Saturday, September 11, 2021

Family Trio: Triplets of Parenting

 



Today more than ever before, our children are under attack of their physical health because of the COVID-19 pandemic as they return to school, and their spiritual health because of wickedness in high places, as we would expect in these End Times. Thankfully, God's Word provides much valuable instruction for parents to protect their children from these onslaughts.
 
In its simplest form, the family as God designed it is a trio consisting of mother, father, and child, reflecting His Triune nature. Not surprisingly, advice in His Word about parenting also occurs in patterns of three.

God urges parents to remind themselves, their children, and their grandchildren of His faithfulness by remembering all His wonderful works. Hearing God’s Word leads us to fear Him, to live long and abundantly, and to teach our children to do the same (Deuteronomy 4:9-10).

The fear His Word instills in us and in our offspring is respect for His power, which is the beginning of wisdom, knowledge, and understanding (Job 28:28; Psalm 111:10; Proverbs 1:7; 9:10; 15:33). That fear of the Lord is a treasure giving us stability in changing and challenging times and the strength of our salvation (Isaiah 33:6). When we and our children fear the Lord, His Spirit will rest upon us, giving us the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, [and] the spirit of knowledge (Isaiah 11:2).

Parents are to love God with our whole being -- with all our heart, soul and strength – and to teach our child to love God and His Word as part of our daily routine. We are to teach our child diligently, no matter whether we are at home or away from home, and at all times, whether getting up in the morning or going to bed at night. Our whole body should keep His Word, including our heart, hands, and eyes (Deuteronomy 6:5-7; 11:18), to help keep us from sin (Psalm 119:11).

Teaching our children about God and His Word is primarily the responsibility of the parents, not that of the school or even the church. However, families that attend a Bible-believing church that begins teaching Scripture at an early age will have their own teaching reinforced. As the saying goes, “Teach your child to love God, or the world will teach him not to.” God commands the father to make His truth known to the children (Isaiah 38:19).

If parents use God’s Word to illuminate our path (Psalm 119:105), it will lead us to follow His commandments, statutes, and judgments (Deuteronomy 7:11). We are not only to hear His Word, but to study it and do what it says (Deuteronomy 7:12; James 1:22). If we do this, He will love, bless and multiply us, blessing our children, our harvest, and our livestock. He will provide bountifully for all of us with corn, wine and oil (Deuteronomy 7:13).

If we trust Christ, our children are more likely to follow our example and be saved. Parents who are born again (John 3:3-8) by realizing we are sinners in need of a Savior, and by our belief in the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus (1 Corinthians 15:1-4) as the only Way to Heaven (John 14:6) are living proof of faith.

Timothy’s faith was a legacy passed down through three generations, from his grandmother Lois to his mother Eunice, and then to Timothy. Even though Timothy had to trust God through his own faith, the Godly atmosphere in which he grew up made that more likely by leading and strengthening him and encouraging him to grow spiritually (2 Timothy 3:15).

If we are saved, we set a good example for our children to follow. In his sermon at Pentecost, Peter promised salvation to whomever the Lord would call -- his listeners, their children, and even those far away (Acts 2:39).

Zacchaeus, the dishonest tax collector sought out by Jesus, hurried to comply with Jesus’ wish to visit him, came down from his perch high in the tree (swallowed his pride), and received Jesus joyfully. As a result, Jesus said that salvation had come to his house (Luke 19:5-10).

Once the father is saved, his children are more likely to observe, emulate and internalize that faith, although it is no guarantee they will be saved. Each child must come to his own repentance of sin, need of a Savior, and spiritual rebirth. God is the perfect Parent, and yet Adam and Eve disobeyed Him (Genesis 3:6). (In this case, the family trio was not two parents and one child, but One Father and two children).

God had clearly told them what they could do (eat the fruit of every tree but one), what they must not do (eat the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil), and what would happen if they disobeyed (they would die). (Genesis 2:16-17). This is the perfect example of stating expectations, setting limits, and warning about expected outcomes that we should follow with our children.

In today’s society, there seems to be a trend for parents to want to be their child’s peer, buddy, or playmate, rather than the one in authority. This is clearly not Biblical. Children are to honor (respect and obey) their father and mother, because God has commanded it; because it will lengthen their life; and because they will fare better in life (Deuteronomy 5:16; Exodus 20:12; Ephesians 6:2-3, etc.).

So let us be parents, and not chums, by disciplining our children in love when needed, just as our Heavenly Father does (Hebrews 12:6). It is not loving to avoid physical discipline when it is needed to protect them (Proverbs 13:24). Discipline should never be done in anger, but to encourage children in the nurture (loving care) and admonition (warning against evil) of the Lord (Colossians 3:20-21; Ephesians 6:4).

May we pray for our children as Jesus Himself prayed for us (John 17). He identifies us as God’s children because we receive the words which Jesus (through His Word and His Spirit) gave us, we know that Jesus came from the Father, and we believe that God the Father sent Jesus the Son to this earth to save us (v. 8). We belong to the Father, and we belong to Jesus, and He is glorified in us (v. 9-10). Jesus prayed that we would be kept in the Father’s Name, that the Father would keep us from the evil in the world, and that the Father would sanctify us through His truth (v. 11,15,17).

May we pray this prayer for ourselves, for our children, and for generations to follow, anticipating great blessings, as we shall see next week!


© 2014 Laurie Collett
Revised and reposted from the archives
children's ministry blogs

Saturday, September 4, 2021

God Notices Your Labor!

 


Photo by Fulton St_4039 2013

As we in the United States celebrate Labor Day this weekend, many may be in less than a joyful mood due to financial worries. For those looking for work, the long weekend may be no different from other days, and just a painful reminder that they are unemployed. Those affected by the terrible storm may have not been able to go to their workplace, yet may have been laboring intensely to clean up and repair their homes and businesses. 
 
Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, how and where we work, and even how we serve God, has changed dramatically for many. Yet those who are still working are blessed by God's provision, for many are out of work altogether.

Many are working to make ends meet at a job that does not meet their expectations or qualifications. Others find that their job responsibilities have grown because fewer people are hired, but their pay stays the same or even decreases. Even worse, it often seems that our employers, coworkers or clients don’t notice our hard work or appreciate the good job we do.

But God always notices! He knows our hearts (Psalm 139:23), and He can tell whether we’re working in joyful service because of how He has blessed us beyond measure (Ephesians 3:16; Philippians 4:19), or whether we’re going through the motions grudgingly, doing the minimum we need to do to get by.

By forgiving our sin debt (Romans 4:7; Ephesians 1:7), by giving His only begotten Son to die for our sins, and by giving eternal life to all those who repent and believe that Jesus rose from the dead (John 3:16; 1 Corinthians 15:1-4), God has blessed us far beyond what we could ever imagine.

And yet, He delights in heaping blessings on us even beyond that, and in great abundance (John 10:10; Luke 12:32; James 1:17). This gives us reason to find joy in all circumstances (Philippians 4:4) and to give thanks for everything (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18), even if our sin nature feels we have reason to complain rather than to be thankful (Deuteronomy 28:47-48).

For every task we do at work or at home, no matter how menial or insignificant it seems, there is a reason to find joy in it and give thanks for it. If we are washing our dirty dishes, we can be thankful for the good meal we ate, the family who shared it, and for running water.

If we’re losing patience because of customers’ endless complaints, we can be thankful that there are customers so that we have a job, and we can rejoice in the opportunity to bring them satisfaction and peace rather than anger (Matthew 5:9). In whatever situation we find ourselves, we can thank God by putting our whole heart, soul and might into glorifying Him, making each moment of our life a living prayer to Him. He will always remember and reward us for our service and worship even when no one else notices (Matthew 25:21-23).

Colossians 3:17 And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.… 23 And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men; 24 Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ.

As Christ’s ambassadors (2 Corinthians 5:20), Christians should give a good testimony at work and wherever a job needs to be done because we are willing to go the extra mile and with the right attitude. As the apostle Paul wrote to Titus, servants are to please their masters, or in today’s world, employees are to serve their employers with the same humility of spirit with which we serve Christ. He is our true Master, and in serving others, we are serving Him (Titus 2:9-10).

Even when we assemble for worship in God’s house, no good deed is too trivial to escape His attention! A kind word or smile for someone who is hurting may be exactly what God intended to encourage that person to be faithful to His will (Hebrews 10:23-25).

When Solomon built the temple to glorify God, skilled artisans spent countless hours decorating the tops of the pillars with sculpted lilies, even though none of the worshipers would even see them once they were in position! But God saw and rewarded them for their labor, even though no one else would applaud or praise their work (1 Kings 7:13-22).

When was the last time we gave thanks to the person who showed up early Sunday morning to turn on the air conditioning, or to the person who made sure there was toilet paper in the restroom? Do we even know who these people are? But God knows and keeps track of their faithful service to His children and to all who come to hear His Word.

Hebrews 6:10 For God is not unrighteous to forget your work and labour of love, which ye have shewed toward his name, in that ye have ministered to the saints, and do minister.

Our labor is not in vain! Employers, coworkers, and customers, and even family, friends, and fellow Christians, may not always show their appreciation, but God faithfully keeps track of all we do to His glory. We are laborers together with God (1 Corinthians 3:9). He will reward us in due time, if not in this world, then in Heaven (1 Corinthians 3:10-14) where we can enjoy the benefits forever!

1 Corinthians 15:58 Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.

Love in Christ, and may you have a blessed Labor Day weekend!


© 2017 Laurie Collett
Edited and reposted from the archives

Saturday, August 28, 2021

Everybody’s Looking for Something

 


In this dream I have a behind-the-scenes look at an elaborate stage production. The Mistress of Ceremonies wants the costume designer to make her an “original” gown, but she wants him to copy a fashion she saw on Project Runway. It is an Erte style, Art Deco black dress, with a bandeau bra top, straps leading to a halter neck and choker, long crepe skirt, bare midriff with fabric strips connecting the top and skirt, and long black gloves with vertical slits allowing the skin to show through.

The final result is chic and dramatic, but she doesn’t want the audience to know she has stolen someone else’s design. She asks me to find her makeup tray, so I look inside a 1920’s style vanity, but it is filled only with cassette tapes and a recorder. I accidentally start the recorder playing and can’t shut it off. The song is a 1920’s tune that apparently accompanied the model on Project Runway when she showed the original design. The MC is furious because she thinks the audience will make the connection to her gown’s true origins.  

The dream then fast forwards to the final scene of the play, which is set like the Victorian drawing room in the Nutcracker ballet, ready for a lavish Christmas celebration. After the characters parade around and exchange not-so-pleasantries, the MC announces that the world is about to end, and this is their last chance to hold onto what is most important to them.

The final tableau shows each character worshipping their god, pledging their allegiance to what they hold most dear. A middle-aged woman who has parlayed her physical charms into a wealthy but loveless marriage and equally empty affairs draws close to her reflection in a full-length mirror. Her husband reaches lustfully for the young maid, who has her hands in the silver drawer.

The learned professor gets on one knee in a courtly pose and extends his arms to the bookshelf, as if he could encompass all the science, poetry, and philosophy contained in its volumes. While the athlete contorts his muscular frame into a manly expression of physical prowess, the obese glutton stuffs his face at the buffet, and the addict snorts his stash of cocaine. The children grab as many presents as they can, shoving each other aside, and run to the fireplace, peering up into the chimney and hoping they can get more from Santa.

A priest, who was invited to pray before the meal, piously holds his rosary in one hand and his censer in the other, looking upward to heaven yet hoping a crowd will kneel at his feet. Meanwhile, a beggar out in the cold, nearing the threshold in hopes of a few scraps discarded from the sumptuous dinner, flings himself prostrate on the ground and begs God for mercy and forgiveness.

I awoke with the realization that only the beggar, who realized he was a sinner in need of a Savior, would spend eternity in Heaven with Jesus Christ, and that the idol worshippers would all be cast into the lake of fire (Ephesians 5:5; Revelation 20:15;21:8)..

The pattern of the black dress reminded me of a “map” Todd Friel drew on an episode of the Wretched TV show, with the skirt representing the lake of fire, the top representing the “Devil’s Pond,” and the slits on the gloves, straps, and fabric pieces representing the tributaries feeding into the pond and ultimately into the lake of fire. He explained that Satan lures souls to follow the current into these various tributaries and rivers of worldly thought leading to destruction, including sexual immorality, substance abuse, humanism, atheism, pagan worship, and works-based religions.

In the dream, the dress design was stolen but masqueraded as an original creation. Satan is the great deceiver and the father of all lies (John 8:44), and in his desire to be God he imitates Him, from the unholy trinity to his distortion of God’s Word, seen first in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3:1-5) and not ending permanently until he is cast into the lake of fire (Revelation 20:10) . But all evil deeds are recorded and made known (Mark 4:22; Luke 8:17; (Ephesians 5:11-13), and those who rejected God and His Son will answer to Christ when He reads their sins from the books He keeps (Revelation 20:12).

Except for the beggar, all of the characters in this dream staked their eternal destiny on something other than faith in the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ as the only way to Heaven (1 Corinthians 15:1-4; John 14:6). The “Christmas” celebration failed to honor Christ, Who came in the flesh (John 1:14) to reconcile sinful man to Holy God (2 Corinthians 5:18-19; Hebrews 2:17). Instead, it glorified the false gods of this world as the celebrants stumbled into Satan’s traps of the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life (1 John 2:16).

Falling prey to the lust of the flesh were the drug abuser and the glutton. The middle-aged beauty succumbed to the lust of the eyes as well as the lust of the flesh, worshipping her own image while seeking confirmation of her desirability in meaningless sexual encounters. Her husband, who should have been the spiritual leader of the household (Ephesians 5:23-26), was no better. Small wonder that they had neglected their parental responsibilities of spiritual guidance, and that their greedy children were following in their parents’ footsteps !

Also attempting to satisfy the lust of the eyes and the pride of life was the maid, as those who crave wealth do so for the lovely things it buys as well as for the power linked to prestige and worldly success (1 Timothy 6:10). And the athlete placed his faith in his physical strength and accomplishments to win the respect of others (1 Corinthians 9:25). But we are saved by God’s grace alone, and not by our own works, no matter how impressive (Ephesians 2:8-9).

Thinking himself to be wise by embracing all the world’s writings, the professor proved himself to be a fool, as the world’s “wisdom” is no match for God’s Word. Trusting in evolution and humanism as absolute truth deceives men from realizing their own sinful nature and leads them to deny God’s very existence (Romans 1:21-25; Psalm 14:1; 53:1).

One would hope that the priest would be a better role model than the other characters in this morality play, but he too counted on his own works and self-righteousness (Luke 18:10-14) Vain repetitions in prayer, without speaking to God as a child approaches their Father (Matthew 6:7-9) for wisdom, advice, and loving guidance and provision, are meaningless works. Even worse, he pretended to be worshipping God while seeking only admiration and reverence from others (Matthew 6:1-5), which made him a false prophet and teacher whose only god was himself ((Matthew 7:15;:2 Peter 2:1).

Far outnumbered by those who tried to enter eternity by the broad gate leading to destruction was the beggar. Sadly, those who have been born again (John 3:3-8) and accept Jesus Christ as the only Way, Truth and Life (John 14:6) are in the minority, and even Jesus said that His way is narrow (Matthew 7:13-14). May we renounce our false gods, repent of our sins, and trust in Him to lead us to eternal life!

Everyone is looking for something, but even in this life, nothing satisfies other than a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Only He brings joy, peace and abundant life here and now, and unimaginable, everlasting joy and peace in His presence in Heaven. May we tell all we encounter of His goodness and of the satisfaction only He can give!


© 2013 Laurie Collett
Reposted from the archives


Saturday, August 21, 2021

Vertigo

Wellcome Images 2018

 

A few nights ago I awoke from a sound sleep and got out of bed, when I suddenly fell backward, as if a tsunami had flooded over me, swept me away in its whirling fury, and pinned me helpless against the mattress.

Thankfully, it subsided in about 30 seconds, but when I cautiously struggled to my feet and began to walk, I found myself veering off to the left. That also soon resolved but left me feeling shaken and unsteady.

As a retired neurologist, I began to diagnose myself and realized I had no other symptoms of stroke, was too old for new onset multiple sclerosis (MS), and had no fever or other symptoms of viral infection. However, the left side of my head was congested, which I sometimes experience in the morning because of allergies, and the left side of my neck was sore, also not unusual as my husband and I have been strenuously rehearsing our latest Theatre Arts dance with overhead lifts and drops.

So I reasoned that sinus pressure and neck muscle spasm had brought on the vertigo by sending faulty signals to the system that maintains balance and equilibrium. I used an herbal nasal spray and anti-inflammatory medication with some relief of the head and neck symptoms. We went to morning practice as usual, but when I attempted to get up after lying down on the floor to stretch, the tsunami returned, again rendering me helpless in its swirling current.

Discouraged and unable to practice, we returned home. I realized that I must have benign paroxysmal positional vertigo, a common and seldom serious condition in which a calcium deposit, called an otolith, dislodges from its usual position in the innermost canal of the inner ear and escapes to the outermost canal, where it causes a false sense of movement. The vertigo usually comes on suddenly after a period of lying down, particularly when turning the head to the affected side and arising quickly, or from any sudden movement or positional change.

Vertigo is a curse for anyone. For a female Theatre Arts dancer, it is the kiss of death, as this dance form involves spins, lifts, drops, and sudden changes of position from standing to being suspended horizontally over the partner’s head or even held upside down – often while spinning. Any momentary lapse in balance or spatial awareness could result in a disastrous fall from overhead and cause serious injury.

I prayed that the symptoms would just disappear, but in case they didn’t, I planned to try a maneuver known as the Epley maneuver, designed to guide the otolith back into the innermost canal of the inner ear. The next morning, a repeat bout of vertigo upon arising led me to test this plan. With my husband’s help, I went through a series of rapid position changes, which brought on more dizziness, alternating with rest periods on the bed.

When the maneuver was completed, I had no more vertigo, but I felt uneasy, unsettled, and dissociated from my surroundings. After breakfast, coffee, and much prayer, we decided to attempt rehearsing again. I found that by focusing out in the distance and being hypervigilant about my balance, there was no vertigo, despite the spins, drops, lifts, and position changes. Apparently these all happened too quickly to give the otolith sufficient time to dislodge from its normal position. The following day, I had no symptoms, nor have I had any since. Praise the Lord for His faithfulness (Psalm 89:8) and for answered prayer!

Unexpected blessings from this harrowing encounter were the knowledge of how to deal with this in the future if it were ever to recur, perhaps closer to a performance setting when I might not have the luxury of being able to rest or take a break, or the time or Internet access to research how to do the Epley maneuver.

An even greater blessing was the new-found gratitude in being able to do what I sometimes take for granted – not just complex, challenging dance moves, but even simple actions like getting out of bed or walking without literally bouncing off the wall. It reminded me of recovering from the pneumonia I had several years ago, and being thankful just to be able to breathe freely, sleep quietly without coughing, and walk across a room without getting short of breath.

Sometimes God allows incidents like these into our lives to remind us of our total dependence on Him (John 15:5) and thankfulness for every move we make and every breath we take (Acts 17:28). As Oswald Chambers wrote in My Utmost for His Highest, “It is the sick person who really knows what health is.” The logical extension is that it is only the person who knows he is a sinner deserving eternal punishment in hell who can receive God’s free gift of eternal life in Heaven (Romans 3:23; 6:23).

Minimizing the vertigo by directing my gaze upward and outward reminded me to always keep my focus on Jesus and His kingdom, particularly when encountering the turbulence of life, and to look up (Luke 21:28), for our redemption through the Rapture is close at hand!

This episode of vertigo also reminded me that sometimes He even allows our lives to be turned upside down or set spinning, all for our ultimate good and His glory (Romans 8:28).

Before we can be saved by trusting in the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 15:1-4) as the only Way to Heaven (John 14:6), we must come to the end of ourselves, which may feel like a total upheaval of all we know and believe.

The early church, first known as Christians, or ‘the Way,” turned the world upside down by spreading the truth and Word of their Savior Jesus Christ (Acts 11:26; 22:4). His crucifixion was marked by extraordinary events, including the sky turning black at midday, a great earthquake, the dead arising from their graves, and the thick, impenetrable veil of the temple tearing from top to bottom (Matthew 27:45-54; 28:2), symbolizing God in the flesh coming from Heaven to earth (John 1:1-14) to end the separation of Holy God from sinful man (Romans 5:10). His resurrection was the single most significant, paradigm-shifting event of all time.

Even His teachings seem filled with paradox that set conventional wisdom on its head. We must lose our life to save it (Matthew 16:25). He who is first will be last, and he who is last will be first (Matthew 20:16). The meek shall inherit the earth, and the poor shall inherit the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 5:3-5).

With God’s infinite power (Genesis 35:11), far exceeding that of any tsunami, whether real or perceived, the blind shall see, the lame shall leap, and the dead shall live again (John 3:16) in Him! Every molecule in our earthly body shall be rearranged in the twinkling of an eye as He transforms us into our glorified body (1 Corinthians 15:52) that will never age, die, or experience pain, sorrow or sin! Even the earth will be burned with heat so intense (2 Peter 3:10) that it transforms its molecular structure into the New Jerusalem!

Praise God that only He can turn things completely around and upside down and make them completely new (2 Corinthians 5:17), and that He even gives us earthly reminders of what is to come when He returns for His children!  

© 2021 Laurie Collett