Monthly Archives: May 2014

The First Recorded Act of War (What It Teaches Us)

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Mount Sodom near the Dead Sea

Mount Sodom near the Dead Sea

While writing Faith Steps for Military Families, I learned about the Bible’s first recorded war. It’s found in Genesis 14. During Abram’s (later called Abraham) life, wars and rivalries among kings routinely happened, but the first recorded war in God’s Word was between four eastern kings most of us have not heard of before, except for possibly one, King Chedorlaomer (of modern Iran) and five southern kings, that included the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah.

Who was King Chedorlaomer? Not much is known about him, except that he was quite powerful. It was customary in those days that a city that was conquered paid tribute (money) to the king that overthrew that city.1 Five cities, including Sodom and Gomorrah paid tribute to King Chedorlaomer for twelve years. This is a testament to the might of King Chedorlaomer’s army. “In the thirteenth year [those five cities paying tribute] rebelled” (Gen. 14:4).They joined forces and rebelled against King Chedorlaomer. They withheld the tribute owed to him. This kind of rebellion infuriated King Chedorlaomer. By refusing to pay the tribute, they predicted it would have a devastating effect to the territory known as the “way of the kings” which was the corridor of commerce between Egypt and the four eastern kingdoms.2 Whoever controlled this land bridge maintained a monopoly on international trade.3 In retaliation, King Chedorlaomer wasted no time and swiftly conquered the city of Sodom. When King Chedorlaomer overtook Sodom, he captured Lot, his family, and his possessions. Recall that Lot was Abram’s nephew. Being a prisoner of King Chedorlaomer meant torture, slavery, or death.2

“When Abram [later called Abraham] heard that his nephew had been taken captive, he led forth his trained men, born in his house, three hundred eighteen of them, and went in pursuit as far as Dan. He divided his forces against them by night, he and his servants, and routed them and pursued them to Hobah, north of Damascus. Then he brought back all the goods, and also brought back his nephew Lot with his goods, and the women and the people.” Genesis 14:14-16

It’s plausible that Chedorlaomer underestimated the warrior inside Abraham as he defeated King Chedorlaomer in Damascus, even with a measly 318 fighting men. But God showed His favor on Abram. But how did Lot get himself in trouble with Chedorlaomer in the first place?

Lot had a character flaw that we see in many younger men and women today. Having no firm goals or sense of purpose, he drifted through life.4 Lacking a father (his father died when Lot was a young boy) to act as a compass for his life, probably contributed to his hunger for the sinful lifestyle in the city of Sodom. Coupled with his greedy desire for rich goods, Lot lived for the moment. As a result, he didn’t contemplate the consequences of his short-sightedness. By seeking after the sinful and greedy lifestyle of Sodom, he eventually blended in with the other citizens in this doomed city. This choice cost Lot everything, including his freedom when King Chedorlaomer overtook the town to punish it for withholding the tribute. Wise ole Uncle Abram had to do the dirty work and go to war with King Chedorlaomer to retrieve Lot.

This account of the first recorded war is short, but long on value for us today.

This may have been an incident that crossed several kingdoms–Abram caught in the middle between Lot’s greed and sinful lifestyle and a scandal between kings. It reveals God in control of earthly situations between secular kings and His warriors. God’s men numbered just 318 compared to the armies of the four kings!5

In the midst of a power struggle to control the cash cow of the trade routes, at the center of this scuttle is the story between two related men. Abram knew the foolishness of his nephew’s decisions. He could have taken the approach that Lot got what he deserved and refused to go to war to get him back. After all, living foolishly eventually breeds trouble.

Abram, however, took the perspective of grace. Grace says, “to extend kindness to a person who doesn’t deserve it.” Even God extended grace to Lot by giving favor to Abram to conquer the armies of the four kings in order to retrieve Lot.

Before the Lord reigned in our hearts, we were a Lot, too.6 Prior to giving our hearts over to the Lord, we were lured by the world’s goods and sinful offerings without thinking of the long-range consequences. We allowed our selfish desires to seek and obtain what didn’t satisfy. Sometimes we got away with a sinful lifestyle, but maybe for some of us it led us down the road of trouble. Was there an Abram in your life to go to bat for you? As Lot was carried off by King Chedorlaomer, considered part of the plundered loot, I wonder if he questioned where his lifestyle choices led him.

Is there a Lot in your family? Don’t give up on her or him. Instead, we can be an Abram in that person’s life and pray. James 5:16 says, “The prayer of a righteous (godly and upright) person has great power as it is working” (ESV). Your prayers, prayed in faith, will change things. There is power praying in Jesus’ name and that power will change the course of someone’s life, circumstances, and choices. While praying for the Lot in your life, your own faith will be strengthened as you see God move. We can trust God because He is sovereign over all our circumstances. One of my favorite Scripture verses is 2 Chronicles 16:9. “For the eyes of the Lord range throughout the entire earth, to strengthen those whose heart is true to him” (NRSV). God is looking for faithful hearts to be prayer warriors for the Lots in our lives.

Blessings,

Lisa

Notes:

1 Bible Note for Genesis 14:4-16, Life Application Bible (Iowa Falls, IA: World Bible Publishers, Inc. 1989).

2 Officers’ Christian Fellowship, “Abram Goes to War,” http//www.ocfusa.org.  (accessed 29 May 2014).

3 Ibid.

4 Bible Profile on Lot, Life Application Bible.

5 Officers’ Christian Fellowship, “Abram Goes to War,” http//www.ocfusa.org.  (accessed 29 May 2014).

6 Ibid.

 

The Lord is Your Keeper (Your Night Watchman)

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 He will not let your foot be moved; he who keeps you will not slumber. Psalm 121:3

The Lord is Your Keeper

The Lord is Your Keeper

While my husband was on active duty we enjoyed the “Dependent’s Day Cruises” as a Navy family. Dependent’s Day Cruises allow family and friends of crewmembers to come aboard ship to get a feel for life on a war vessel. In the early morning hours, hundreds of family members and friends descend upon the ship.

Once on board, the lines are dropped and the ship leaves the pier. While underway, the ship provides all the meals, music, and a spectacular up close air show of jets doing “touch and goes” on the flight deck.  It’s a day that sailors and their families forget about the rigorous ship schedules, training missions and deployments and enjoy this one of a kind experience. Pride in our sailor, pride in our Navy and pride in our country is refreshed in our hearts as we reflect that we are a part of something unique and important.

On this particular Dependent’s Day Cruise, my husband, Ray was stationed on the aircraft carrier the U.S.S. Abraham Lincoln. He led us down steep ladders from one deck to another as he gave us the guided tour. My mother-in-law, Marilyn, who was visiting at the time, became claustrophobic as the spaces seemed to get smaller and smaller the further we descended.  Finally, she turned around and returned to the security of the surface. The rest of us found ourselves in a small square room called the pump room, far below the waterline. There, all alone was one sailor on his watch. However, he had fallen victim to the dead silence and was sound asleep. Our loud voices upon entering had suddenly awoken him, a fact that he was probably later thankful for.

Falling asleep on a duty watch is a serious matter in the military, often resulting in stiff penalties. In Psalm 121:4, God is described as the Keeper of Israel. “He who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep” (NRSV). With God, falling asleep or dozing off, will never happen. He alone stands the “duty watch” 24/7. He is never found asleep. He is never caught off guard and nothing escapes His attention. Because of this, His desire is for us to depend on God for help. Did you know that we are the apple of His eye? “Guard me as the apple of the eye; hide me in the shadow of your wings” (Psalm 17:8).  God is the Keeper of our lives. He may not always

However, as a military family it’s important to give your anxieties over the safety of your loved one to the Lord. If anxieties are allowed to fester, doubt crowds out trust and your relationship with God is hindered. Like military training, spiritual training should be included in the military family’s readiness regimen. This type of training involves two things: living close, or abiding, in the Lord, and having a consistent prayer routine. With God as the fortress of our hearts, our faith is girded up and made more resilient.

Just start by reading God’s Word. James 4:8 says: “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you” (NRSV). Consistently renewing your mind with God’s Word empowers you to resist the temptation to allow fears of what could happen to cause you to doubt God’s protective care. By doing so, we gain a daily benefit. He gives us His peace. “You will keep him in perfect peace, Whose mind is stayed on You, Because he trusts in You” (Isaiah 26:3 NKJV). Neglecting God’s Word allows your mind to become vulnerable to attacks from Satan. And what does Satan do best? He steals (John 10:10). He will steal your peace if your mind and heart is not guarded by the power of God’s Word.

Prayer is the second requirement for spiritual readiness training. Think of prayer as a shield. When we cover our service member by the shield of prayer, we are engaging God’s defense system of protection. When we pray for God to be the Keeper of our loved ones serving, His power penetrates that which we are praying over. Prayer is the channel that allows God’s grace and protection to invade the lives of our men and women in uniform.

Psalm 121 closes with this reminder: God’s protection is without end-whether you wake up on unfriendly soil or on a ship in a hot zone in international waters, while on foot patrol in the light of day or in the darkness of the night, upon returning from a mission or home to the arms of waiting family. Throughout all circumstances, God’s watchful care is limitless. If harm does touch our lives, we can draw upon the peace our Lord offers because we have prayed for His presence to be in the midst of it. Psalm 91:15 is His promise. “When they call to me, I will answer them; I will be with them in trouble…” Our assurance comes from knowing that nothing happens to those whose hearts belong to God that first hasn’t passed through the sovereign hands of our Keeper.

Prayer for Protection

Lord, thank You for every member of our armed forces. Each one serves from the heart with a strong sense of duty for his or her country. Each one has voluntarily given up certain freedoms in order to answer to a higher calling.

Lord, may their sacrifices be appreciated by the citizens of this country. Bring a revival in the hearts of the American people to pray for our military so that under God we remain the strongest military force. May each military operation be just and carried out with a clear and honorable vision. Arm them with courage, shield each one from evil intentions, injustice, deceptive tactics, and reveal every unknown threat that would undermine their safety and the mission. Protect their feet from slipping (Psalm 121:3), no matter where they are, no matter the circumstances.

In the light of day or the darkness of night, shield them with Your protection. When exhausted, be their Source of strength. May the mercy You provide be experienced by my loved one and all our troops. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

If you like the content you get here, come visit my facebook page at www.facebook.com/faithstepsformilitaryfamilies and click the ‘like’ button to reach other military families and those who faithfully support them. And I so appreciate your support as well.

Blessings,

Lisa

Did You Miss the Parental Blessing? (Learning About Their Work)

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Become a Learner of Your Children. Picture above drawn by my son, Lawrence.
Become a Learner of Your Children. Picture above drawn by my son, Lawrence.

 

Final Post of Series

In the last three blog posts, we’ve been looking at the fifth element of The Blessing, by Gary Smalley and John Trent. We learned that there are four aspects to a Genuine Commitment – the fifth element to passing down a blessing to our children. Trent and Smalley call this becoming a student of your children, or those you want to be a source of blessing to.  The best way to describe it is through an example with my own son, Lawrence.

Lawrence enjoys drawing. He’s quite good at it despite no formal training except some high school elective art classes. Throughout his high school years, drawing became a major preoccupation.  It replaced his childhood passion of Lego’s.

 Interestingly, when it came time for high school parent-teacher conferences our son’s teachers complained that his drawing became an issue in class­-often getting in the way of learning. But then in the same breath, some teachers back-pedaled with, “But have you seen his drawings? He’s really good!,” they exclaimed with a large grin and a chuckle.

 Upon our initial inspection of our son’s school binder, much to our dismay and surprise, most of his notebook paper didn’t contain class notes, but instead hundreds of elaborate and detailed drawings of trucks, hotrods with flames, and an array of classic cars.  Sometimes, he integrated the lines of the notebook paper into his design. Impressed with his talent, but perplexed at the problem we were faced with, I found it hard to get overly angry; he just needed to learn there was a time for drawing and a time to shelve it for homework time. Over and over we had to insist that school came first and in his spare time he could draw. It took several rounds of this same lecture before the wisdom of our guidance took hold.

On the weekends he had the latitude to draw and draw he did. He drew meticulously and for hours. As for me, I marveled at his talent and enjoyed asking him about each of his projects and where he got his ideas from.  Soon I grew frustrated seeing notebook lines distorting his beautiful drawings and the three holes ripped where he yanked the paper from his binder. That just won’t do I thought to myself. So one day I went to an art supplies store and purchased a 11 x 14” art tablet with room to expand his range, an array of colored and charcoal pencils, and a couple of pink erasers. As I drove home, I thought, maybe he will be designing cars like he always said he wanted to do.

Now, just three weeks away from high school graduation, I not only see his pictures as priceless pieces of his own unique ability, but also as part of his life story growing up. Of course, he thought I made too much of his artistic ability.  It was the same with the complex and colossal Lego inventions he did from the time he could hold a single Lego block. To preserve the memory of his Lego structures, I took many pictures of him creating something “outside the box.”  Obviously, he found a hobby that gave him joy and satisfaction. And these hobbies, working, building, and creating, may just serve him well in his life’s work.

The point is, we’re to be involved with our children’s passions. Talk about them and learn about them. For example, If your child loves to draw or paint bridges or lighthouses, learn the history together behind a particular bridge or lighthouse. If she is into clothes and wants to be a clothes designer, learn about the various designers and their unique trademarks.  As Trent and Smalley say in The Blessing, it’s important to learn to be a student of your children. They add, “Realize that any shared activity with a child-from driving them to school or athletic practice to an airplane trip before they put on their headphones – offers tremendous opportunities to learn about our children.”1 Trent and Smalley also offer advice on how to connect with our children in casual ways. During those “unguarded times at the hamburger place, at the ball game, or while taking a walk. Don’t grill your child with questions as if you were giving a test. Just ask some casual questions in an offhanded way, and then really listen to the answers.”2   Some of Trent and Smalley’s suggested questions are:

  • What do you think about when you daydream?
  • What one thing would you like to do before you marry?
  • What is your favorite part of school? What do you dislike the most?
  • Who is your favorite person in the Bible? Why?3

According to Trent and Smalley, another way to convey acceptance and blessing is active listening.4 By putting down our cell phones and other electronics, we convey that what they have to say is worthy of our attention. Do we listen with our eyes? In other words, do we look at them when our children are trying to share something?

Learning to pass on a legacy of blessing to our children takes hard work. It takes sacrifice– time, energy, and emotions. If you’ve been with me through this blog series, you’ve learned the  five elements of the blessing found in the book, The Blessing by John Trent and Gary Smalley. It requires effort to meaningfully touch and hug our children. It takes courage to speak or write a message of meaningful words that convey their value to us, to convey a bright future with a special purpose. All of these elements take great commitment.

Those of you who have followed me through this series, thank you. I hope there were many benefits to it and great take-a-ways. I will close with these final thoughts from Trent and Smalley:

One day, perhaps years later, the blessing that you give will return. Those you bless will rise up and bless you. What’s more, you will find that the joy at seeing another person’s life bloom and grow because of your commitment to seek their best is a blessing in itself.5 Giving our children the blessing is like casting bread upon the waters. In years to come they, too, will rise up and bless us.6

Please share any comments or final thoughts about this series. And let me know what topics you’d like to read about on this blog. It is here for you. Blessings,

Lisa

Notes:

1 John Trent and Gary Smalley. The Blessing (Nashville, TN., Thomas Nelson, Inc., 1993), 145

2 Ibid. 146

3 Ibid.

4 Ibid. 147

5 Ibid. 152

6 Ibid. 153

Did You Miss the Parental Blessing? (Discipline-for Their Best Interests)

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Is this how you remember being disciplined?

Is this how you remember being disciplined?

Part 12

John Trent and Gary Smalley tell us in The Blessing: “We bless our children by providing them with the appropriate discipline.”1 Recall in the last post that “He [Jacob] blessed them, every one with the blessing appropriate to him” (NASB). However, Trent and Smalley point out one son, Reuben, who was the oldest, in which his father, Jacob, pronounced a blessing, but seems like punishment as well.

 Reuben, you are my firstborn, my might and the first fruits of my vigor, excelling in rank and excelling in power, {a blessing]. Unstable as water, you shall no longer excel because you went up onto your father’s bed; then you defiled it–you went up onto my couch! Genesis 49:3-4

 As we have read in previous posts on this series, the oldest son was supposed to get a double portion of his father’s inheritance, but Reuben had lost this special blessing because in his younger days he did a foolish thing. He slept with one of his father’s concubines (having concubines was a practice that was accepted as part of their culture). As a result, the birthright blessing that Reuben was born with was withheld due to his dishonorable act.

 If we look at the above verses closely, you’ll see that it is broken up fairly evenly with blessing and discipline. Jacob first gives words of praise about Reuben, his firstborn. He attributes his own might, vigor, and power to Reuben. Reuben was his strength. He clearly expresses his praise and words of high value to his son. But then we see that praise balanced with the scales of just discipline in light of his unrestrained passions.

Today, we might equate this to reaping the consequences of our actions. However, as Trent and Smalley explain, “It should not surprise us that blessing and discipline go hand in hand. If we genuinely love someone, we will not allow that person to stray into sin or be hurt in some way without trying to correct him or her.”2 God is the same way.

 God is a loving parent, and just like our parents were to us, we care about the behavior of our children. We guide and instruct to shape their thinking, develop godly perspectives, their ability to make sound judgments and wise decisions with the goal to forming them into mature adults. By doing this, we hope they live a life that honors God, thereby securing His blessings. If that is the desire of our hearts, then we can’t ignore the behavior of our children. But that is exactly what Eli, the high priest did in 1 Samuel 2. He failed as a father and his sons, Hophni and Phinehas, were a terrible disgrace to his father and to God. “Now the sons of Eli were scoundrels; they had no regard for the Lord or for the duties of the priests to the people” (1Sam.2:12-13).

 Because of their pride, Eli’s two sons misused their positions as priests, mistreated people, and disregarded worship.3 Eli was aware of the unacceptable behavior of his sons but failed to discipline them.4 He had a very common problem we see today. He poured his efforts into his job as a high priest, but neglected to be the kind of parent his son’s needed.5 Because God cares about behavior, He dealt harshly with Eli’s two sons. “See, a time is coming when I will cut off your strength and the strength of your ancestor’s family, so that no one in your family will live to old age” (v.31). And as for Eli’s two sons? “…both of them shall die on the same day” (v.34). Wow! That was harsh, but when we understand that Eli was guilty of honoring his sons above God (v.29) and since sin was involved, God instituted deadly consequences.6

 There is something else rather interesting in God’s response to Eli. Recall that Reuben was Jacob’s firstborn, therefore Jacob referred to him as his strength. Those words represent one part of the element of the blessing–words of high value. Then, in the story of Eli, God referred to Eli’s crooked sons as Eli’s strength and that strength was cut off. Because of their poor choices that involved sin, they both died on the same day–no longer to be Eli’s strength. Although this real example may seem cruel, this judgment also sheds light of how deep is His love, and how much deeper it is than even our love for our children.

 My child, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, or lose heart when you are punished by him; for the Lord disciplines those whom he loves, and chastises every child whom he accepts. Moreover, we had human parents to discipline us, and we respected them. For they disciplined us for a short time as seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share his holiness. (Hebrews 12:5-6, 9-10)

 We mustn’t be like Eli who was unwilling to risk disciplining his sons. According to Trent and Smalley, “Discipline is an important way of actively committing ourselves to a child’s best interest.”7

 Next, we’ll look at the fourth way to demonstrate a genuine commitment to our children. This is a concept of loving (in action) what your children do (skills or professions) in life. This is a subtle observation that pulls a powerful emotional response from your children. You won’t want to miss what this is. It will leave an indelible mark on their lives.

 A wonderful resource for godly parenting is Focus on the Family at www.focusonthefamily.com. Click on the tab labeled “Parenting.” Great resource.

I’ve been getting lots of wonderful responses to this blog series and thanks to all of you who have commented. “Pleasant words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the body” (Prov. 16:24). If you have a topic area you’d like me to post about after this series is over, please let me know. I want to know what my readers want. Thank you!

Blessings,

Lisa

 Notes

1 John Trent and Gary Smalley. The Blessing (Nashville, TN., Thomas Nelson, Inc., 1993), 141.

2 Ibid.142

3 Lisa Nixon Phillips. Faith Steps for Military Families (New York, NY., Morgan James Publishing, LLC., 2014) 141.

4 Ibid.

5 Ibid.

6 Ibid.

7 John Trent and Gary Smalley. The Blessing (Nashville, TN., Thomas Nelson, Inc., 1993), 143.

Did You Miss the Parental Blessing? (Understanding Their Bent)

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Blessing your children involves knowing their bent.

Part 11

“This is what their father said to them when he blessed them, blessing each one of them with a suitable blessing” (Gen.49:28 NRSV).

It’s a no-brainer that it is vital for parents to be committed to their children, as we read in the last post (Part 10). Authors of the book, The Blessing, Gary Smalley and John Trent, reveal something unique about the blessing in Genesis 49:28. After Jacob spoke a blessing for each of his twelve sons, he said, “This is what their father said to them when he blessed them, blessing each one of them with a suitable blessing” (Gen.49:28 NRSV). Did you catch it? Being committed to our children enables us to learn about how our children are wired and what their “bent” is – their own set of needs unique to them. This way when we seek to bless our children we do so with a suitable blessing that serves their best interests–we give them their own unique blessing.1

Understanding Their Bent in Order to Bless

You may be familiar with the verse, “Train children in the right way, and when old, they will not stray” (Prov. 22:6 NRSV). Smalley and Trent offer us another way to look at this verse to help us determine what the right way is for each of our children. “Train up a child according to his bent…”2

 However, Smalley and Trent do provide us with a warning. Families today are busier than in previous eras. It’s easy to assume that because we live under one roof together that we know our children, but this is untrue. It’s also false to subscribe to the mindset that because we are busy families that we are powerless to really know and be “in the moment” with our kids.

 Military families–you have an extra challenge to optimize your time while home from training missions and deployments to get a good grasp on their individual bents and really connect with them. Doing so will better equip them through the months of deployment. Even though it’s wise to take each deployment one at a time, (so as not to get overwhelmed looking at several of them over the span of a military career) deployments just aren’t a one-time deal and then it’s all over. Rather, they are a cycle. As children grow, they may change on the inside. Their goals, hopes, feelings, fears, and dreams can change over time. If anyone knows this is true, it’s the military member who returns home from a deployment to see obvious changes and growth (maturity levels as well as physical size) of their kids.

The trouble comes in when parents are over committed (military as well as civilian) with their own agendas to the exclusion of really knowing their children’s bent, (their unique set of needs).3 This can make children feel unconnected, misunderstood, or believe that nobody “gets them.”

 Understanding our children’s bents and following through with appropriate blessings is crucial, but there is also another element to active commitment, which is appropriate discipline. That will be the subject of my next post.

Like connecting with our children which blesses our hearts, connecting with you, my readers, and making an impact is the purpose of this blog. You are welcomed here! If you have learned something new or have something to add or share to the rest of our readers, please comment below.

Blessings!

Lisa

Did You Miss the Parental Blessing? A Promise to Be There

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Are You Committed to Your Children?

Are You Committed to Your Children?

Part 10

Sons [children] are indeed a heritage [blessing] from the LORD,…like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the sons of one’s youth” (Psalm 127:3-4 NRSV).

So far we’ve looked at four elements of the blessing according to the authors of The Blessing, Gary Smalley and John Trent: meaningful touch, a spoken or written message, conveying high value and a special future. The final element, having a genuine commitment, is crucial if the blessing is to be a reality in your children’s lives. Trent and Smalley state, “Giving the blessing involves action, linked to our words.”1 There are four steps Trent and Smalley share that shows our commitment to bless our children. We will address the first one in this article.

 Pray for the Lord to Endorse (Carry-out) the Blessing

When both of my children were under a year old, we had them dedicated to the Lord. Often this is done as part of the regular church service. As a family, we went before the body of Christ (congregation) and while the pastor laid his hands on the heads of my children, he explained how they are a blessing (the “arrows” as described in Psalm 127) from God and as Christian parents our role in shaping their faith by raising them up in the Lord. He then directed his attention to the father of the child and explained his particular role in raising his child, (love unconditionally, teach, guide, protect, biblical discipline-training for correction that leads to maturity, among others) and then he asked the father a specific and pointed question: “Are you committed to these things and will you carry them out?” The father replies, “Yes, I will.” And the same is done for the mother. To close, the pastor prays for the child. The pastor is asking God to approve and authorize the blessing. This prayer is similar to what Isaac did when he blessed Jacob. He asked, “May God give you of the dew of heaven, and of the fatness of the earth, and plenty of grain and wine” (a special future). Then, when Jacob blessed his sons and grandchildren, he also said,

 “He blessed Joseph, and said, ‘The God before whom my ancestors Abraham and Isaac walked, the God who has been my shepherd all my life to this day, …bless the boys; and in them let my name be perpetuated, and the name of my ancestors Abraham and Isaac; and let them grow into a multitude on the earth.’” (Gen. 48:15-16 nrsv).

These patriarch fathers knew of God’s commitment to them and therefore called on God to put into action their requests.2 Smalley and Trent, authors of The Blessing give us this example:

 “In churches all across the country, pastors close their services with the words, ‘May the Lord bless you, and keep you.’ By linking God’s name to the blessing they spoke, these pastors were asking God himself to be the one to confirm it with his power and might–the very thing Isaac and Jacob did with their children.”3

 God’s Genuine Care

Another reason to ask the Lord to bless our children is that it teaches our children that God really does care about their lives. As parents, we recognize that our ability to be committed to our children is provided by God’s strength and might.4 In and of ourselves, we are not able to consistently sustain this ability over the course of their lives. If your children are grown, like mine are, it is never too late to begin praying pin-point blessings on them.

Even though the military lifestyle may take you away from your children during deployments and military training exercises, you can still keep a strong commitment to your children by calling home as often as you can, emailing each of your children and implementing the five elements of the blessing (as discussed in the previous posts) into your emails in creative ways, and letting them know you are committed to them despite the distance.

One truth I realized more deeply is that when our first child went off to college, we never stop being a parent even though our children leave home. My friend, Kathy, said it best when her grown children were coming home for Easter, “We have a full nest.”

 Next time we will look at Trent and Smalley’s second step of how to make the blessing for our children happen. If you would like to share your thoughts on this article, I would be thrilled to hear from you. It is so much more rewarding to know those of you who visit this site regularly. This blog is for you and if there’s a topic you’d like to read more about, relating to parenting as military parents/families, please let me know. The best material is what you are interested in. I look forward to hearing your comments and ideas. Make it a great day in the Lord!

Blessing,

Lisa

 Notes:

1 John Trent and Gary Smalley. The Blessing (Nashville, TN.,Thomas Nelson, Inc., 1993), 136.

2 Ibid. 137.

3 Ibid. 138.

4 Ibid. 139