What Are You Chasing? …And Why?

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!

 

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TAKE A SEAT

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

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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

Mommy Lesson #3

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.

Mom screaming at kids using megaphone

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.

 

 

Mommy Lessons #2

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:

  • Am I about my Heavenly Father’s family business or my own?
  • How can I better connect with my child?
  • What can I change to better align with our values or goals?
  • What about our routine is not working well?
  • Do I need to learn more and be stretched as a mom? If so, what will be the source for this growth?

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

Happy Tweaking!

To be continued: Mommy Lesson #3: Yelling Doesn’t Help

Hey, Mom! How’s it going?

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 bw

CATIE: 20 years, typical first born here, responsible, thoughtful, encouraging

LOVES: rules & order, cats (shh…), books, ministry & worship

 

 

mandy bw

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 bw

ANNA: 16 years, artistic, outgoing, compassionate, encourager

LOVES: people, music, dance & church ministry

 

 

sam bw

SAM: 13 years, disciplined, self-controlled, focused

LOVES: family, friends, church, history & soccer

 

 

stephen bw

STEPHEN: 11 years, funny, competitive, fearless

LOVES: math, soccer, church, video games & reading

 

 

joy bw

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.

Successes

  • My children love Jesus! They observe Craig and I loving and knowing Jesus. They see Jesus in us, and I am seeing Christ in them. And there is no greater joy than this!
  • We have been authentic and repentant before them.
  • They are learning and growing in wisdom and knowledge as I teach them God’s word.
  • My commitment – years of faithful dedication to all God’s called me to be as their mom and home educator.
  • They maintain a high standard of purity.
  • They have a growing faith.
  • Close family relationships – they love us and each other!
  • They are secure in who they are.

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:

Failures

  • I’ve been too controlling – I should’ve allowed more choices.
  • I’ve been a poor example – “Do what I say, not what I do.”
  • I’ve been distracted and not fully engaged in listening well.
  • I’ve been inconsistent with rules and discipline.
  • I’ve been too much Martha & not enough Mary (Luke 10:38-42).
  • I’ve changed the standards –Younger ones are getting away with more.
  • And too many more to list!

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… 🙂

Stand in Readiness

With the Gospel firmly in place as our sure foundation, we are made ready. We have the security of knowing we can face any attack unmoved because, as Romans 8:31 NIV tells us,… If God is for us who can be against us?Armed with such knowledge, God calls us out of our comfort zones and we often find ourselves in places of darkness and pain.

Are you already serving on the battlefield of this hurting and dying world, or are you playing it too safe? We should never stand with the peace of our own salvation, yet be unprepared, or worse, unwilling to go — to march — to be ready to do whatever is good Titus 3:1. Maybe you’re still sitting on the bench or maybe you haven’t even gotten dressed to go out to the field.

Christ lives in you by the Holy Spirit, He wants your full, and active service as His Kingdom-sent agent. You might say, “Well, I’m just a ______” or, “I don’t know enough.” But if you are still breathing and encountering humans, you have a God-sent mission! He calls us to boldly share the Gospel of His salvation, to actively love, pray, give, show mercy, forgive, serve with our gifts, and more!

As Christ’s representative, you should never just go to Wal-Mart, work at a job, visit with a friend, hang with your family, or attend church. Go ready to minister! Go prayerful and alert. Prepare yourself! Always stand ready to be God’s hands and feet. Live out the command from 2 Timothy 4:2 that calls us to … be prepared in season and out of season …

Stop now and seek God for His direction or re-direction. Then, don’t wait another moment to faithfully go.

Scriptures:

For further study: Read Matthew 28:16-20. Write out the three components of our great commission to “go.” Now think about the ways you can “go” as Christ’s witness in your daily life. Be sure to plan your next step if you’ve received direction from the Holy Spirit.

Stand in Righteousness

Stand firm … with the breastplate of righteousness in place. Ephesians 6:14 NIV

If you are a Christian, then YOU ARE THE RIGHTEOUSNESS OF GOD!

God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. 2 Corinthians 5:21

I want you to read today’s entire lesson on righteousness as if it were typed in bold, capital letters with large helpings of exclamation marks. When I think about God’s righteousness and what He’s given us, my spirit explodes with excitement!

Listen up, Family of God. We won’t stand strong in Christ for a moment if we think it’s up to our efforts to live righteously! … apart from me, you can do nothing. (John 15:5). It is only when we remain in, and rely on, Him that we bear good fruit.

And when the enemy tries to accuse us of sin, we can stand firm in the righteousness of Christ that covers us.

You see, as hard as you and I may try, we can’t get by, even as Christians, on our own efforts to be good. Without Christ’s enabling, our best day of good deeds amounts to a heap of foul trash… all our righteous acts are like filthy rags …(Isaiah 64:6).

So why do we often live as if we can achieve merit points from God by what we do or don’t do? I’m sure you’ve never compared yourself to another Christian, but sometimes I’ve had the subtle notion that I’m less than or better than someone based on a particular behavior. What a bunch of malarkey and bologna. It’s unbiblical nonsense! Pride reeks from the pit of this idea, and it needs to be ripped out!

We never, ever, ever, ever, stand strong in Christ by our own supposed “righteousness!” 2 Timothy 2:22 tells us to Flee the evil desires of youth, and pursue righteousness … So let’s get this straight. We are the righteousness of God through Christ, but we should run from evil and chase after righteousness. Huh? Why would we chase after what we already are? Well, the word righteousness here refers to our pursuit to yield ourselves to God’s right paths for holy living as He desires to conform us to the likeness of Christ. We are to pursue His way, not our way!

Stand firm then. You are covered. Set free by the knowledge of your righteous standing before God that empowers you to be His — His child, His heir, His powerful tool for His glory.

Scriptures:

For further study: Read Galatians 3:1-6 and try to wrap your mind around the awesome treasure of righteousness! Does it come by your good works or by faith? List the ways that you have tried or are trying to gain your righteousness. Now write down the only way you truly achieve righteousness. Walk in that, and experience Christ’s freedom and peace.

Stand in Truth

Wearing the belt of truth is all about knowing, believing, and holding on to the foundational truths of God’s Word — in that order. It’s not enough to have knowledge of the truth. We must believe it and cling to it! God’s Word is truth and our very hope that anchors the soul.

Too many Christians are applying their belt of truth half-heartedly or with uncertainty because they are lacking knowledge or feeding on false “truths.” Some have unknowingly tried to add a variety of popular secular beliefs (new “truth” belts) to their armor. But these false truths just don’t hold up! They are dangerous lies from the pit of Hell created to ensnare us.

John 14:6 teaches us that Jesus Christ is the way, truth, and life! Regardless of what someone may say, there is only one way to eternal life with our one God, the Maker of heaven and earth. When we believe this and hold on to Him as our Rescuer and Lord (leader), we begin to discover the truth of what we have in Him. We are no longer powerless and defeated! In Christ, we are truly free, loved, co-heirs, and more than overcomers! Christ in us is GREATER than our evil enemies!

Colossians 1:17 proclaims that in Christ, all things hold together. All things! Like the function of a belt, the truth of Christ and His Word is what fully sustains us.

Our job is to stand yielded to His battle plan: Submit to God. Resist the devil. Tightly fasten on the truth, until it’s the very core of who you are, and take your stand against the strategies of the evil one.

Scriptures:

For further study: Read Hebrews 12:1-3. Take an honest inventory. What distracts you from the truth? Be specific. Write it down. Now, jot down what helps you remain surrendered to the truth. Cast off the distractions and determine to keep your eyes on Jesus.

Stand in God’s Strength

Ephesians 6:10 urges us to be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.

We should rehearse this verse every day, every hour! We need to be reminded that our supposed “strengths” are micro and amount to absolutely nothing without God’s favor and goodness.

Remember, God is our leader. We’re the yielded follower. But this relational dynamic is dependent on our continual trust and acknowledgment that God’s ways are highest and best!

Newsflash! God doesn’t need us to be strong in ourselves, our abilities, or our know-how! Proverbs 3:5,6 exhorts us, Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and (guess what happens next?) He will make your paths straight. Straight! I can’t even get my head on straight! But what we could never do is made possible by yielding to Christ’s ways and power!

Alone, we are in a desperately needy state. With Christ’s help, we can do ALL things. We can live content no matter the difficulties. We can live unshaken by surrounding temptations. We can live confidently when the known facts may terrify. We CAN in CHRIST!

Proverbs 3:7 takes this message even further;Do not be wise in your own eyes. GULP! Does this hit home for you like it does me? Maybe it’s because I’m female, but too often I’m simply positive that I know what’s best for me, my spouse, my kids, and the list goes on. What about you? Do you give up waiting on God when His plans don’t fit your time parameters? Sadly, when we stop trusting and take the lead, it can forfeit the gift of seeing God’s faithful and best plan play out.

What audacious pride to think that we possess any sort of wisdom outside of God shining His light on our limited understanding!

So let’s get this right. Basically, there are two essential ways we stand in God’s power.

1. We acknowledge our weaknesses.

Let’s admit our limitations. Without Christ, we are weak — and not just a little weak — we’re totally helpless and hopeless. But believer, we are not without Christ!

2. We rely on His strength!

We are able to stand strong when we look to Jesus and depend on His powerful life within us!

Scriptures:

For further study: Reread your Scriptures and list or paraphrase the main lessons that Paul learned. Write a prayer of reliance to your Heavenly Father.

Stand in Prayer

I love verse 18 of Ephesians 6! We are told to pray (in the Holy Spirit) all the time with all kinds of prayers. We are to continually pray for all the Church.

And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.

Now, I hope you are letting this word, all, really sink in. There’s a lot of all in all! This takes commitment! I don’t know about you, but I want to pray with more consistency. I want to grow in faith and in the content of what I pray for.

I believe the reasons many of us don’t pray more are because we don’t really believe our prayers will make a difference, or we’re too distracted, or we think that continual prayer is only assigned to church “prayer teams” — as if committed prayer is only a calling for a select few.

Years back, I took an amazing journey and dug into a personal study on the subject of prayer. After long, biblical word searches and reading numerous books on the topic, I was deeply changed. Prayer became a joyous passion for me — a priority — because I more fully understood how important it is and how closely it draws me to the heart of God. It’s all about drawing near to God, enjoying His presence, and then conversing with Him. But sometimes I get distracted and lose out on this awesome privilege and calling.

My hope is that God will stir your heart as you’re reading today and you’ll begin afresh with a commitment to continual, daily prayers.

We stand strong because God is able to keep us standing, but please notice the importance of our prayers for one another in the verses of 2 Corinthians 1:8-11:

We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters, about the hardships we suffered in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired even of life. Indeed, in our hearts we felt the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead. He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us, as you help us by your prayers. Then many will give thanks on our behalf for the gracious favor granted us in answer to the prayers of many.

All of our prayers are needed! God longs to be longed for. For us to press in and plead for His mercy, power, healing, guidance, strength and wisdom. For us to trust Him. This means we ask and then are filled with His peace, knowing that He hears us.

We stand in prayer.

Scriptures:

For further study: John 17 is a heartfelt prayer that Jesus prayed to His Father. As you read through it, notice the conversational flow He had. In light of this prayer, what mattered most to Jesus? What were His specific requests? How can you grow in your communication with your heavenly Father through Jesus’ prayer example?