22 Days of Praying for our Sons {Day 6}

Proverbs2_6

This is day 6 of a 22 day prayer walk through Proverbs 2. Praying for our sons {and daughters if you have them} and getting out of the way. If you want to start from the beginning, go here.

Today… let’s keep it simple.

Let’s pray for our sons to learn what the voice of God sounds like.

There are and will be many voices competing and attempting to drown out the voice of the Divine. However our God is a God of volume and wants to be heard and recognized.

My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. {John 10:27}

We all have these tapes playing in our heads from our pasts. Things we believe about ourselves that keep us from walking in the freedom Christ set us free to live. Things that keep us from knowing the magnificence of God. As a parent, I have caught myself far too many times praying what I just said doesn’t become one of those tapes for my sons.

Let’s pray. Because this is a broken world and they will hear and believe things about themselves and God that are not accurate. And yes…at times they will hear them from well intentioned people who love them. Including their parents.

Let’s pray our kids will know what God’s voice sounds like. What things said are of Him and what are not. Let us pray they will grow in their intimate knowledge of God based on His infallible word. That they would know and understand His character and choose to follow that sacred voice.

Amen?

22 Days of Praying for our Sons {Day 5}

Proverbs2_5

There are several kinds of fear.

The fear that paralyzes you and keeps you from doing anything. Like the dream you have when you want to scream but no sound comes out of your mouth. Or the situations in life that require you to move but you just can’t because you are so afraid to do anything. This kind of fear causes you to shrink back and operate in ways that keep you from the fullness of all God has for you because you are too afraid to make a mistake or have things turn out wrong.

There is also the kind of fear that is exhilarating. A roller coaster that you know will turn your stomach upside down. Jumping off a cliff or a bridge into an expanse of water when you know the way down is quick and fierce but once your toes hit the water it will be refreshing and you will feel the satisfaction of being brave.

The fear God talks about several times in Psalms and Proverbs is a a different kind of fear. It’s a holy and reverent fear that indicates an awareness of God and his magnificence. So different than anything we humans can fully wrap our minds around. At times the other kinds of fear blend into our fear of the Lord and dilute our faith. We want to please Him and walk in His ways, but we don’t know Him in that really intimate way that moves us to step forward and trust Him for the outcome.

We want our sons to fear God. We want them to see Him like Aslan from The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe: “He is not safe, but He is good.” What we want to pray for our sons today is to draw near and jump into a life with Him… knowing He will be refreshing and satisfy the desires of our hearts.Becoming aware of who God is and who He is not. Fearing Him… starting with awe and wonder leads to an ignited desire to know Him…be close to Him…trust Him… follow Him and serve Him.

Let’s pray for our sons today…

That they would be aware of who God is:

He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him.” {Colossians 1:15-16}

Let’s pray against the fear this broken world tends to impart on our boys, in the name of Jesus. Let’s pray the correct fear… the fear of the Lord gives them a spirit of courage that is full of the power of Christ, the love of a Savior and the self-control required to live a godly life:

“For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control. {2 Timothy 1:7}

For those of us who have boys who struggle with fear and anxiety, let’s pray for God to deliver them:

“There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear.” {1 John 4:8}

“I sought the Lord, and he answered me and delivered me from all my fears.” {Psalm 34:4}

Let’s pray our sons would know how to run to Jesus themselves… they would go to the source of all comfort and courage when they are faced with fear:

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” {Philippians 4:6}

“When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I shall not be afraid. What can flesh do to me?” {Psalm 56:3-4}

Let’s pray for an awareness of God that will draw them in like a really good roller coaster or a daring adventure… that they will see God this way as not someone holding them back but the One who has a plan for their lives, one that is good, hopeful and full of adventure when it comes to following Him by faith and serving Him wholeheartedly.

So be it.

22 Days of Praying for our Sons {Day 4}

How lovely is Jesus?

Proverbs2_4

I have to admit, every once in a while I have a freak out/sad moment when I see what my boys are valuing. What they think is funny, what they want to listen to, watch or be around. Then I remember when I was their age, I was a lot worse. When I was their age, I didn’t have an understand of the gospel, I didn’t have a constant flow of Jesus coming into my life and when I did… it was unbeknownst to me.

Lately, I have been moved to pray for my boys specifically that Jesus would become more lovely to them than anything else. The best way to fight against temptation is when Jesus is more beautiful than our idols and grace overwhelms us more than the things of this world that make us feel good for just a little while.

Today… let’s pray the Spirit of God quickens the hearts of our boys to seek Him and treasure Him as though there is nothing more valuable.

 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. {Matthew 6:21}

Let’s pray so when their faith is tested, it will become more and more genuine and will result in praise, honor and glory to God. It’s true… life gets harder in a lot of ways as we get older. As our kids get bigger, our concerns for them are also bigger. But God… He can increase their faith and make them stronger through these things.

“In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, {1 Peter 1:6-8}

Let’s pray for our boys to see Jesus as the most treasured and valuable element of their whole being. So much so that they become people who are marked by joy that is inexpressible and point others to Jesus.

“The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.” {Matthew 13:44}

I am compelled to ask the question today… as a praying parent, where is your treasure? Let’s spend a few moments today reflecting on how lovely Jesus is, shall we?

22 Days of Praying for our Sons {Day 3}

Today in our twenty-two day journey of praying for our sons we focus on Proverbs 2:3. If you are wondering what we are doing and why, you can go back to day one and catch up or just begin here as the Spirit leads you.

Proverbs2_3

A few days ago I was alone in my car after having just experienced something very frustrating. I am part of what is referred to as the sandwich generation: someone raising kids and caring for ailing parents at the same time. The way things are here at times, I consider it more of a panini. Hard pressed on every side with the heat turned up so high you think you might actually melt and everything is just going to ooze out of you.

Back to being alone in my car… that day, I started crying so hard and was so upset started y e l l i n g at God. I voiced my disappointment in Him, in the situation and how I just want it to end. I was honest. I was mad and I was raw. By the end, I was begging God to show me the right thing to do and how to go about it.

God can handle our feelings. The good, the bad and the really ugly.  When we can be honest with ourselves and God, He has the ability to show us the depths of our hearts and how He is working in us and through us. He is the author and perfecter of our faith and he knows every thought before we can even think them.

“O Lord, you have searched me and known me!
   You know when I sit down and when I rise up;
    you discern my thoughts from afar.
  You search out my path and my lying down
    and are acquainted with all my ways.
  Even before a word is on my tongue,
    behold, O Lord, you know it altogether.”

{Psalm 139:1-4}

Today let’s pray for our sons, that their intimacy with God would grow so deep they would unafraid of approaching the throne of grace as they are, with all their emotions, thoughts, doubts and concerns so they will gain fuller confidence in God’s love and acceptance of them.

“Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.                        Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”

{Hebrews 4:14-16}

Let’s pray that in the presence of God they would know and sense the grace of God that is given to them for the forgiveness of their sins.

Let’s pray when they fail (not if), when they are stuck, when they don’t know what to do… they would run to Jesus.

These first few verses of Proverbs 2 indicate wisdom is something to be sought after. Let’s lead by example and call out for insight and raise our voice for understand as though our lives and the well being of our sons depend on it. Do not shrink back.

Now to him who is able to do abundantly more than we can ask or imagine, the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.

 

 

22 Days of Praying for Our Sons {Day 2}

Photo Credit: Jake Stimpson via Creative Commons

Photo Credit: Jake Stimpson via Creative Commons

We are on day 2 of praying through Proverbs 2, verse by verse for our sons. If you missed day one, you can go here.

Several years ago, I attended a women’s Bible study that was life changing. Not only did the content of Beth Moore’s Patriarchs transformed my perspective of God, it also ignited in me a passion for His Word. That’s when I began to approach the scriptures each time with a little prayer asking the author and perfecter of the Word and my faith, to give me insight and understanding to His words. God wants to make sense to us and He wants us to understand his words and receive His wisdom. Sure, there are mysteries about God and things we will never have crystal clear understanding of this side of Heaven. But as He always pursues us and promises to be with us, He also wants to draw us into Himself.

Today let’s give thanks to the One who is able to open our sons ears, hearts and minds to understanding.

In the name of Jesus, Let’s pray against the things that fill our boys ears and minds that distract and drown out the voice of God. And while we’re at it… let’s pray the same for ourselves so we can hear God direct us in the raising up of these young men.

“The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man listens to advice.” {Proverbs 12:15}

Many people shy away from the Bible because they think it’s so hard to understand. The Spirit was given to us in order to light our way and give us understanding. Let’s pray for this. Let’s pray God will surround our sons with friends and mentors who will give them godly advice and wisdom and that our sons would be those people to others as well.

“The unfolding of your words gives light; it imparts understanding to the simple.” {Psalm 119:130}

Our boys are have a depth to their hearts only God will ever truly know. We can pray through these deep waters and ask God to reveal their hearts to themselves… convicting them of sin and raising their God given dreams and purposes to the surface so they can live them out as men who know, listen and understand the wisdom of God.

“The purpose in a man’s heart is like deep water, but a man of understanding will draw it out.” {Proverbs 20:5}

Throughout their lives they will gain knowledge, skills, and will soak in an unfathomable amount of information. Let’s pray with all of this, they will be able to decipher what is of God, and what is not, and that ultimately they will trust Him and not just what they know and see in the natural.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.” {Proverbs 3:5}

There is nothing too big for the Lord, no problem, no crisis, no heart ache. Whatever our boys are going through, be it a move across the country leaving all their friends and family they have known and loved their whole lives. Or depression, anxiety, fear of the future, brokenness over divorce, abandonment, or the death of a parent or loved one… God is in all of it. Let’s pray for our boys in whatever they are facing and will face in the future, the would know God is in it, they would see Him, seek Him and make their ears attentive and that God would incline their hearts to understanding.

“Think over what I say, for the Lord will give you understanding in everything.” {2 Timothy 2:17}

Amen

What would you add to these prayers?

22 Days of Praying for our Sons {Day 1}

Our family is in a big time of transition and adding to that, my two big boys are going through their own stuff as one enters high school this fall and the other enters middle school. Here we are, at the beginning of doing this parenting teens four times and let me tell you… I am well aware of my inadequacy as a parent and the need for the Spirit to lead me in shepherding these young men towards Jesus.

I was reading through Proverbs 2 and was moved to pray through each verse diligently for each of my sons because every word is packed with power and truth for what they will need their whole lives. These things are more effective, encouraging and hopeful when done in the context of community, so I want to invite you in to pray for 22 days these prayers for our boys. If you have girls, of course you are welcome to join in, but since I’m a boy mama some of these prayers may be geared specifically to them and the challenges that may (or may not) be unique to them.

The idea is to focus on the specific precepts, promises, commands, etc. discussed in each verse for one day. Use these prayer points to spur on your own prayers and let’s go to the mat for our kids together. As you are reminded throughout the day, continue to focus on these particular prayers and offer them up to the Lord.

I can’t promise I will post every day consistently because well… I’m moving across the country in about 2 weeks, so bear with me as we start.

Today we start with Proverbs 2:1:

Proverbs2_1

 

Spirit lead…

There is no better way to know and fall in love with God but by simply getting to know his nature, his character and how he deals with his people with grace and love.  This is all found in the word of God. My kids have grown up in the church so they have heard it, memorized all kinds of verses and are familiar with many of the great stories found in the Bible.

Hearing and receiving are two different things. Receiving means to take into one’s possession, to hold, bear or contain, to take into mind and apprehend mentally. In other words, we begin by hearing and then it becomes a part of who we are.

We can flood our kids with the scriptures… and that’s a good idea… but let’s pray it becomes a part of them so it flows out of them. One thing I’ve noticed with my boys is “garbage in, garbage out.” What they take in is what comes out of them. So let’s pray against the junk they are exposed to in the world and pray them towards the word of God.

“Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God.” {Colossians 3:16}
The word of God is truth laced in narratives, poetic wisdom and letters that tell us about Jesus and how to live in light of him. His commandments which are often seen simply as rules are to be received so we can live, love and enjoy life in the best ways according to His will. Let’s pray that our sons wouldn’t see the commandments as rules, restrictions or anything meant to confine them… let us pray they will receive them as keys to living free as Christ has set them free by the washing of his blood and brokenness of His body.
For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. {Matthew 6:21}
Let’s pray these words and commandments would be seen and received as treasure… like the finest gold or more than anything they currently value most (the best basketball shoes, a million different Stance socks, the best Nerf gun…). Where their treasure is… there will be their hearts.
Let us pray their hearts will be rooted, grounded and filled with the treasure of the Word.
 
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God.  All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” {John 1:1-5}
So be it.

Ears to Hear

Exodus 6:6-9:

Say therefore to the people of Israel, ‘I am the LORD and I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, and I will deliver you from slavery to them, and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great acts of judgment. I will take you to be my people, and I will be your God, and you shall know that I am the LORD your God, who has brought you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians. I will bring you into the land that I swore to give to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob. I will give it to you for a possession. I am the LORD.’” Moses spoke thus to the people of Israel, but they did not listen to Moses, because of their broken spirit and harsh slavery.

The Great I AM proclaims who He is and how He scoops up His people out of slavery and makes them his own. He does this with us all the time. He rescues us out of our trespasses and breathes life into our dead souls with the love of a Father who is willing to give ANYTHING for the life of His own.  He continuously wants to bring us out from under the burdens of all that shackles us to enjoy Him and run wild and free in the best of ways, knowing we are his.

Moses takes these words and speaks them with confidence because He heard them first hand from the LORD Himself.

But the people couldn’t hear it.

They may have heard, but it didn’t sink in. Nothing changed for them in that moment. Discouraged from all those years of laying brick after brick. The day in and day out of dealing with the same problems and the same harshness of the world they were in, left them broken shells of the people they were intended to be.

But God… He never loses hope for the people we are intended to become because while you and I are wallowing in whatever it is we are wallowing in, He doesn’t stop working. He doesn’t stop taking ALL these things and working them together for our good. He doesn’t want to stop redeeming and reclaiming what was meant for evil and using it for good. The best thing about Exodus 6 is that even after the people don’t listen and Moses whines a bit about it, God keeps going. He tells Moses, ‘It doesn’t matter how the people respond or how Pharaoh responds. You just keep on doing what I tell you to do and I will make it happen. I have a plan and nothing can stop me!’ {Okay, I paraphrased that a bit, but you get the point}

This is the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and He is also the God of Joseph who can take a life thrown into the pit of slavery and make it second only to the king with the authority to save an entire nation and reconcile with the family who betrayed him in the first place. This is the God of you and I, who doesn’t let anything thwart His good plans, so how much of Him do we miss out on because we focus too much on what we think is getting in the way of progress? How much have I missed because I couldn’t hear? How much have I missed out on the daily grace of God because I have been leaning on my own understanding, enslaved to fear, enslaved to anxiety, enslaved to my own need for control and order and the brokenness from disappointment that causes me not to listen?

I want to be a better listener which means that when we read what it says in passages like the one above, we listen to what God says and we leave it at that.  We don’t look for what we want to hear that will make us feel good immediately but we look for what God speaks about Himself and rest. I want to listen to these God breathed proclamations that tell me WHO He is and what He has already done and take Him at His word. Then when I’m worried about this, that and the other thing and all the uncertainties of the next few months, I want to go back to what I have resolved… He has gone before me and is taking me forward to what has already been established for me.

He speaks. We listen. We walk forward. And we wait.

Repeat.

6168933212_e16fcdc0dd_z

Trippin’ on Friday

{This post contains affiliate links}

My friend Linda gave me the best gift this year. New Morning Mercies by Paul David Tripp has been a much needed, gospel centered companion this year. In fact, she gave the book to me but Steve and I arm wrestle for it every day.

Here is an excerpt from today’s reading:

“So many Christians load onto their shoulders a burden that they do not have to bear. They get up every morning and pick up the heavy load of trying somehow, some way to achieve something with God. They work hard to exercise what they do not have in hopes that they can achieve what is impossible. It simply cannot work. So where does it lead? It leads either to the scary pride of self-righteousness – a culture of moralistic self-backslappers, who have no problem judging those who have not achieved the level of righteousness they think that they have – or to fear and discouragement – a culture of people who don’t run to God with their sin because they’re afraid of him.”

What do you think of this?

When I read things like this, my mind immediately goes to all the legalistic people that drive me crazy. I am less inclined to see how it actually relates to me and how I measure my own value by “how I’m doing.” Ouch.

Here’s how he ends it:

“So stop trying to measure up to get whatever from God. Stop hiding from him when you mess up. Stop comparing yourself to other people, wondering if God loves you less because you’re not as “good” as them. Stop naming the good things you do as righteousness that not only gets you closer to God, but also proves to others that you are. Just stop asking the law to do what only grace can achieve, and start resting in the fact that you don’t have any moral bills due because Jesus paid them all on the cross. And when you sin, don’t pretend you didn’t, don’t panic, and don’t hide. Run to Jesus and receive mercy in your time of need, the kind of mercy he paid for you to have.”

How do you measure yourself? Is it with the measuring stick of grace or the law? Or comparison to those around you?

Do you know how beloved you are – just as you are?

 

 

Preaching to Myself

IMG_7816

“For as the rain and snow come down from heaven and do not return there but water the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.” {Isaiah 55:10-11}

Life continues to press on in ways that seem impossible to overcome by human standards. The rebuilding of a broken church, reconciling fractured relationships, care for an aging and disabled parent, raising up 4 young boys into men. I can’t do it on my own.

Maybe that’s what this season has been about for me. A recognition once again and a real deep and visceral understanding that I am not in control and I do not have the power to change circumstances to the way they ought to be.

If I’m completely honest, doubt has been a companion of mine for the last year. Although I have never felt the absence of God, there have been times where I have wondered if what He promises is just for other people and not really for me. Or if the the promises of God that are eternal in nature are really just that. That the verses following the one above that speak of “going out with joy and being led forth in peace” are only for the days of leaving this earth and entering into the full on presence of God. Not for now, but later.

Jesus promised that in this world we would have tribulation and suffering and when I read the news about two seven point something earthquakes within a week in Nepal or pray for my friend, a mother of two precious girls and an adoring husband, who faces a potentially difficult diagnosis, I feel like a big baby. My trials are different than theirs but they are for my own good as much as shaking earth and uncontrollable disease is for their good. The “all things” that God works together for the good of those who love him and are called according to his purposes are different for each one of us. We each have to face our own “all things” and know that there is purpose and according to Isaiah, the way God deals with his people is that his word, the things God has said, all of his promises are for the success of those whom he sent it. Maybe not worldly success, definitely not in a prosperity gospel kind of way, but maybe the success that looks like faith refined in fire and steadfast assurance that this is not my home so why should I even try to be comfortable here.

Rain and snow are beautiful elements to behold especially in Southern California when they rarely present a threat but actually are welcomed in the midst of a drought. But what if we looked at rain and snow as not literal but figurative elements that come into our lives, lock us in and dampen our days and yet we stand firm in the belief they are here to bring forth and sprout the things of God that will bear fruit in our lives. Fruit that creates more seeds to be sown and bread to not just be provided with but enjoyed.

See it’s in these times of uncertainty when doubt is my companion that I must, that we must recognize how we are feeling but understand that the word of God goes deeper and lasts longer than any feeling we have and that it does not change. Even if it feels that I am neck deep in this dirt and my nails have become black in search of the seeds God is sowing in my life.

“In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” {John 1:1-5}

The written word and the person who is the word…none of it or him starts empty neither is it returned empty. So when these truths feel vacant or we are worried they might be… we just can’t. Because they are not.

The light shines in the darkness of doubt and the impossible and behold… just stop what you are doing look and hold on…He has already overcome all of it.

So be it.

Not Me But We

fruit

This morning’s She Reads Truth reading directed us to the Great Commission found in Matthew 28:16-20 and Mark 16:14-20.

The writer told a lovely story of following an impression from the Holy Spirit to tell a stranger standing in line with her at Starbucks about God’s love for him. Her response to the word “Go” was immediate, obedient and didn’t take into account any discipleship programs, how long she should spend meeting with him or what the outcome would be.

We often look at these passages and think they are for people who have more time on their hands, who have been following Christ for years, who have a wider breadth of knowledge than we do…yada, yada, yada. Or we get tripped up by what “discipleship” should look like and think we need to make certain scheduling commitments, ask our pastors for permission and again… yada, yada, yada.

The passage was an account of Jesus’ words to the disciples. All of the disciples together – not just one.

It still speaks to today to all of us as a collective. Not just me, but we.

What if we looked at the passage and decided, this is our calling?

To go and make disciples of all nations,baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that has been taught to us?  And what if we realized we are not responsible for every part of it but maybe just a piece of it?

What if we recognized this is how we are to live and just did the next right thing?

Even Paul said in 1 Corinthians 3:6 that his job has been planting, Apollos watered, but it is God who makes things grow. Paul had a part, Apollos had a part and you and I each have our own part today to fulfill God’s great purpose for our lives here on Earth. To go… and tell someone how He loves, how He saves, how He sees, how He knows.

Not you, but we. Not me, but we.

What is your part today?