Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Grace Based Families

I sat at the Oak Hills main campus this week for Sunday service and listened to Dr. Kimmel speak about a grace based family and knew I had to share this message with all of you.  It spoke to my heart and made me pray for God's forgiveness in my failures as a parent and offer thanks that despite my lack of grace I have an awesome family.

There are four freedoms that a grace based family provides the people they love, the first is the freedom to be different.  Yes our children will often want to do things that we don't agree with and grace is required to allow them to do things that they feel help them express themselves.  We as parents should provide guidance but not the kind that starts with outright no's with no explanation or reason.  Train a child in the way he should go doesn't mean make excuses and deprive our children of the freedom to learn from their own decisions.

Second, the freedom to be vulnerable, is one that is difficult for most of us as we want to  protect those we love and therefore stand in the gap every chance we get.  But God allows us the vulnerability of not interfering with every aspect of our lives and so too we must learn to stand back and allow those we love to experience the vulnerability of life's challenges.  Trust God to watch over them and allow them to experience life even when it makes them vulnerable.

Thirdly, be candid and speak your mind with love and grace.  Don't make excuses or create non existent biblical support for your position but rather be vulnerable and state your fears.  Your love one's will better understand your position if you tell them the truth about how you feel about what is taking place in their lives.  Our unwillingness to be vulnerable often leads to a lack of grace and decisions that are more our reality than that of the love one we are addressing.

Finally, we must be graceful in allowing our loved ones to make their mistakes without reacting unkindly.  I have messed this one up too many times with my friends, children and my lovely wife.  Oh, how this one makes me cry for forgiveness.  Our loved ones will make mistakes, yes even after we warned them not to do something and they do it anyway.  It is in this time that we must demonstrate the Grace of God, showing understanding, compassion, and love.  How can we not, given the reality that our heavenly father has provided us with his grace and forgiveness.  Yes discipline and correction are a form of God's grace, but so his forgiveness and compassion. Remember Romans 5:8, but God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.  Praise God!

These four freedoms remind us of God's willingness to give us the freedom to choose, let us do the same for those we love.  Just a little advise to go!

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Positive Choices

Sadly the more I speak to people about their challenges, the clearer it becomes that we are focused on the negative experiences of life and not on the positive.  It is too easy to let the enemy draw our attention away from God's blessings which is precisely why we must be engaged in an intimate and passionate relationship with Jesus.  He knows our needs and is more than willing to meet them, to help us rejoice, and to ensure that we have reason to celebrate rather than complain.

Ralph Marston writes about Positive Choices:

  • You can choose to be happy just as easily as you choose to be sad. The choice, no matter what the situation, is always up to you.
  • You can choose to get up and get going just as easily as you choose to sit and do nothing.  The choice to actively move your life forward is always yours to make.
  • Instead of worrying about who is to blame, focus on choosing your most positive response. Instead of letting the past get you down, make the choices that will lift you up.
  • This is your own life, so live it with your own best intentions.  Each moment gives you a new choice, so make all those choices count.
  • Sure, there are many things that are out of your control.  Yet there are still plenty of choices that enable you to live your life the way you wish to live it.
  • Choose, again and again, to live in alignment with your purpose and your highest values.  Positive choices are what create a positive, fulfilling life.
Six points that he offers to guide you towards a positive choice, throw in the Lord's Word and you now have six points to apply to how you allow God's word to influence your positive choices so that every day is one that you can choose to live in alignment with your Lord and Savior!  Just a little advice to go!

Sunday, September 8, 2013

10 Guidelines for Loving Others and Loving Oneself

Recently a resident at Haven for Hope came to speak to me about a problem he was having and during that time shared a piece of paper with 10 guidelines he used to help him love others and himself.  He was there seeking my help but instead blessed me with these guidelines to loving others that I now apply every day, I hope they will bless you as much as they have me:   

1. Listen w/o interrupting-We have all heard the saying, God gave you two ears and one mouth so you could listen twice as much as you speak.  Listen to others with intentionality and genuine care for what they have to say.  

2. Speak without accusing-Jumping to conclusions and playing the blame game is something we all fall into and have to learn to stop.  Rather than accusing, why don't we try to first find out what really happened, understand it, and focus on how we can help prevent it from happening again.

3. Give without sparing-Yes, give without always worrying about how much you owe or the bills you have to pay.  No I am not telling anyone to give it all away, just that when the Lord presents an opportunity for you to bless others, don't think about it just simply do it.  I think the Lord has a grasp on what your financial obligations are and will make sure that you have what you need.  You know like the birds and the lilies of the field. 

4. Pray without ceasing-Prayer doesn't have to start and stop, it can be a constant that happens throughout your day as situations and needs arise.  

5. Answer without arguing-Oh how we love to argue, debate and find someone to talk about rather than simply learning to respond to challenges with a great deal of love.  Yes even when someone challenges you and you know that they read into it based on what they are feeling and assuming, humility requires that we respond without creating an argument.  

6. Share without pretending-Share it freely without regret or pretending to mean it when you really don't.  What God has given us should be a blessing to others without any regret. 

7. Enjoy without complaint-We love to complain rather than take the time to rejoice about the many blessings God gives us.  For some it is not the blessing but how the blessing was delivered that becomes the problem.  They are so stuck on themselves they can't see the blessing for what it is and have to always find something to complain or second guess others about.  

8. Trust without wavering-We must trust even when things get tough and don't seem to be going our way. Anyone can trust when all goes well, the true challenge is how much we trust when things don't seem to be going our way.  

9. Forgive without punishing-Wow this one is a tough one, we have been conditioned that there has to be a consequence, a punishment when people to us wrong.  But the fact is that nothing prevents us from forgiving someone and leaving it right there.  I guess the opposite is true, when someone does wrong and action is required that results in punishment, then we are not forgiving the person but holding them accountable.  Know the difference!

10. Promise without forgetting-Never forget to honor your promises or your word.  If you make the commitment then make every effort to ensure you follow through.

Well, these will definitely help us love others the way Christ would expect us to love them and at the same time teach us how to better love ourselves.  Just a little advice to go!