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 Beauty in Your Season of Life

My eyes can’t get enough of their beauty; if I could only capture it in my mind before winter comes. Yellow, red, and gold autumn leaves have come to the mountains, but they stay only a short time. Seasons come and go; things never stay the same. But there is always beauty in the changes. We may have to look for it though and always remember it.

In the past few months our family has gone through seasons of change. The ending of the season of college years with a graduation and the beginning of a new season with a wonderful new family member through our son’s wedding. Now I move on after the celebrations and joyous memories are tucked away into photo albums.

Our lives are all full of changing seasons – new jobs, new friends, and new locations. Yet, other seasons may bring loss of a job, people, or even our home. Some seasons seem to last forever feeling stuck applying for jobs, taking care of children or a sick family member, or longing to be married instead of single. As a nation, we are going through a season of leadership changes that may affect our very lives and families. During these times, we feel like we are riding an emotional roller coaster. Joy, fear, grief, sadness, happiness, anger, peace and excitement grip our hearts.

Thankfully, each season has its own beauty, even in the darkest suffering. That beauty lies in God, the Designer and Master of all seasons – “He changes times and seasons…” Daniel 2:21. Yet, HE is NEVER changing. He does not change with the seasons but orchestrates them remaining in control and at peace.

“God who is enthroned from of old, who does not change…” Psalm 55:19

“I the LORD do not change…” Malachi 3:6

King Solomon, one of the wisest kings in history understood seasons of life:

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens:a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot,…a time to tear down and a time to build, a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance…a time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throw away…a time to be silent and a time to speak, a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace… He [God] has made everything beautiful in its time.” Ecclesiastes 3:1-11

God has made everything beautiful. Everything! How? Because He is God and He is good. He is in control of time, circumstances, kings and kingdoms.

God is All-Knowing, “Nothing in all creation is hidden from God.” Hebrews 4:13

God is All-Powerful, “All the people of the earth are nothing compared to him. He does as he pleases…among the people of the earth. No one can stop him…” Daniel 4:35

God is Love and is Faithful, “Your unfailing love, O LORD, is as vast as the heavens, your faithfulness reaches beyond the clouds.” Psalm 36:5

God is Good, “The LORD is good to everyone. He showers compassion on all his creation.” Psalm 145:9

God is Sovereign, “He is the eternal King, the unseen one who never dies; He alone is God.” 1 Timothy 1:17

God is Holy, “No one is holy like the LORD! There is no one besides you; there is no Rock like our God.” 1 Samuel 2:2

Every season comes from God for a purpose – to accept His salvation personally through His Son Jesus, to trust His word, to make Him a refuge, to rejoice in Him, to grow in faith, or to be quiet and enjoy His presence.

Do you see the beauty in your season? Look. God is there with you and will make “everything beautiful in its time”. You can trust in His loving plans and abide in His love. Through the seasons He produces beautiful fruit through our lives as believers for His glory. What fruit do you see?

 

 

Goodness Overcomes

“Good job!”  Good boy!” “You were so good today.” “She is a good person”. Goodness is shown by actions.  We know when we see a good behavior, a good word, a good response.  But how do we know what is good?  Some people call evil good, others say good is evil.

In September, a 19 year old employee at a Dairy Queen saw evil but decided to respond with good.  A blind man in line had dropped a $20 bill.  A woman behind him picked up the $20 and put it in her pocket.  Seeing her actions, the employee told her to give the money back to the blind man, but she refused, cursed and walked out. She didn’t see her actions as evil.  In fact through her selfishness she thought she was doing good – for herself.  She got a free $20 bill at the expense of a blind man’s lack of sight to see it fall.

The employee went to the blind man, sat down, apologized for the woman’s actions, and gave him $20 from his own pocket.  Thankfully, the good he did influenced someone else to do good and write a letter to Dairy Queen praising his actions.  Then another employee posted the letter on Facebook where others saw it and it became national news.

We see more and more evil around us every day, and many of us don’t even do anything about it.  When we close our eyes to evil and ignore it, we are not doing good.  Good calls out evil. Good takes action. The only way we can overcome evil is by replacing it with good.

This confusion about what is good and what is evil became a problem with the Israelites and Isaiah the prophet warned them.  He said, “What sorrow for those who say that evil is good and good is evil, that dark is light and light is dark, that bitter is sweet and sweet is bitter!…That is why the Lord’s anger burns against his people,” (Isaiah 5: 20,25)

When a culture becomes selfish and cannot see the difference between what is good and what is evil, that culture will soon die from within.  We in our culture are becoming confused.  We can’t tell when something is right or wrong, when something is good or evil.

Just two generations ago these actions would be considered evil by most people in our country:  divorce, pornography, cheating in business, homosexual marriage, laziness in providing for your family, abortion, supporting immoral and violent movies, and hatred against Christians. Yet to many they are now called good and acceptable.

Jesus taught, “A good tree can’t produce bad fruit, and a bad tree can’t produce good fruit. A tree is identified by its fruit… A good person produces good things from the treasury of a good heart, and an evil person produces evil things from the treasury of an evil heart.”  (Luke 6:33)

Those who abide in Jesus, the Vine, can’t help but produce goodness.  The goodness they produce in their lives come from the good that Jesus puts in their hearts as they follow Him and desire to obey Him.  Jesus encouraged His followers, “let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” Matthew 5:16

Goodness will always do what is right and then evil will have to flee.  As Paul wrote, “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”  Romans 12:21

Is my goodness showing in my decisions?  Am I making good choices because it is the right thing to do?  Like the employee at Dairy Queen, will you make a good decision this week for the good of someone else?  Will you and I stand up for good?

“Beloved, do not imitate evil but imitate good. Whoever does good is from God; whoever does evil has not seen God.”  3 John 1:11

“Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good.”  Romans 12:9

“The supreme test of goodness is not in the greater but in the smaller incidents of our character and practice.”  F.B Meyer

“Of all virtues and dignities of the mind, goodness is the greatest, being the character of the Deity; and without it, man is a busy, mischievous, wretched thing.”  Frances Bacon

 

 

Goodness Defined

Our family recently saw the new movie from the classic book, Les Miserables.  It doesn’t sound like a great movie. Who wants to see a movie about miserable lives?  We all know stories, perhaps our own, of miserable lives.  But the whole theme of the movie is about a changed life and how it affects other lives.  A life totally changed through God’s grace.  It is also a story about good vs. evil and the results of living a good life and one that is evil.

Throughout history we see and experience evil people who do evil things.  It is pretty easy to define evil by their actions. But how do we define good?  What does that look like? In Les Miserables we see goodness shown through grace and forgiveness when silver is stolen, mercy and financial provision for a poor child who has lost her mother and kindness to save a young man’s life from certain death. These are all good actions produced from a changed life. What is goodness?  Webster’s defines good as “a favorable character, true, honorable, commendable, kind, benevolent, loyal and right.”

God is called good.  The psalmist says of God in Psalm 119:68 “you are good and do good.”  Jesus calls himself good, “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.”  Titus 3:4-5 says, “But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us…”

The Bible gives us many examples of goodness and what it looks like.  Here are a few:

Being generous and giving to others: “They are to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share.” 1 Timothy 6:18

Overcoming evil in our lives:  “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” Romans 12:21

Loving your enemies: “Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you.” Luke 6:27

Being thankful:  “It is good to give thanks to the Lord, to sing praises to your name, O Most High.” Psalm 92:1

Being a godly wife:   “She does him good, and not harm, all the days of her life.” Proverbs 31:12

Obeying authorities and rulers in our lives:  “For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people.” 1 Peter 2:15

With a new year comes new ideals, new resolutions, a fresh start.  Every new year brings a list of things we would like to change in our lives, but real change comes from within.  The only way we can truly change is through knowing Jesus Christ and His power to change lives.

This year I want to ask myself, “do my actions show a changed life to a hurting world?” like in the movie Les Miserables? Am I showing goodness to others? What good can I do for others this week and this year?  Who needs to see the goodness of God through me?