Meet Pastor Trevor and his wife Lori In April 2004, my wife Lori and I walked through the doors of Life.Church for the first time. Our lives were an absolute mess and we were desperately looking fo…
Source: Ambushed by Jesus
Meet Pastor Trevor and his wife Lori In April 2004, my wife Lori and I walked through the doors of Life.Church for the first time. Our lives were an absolute mess and we were desperately looking fo…
Source: Ambushed by Jesus
I just love children. I love my own six children so much I could pop. But I also love all children. I love their uninhibited, cute little selfs that can ask or share any thought that enters their amazing, developing minds. Tragically though, we know that not all children receive the most essential of human needs: the love and security of a stable family.
November is National Adoption Month in the United States. (Yes, I know it’s still October but I want you preparing your hearts!) It’s truly wonderful that our nation supports and raises awareness to help literally millions of children (153,000,000 worldwide) who are without the love and care of a family.
It wasn’t too many years ago that I believed that only those God calls to become adoptive or foster parents need be concerned and actively engaged in the welfare of the “orphan.” Thankfully God did not leave me in my ignorance! He lovingly guided my heart to lean in and understand the Scripture, James 1:27 that states, “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.”
It is interesting that this passage is preceded by the warning, “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says” (James 1:22).
Whether or not you are being drawn to foster or adopt, I believe, like me, you would like to know how you can help. Right?!
Here are some great resources for you!
Christian Alliance for Orphans: http://www.cafo.org
World Orphans: http://www.worldorphans.org
American World Adoption: http://www.awaa.org
http://www.lifesongfororphans.org (who partners with families and churches to fund adoptions).
I am praying that God will stir you up with His HUGE heart for these precious children!
Always and forever yours in Christ Jesus,
When I was growing up, the biggest pursuit for me boiled down to love and acceptance wherever I could find it. Friends and boys were the top priority in my quest for acceptance.
Instead of realizing and being satisfied that I already had my family’s love and better yet, God’s love, I believed Satan’s lie that this wasn’t enough. “Your family and God are required to love you. Your real value must come from others.”
BIG. FAT. LIE.
But I believed it. My actions proved that I did.
I am convinced that many women (young and old) are still trapped by similar lies today.
You are not enough. You need to be more. Do more. You are not desirable. You are not valuable.
Why do I think this? Because I’m a woman! I can still struggle with believing these lies. If I examine my motives, they sometimes reveal that I am trying to obtain my approval from people. Essentially I am living from the lie that says, “What I already have in Christ is not enough.”
When does this happen? It happens when my eyes are off of Jesus Christ and His glory. It happens when I compare. It happens when I stop pursuing God and chase after the meaningless things of this world.
Be honest – what or who do you pursue? And why?
We pursue what we believe we need.
When we don’t throw out these demonic, worldly, filthy lies from our thinking and living, they begin to CHOKE the Truth (the Word of God) that needs to grow big and strong in our hearts.
This is what happens to me, to us, to our families, and to the Church! Everything God wants to teach and reveal to us falls on deaf ears and dim eyes. These lies CHOKE OUT the germinating seeds of Truth. Fruitlessness is the result.
When we chase after people’s approval we have a LOVE DISABILITY. We don’t truly see the LOVE we HAVE in Christ.
Thankfully, God doesn’t leave us in this state of bondage! Our loving Father draws us in, convicts our hearts and opens our eyes to His Truth.
His Truth says, “My love is far beyond anything you could ever imagine. It is real, pure, limitless, unchanging, deeply and fully cup-runneth-over satisfying to your longing soul.”
We must awaken to HIS REVOLUTIONARY LOVE!
NO MORE believing the lies. NO MORE counterfeit, worldly, self-driven living that only leads to barrenness.
Prayer: Forgive us, wonderful Father! We throw all these lies in the TRASH and pursue you with ALL our hearts. Overwhelm us with Your indescribable love. You alone fully and forever satisfy our being!
My word for 2015 is “listen.”
“Walk closely with Me”… “Be a servant”… “Bring glory to Me in all you think, say, and do.”
These are the words my loving Father is whispering to me.
Now, I readily receive these messages, and with all my heart I want to follow Him, BUT they are not easy for me to put into continual practice!
The only way I could ever live characterized as a God-glorifying servant of Christ Jesus is to truly learn and live out His whisper, “Walk closely with Me.”
Recently, as my children and I shared our Bible reading insights one morning, this simple statement overtook my heart:
“Then King David went in and sat before the Lord…”
2 Samuel 7:18
Do you sit still very well? When I say “still” I mean excluding driving, eating, reading, talking, and electronic devices? Like where you just sit with nothing visible or tangible to do? It’s odd to think about, isn’t it?
This is exactly what David did! He sought out the invisible, intangible Living God!
David went and sat before the Lord just after receiving some absolutely amazing news from the prophet Nathan – that God would bless David’s throne forever.
You see, David knew God intimately. He would have never gone and sat before Him and said the things he said if he hadn’t.
As David sat, he began praising God for His goodness and greatness. Surely, he was overwhelmed by the personal love and grace of His God! His deepest longing in those moments weren’t to reflect on his newfound importance and powerful position, but to glorify God as the Great One and the only true God.
When is the last time you simply sat before God – waiting on His whisper and resting in His love?
I want to follow David’s example, don’t you?
I want to sit still before God. I want to regularly take a pause from the strong current in my day and sit. Sit before my Father – to worship Him and listen to Him.
Let’s learn to walk with Him in such a way that our daily lives have become a natural overflow of a God-glorifying servant of Christ.
My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. John 10:27
YELLING DOESN’T WORK
Yelling does not improve your child’s learning or character development.
This is obvious, right? But many a mom will test her vocal chord’s volume levels in order to try and get her point across.
Have you ever blown a fuse over a child’s incessant, unruly behavior only to find that you were more at fault than your child for not immediately dealing with the problem?
I’ve done this. It’s totally foolish. This tactic only makes matters worse. Plus, it’s disrespectful. We are to treat our children with respect – even when we correct them.
My temperament lies on the calmer, more laid-back side of the personality spectrum but that doesn’t mean that I never get worked up into a frenzy of intense emotions. In fact, I have had overcome a fair bit of anger issues (Only by the process of continually submitting myself to the powerful work of the Holy Spirit!). I’m a strong “feeler” which means that I tend to process situations through an emotional filter before my logic filter kicks in. This is a formula for disaster without God’s help!
I used to think that my long-winded lectures were necessary. This is just a parent’s duty, right? NO. I was wrong.
Proverbs 10:19 gives it to us straight, “When words are many, sin is not absent, but he who holds his tongue is wise.”
Hold my tongue? Oh, okay…
And then I start to say things like,
You are not listening to me! You sit down and pay attention to what I have to say! Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah…
Think about Jesus. He had strong emotions but He was concise with correction and rebukes. He said what needed to be said and that was that.
Briefly and respectfully say what you need to say and then give your child some time to reflect.
Let them (respectfully) share their point of view. And when they do, be sure to really lean in to listen. Validate their feelings by saying something like, “I see that this is upsetting to you.” Or “I know you don’t like what is happening.”
And let’s remember the wisdom from James 1:19,20, “Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires.”
The bottom line is this: Yelling doesn’t work.
Planning my reaction works much better.
So I made a plan… And it works!
I wrote down my kids’ common offenses and added a specific disciplinary consequence to each one. This was powerful. It takes all negative emotion out of the moment of crisis and empowers me to logically, lovingly, and prayerfully provide correction.
I don’t want to intimidate my children into obedience; I want to patiently teach and train them in the way they should go.
I want to humbly lead them to the goodness and grace of our Savior, Jesus Christ.
Mom, do you ever feel like you are in a parenting rut?
I sure can find myself here too often!
This mommy-rut can nag at your soul. It can keep you awake at night… because you know change is needed. Something is not working. Maybe it’s the eternally messy house, fighting siblings, disobedience, or the couch-potato-itis that has yet to be conquered. I believe that the nagging in our souls comes from our realities not lining up with our value systems. Values like obedience, respect, love, and diligence are foundational virtues we all long to instill in our kids.
So, like me, you’ve likely tried a multitude of parenting tactics to bring success in certain trouble areas. Maybe you’re in a season where any hope of change seems, well, unlikely.
I want to encourage you. Don’t throw in the towel. Don’t be an all-or-nothing parent. Don’t give up. Positive change is very possible!
Mommy Lesson #2
CONTINUAL TWEAKING IS A MUST
I’ve learned that tweaking my parenting methods is vital! Although I’ll never “arrive” as the perfect parent or with a perfect child, I strive for gradual improvements. I call them “tweaks.” These adjustments may be needed daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly or annually – you get the idea.
For me, tweaking begins by asking the Holy Spirit for guidance and then quizzing myself with constructive questions.
Questions to periodically ask yourself:
Let me just pause here for a little rabbit chase. Why is it that we rarely partake in training for parenting beyond the infant or early childhood years of a child? We will read all we can about pregnancy and baby’s first year, but as they grow older the studying often comes to a stop.
I urge you, mom, keep learning and growing! Get your PHD (figuratively speaking) in family matters, because family matters!
My recent tweaking just started last week after meeting with my mentor over lunch and discussing the prominent issue of entitlement.
After processing our discussion, I decided that my kids were not doing enough work around the house. They needed more chores. So I assigned new jobs with the days and times for them to be completed. Besides a little initial whining, this was an easy fix.
I also saw that they needed additional boundaries with their electronic devices. They now have set times of the day to place all devices into a basket that will be in their dad and mom’s possession. Can you believe we would actually remove these beloved items from their precious hands?! (Insert eye-roll here). No, this is not abuse. This is a healthy boundary for them in hopes that they will value people over “Apps.”
Now, honestly, if I don’t consistently hold them to the new standards there will come a day when these “tweaks” break down. Now is when you don’t want to give up. Give yourself grace! Shake it off! This is the beauty of tweaking. If you mess it up on your end, own it, tweak it, and start again!
Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint. Isaiah 40:28
To be continued: Mommy Lesson #3: Yelling Doesn’t Help
What I Have Been Learning Along The Way…
NOT TO JUDGE OTHER MOMS’ METHODS (If I don’t like it, I just won’t adopt it. 🙂 )
If you’re like me, you’ve taken your role as a mother pretty seriously and have strived to choose the very best methods in all things maternal. I want my kids to have the most enriching environments possible. So I’ve sought the Holy Spirit’s guidance and done the best I can to provide this.
Now, I know you would never look around and compare like I have, but I have noticed that some moms seem to have kids that are better behaved than mine. Some of their four-year olds seem smarter than me. Some seem to be always well groomed with a matching outfit. While my goal is to make sure all my kids have shoes on when they jump in the car.
And then there’s those moms who can make me feel quite superior. “I would never feed my child such a meal.” “I would never allow my child to watch that show.” “I would never allow my child to behave in such a way.”
Oh… my, my, my. Do you see the problem?
First of all, it’s important to understand the difference between a principle and a method. A principle is a moral or fundamental standard. Methods are our systems or practices.
Proper nurturing, nutrition, education, and discipline are vital principles. Please do not neglect your child’s basic needs of love, food, clothing, shelter, correction, training, and teaching. And it’s great to search for the best methods to assist your child’s various needs. However, moms must beware of thinking of her methods as superior, more spiritual, or inferior than that of another mom. This only leads to self-righteousness, envy, strife and the like.
Stop comparing and just do your thing, mom! But watch yourself carefully. Don’t become overly zealous for your particular method(s) so that you offend or discourage your friend. Allow the love and grace of Jesus Christ to mature you as you avoid such foolishness.
Remain humble and unified with your sisters’ in Christ regarding your differing methods of parenting.
There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but the same God works all of them in all men. 1 Corinthians 12:4-6
To be continued… Next post: “Make Improvements by Tweaks”
When our first child, Catelin Elizabeth, was born I was scared to death. It finally hit me, “What a great responsibility this is – raising a person! I have to teach her everything!”
Of course I wanted to be the perfect mom – a Super Mom. Ha! (Insert the rolling eyes here.) Puh-leeze
But who knew the cost of motherhood would be so great? The loss of sleep, sanity, and self is real!
Thankfully, the rewards of motherhood are infinite in wonder, joy, and amazing love! My children are true gifts from God, and I love them more than words can express.
In fact, let me introduce you to my amazing crew of Groeschel people.
CATIE: 20 years, typical first born here, responsible, thoughtful, encouraging
LOVES: rules & order, cats (shh…), books, ministry & worship
MANDY: 19 years, tenderhearted, intuitive & witty
We thought she was our last! (God’s sense of humor is sweet!)
LOVES: techy stuff, dance, words, & church ministry
ANNA: 16 years, artistic, outgoing, compassionate, encourager
LOVES: people, music, dance & church ministry
SAM: 13 years, disciplined, self-controlled, focused
LOVES: family, friends, church, history & soccer
STEPHEN: 11 years, funny, competitive, fearless
LOVES: math, soccer, church, video games & reading
JOY: 10 years, joyful, friendly, go-getter, leader, nurturer
LOVES: people, dance, Jesus, stuffed animals & penguins
Don’t they seem like great kids? They really are! But hey, they aren’t perfect. Nope. Just like their parents, they are each a work in progress by our Father.
Speaking of being a “work in progress”, I sometimes find myself filled with significant discouragement and even fear. But disheartened or not, I really want to do the best job I can as a mom. So to gain a better perspective, I’ll occasionally take an inventory of sorts and list where I may have had parenting successes, as well as failures.
I’d like to share some of my personal parenting observations with you.
Well, that sure made me feel good! But the inventory doesn’t stop there. It’s important to look at our failures. My mentor once said, “The way we live our day, is the way we live our lives.” So here we go:
I, I, I, I… Now, I didn’t list these failures to deflate myself (God gives us more GRACE!). I listed them to gain an honest look at where improvement is needed because only I am responsible for what I do or don’t do.
But please hear this: We can NOT take all the credit or blame for their outcomes. No. But we can pray. We can war for them. They are ALL in a spiritual battle. For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places. Ephesians 6:12
Some of you know this battle full well.
Momma, you may want to do as I’ve done and sit and take inventory of your parenting successes and failures. I pray it will encourage and sharpen you.
Go to God in humble prayer and ask Him to lead you. And as you do, allow Him to cover you with His amazing grace.
To be continued… 🙂
Do you have a deep, confident expectation about your tomorrows? You should. God wants us to!
I want us to examine our hope in the midst of trials and suffering.
God’s Word tells us to “Rejoice in our sufferings” and “Consider it pure joy” when in the middle of various trials. Does this sound a little crazy to you? It sure does to me! It is unusual, but it is God’s prescribed way for spiritual maturity. Notice I said maturity and not easy answers and specific outcomes.
I would not be the Christ-follower I am today if it were not for my painful trials. Every battle with my sin, fear, sickness, rejection, loss, and daily frustration has allowed me to become more like Christ Jesus.
When our faith is in the fire of life’s trials and we press on, placing our trust in God, it purifies us, making us more like Him. Trials can cause our hope to soar because we see the truth of His faithfulness at work in and around us.
Romans 12:12 says, “Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.”
Are you facing your struggles with patience, joy and prayer? You can. You can confidently expect God to work out good in all things for you, His beloved child (Romans 8:28).
If you are not walking in peace and joy right now, you need to reset your thinking. You need to renew your attitude with the truth of who God is!
I remember a time a few years back when I was terribly disappointed. No. I was fed-up. Done. I’d had enough. I had been waiting for God to answer my prayer to heal my reoccurring bladder infections. When I say “waiting,” I mean I have been waiting for the past 11 years. Well, one particular day there was no “rejoicing in all circumstances” going on in my heart. I wanted an end to my problem right then!
I had done everything the Bible said to receive healing, as well as prayerfully gone to doctors, taken their meds, used heaps of natural remedies, listened to and applied helpful advice, all to no avail. Ugh… sigh… whine… boo-hoo-hoo…
But God! He is so patient and generous with me. And today I am giddy with renewed hope! Why? Did I receive my healing? Maybe? I don’t know. I’m not sure about my tomorrows. But I know that God will be with me in them. My healing may come right now. If so, praise God! If not now, I expect all things are working out for my good and for His glory. His grace has always been sufficient for me.
My joy left that day because I became impatient and ungrateful. Not any more. I am waiting full of expectation. My God is everything I need!
Wait loved one. Wait patiently on Him. Choose to walk in His goodness and strength. You can live full of joy because you know, depend and place all hope in your faithful God.
For Futher Study:
Read James 1:2-5, Romans 5:1-11, and 1 Peter 1:3-7 and complete the statement, “I can rejoice because I have…”
Make out a list of what you’ve been given in Christ.
“I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.”
“Somebody’s got to do something… It might as well be me!” This statement is often how a call of God begins. It’s a heart being stirred by the Holy Spirit with a stronger compassion for people, a passion for change, and a dream to create into a reality.
I want to tell you a little about Branch15, the women’s housing ministry that my team and I recently launched in the OKC area (October 2013).
In our first eleven months we have had nine women in our home and have had the privilege to sow seeds of God’s love and hope to many other women who needed to be referred to different ministries or services.
These women are truly amazing, with breathtaking survivor stories! Many are spunky. Some are quiet and scared. Material possessions are few. Most do not own a car or have a bank account, but they all have a cell phone. However they come in, they change us as much as we see God changing them. We love them all! And sometimes they love us. 🙂
Here’s the Mission:
We exist to provide Christ-centered transitional housing
with individualized support for women on their paths to recovery
and independent, sustainable living.
What we are NOT:
A rescue home
An in-house treatment facility
A place only for trafficked victims
We are a transition home. We are the next step for many women after exiting a sex-trafficking rescue home, treatment facility, incarceration, homelessness, etc.
Our goal is four-fold:
To reach these goals, Branch15 will utilize trained, spiritually mature volunteers as well as any professional services that are Branch15 approved.
HERE’S where YOU come in!
This ministry will continually need women to step up and serve in various volunteer roles.
If you’d like to learn more, get involved, or contact us, visit our website www.branch15.com.