Being Confident of This

Grace for the work-in-progress woman

Be a Transformer

Have you ever put off saying (or posting) something because you feared the repercussions, how it might be received?  If so, then this post is for you.  Even as I wrote it, and re-wrote it, I felt that same fear because being bold in my witness does not come naturally to me, rather it usually results from conviction of the Holy Spirit.  Thus, I have put off posting this message for too long now, and God has  convicted me that I’m not trusting in the Him, the God “who goes before me.” I have spent hours crafting the message so that it will hopefully ring true without causing a permanent loss of hearing. 🙂

So I hope that when you read it, you will consider my heart (even though some of you might hardly know me).  My heart beats for God’s people and for His truth, it yearns for us all to strive toward Christ-likeness not for the sake of personal pride or satisfaction with self, but for the sake of His glory, that His name and His Truth should be known around the world!  My heart aches for the lost, those who are searching for His Truth without even knowing it.  You can blame my parents for this since I spent a great deal of my growing up years as a missionary kid. But that’s another story for another time.   Today I want to ask you some tough questions in relation to the following verse:

do not conform

Recent conversations on Facebook and other media outlets have opened my eyes to a developing trend in Christianity today.  Being a Bible-believing, truth-defending, Christ-follower is no longer popular even in many Christian circles!

Somewhere along the line, some of us Christ-followers have become so conformed to this world that we are afraid and/or unwilling to take a stand on issues that the Bible clearly addresses.  I’m ashamed to admit that I’ve found myself in this camp before, keeping quiet because it’s just easier.  Some believers even go so far as to throw their total support behind worldly ideology, political correctness, tolerance  – whatever you want to call it – and then condemn their fellow believers for being “judgmental,” “close-minded,” or “intolerant.”

While criticism from the world is to be expected, criticism from fellow believers often surprises us!  We are not accustomed to being labeled (or  dare I say “judged”?) by those who should be our support.  How warped is it that Satan has convinced some of us that simply standing on God’s Truth is being judgmental, and is therefore wrong?

Allow me to clarify: the Bible DOES speak strongly against judging others and becoming self-righteous. We are all familiar with the words of Luke 6:41-42.

speck or plank

Only God can see, and therefore judge, the motives of the heart.  Therefore, we should not pre-occupy ourselves with the sin of others; rather we should be too busy dealing with our own sin.  However, God also calls us to be transformed by the renewing of our minds and to be bold in our witness as transformers.

Unfortunately, well-publicized, so-called “Christians” have recently taken a stand for their so-called “truth” in ways that ARE harsh and hateful, tarnishing our witness.  Furthermore, we have Christian brothers and sisters actively ridiculing others on forums such as Twitter and Facebook, adding to the world’s negative perception of us Christ-followers. While I fully support upholding God’s Truth, when we haughtily shove our beliefs in someone’s face with a sarcastic turn of phrase, a witty cartoon, or a picture that belittles others, we end up conforming to the world and looking just like it!  How can we then be salt or light to a world that is in dire need of God’s truth?

I believe Satan has seized hold of this shame over others’ behavior and used it to confuse believers (as well as the world!) and convince many of us that upholding God’s truth is wrong in and of itself, when the reality is that the fault lies in the method of delivery. We have only to study Christ’s example to see how he gently revealed truth to people, often with a single phrase or sentence, and always while caring for their needs, whether physical or spiritual.  He did not skirt sin issues, neither did he humiliate the lost.

We must follow Christ’s example in our efforts to live as transformers.  When the Bible speaks clearly on issues of right and wrong, we are called to uphold God’s Truth with – and this is the key – LOVE and RESPECT.

prepared to give an answer

The key lies in our delivery – a delivery which requires a balance between Truth and Grace, not the absence of either or both.  A total-grace perspective can lead to conformity, while a total-truth perspective can lead to self-righteous bullying .  Is it wrong to bully others into sharing our beliefs?  Yes!  Is it also wrong to be silent on issues that the Bible clearly addresses?  Yes!  Why then have we allowed the world, the Great Deceiver, and even fellow Christians to tell us that it is un-Christian-like to be a Christian? Ironic, isn’t it? 🙂

My purpose is this: consider carefully how your life and your actions or statements appear to others (especially in regards to social media).  Do they see a difference?  Are you being transformed by Christ, or are you choosing to conform to the world?  There is no middle ground!

power of risen savior

I know it is risky voicing the unpopular Biblical perspective on many current issues, but then Christ wasn’t all that popular with the worldly and falsely religious leaders of his day, either.  You may lose friends.  You may lose popularity.  You may even be judged by the very people who accuse you of “ being too judgmental!” Have the courage that Paul had when he wrote in Philippians 3:7-11:

But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith. 10 I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead.

Amen??

If at the moment you find that you’ve been conforming (and haven’t we ALL at some point or another??), remember that God’s grace is immediate and His power to provoke change in us is immeasurable.  On the other hand, if you are already actively trying to live out a transformed life, take heart. You are not alone!

I encourage you to look to God’s Word and the Word alone to form your opinions, and allow the Holy Spirit to transform your thinking.

Questions to ask  before posting or sharing a “truth” statement via social media:

  1. Is your audience one you love and one who loves you in return?  In other words, will your message be received in the manner in which it was intended?
  2. Is your message one of God’s truth rather than man’s truth?  In other words, do you have contextual biblical support  for your message?
  3. Is God leading you to share this truth at this particular time in this particular fashion?  In other words, has the prompting come from Him or do you just love your soap box? 🙂
  4. Have you achieved a balance between truth and grace?  In other words, how is your method of delivery – gentle or smug?

overcome evil for good

Telling the truth in grace and love is such a delicate balance to achieve, but as Christ’s image-bearers, we must work toward that balance!  We have amazing technology and a unique opportunity to show the world what Christ-like love truly is, so let’s allow Christ’s love to shine through us without diminishing the light of His message.  Don’t conform.  Be a transformer.

Because of His love,

Jen 🙂

You might also enjoy this post:

http://www.godspotting.net/2013/06/god-is-not-republican.html

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Peaceful Parenting (No Thanks to Pinterest)

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I’ll be honest, we’ve been experiencing some parenting problems in our home recently.  With four children, it’s bound to happen from time to time!  Our middle child is struggling socially at school since we moved last summer and has requested to home school this fall.  While I’m willing and capable of teaching him at home, we want to be certain it is the best solution for him.  We don’t want a temporary social issue to become a lifelong problem for him, so we are somewhat hesitant to let him withdraw.  On the other hand, he is highly intelligent, so perhaps being able to work at a quicker pace would allow him to better blossom and gain self-confidence.  Either choice is accompanied by both positives and negatives.

At the same time, one of our preschoolers has been demonstrating some very disrespectful behavior by grunting or growling when I attempt to correct him.  It’s basically the same thing as saying, “NO, Mom!” Part of the problem is that I wasn’t expecting such stubbornness to surface at the age of four!  What happened to my sweet two-year-old?  The one who was going to make it easy for me by skipping the terrible two’s altogether?  His new attitude feels much like a surprise attack, and I’m left floundering for some sort of defense!

We’ve tried various methods of correction: a gentle verbal reproach, a second chance to respond respectfully, some time alone to think about his behavior, even a consequence.  Although we’ve been consistently correcting his behavior, I’m often tempted to wonder if it’s really doing any good.  Continuing in our efforts to parent with Christ in mind is difficult when we are not seeing results.  What am I doing wrong?  What should I do differently?  Sometimes when we’re parenting, there is no clear right or wrong answer.

And this is where I struggle.  When I lack enough evidence or direction to declare one parenting choice as superior to another for our children and our family, I often worry that I’ll make the “wrong choice.” I can become obsessed with gathering information from various sources in an attempt to make an informed decision. Unfortunately, when I turn to parenting resources (even Christian parenting resources), I often find that they can contradict each other in the details.

In our “how-to” age, we can access a hundred different opinions or even tried-and-true techniques about any given subject.  Do you know how many different methods Pintrest lists for something basic like potty-training?  Throw a pee-pee party.  Let them go at their own pace.  Model the behavior using a peeing doll. Use a reward chart. Let them run around naked for a few days.  I even found a pin for a potty-training app!  Which one should a desperate parent choose??

peaceful parenting choice graphic

As a mother of four children (all potty-trained now, whew!), I know that all of these methods have some merit, but not a single one will work well with every child, every time.  Thus, a potential problem with looking to others for help is the tendency to see that repeatedly re-pinned, how-to post as “gospel-truth.”

As I was thinking about social media and how it has changed the way we parent, I wondered: what happened to relying on the Spirit to guide us?  What happened to prayer?  Shouldn’t it be the first on our list of things to do when parenting challenges us? I’ll be the first to admit that when I encounter a problem or challenge, I often run to other humans for wisdom first!  It’s natural to ask our peers for advice.  However, consider King Solomon’s humble request, “Give me wisdom and knowledge, that I may lead this people, for who is able to govern this great people of yours?” (2 Chron. 2:10).

You see, Solomon had some pretty big shoes to fill when taking over his father David’s kingdom.  How would you like to be next in line after the “man after God’s own heart?”  Solomon knew he lacked wisdom for leading. He also faced a huge project, the building of the temple! The temple would be a place of worship for generations to come, and the burden rested on Solomon’s shoulders.

Parenting is a little like that, isn’t it?  We know that the choices we make will affect not only our own children, but also our children’s children and even the generations to come.  Like Solomon’s task, our task is also great, for a whole world of lost people is at stake! The key is remembering who our children ultimately belong to.  Solomon recognized that He was given authority not over his OWN people, but over GOD’S people.  In the same way, as parents we’ve been entrusted with these beautiful beings, but they don’t really belong to us.  They belong to Him.  Like Solomon, we should ask Him for wisdom to lead them, His children.

Please hear me out; I’m not suggesting we exclude the advice of others. I really do enjoy Facebook, Pintrest, and other social media forums and have successfully used many ideas from other savvy moms (along with a few epic failures)! 🙂   I believe technology can be a wonderful tool for us sisters in Christ to share wisdom from the Lord. I firmly believe women are meant to teach and encourage one another in their Christ-centered living.  Titus and Timothy both address the blessings older, more experienced women have to offer to younger generations.  However, what I am suggesting is that we not forget the ultimate source of wisdom when it comes to parenting, or really anything in life – our Father God.

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In the midst of my parenting problems, I hear His voice.  Trust Me.  Ask ME for wisdom instead of asking others first. Be led by the Holy Spirit and by my WordAfter all, I am their Creator; who better to understand them and their needs, but me?  Persevere in your purposeful parenting and wait to see what happens.

I still don’t know how to best correct our four-year-old’s sudden defiance, nor do I know where our middle child will attend school this coming fall.  Both situations are works in progress. Perhaps what both require is simply more time.  However, I do know that in the midst of my uncertainty, I can trust Him.  He is in control. He knows my heart is in the right place.  He knows I want to be a peaceful parent, not one ruled by fear, or dare I even say, by Pintrest? 🙂

My sisters in Christ, if like me, you often feel confused by the wide variety of parenting styles, methods, and opinions out there, I hope today you hear His voice: trust in Me.  If you find yourself lying wide awake at night wondering, “What am I going to do with this child?!,” ask for wisdom.  And then sleep peacefully knowing that although your children have imperfect parents, they are perfectly protected in the hands of the Father.

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I’d love to hear from you, if you are willing to share!

What parenting issues are you struggling with lately?  What scriptures have you turned to for wisdom or  encouragement in parenting?

Jen 🙂

If pressure to be a perfect parent plagues you, you might enjoy:

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  You might also enjoy:

http://wegotreal.com/things-arent-always-as-they-seem/

Also linking up at:

http://abidingwoman.com/

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