Monday, May 26, 2014

OUR DAUGHTERS, Part Three: A Return to God's Glory

Imageo Dei (Image of God)
That which distinguishes man from the rest of God's creatures (Genesis 1:26)
- Concise Dictionary of  Christian Theology,  Millard J. Erickson

The second step in the goal of bringing our daughters back to wisdom and moral fortitude stems from last week's admonition to speak truth into their lives!  Our daughters are growing up in a world unlike the one we matured in and it is still changing rapidly.  Their minds are constantly bombarded with pictures and voices of the hip and cool, wealthy and successful all gained supposedly with ease and no consequences.  They are willing to do whatever it takes to ride this thrilling but temporary wave of excitement just to feel valued and significant!  That's why we must guide them back to their True Identity- Who They Are In Christ!  

It begins with understanding that they are made in His image. No matter the circumstances of their birth, they are no accident!  (Psalms 139:13-16; Jeremiah 1:5).  They bear the stamp of our Creator and should celebrate His goodness in spite of any limitations and flaws!  A Return to God's Glory Begins with Accepting WHO THEY ARE:

GOD'S SPECIAL DESIGN - custom made by God to His liking.  Their shape, height, coloring, ethnicity, personality, talents, disabilities, and flaws are exactly the way He wants them.  It is what makes them unique and unlike anyone else.  In the Old Testament when Moses questioned his speaking and leadership ability God asked him: Who gave man his mouth? Who makes him deaf  or mute? Who gives him sight or makes him blind? is it not I, the Lord? (Ex. 4:11; I Cor. 4:7)  How dare we critique God's Masterpiece when we look in the mirror and don't see what He sees! We must teach our daughters that they are designed to be different!  That if they are in Christ,  their bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, holy vessels in which only the righteous may come into and worship! (I Cor. 6:19)  Let's teach our daughters to value their bodies physically and their minds and emotions spiritually.

A RECIPIENT OF GOD'S UNIQUE PLAN - In God our daughters have a Divine Life Coach who specializes in devising strategies that will bring them into the fullness of their potential and His ordained plan for success.  Every event, circumstance, and experience develops skills needed to be exactly what He designed her to be! (Rom. 8:28-30). No need to be hating what others have achieved vocationally or economically--work on your own  I.G.P. (Individual God Plan)! Teach your daughter to accept God's plan for their lives.  They are ordained for greatness not in the eyes of the world perhaps but in God's eyes.  If what they do brings Him glory they are doing what He planned for them even before they were born! (Ephes. 2:10; Coloss. 3:23)!

ENDOWED WITH INDOMITABLE STRENGTH - The word empowerment is bantered about so loosely as if one can drink, join, or subscribe to some new age concoction for instant results!  Not so, the truth is that in Christ we have all the Power we will ever need to do what God wants you to do. (I John 4:4).  Teach your daughters not to give this Power away by allowing the emotions of anger, lust and other fleshly desires to override God's Word and common sense!  Teach them to exert this power in their voices, when NO MEANS NO and sticking to that decision! Teach them the Power to walk away from things that look good and sound right but the Spirit has already told them that it is wrong for them . (I Cor. 10:13).  THIS IS HOW WE RETURN THEM TO GOD'S GLORY, TO THEIR FIRST LOVE.  THE ONE THAT WILL NEVER LEAVE OR FORSAKE THEM!

Next Week:  OUR DAUGHTERS, Part Four: Respecting Yourself!

Sunday, May 18, 2014

OUR DAUGHTERS, Part Two: Truth Telling in a Culture of Lies

Standing Room Only- What the World is Selling!
Last week I summarized my post (#Bring Back Our Girls) with four lessons learned  from the wisdom of mothers, grandmothers, and godly mentors of young girls I've known.  As we discussed the delicate relationship between mothers and daughters, I found that paramount to keeping the dialogue open and forthcoming was this idea of transparency. Mothers simply telling their daughters the truth about life and living that truth in front of them. I use the word simply, tongue-in cheek because I know that for  mothers with spotty pasts this is hardly a simple thing to do.

How do you tell your daughters not to have sex before marriage if you've failed in this area? When is it appropriate to share information and exactly how much of your past do you reveal? These are very uncomfortable and embarrassing questions but the answer to them and others that may arise is to tell the truth!  Own up to your mistakes, share what you've learned and above all don't allow your daughters to manipulate you into condoning a practice that you know is wrong!  If it was wrong for you and you paid the painful consequences, then it's also wrong for them.

We live in a culture that is spoon feeding our children the concept of personal rights and freedom.  Although you are the one footing the bills, they tell them that they have the right to do what they please!  This is the lie of current generations and it is this lie that is enslaving the minds and hearts of our children, both sons and daughters. John 8:31-32 says that if we hold on to the teachings of Christ, we are His disciples (followers, students of His word) "then we will know the truth and the truth will set you free."  Our daughters cannot without our "truth telling" discern the difference between a lie and reality!  They are familiar with the word reality, but they confuse real life with Satan's slick perversion played out in so-called reality shows.  Even when the evidence is clearly put before them they remain oblivious to the truth! They are blinded by the Father of Lies who is now reigning in this present evil world. (2 Corin. 4:4; John 8:44; 
Ephesians 2:2).

That's why we must be honest in our conversations even when it involves our past. Let's face it, they're going to find out any way and if you've truly changed your one can condemn you not even them (Romans 8:1).  As to how much to much as necessary to help them get the point you're trying to make.  This is not True Confession time, no need to burden them with every lurid detail.  But if you're worried about losing their respect, don't! Their present experience with you is more important than your past experiences!  If you've been consistent in your love, devotion, and lifestyle before the disclosure this won't destroy their confidence in you. you hear that?  Another lie is being whispered in the ear of our daughters!  You're not pretty enough, so do what it takes to be popular says one liar.  Don't appear too smart or you won't have any friends, says another.  Go ahead, send that picture to him, nobody will see it? You've already messed up,  so you might as well give them what they want!  When will the lies stop?  Not until we earn the right to be heard first and show all the liars up for who they really are!  We can't do that being a hypocrite or setting standards for our daughters higher than we are willing to set for ourselves.  Forget about that "do what I say and not what I do" logic!

Tell your daughters the truth about life!  Tell them the truth about yourself! But most important, tell them the truth about THEMSELVES!   Check out next week's blog: Our Daughters, Part Three: Return to God's Glory

Monday, May 12, 2014

#BRING BACK OUR GIRLS: Every Christian Woman's Duty!

The Cry Heard Around the World
A familiar cry, plea, and now growing global mantra screams from my television, Bring back our Girls!  You've heard it too!  The global outrage regarding the kidnapping of 276 girls from a school in Nigeria nearly a month ago by Islamic terrorists.  Little was done until the women of this country protested and forced their government under the eyes of international scrutiny. My heart aches for those parents but especially the mothers who know too well  the million ways a woman can suffer and be exploited at the hands of the unmerciful.

Having just celebrated Mother's Day in this country, this tragedy has me thinking about the complicated relationship that exist between mothers and daughters and how important it is that we bring back our own daughters! Bring them back to practical wisdom, godly instruction, and moral fortitude. It's not really that big of a stretch actually and perhaps these women are giving us the boost we need!

Something happens to our precious girls as they begin to mature and try to find their own identity. An incredible bond still remains between mother and daughter but it is tested by emotional fire at every turn.  Sacrifices are made to give our daughters the very best; to educate them and prepare them for worldly prosperity.  But we forget how vulnerable they are even in an assumed protected environment.  It wasn't intentional but only when we witnessed the increasing devaluing of women that exist in Nigeria, and other countries including our own do we heed this wake up call!

I've seen this in my own life and in the lives of women close to me. The emotional cycle goes from emulation (admiring and wanting to be just like their mother) to distancing themselves from everything that remotely reminds you of her. From a daughter's perspective it feels like suffocation when a mother fiercely tries to protect her child from all the upheavals of life even resulting to alienation when the fights over what to wear and who she is allowed to see causes a daughter to shut her mother completely out of her life.  But  Moms you can't give up!   The last stage is appreciation and it's worth waiting for.

Our daughters need us!  They don't know it, can't believe it and will constantly reject our constant efforts to lead them, but like those Nigerian women we've got to do everything we can to bring them back to God's glory. How so? You may ask of a woman who has only sons.  Let  me tell you what I've learned from God's word and the wisdom of many Christian sisters, some who've never birthed a child but have poured seeds of righteousness in other women's daughters:

1.  Tell them the truth. Avoid sugar coating or glossing over the facts of life.  This world is dangerous and will only continue to become so.  They don't need to be blindsided.  (2 Tim. 3:1-9)

2.  Help them find their identity in Christ.  They are a Masterpiece (Ephes. 2:10; Romans 12:1-2)

3. Show mutual respect.  Our daughters are not our possessions.  They are gifts from the Lord and like any gift they won't always suit our taste or preference. (Coloss. 3:21; Psalms 127:3)

4.  Practice unconditional love ALWAYS. They WILL disappoint us some time but let's not burn our spiritual bridges. It may be their only way back from a dark past.  (Rom. 5:8, I John 4:16)  


Sunday, May 4, 2014

The Secret

Growing up poor, it was natural to have a chronic case of the I wants!  There never seemed to be enough of the essentials of life, let alone luxury items.  Every magazine, television program, and newspaper ad I saw reminded me of what I didn't have.  Yet, God taught me over the years through life experiences--good and bad--that contentment is not in what you have but in Who you have!  That's what Christ was saying in Luke 12:15-21 in the Parable  of The Rich Fool.  It was what the Apostle Paul meant when he wrote from his jail cell, I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances (Philippians 4:11).

Your possessions do not define who you are!  Neither can your job, credentials nor popularity among peers give you true contentment.  This comes only from the realization that within every child of God a tremendous Power is constantly at work.  A Power that brings great gains of spiritual value (I Timothy 6:6-8).  One has to look no further than the trendy reality shows aired weekly to see the error of this worldly thinking.   You can be a rich housewife in Atlanta, New York, or Orange County, it really makes no difference; wealth and status does not make those palatial homes places of harmony or happiness!

The secret of a life of contentment is the unleashing of the Holy Spirit, the power of Christ living inside of you.  With this power you can take the disappointments in life, the losses that tend to devastate even those who appear so strong, because your strength comes from a supernatural Source, the Lord (2 Corinthians 12:9-10). You have a spiritual reserve tank ready to be tapped into when everyone else thinks you're all tapped out!

Let me challenge you to re-think your current situation.  Have you been complaining, scheming, and struggling with that gnawing feeling of discontentment?  Ask God to take it away right now! Trust Him not only for today's needs but for all your tomorrows!  Instead of grumbling, praise Him for Who He is and what He is already doing in your life. He is waiting not only to meet every need but even some of your desires (Psalms 37:4). Learn the secret of contentment, a Spirit-filled life grounded in Christ!