WANTED: Courageous mothers

Growing up in the time of western movies and Zane Grey books, my mother spent hours with her brother at the movie theaters or in the living room reading – taking in the adventures of these westerners. Watching western TV shows as a child, I too was enthralled by the adventure and courage of the strong women and men ready to fight against evil and protect the good. They were firm in what they believed and basically, you just didn’t “mess with them”. Today we need Christian mothers who like these heroes, fight against evil, stand up for good and who are:  Firm, Faithful, and Good.

The mothers in my own family have shown me how to be firm, faithful, and good. My maternal great grandmother and her daughter, my grandmother, were loving, strong women, and firm in their stand for God and His Word. They were both active in mission groups and teaching Sunday school classes at church, faithfully teaching their own children to love and worship God, to do good and hate evil by their example. They prayed for their families knowing God would take care of them.

Their faithful lives influenced my own mother – another strong woman, firm in her faith in God, His Word, her Savior Jesus, prayer, and doing what is right. My sister and I were often amazed at her connection with God. She could find out anything without trying when we did wrong and instilled a deep respect for God in our lives, telling us – “I may be your mother but God is your Heavenly Father and you answer to Him.”  We also knew God’s love and forgiveness through her love for us and her love for others. Although she taught Middle School math all week, she would still give up her time on Sunday mornings to teach middle school girls in Sunday school classes. She never had time or wanted to join in the women’s gossip groups but spent her time teaching others, loving our father, encouraging her family and helping us succeed.

Today, more than ever, there is a need – a wanted poster in every community and city in our nation for courageous mothers who are Firm, Faithful and Good!

Christian mothers who love their children are firm, not spoiling them but teaching them to love God and His Word, love and respect others, and to stand up for good, speak out against evil. They do not let the culture around them or others turn them away from their faith in God and His Word even if it means ridicule or unpopularity. They are immoveable.

 “Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong. Do everything in love.” 1 Corinthians 16:13-14

Christian mothers who really love their children are faithful, taking care of their children emotionally, mentally, and physically. They are faithful to pray for their children and never give up praying. They know there is an evil enemy who wants to destroy their children and they stand as faithful guards praying for them daily.

Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving.”     Colossians  4:2

“Pray without ceasing.” 1 Thessalonians 5:17

“Rejoice in our confident hope. Be patient in trouble, and keep on praying.” Romans 12:12 

Christian mothers who love their children are good; they love good not evil. They train their children in what is good in the things they read or watch in various media, keeping evil influences away from their children that are around them in schools and neighborhoods. They show by example how to be good in taking care of the weak and giving to the poor.

Seek good, not evil, that you may live. Then the LORD God Almighty will be with you, just as you say he is.” Amos 5:14

“Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works.” Hebrews 10:24

As we celebrate Mother’s Day on Sunday, I encourage all Christian mothers and those who are like a mother to other children, to be firm, faithful, and good. Just like the western heroes, may you be an example of courage to your children – a mother who abides with Jesus who gets her strength from Him.

 

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Finding Peace in the Storms

A dark line of clouds in the distance, unusual calm outside, sudden darkness and roaring winds all alert me to what I experienced so often growing up – a possible tornado approaching.  Growing up in Alabama, part of “tornado alley”, I have a strong sense of knowing when a tornado is coming. Thankfully, I know what to do. In our schools we would have tornado drills in the hallways, and at home I knew when to run to the basement for safety. We always took the warnings seriously. Because I was prepared in knowing what to do, even though my heart pounded with some fear, I had peace.

Often we experience storms in life, some small and some with tornado force winds that bring a path of destruction. If we are not prepared we will not know what to do when they come. And they will come at some point. Our minds will become confused, our hearts will be stricken with fear and we will panic if we are not prepared.

When a sudden storm came on the Sea of Galilee, Jesus’ disciples panicked in fear:

“But soon a fierce storm came up. High waves were breaking into the boat, and it began to fill with water. Jesus was sleeping at the back of the boat with his head on a cushion. The disciples woke him up, shouting, “Teacher, don’t you care that we’re going to drown?” When Jesus woke up, he rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Silence! Be still!” Suddenly the wind stopped, and there was a great calm. Then he asked them, “Why are you afraid? Do you still have no faith?”   Mark 4:37-40

When storms come into our lives, we often do all we can to survive, then we panic, like the disciples, waiting for God to respond. Perhaps, we too become frustrated at God and ask Him, “Don’t you care?” Before we get to that point, though, there are ways to prepare for the coming storms in life so we can have peace instead of fear.

  1. Know God and read His word daily. Memorize Bible verses about His character so you can remember these when you become fearful. Keep your mind focused on God daily trusting in Him.

“You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.”  Isaiah 26:3

Know that God is good:

“Give thanks to the Lord for he is good! His faithful love endures forever.” Psalm 136:1

Know that God loves you and rejoices over you:

“For the LORD your God is living among you. He is a mighty savior. He will take delight in you with gladness. With his love, he will calm all your fears. He will rejoice over you with joyful songs.” Zephaniah 3:17

Know that God is in control:

“Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations. I will be exalted in the earth!” Psalm 46:10

  1. Make prayer to God a daily habit. Spend time talking with God and listening to Him also. Thank Him for His blessings, rejoice in His love and goodness and ask Him for your needs. Make it a habit to give him your cares and concerns.

If we haven’t been talking to God daily and rejoicing in Him at all times then we will not know His peace in difficult times. Paul wrote these words while experiencing the storm of being in prison for his faith:

“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice…do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”   Philippians 4:4-6

King David often prayed to God. He gave his fears to God then rested knowing God would take care of the storms in his life.

 “Answer me when I call to you, O God…Free me from my troubles. Have mercy on me and hear my prayer… The LORD will answer when I call to him…In peace I will lie down and sleep, for you alone, O LORD, will keep me safe.” Psalm 4:1,3,8

So are you prepared for storms? Are you in one now? Go to God in prayer and read His word daily. He DOES care. He hears and will answer. Ask Him to replace your fears with His peace. Jesus told his disciples these comforting words:

 “Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled; do not be afraid.” John 14:27

Are You Fearless for God?

Many Christians have lost everything fleeing there homes instead of giving up their faith in Jesus. They live in “tent cities” with no where to go.

 

This week, on October 31, among the “noise” of Halloween, some people celebrated the fearless act of a godly man who just couldn’t remain silent about the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Martin Luther had studied God’s Word and came to see that forgiveness and salvation, our righteousness “is by a gift of God, namely by faith.” He believed, “For by grace you have been saved through faith” (Ephesians 2:8).

This belief was not accepted by the religious people and the culture of his day. But with great courage and boldness, in 1517 Martin fearlessly nailed his 95 Theses proclaiming these truths on the door of Whittenberg Castle church. He was summoned to a trial by the Holy Roman Emperor to recant his beliefs but passionately proclaimed, “I cannot and will not recant…here I stand, I can do no other.”

Martin Luther is only one of thousands, millions, since the resurrection of Jesus Christ who have fearlessly, passionately and courageously proclaimed their faith in Jesus and God’s Word, and would not “recant” even if it meant death. These believers just couldn’t remain silent. Through torture, imprisonment, accusations, loss of homes and family – these are the persecuted who desire to obey God instead of follow the world.

In the early church, great persecution came to the followers of Jesus who wouldn’t stay silent about the One who had forgiven and loved them. It was assumed that this would be a part of their lives, as Paul wrote:

“Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life, in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.”  2 Timothy 3:12 

 Every believer in Jesus, who abides with Him, loves God’s Word, and boldly shares its truth with others will be persecuted in some way. Around the world we have seen Christians beheaded and crucified, refugees forced to leave their homes, countries and families and others who have stayed in those countries to share the love of Christ with their enemies. These are all part of the body of Christ. They feel alone and left behind by the rest of the world – even by other believers who have more of the world’s goods and more freedom. Most of them only ask for prayers or Christian materials so that they can continue to share the goods news of Jesus with others. They have truly given their whole lives to Jesus and live with a passion to tell others about their God who saved them from their sins and has given them hope. They must continue the work. They remain fearless.

I count it a privilege to be a volunteer voice for my persecuted brothers and sisters around the world through the ministry of Voice of the Martyrs. Although I may not be able to visit them and personally cry with them in prison, I can pray for them and share their stories with others. Through Voice of the Martyrs and other ministries, I can support them and their families financially sending clothing, food and Bibles.

God commands us as followers of Jesus to not forget our family who are persecuted:

“Remember those in prison, as if you were there yourself. Remember also those being mistreated, as if you felt their pain in your own bodies.”     Hebrews 13:3

This Sunday, November 6, is the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church. How will you remember them? Will you tell others their stories? Will you share them with your Bible study or church? I strongly encourage you to go to http://persecution.com and sign up for their newsletter, adopt a front-line worker to pray for, be a voice for the voiceless – remember those in prison for their faith in Jesus. And if you want someone to be a voice at your church or community group contact me. I would love to share their stories.

Many Christians meet secretly to read the Bible

Many Christians meet secretly to read the Bible.

Keep Focused!

Waking up to another morning of low dense white clouds, I could barely see past the trees in our yard; the cloud’s thickness engulfed everything in sight. Low lying, thick clouds are common in the mountains, yet driving through them on curvy roads can be dangerous. In the car, hands clinched to the steering wheel, there is a great deal of uncertainty so I focus on the white painted lines on the pavement and the red tail lights on the cars in front of me. Never knowing when the clouds will lift, I stay focused and am always relieved when I finally come out of the thickness and can see far ahead on the road in front of me.

Often in our lives, there are times when we seem to be surrounded by dense clouds. We can’t see very far, perhaps only a few feet in front of us. We become frightened, anxious, and not sure of our surroundings. It muddles our thinking and we feel lost and unsure of where we are headed. If only we could see farther ahead and make out our path.

During those times, we must stay focused. If not, we could veer off the path and go down a dark hill or get stuck somewhere- not even knowing where we are. Just like the white painted directional lines on the road, we need to fix our eyes on a clear guide. There is only one sure guide through the darkness, One who knows the right path, step by step – Jesus Christ. He said, “I am the way…” John 14:6. He is the way toward God and His love, peace, forgiveness, and wisdom for life.

Not sure of the path in front of her, Lilias Trotter (1853-1928), a brilliant and famous artist, searched and prayed for clear directions. Fixing her eyes on Jesus, she decided to put aside her art to take the message and love of Jesus to Algeria. Joyful and at peace in following Jesus’ clear path, Lilias wrote several books and tracts about her love for Jesus. In her tract, Focussed she wrote:

“It is easy to find out whether our lives are focused, and if so, where the focus lies. Where do our thoughts settle when consciousness comes back in the morning? Where do they swing back when the pressure is off during the day? …Then dare to have it out with God, and ask Him to show you whether or not all is focused on Christ and His glory…Turn full your soul’s vision to Jesus, and look and look at Him, and a strange dimness will come over all that is apart from Him.”

Inspired by Lilias’ words, Helen Lemmel wrote the hymn “Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus”:

O soul, are you weary and troubled?
No light in the darkness you see?
There’s a light for a look at the Savior,
And life more abundant and free!

Refrain:

Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face,
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,
In the light of His glory and grace.

Are you in some darkness, surrounded by thick clouds from difficulties, or perhaps wrong choices or failures? Have you lost your way not seeing the path in front of you? Then look only to Jesus. He said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” John 8:12

Let His words, God’s words, guide you through the clouds. Read God’s Word daily, clinging to its truths.

“Your word is a lamp to guide my feet and a light for my path.” Psalm 119:105

“Guide my steps by your word, so I will not be overcome by evil.” 119:133

“The LORD says, ‘I will guide you along the best pathway for your life. I will advise you and watch over you.’” Psalm 32:8

 

It’s Pretty Simple

Small house

The tiny house movement is growing. These houses are usually around 600 sq ft. Some are built on wheels. A new generation is seeing the emptiness of owning a lot of stuff and being tied to large mortgages. Tired of living a complicated life, weighed down by “stuff”, they have decided to live simply and actually enjoy life.  There is a peace in knowing how to live simply. Living with so much “stuff” has been proven to add stress and frustration instead of peace. Materialism and the collection of things don’t bring all the happiness people have wanted.

At the same time, many believers in Jesus are also looking for simplicity in knowing and walking with Him. Too many have made the Christian life so complicated! There are rules and regulations, complicated strategies, denominational territories to manage, and books and more books about how to do it all and have it all as a Christian. The simple message of Jesus Christ has been cluttered and confusing.

Amazingly this isn’t new. During Jesus’ time on earth, the religious leaders were also making the message of God’s love and forgiveness extremely complicated. But Jesus spoke profound yet simply to His followers. As the Son of God, He came to forgive their sins and give them life.  He would be their source for simply living their lives on earth for Him. He told them, “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser…you are the branches” John 15:1, 5. Pretty Simple.

God the Father is in charge and has a plan for the vineyard. Jesus is the source of life, and we who believe in Him have one purpose, to cling to the Vine, trust in the Vine. And He will produce the fruit in our lives – daily. We have made it so complicated that the world doesn’t see Jesus through us but they see us with a little Jesus sprinkled in. How do I stay connected to the Vine?  I communicate with Him moment by moment during my day and through reading His Word. God’s Word gives me direction, comfort, conviction and purpose.  I see Jesus producing fruit in my life as I stay connected to Him and what He has to say.

So this week’s blog is simple. Do you know Jesus personally? Do you spend time with Him daily in talking with Him and listening? Do you read His Word, thinking about it and memorizing it? Then expect Him to produce fruit in your life and thank Him for that fruit – love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, self-control, sharing of your faith with others. It is amazingly simple: Vinedresser.TrueVine.Branches

“I am the vine, you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.”  John 15:5

Trained for Faithful Obedience

BuzzBibby-onShip

Captain of submarines and large ships, my father-in-law, Captain Lowe Bibby III, had to be prepared at any minute to faithfully serve wherever needed, even in battle. But He didn’t get to that confident ability overnight. It took years, a lifetime of training. First, he learned and observed from his own father, also a Navy Captain. Then he studied and applied for an appointment to the Naval Academy. After four years of rigorous training, education, memorizing systems, and learning to obey orders, he graduated from the Academy. He was then assigned to serve in Korea, practicing what he had learned. With continual experience and education throughout his career he was prepared, ready and faithful to serve his country in peace time or in battle.

The key to my father-in-law’s success and service as a trained officer was in being faithful to his promise to obey orders. Whether in a submarine, on a ship, at the Pentagon, or in constantly moving from base to base with his family every 2 to 3 years, he was faithful to obey. If he didn’t obey orders it could cost the lives of men who served under him as well as his job and career.

Just like the military men and women who train and serve, Jesus’s followers more than ever need to be trained and ready to serve being faithful to obey orders at any minute. Our training begins with knowing God through His Word, memorizing, studying and applying the Words of our Commander. Then as we walk with Him in faithful obedience we are prepared for the inevitable battle which is upon us daily. Even Jesus learned this obedience as He obeyed His Father,

“I glorified You on the earth, having accomplished the work which You have given Me to do.” John 17:4 “…I have kept My Father’s commandments…” John 15:10

As followers of Jesus, abiding in Him, we need to be faithful to be at our “post” obeying and serving whenever and wherever we are needed. We may be suffering through time spent in training, or serving on the front lines in prayer, overseas in another culture, or supporting those in need. We show our faithfulness as we obey His commands, staying focused on our Commander.

Paul wrote to Timothy, “Share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No soldier gets entangled in civilian pursuits, since his aim is to please the one who enlisted him.” 2 Timothy 2:3-4

Have I been trained to know His Word and use it effectively? Am I being faithful at my “post” pleasing the One who has enlisted me? Do I give support to others who are serving? Or am I becoming “entangled” in the worldly pursuits around me and have totally forgotten that I am a soldier in a daily battle? As I abide with Jesus, thankfully, He will train me and produce the fruit of faithfulness as I “share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus.” Are you being trained and faithfully serving where you are?

Mind Control

The mind is a powerhouse of thoughts, feelings, memories and judgments influencing our daily choices. With our minds we choose words to speak, make judgments about people and situations and decide how we will act or behave. That is why I need to make daily decisions about how I feed my mind.

Too many times I let others choose what I should think, how to use my mind. My culture constantly bombards me with information. As a follower of Jesus, walking and abiding with Him and filling my mind with His truth are imperative to having a fruitful life.

The Psalmist understood this importance as he wrote:

“Oh, the joys of those who do not follow the advice of the wicked, or stand around with sinners, or join in with scoffers. But they delight in doing everything the Lord wants; day and night they think about his law. They are like trees planted along the riverbank, bearing fruit each season without fail. Their leaves never wither, and in all they do, they prosper.”   (Psalm 1:1-3 NLT)

Jesus said the greatest commandment of all is to “’…love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’” (Matthew 22:37)

How can we love the Lord our God with all our mind? By choosing what we think about. We replace the thinking of this world with His Word. It might mean turning away from a conversation, choosing what to watch or not watch on television, what books to read, what music to listen to and how much social media influences our thinking. These are hard choices when so many “voices” speak to us daily.

Paul, a follower of Jesus and highly educated man knew the importance of the mind as he told the Romans:

“Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will know what God wants you to do, and you will know how good and pleasing and perfect his will really is.” (Romans 12:2 NLT)

What am I filling my mind with today? Am I controlling my mind, thinking about God’s Word “day and night”? As I abide with Jesus and fill my mind with His words I will be like a tree that bears fruit “each season without fail.” Jesus said, “…you cannot be fruitful apart from me.” (John 15:3 NLT) I need Him to control my mind and the way I think. What are you thinking about today?

 clouds

Thinking about God’s amazing creation as I watch the evening sky.

“The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.” Psalm 19:1