While sitting on the couch with my family last evening, we discussed the difference between immature and mature Christians. Here is the visual I gave them:
Both Christians will get to heaven in the end….God calls us to rise above ground zero. We need to talk to God not only in the hard times, but in the resting times as well. Here is the conversation that ensued:
Me: “If you were very sick, would you pray more than one time a day? Two times a day? Ten times a day? Forty times a day?”
Kids: “Probably all day because I am focused on me being sick.”
Me:”Now, imagine yourselves well and having an amazing time at Walt Disney World, how often would you pray? All day?”
Kids: “What would we have to pray for?”
Me: “Exactly! People are motivated to pray because of pain, discomfort, dissatisfaction or dis-ease (disease). Mature Christians talk to God in the good times and in the bad. Sometimes I ask God questions like, “How are you God? Did you talk to grandpa today? What made you smile today.”
Kids: Start to giggle.
Me: Don’t be the person who only talks to God when you need something.
I think every human being wants:
- to love and be loved
- to be significant
- to have peace and the ability to think clearly
- to be satisfied or content; to have “Enough”
Why are so many people discontent?
When we look to the left and right at people, comparing ourselves with them, there is jockeying for position and comparison. There is no win in comparison. When we look straight ahead at Jesus, and focus on Him, there, and only there, will we have peace and contentment. The riches of His love will always be enough. The riches of the world will never be enough.
There are two types of competition: healthy and unhealthy.
1. Healthy competition includes striving to be the best you can be (in the classroom, at work, on the court or on the field) while encouraging your teammates to do their best too. Without them pushing us, we would not be who we are today. A good example would be Cleveland Clinic/Mayo Clinic/Johns Hopkins Hospital. There is a lot of competition to work in those facilities. Only the best will do. As a result, anyone who goes to these hospitals gets great care.
2. Unhealthy competition includes trying to be better than someone for purely selfish reasons and then boasting/posting about it. In my undergraduate studies, I had a girl who had the same major as I did, sit next to me in our Anatomy and physiology class. P.T. is a competitive field. We just received our test scores back. I didn’t like to show anyone my grades, good or bad. This girl peeked at my grade (which was 100%). She leaned over to me, flashed me her grade (103%) and uttered these words with a crooked smile, “You can make up those 3 points on the next test.” My mouth dropped open as I felt the piercing darts of her prideful words.
When we try to be like the person to the left or right, we have already lost.
What do you think is the secret to satisfaction? I’d love to hear your thoughts.
6 Things we SHOULD do with our mouths
1. Stay busy blessing everything you can possibly bless.
2. Be thankful and say so.
3. Encourage, edify and build others up.
4. Tell the truth.
5. Speak the word of God. (The Word of God like a hammer which rouses and strengthens the life and conscience, crushing everything that is evil within the heart.) “Is not My word like fire?” declares the Lord, “and like a hammer which shatters a rock? Jeremiah 23:29
6. Don’t talk too much.
6 Things we SHOULD NOT DO with our mouths
1. Murmur, fault-finding, grumble and complain.
2. Gossip, judge or criticize.
3. Give your opinion when no body wants it.
4. Talk about our trials without a purpose.
6. Speak negatively.
This message was taken from Joyce Meyer, a mentor of mine. It was so good, I wanted to share it with you.
My son uttered 7 words that he will not soon say again. I was shocked at his casual, thoughtless manner in which he spoke. Figurative red flags went up all over. He said, “Reading is a colossal waste of time.” My mouth dropped open at his careless statement. I then proceeded to lecture him on the benefits of reading.
Just then, an idea popped into my head. I was going to rectify this problem, beginning the next day.
Morning came and I walked into my son’s room with my iPad and communicated with him through written words only. His smile told me that he knew what I was doing.
“Mom, I get it. You don’t have to do this.”
I typed, “Oh yes I do.”
For the next hour and a half, we communicated this way.
He was hungry and wanted an omelet.
He spoke and I typed.
(I thought my viewers would enjoy my portion of the conversation, I just cut and pasted. Here it is, typo’s and all.)
“You have 45 minutes before basketball practice. I’m going to make myself some juice this morning, want one? Oatmeal, bagles, eggs. It’s ok. Are you going to make the eggs? Sure you can, I will teach you. Turn the pan on 350 degrees. Let it warm up. Get a spatula. Now crack the number of eggs you want on the pan. Get the garbage bowl. Go ahead, it’s hot. No. Do you want cheese on your omelet? I don’t know why you are looking for cheese on the top of the fridge. It is in the small slide out in the fridge, with the lunch meat.
Your eggs are burning. I turned it off. Break the yolks. Go find the cheese while the pan is off. In the fridge. Put what you want on it, salt an pepper. put the cheese and eggs away. Where did you find it? It is in the cheese drawer. It still works. I tried it yesterday. Now turn the heat back on. Fold the egg on itself. good. Let it cook a little then flip it. Don’t ever leave the spatula on the hot pan. It will melt it. Great. Turn it off an your done! You did it. Nice job.”
Twice during this exercise, he accused me of not giving him accurate information. I told him to re-read what I just wrote. He smiled and said, “Oh. I missed that.”
That was my point.
We climbed into the car and headed to basketball practice. I was verbally communicating with him now.
Me: I know reading and comprehension is tough for you and that’s why you don’t like to do it, but you have to. You have to force yourself to read, otherwise you will never get any better.
Son: I like to read for knowledge, not pleasure.
Me: Me too. I did this little exercise today because I love you.
Son: What!? You were picking on me.
Me: I took 90 minutes out of my day to type out everything to make a point and to help you. I could have spent my time doing something else. That was a lot of work for me. If I didn’t care, I would have left you alone and told you to go play. Instead I took the time out of my day and invested it in you.
Son: (Smiling) I read my history book and my bible.
Me: That’s good. I love you, but don’t ever say reading is a colossal waste of time. Our lives our built on those who have gone on before us. Grandparents, military leaders, inventors, pastors, educators, philosophers, presidents and pilgrims. They have gone on, but their thoughts are still with us in writing. Reading what they learned helps us gain knowledge, understanding and intelligence. Are you intelligent?
Me: Intelligent people are readers. As the song goes, “Readers are leaders they really are succeed-ers.”
I offer my open hand and place it on his lap. He clasps my hand with his, knowing he is loved.
Do you have a story about motivating kids to read? Share!
Each year at Christmas, my children open their presents that we have gotten them. We have taken them individually to buy for other’s in the household. But this Christmas, I thought I would try something different.
I gave each child $70.00 to spend on whomever they wanted, except themselves. I didn’t care if it was for a charity, a teacher, a coach, a pet, a sibling or a homeless person. My only rule was to not spend the money on themselves.
I took all three kids to Walmart. They took two carts and off they went. I did grocery shopping while they Christmas shopped. About 90 minutes later, they checked-out, we drove home and they wrapped their presents.
Then something wonderful happened.
My oldest son, who is 15 said, “For the first time, I am more excited to give people their presents than to get presents.”
*Ding* He got it! The true meaning of Christmas.
I asked for whom the kids bought presents and various replies ensued: teachers, Samson (isn’t he cute?), mom, dad, brother, sister, grandma and grandpa and a friend at school. I was really surprised at how well they did with the task….and they stayed within their budget!
I learned two things from this challenge.
1. When given a large sum of money to my teenagers (and tweens), they acted responsibly. They were outwardly focused, stayed within a budget and genuinely wanted to bless the recipient.
2. I saw the joy on their faces when they watched others open the gifts that they bought! Acts 20:35 came to life this morning, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.”
Next year, we will continue with this tradition.
I heard a mom once tell me, “If three gifts were good enough for Jesus, than it should be good enough for my kids.”
What do you think? Are three gifts plenty for our kids or do they need more? Love to hear your thoughts.
This week I have learned a valuable secret about produce. I’m not talking about the produce you get at the farmers market or at Walmart. I’m referring to the fruit that a person produces which results in benefiting many others.
I read these verses:
1 That same day Jesus went out of the house and sat by the lake. 2 Such large crowds gathered around him that he got into a boat and sat in it, while all the people stood on the shore. 3 Then he told them many things in parables, saying: “A farmer went out to sow his seed. 4 As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. 5 Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. 6 But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root.7 Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants. 8 Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop—a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown. Matthew 13:1-8
A conversation began:
God (to me): Which soil represents your heart?
Me: I feel like I am the good soil, but I’m only yielding thirty times. I would like to yield one hundred times. Lord, why am I not producing more fruit?
God: You yield to your emotions.
Reflecting and attempting to tie the statement to a recent habit, I start to frantically write down what the Lord just showed me. Then, a revelation. When I am frustrated or in pain, I want to quit just like the seeds quit thriving when the sun scorched them. The seeds were under stress from the scorching hot sun and lack of soil depth. The rocky soil is like shallow faithfulness and commitment. They withered because they had no root. I wanted to quit two volunteer opportunities I had at church that were taking time away from my family. Each volunteer job was only an hour or so per week.
It takes commitment, dedication and faithfulness to see fruit! If I obey my emotions and quit, I will remain with a limited amount of fruit production, but if I continue to work and stay faithful with a good attitude despite my emotions (frustration, pain, inconvenience) I will bear much fruit.
When I bow to my emotions and quit working for God, I miss out on God’s blessing. I no longer get illustrations from God. He no longer reveals His mysteries to me. I get anxious, lose my peace and am impatient. But when I wrestle with my emotions, adhere to my commitments and remain faithful, something wonderful happens …..lots of fruit follows!
How many of us want to quit when the scorching stress of a situation makes our emotions scream? In our marriages? At church? With a strong-willed child? An abrasive co-worker? (I do not know your situation, but God does. I’m thinking of the wife who is getting beaten up at home, or the husband who is having an affair. Ask the holy spirit if you should remain faithful despite your emotions or if you should abandon your commitments.)
Let’s push past the strong emotional pull to abandon commitments while maintaining a shallow rocky faith in an area of our lives. May we remain faithful, even when our emotions are screaming at us. Eventually, our emotions will come in line with our behavior. It is only then that we will be able to produce fruit one hundred fold.