He always did!).
  • Fatigue – Let’s face it, weekends away are exhausting!  You’re usually up later than normal, the routine can be rigorous, and the hours of rest are few.  Did I really want to give up my sleep to go?

HOWEVER, in the last 16 years that we’ve been close to The Wilds, I can only remember a year or two that I didn’t get to go to the ladies’ retreat. I also started attending the Ladies’ Prayer Advance  two years ago.  Let me tell you why I’ve pushed forward and have gone to these retreats, even when I really didn’t feel like it.

  1. I go because I need the teaching of God’s Word that is specifically directed to women and our needs.  Last weekend there was a session for Pastor’s Wives that I needed to hear!  Two sessions I heard spoke to my role as a wife.  Still another topic was about women reaching women for the Gospel.  The Lord gave me Truth in every single message!
  2. I go because I know it will help me to grow spiritually.  Yes, I go to church each week. Yes, I read my Bible every day, but there’s something about a weekend retreat that causes decisions to be made that advance me as a child of God.
  3. I go because I need my sisters in Christ.  The fellowship, the sharing, the praying, the knitting of our hearts together will not happen at church.  It has to come from times outside worship services at church.  It comes on the van as we share our burdens.  It takes place at lunch when we talk about the last session.  It stirs in our hearts as we grasp hands and pray together.
  4. I go because I know it will make me a better wife, mom, daughter, friend, light in this dark world.
  5. I go because I remember that I have never regretted going and spending time in God’s Word and with His people.  Never.  Ever.

That’s my testimony and my heart.  Can I challenge you to consider attending a retreat this spring – or next fall if that’s when it’s available for you?  Something really special is going to happen there and you don’t want to miss out on it.  The laundry will be there when you get back.  Your family will survive without you.  No one notices what you’re wearing.  Your church group needs you there!

Boones Creek Bible Church ladies, I’m extending an invitation to you to attend the Ladies’ retreat at The Wilds April 20, 21.  Sign up before it gets filled up!

Look at your excuse and ask yourself it’s really valid?  Don’t let your enemy keep you from a blessing!

Where do you go to “retreat?”  What blessing did you receive?

Lovingly,

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Do you have a Teachable Spirit?

Little toddlers are becoming independent little people and they will often struggle trying to accomplish a task and do it the hard way.  Have you ever tried to step in and show them an easier way?  Their response is often,

“No, I do it!”

and they push away the very counsel that could make their task easier.

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Toddlers aren’t the only ones who push away help.  Often when we are making our way through our Christian life, a pastor stands to preach, or a teacher gives God’s Word in a Bible study, or a friend pulls us aside to speak Truth to us, and we become stiff and resentful instead of teachable.  We like others to think that we’re just fine.  We don’t think we need someone to tell us what to do,  or how to live!

Are you like that?  I must confess that I’ve fought with this very kind of spirit over the years.  How about  a little check-up to see if we’re teachable or not?

When you hear Truth given by a wise, godly person, whether it’s one-on-one or in a group setting, do you…

  • Turn a deaf ear?  – Proverbs 13:1 a scorner heareth not rebuke.
  • Hate the instruction itself? – Proverbs 5:12 – And you say, “How I have hated instruction and my heart spurned reproof.”
  • Hate the one giving it?  Proverbs 9:8 – Do not reprove a scoffer, or he will hate you.
  • Think about how you’re going to defend yourself while the other person is speaking?  Proverebs 18:13 – He that answereth a matter before he heareth it, it is folly and shame unto him.
  • Stiffen up when you hear it?  Proverbs 29:1 – He that being often reproved hardeneth his neck, shall suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy.

If these traits are true of us, here is the sad result…

  • Destruction – Proverbs 29:1
  • Punishment and Death –  Proverbs 15:10 – This doesn’t necessarily mean physical death, but it could bring that or spiritual death, death to relationships, death to fruitfulness, etc.
  • Broken fellowship with God – Proverbs 1:24, 25
  • Unanswered prayer – Psalm 66:18

If we continue in sin after we’ve been admonished, we can be sure we are headed for destruction.

The flip side of all this is that there are wonderful blessings from heeding Godly counsel:

  • Increase in learning – Proverbs 1:5
  • There is safety –  Proverbs 11:14
  • Wisdom – Proberbs 12:15, 13:10, 19:20
  • Happiness – Proverbs 3:13
  • Gained a friend – Proverbs 27:6
  • Gained precious treasure – Proverbs 20:15
  • Deliverance – Proberbs 28:26

If we want to be wise, we’ll all lean in, and not away from the one who desires to instruct us in godly wisdom.  Pride is the culprit that whispers in our ear, “You don’t have to listen to THAT!”  Rather than being like an unteachable youngster, let’s keep a humble, mature heart that listens and then responds.  Even if you don’t think the person is on target about what they’re saying, listen, and then talk to God about it.  He will always give the right counsel!

When is it most difficult to receive godly counsel?

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Organizing Your Bible Study Tools

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The best way I could ever start any day is by spending the first part of it in the study of God’s Word and prayer.  I know that without the instruction in His Word, I would be desperate.  I would have no wisdom, order, no direction, no hope for today.  Therefore, it is my practice to spend the first part of my day in a place pulled apart from everything so that I can focus on what God wants to say to me.

O God, thou art my God; early will I seek thee: my soul thirsteth for thee, my flesh longeth for thee in a dry and thirsty land, where no water is.  Psalm 63:1

Most times, I am seated in a comfy chair in my bedroom.  I chose this spot because it has few distractions. I like to have everything I need in one place so that I don’t spend 15 minutes trying to find my Bible, a pen, my journal, and so on. I noticed recently that the tools I use to study with had gotten disheveled, causing my non-distracted space to become distracted!  So I set out to fix that problem, and I’m so much happier when I sit down each morning.  I can get to my books easily, I have pen ready and waiting, and it’s not a cluttered mess!

I wondered if anyone else might be struggling with the same problem of how to organize your study tools – your Bible, a  journal for notes, a prayer journal, other Bible study books, markers, highlighters, etc.  It can literally take over a corner of a room, can’t it?!  I’m going to show you pictures of how I organized my things.  I hope it will give you some ideas, so you can focus on God and His Word, rather than a mess that’s surrounding you!

I didn’t want to add a large bookshelf or even another piece of furniture to my room, so here’s what I did with my books – first, I used a table with a tray on top.

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You’ll notice that not everything is “out.”  My tray holds the items I use every day.  The pen holder is on the tray, but kind of tucked back out of the view, but within reach.

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My extra books and larger Prayer journal notebook are in two book bags on the floor, beside my chair.  They, too, are tucked out of view, as you can tell by the first picture on the post.

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No longer am I staring at a huge pile of books.  It’s all easy to reach, and is organized according to priority.

Maybe you have a great system that works for you, but if you need a little help, I hope this inspired you a little!

Stay refreshed in God’s Word!

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