Tag Archives: Blessing

Where Did All the Good Go?

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“The graveyard of history testifies that God rejects nations that reject Him and His Word. Is God getting ready to reject us once and for all?” -Dr. Mike Evans

In the World, but Outside of Its Influence

We are told in John 17:16: “They are not part of this world any more than I [Jesus] am” [emphasis mine]. Just think for a moment what it may have seemed like to Jesus. He left heaven, a perfect and glorious home, to live on earth, fallen and weighed down by sin. Even though he came to the world as an infant and adjusted to the culture of the world, He knew He wasn’t a permanent resident. Even though he didn’t tolerate lying, murder, profanity, sexual sin, deception, rebellion, false teachers, pride, covetousness, adultery, stealing, etc., Jesus lived in a world of sin but remained outside of its influence.

It’s no surprise that our culture is moving further away from God, and His Son, Jesus Christ. There’s a prevailing style of thinking in the world today that says, “I can get by in life without God,” and an over-indulgence for pleasure is the new god of our land. Our country has adopted a new set of values for good and evil. Isaiah 5:20 explains:

“Ah, you who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter! Ah, you who are wise in your own eyes, and shrewd in your own sight!”

Evil Is Good and Good Is Evil

As the line of distinction between good and evil and bitter and sweet becomes blurred, a catastrophic breakdown has been set in motion.

It used to be good to pray in school. It used to be good to say the Pledge of Allegiance before class began. It used to be good to take a stand for biblical beliefs without fearing reprisal. It used to be good to love your neighbor as yourself. It used to be good to close stores for Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays, putting God, faith, and family first. It used to be good having nativity scenes set up on public grounds to demonstrate Who the Light of our faith and nation is. It used o be good to apologize when needed. It used to be good to offer your seat to an elderly person. It used to be good to say thank-you. It used to be good to earn something worth working hard for. It used to be good to respect authority. It used to be good to respect our elders. It used to be good to respect and honor God and His son Jesus Christ.

What used to be good is now unpopular and in fact, intolerable, wrong, offending, or even criminal. This is because it is now good and pleasing for people to base their actions on the relativity-thinking model, meaning what may be right for one person may not be for another, dismissing the truth that consequences aren’t removed for rejecting God.

Sacred Out – Sin In

Today, what used to be evil is considered good. Evil doesn’t have to mean just wicked, but also malevolent, sinful, malicious, immoral, foul, revolting, and disgusting. We now have classrooms without prayer and the Pledge of Allegiance removed, creating a disconnect of pride and servitude to our country. Faith based family businesses are targeted or sued for being genuine to their faith because faith means living out God’s presence in all aspects of our lives, not just our private lives.

Today, our nation would rather ignore our neighbors, let alone love them. And the dollar bill drives our holiday seasons instead of family unity, leaving nothing sacred anymore. It is now evil in our culture to put a Christmas nativity scene, so the baby Jesus won’t be offensive. It is now evil to apologize. We’ll forsake restoring a relationship over correcting a wrong. Pride has gotten in the way and apologizing is viewed as a sign of a character flaw. And parents are far too busy to teach their children the godly value of saying thank-you.

A society can’t exist without structure, rules, boundaries, and principles. As church relevance drops in America, the churches influence also declines. Sadly, the torch the Statue of Liberty holds up to the heavens is dimming and she is losing her flavor.

The Torch of Freedom

The Bible offers structure for our lives, boundaries for protection, principles for living, basic rules for conduct, wisdom, and many other virtues. However, since the days of our founding fathers until present time, America has subtly estranged herself from its biblical roots and is now outside of the protection of the harbor. I recently read an article by Dr. Mike Evans inside the February 2016 issue of Friends of Zion magazine called, “Is America A Christian Nation?” he concludes his article with this sobering possibility:

“The graveyard of history testifies that God rejects nations that reject Him and His Word. Is God getting ready to reject us once and for all?”

Take Up the TorchLight

The Statue of Liberty’s torchlight is a symbol of freedom, showing its people the path of liberty. But the liberty that God intended for the citizens of America was for a different purpose. He gave us this beautiful nation, not for our own purposes and agendas, but for God’s. According to Galatians 5:13: “For you were called to freedom, brothers and sisters; only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for self-indulgence…”(nrsv).

This freedom we are blessed with isn’t for following our fallen natures or acting in opposition to God’s standards for living. That is no freedom at all. That is actually being slaves to our fallen nature. True freedom is living to do right by God’s Word because there is protection in that – God’s protection.

If those of us who are Christ’s remnant allow our light to dim because our values and beliefs are in direct opposition of the worlds, the darkness of this world continues to grow and its reach becomes broader.

I began this article with John 17:16, but the verse before it, verse 15 is Jesus’ prayer for His children, and today’s remnant.

Take Up the Battle Cry

We are Christ-followers are called to be His vessels – to be that torchlight to show true freedom is godly living. God has given us this land as a blessing. Bible-believing Americans, we need to wake up and make good on that blessing. We need to take up the battle cry against the evil that is sweeping across our nation. We need to pray “against the rulers, against the authorities [Satan’s evil army] against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil…” (ESV). As the remnant, we don’t have the strength to stand on our own; we must rely upon the Lord’s strength. We get that strength through prayer. And we need to heed the warning in Proverbs 29:18:

“Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he” (kjv).

There is a correlation and a consequence for a nation in this verse. It describes a nation in upheaval. That nation is America. A country that removes God is a country that is overrun with crime, sin, corruption, and turning good into evil and sweet into bitter. We have lost our vision – a vision that was once admired by other countries. This vision was once a model for other countries to aspire to. God has a consequence for such a nation. It perishes. America, don’t forget there are countries that would, in an instant, elevate their god in our country, in our government, in our schools and in our churches – in place of the one true God of the Bible.

Yes, we live in the world, but like Jesus, not of it. I urge you to stand up for the Lord Jesus Christ. Take Him off the dusty book shelf and exalt Him. For I am still hungry for God’s blessing upon our land. Are you?

Blessings,

Lisa

 

Psalm 134 – What Does It Mean to Bless the Lord?

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Did you know that word for to "bless" is related to the Hebrew word for "knee."

Did you know that word for to “bless” is related to the Hebrew word for “knee.”

“Come, bless the LORD, all you servants of the LORD, who stand by night in the house of the LORD! Lift up your hands to the holy place, and bless the LORD. May the LORD, maker of heaven and earth, bless you from Zion” (Psalm 134 NSRV).

Psalm 134 is a psalm of thanksgiving. Written by King David, it is three short verses with a powerful call to bless the Lord. But what does blessing the Lord mean?

The Great Overseer

First, the word blessed (barukh) is related to the Hebrew word for knee (berekh), as is the word for blessing, (b’rakha), thus implying an association between humbling ourselves, (i.e. kneeling before God in recognition of His blessedness) and receiving personal blessing from Him. Simply, to bless the Lord is to acknowledge God’s goodness He has bestowed on us, as well as His exalted status. In short, blessing the Lord is thanking Him for being the great Overseer of our lives. Psalm 103 is just one psalm among many that praise God for His greatness. Check out these reasons for why we should bless the Lord:

  • His forgiveness. “…who forgives all your iniquity…” (v.3 NRSV).
  • His healing. “…who heals all your diseases” (v.3).
  • His kindness. “…who redeems your life from the Pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy” (v.4).
  • His provision. “…who satisfies you with good as long as you live so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s” (v. 5).
  • His justice. “The LORD works vindication and justice for all who are oppressed” (v. 6).
  • His mercy and grace. “The LORD is merciful and gracious” (v.8).
  • His patience. “…slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love” (v.8).
  • His compassion. “As a father has compassion for his children, so the LORD has compassion for those who fear him” (v. 13).
  • His steadfast love. “But the steadfast love of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear (revere, honor, in awe of him)” (v.17).

We Are the Apple of His Eye

This psalm highlights God’s magnificent acts He will do on behalf of those who love Him with their lives as well as His inconceivable nature. Our list of blessing (thanking) the Lord ought to include His provision of health (v.3) even though He may not choose to heal every disease. Still, every healing does come from God. He is on the side of the helpless and extends justice for those oppressed. The Psalms of Ascent, which is what this psalm is, (Click here to learn about the Psalms of Ascent) record God’s miraculous feats of preserving the ancient Israelites from their enemies, as well as sin’s destructive nature. God is for us as well. We are highly prized. We are the apple of His eye (Zechariah 2:8). God is all-powerful, yet He is also patient, compassionate, and kind. This makes Him a perfect Father. He knows we are mere mortals; our lives are like grass “they flourish like a flower of the field; for the wind passé over it, and it is gone, and its place is no more” (vv. 15-16). Yet those who revere and obey Him, His love never ends. His nature and His ways can’t be compared with any other god. And His blessing remains upon those who are vigilant in their faith.

David’s list will encourage your heart and revitalize your appreciation of Him. It will also give you a fresh awareness of His presence in your life.  We are fragile children, but God’s care is mighty and eternal. He never takes His eye off of you.

Call to Action

As a Christ-follower, we are called to bless the Lord. Today, consider your life. Is it a reflection of His blessings? It’s important that we bless God back.

Blessings to You!

Lisa

Have You Thanked God for Future Blessings?

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Have You Ever Thanked God for Future Blessings?

Have You Ever Thanked God for Future Blessings?

I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and the one who curses you I will curse; and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed. Genesis 12:2-3

Did you know there is a Thanksgiving Day story in the book of Genesis?1 It’s tucked in chapter 12 and very easy to miss. It reveals Abram thanking God for future blessings. The chapter opens with God promising Abram (later becomes Abraham) that He would make a great nation out of him. God’s promise:

In order for this promise to become a reality, God required something of Abram. Abram had to obey God and go where God instructed him. That meant leaving his home and moving to a new land, called Canaan. Abram complied and he and his wife, Sarai (who later becomes Sarah) took all that they owned and traveled to the land of Canaan.2

Upon their arrival in Canaan, “the LORD appeared to Abram, and said, ‘To your offspring I will give this land”’(v. 7). “From there he moved on to the hill country on the east of Bethel, and pitched his tent, with Bethel on the west and Ai on the east; and there he built an altar to the LORD and invoked [petitioned] the name of the LORD” So he [Abram] built there an altar to the LORD, who had appeared to him” (V.8).

Past

Many religions built altars for sacrifices, but with God’s people, building an altar was not just about sacrifices. The altars also represented communion with God, prayer, worship, memorializing special encounters with Him, and in Abram’s case, a visual reminder of God’s promise. For Abram, blessing God in return was giving thanks back to God.

Present

Today, we also give thanks to God for our blessings. We don’t build altars, but we do make a traditional meal, along with a thanksgiving prayer commemorating God’s blessings in our lives and relationships.  We give thanks for the blessings we’ve received.

Future

But have you ever considered giving thanks for future blessings? If you didn’t catch it, this is exactly what Abram did. He didn’t simply give thanks for blessings he already received, but also for the blessings that were to come in the future. How could he do this? Because God made a covenant (promise) with Abram. He promised certain things would take place and Abram knew he could trust God’s spoken word.

But there’s more. Not only did Abram give thanks for future blessings he hadn’t received yet, but he didn’t live long enough to see the future blessings God promised!3 Abram didn’t live to see the Promised Land that God assured Abram’s descendants. But Abram still gave thanks for those blessings anyway, because He knew His God always kept His promises.

Call to Action

Giving thanks to God should be a normal spiritual discipline for Christ-followers. Feeling a sense of gratitude is pleasing, but expressing it to our heavenly Father takes it up a notch. Telling God thank You is gratitude expressed.

This Thanksgiving, while you’re thanking God for the blessings you and your loved ones have received, why not also give thanks in advance for those blessings yet to be realized in the future, even if it means you might not be around to witness them.

Grace and Blessings to You this Thanksgiving,

Lisa

Notes:

1 Craig McLaughlin, Pastor of Marysville Church of the Nazarene, 2014

2 Ibid.

3 Ibid.

 

Penned Prayers

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When was the last time you wrote your prayers down in a prayer journal?

Recording our prayers in a journal offers three benefits.

A journal is a place where we give expression to the fountain of our heart, where we can unreservedly pour out our passion before the Lord. -Donald S. Whitney

Ask yourself, when was the last time you wrote your prayers out using a prayer journal and a pen? If you’ve ever studied the book of Psalms, you’ve likely noticed many of them are penned prayers. You may have also noticed that many of them were written by King David at a time when he fled from his son, Absalom, who rallied up an army in an attempt to overthrow him.

“O God, you have declared me perfect in your eyes; you have always cared for me in my distress; now hear me as I call again. Have mercy on me. Hear my prayer…” (Psalm 4:1). Or Psalm 5:1-3, “O lord, hear  me praying; listen to my plea, O God my King, for I will never pray to anyone but you. Each morning I will look to you in heaven and lay my requests before you, praying earnestly.”

From these prayers we can sense the despair and anguish in David’s heartfelt petitions.

There have been times in my own life where my prayers have been a reflection of a desperate heart. Later, when that season had passed I re-read those prayers and gave God the praise for how He came through for me or gave me victory in a certain area. Often times, I see God’s answer in a whole new perspective.

Another prophet, Jonah, recorded his prayers on the written page, too.

“Then Jonah prayed to the Lord his God from inside the fish: ‘In my great trouble I cried to the Lord and he answered me; from the depths of death I called, and Lord, you heard me!’”(Jonah 2:1-2). I guess if I was in the belly of a large fish, I’d be praying too.

Benefits of Penned Prayers

I also find that journaling my prayers helps me to stay focused and achieve three goals:

  1. Recording my prayers forces me to clarify what my prayer needs actually are rather than just a vague generality.
  2. Recording my prayers allows me to write Pen-Point Prayers where I focus on the specifics of my petitions.
  3. Our lives are busy and we often just snack on God’s Word, reading a short devotional or grabbing a Bible verse and running out the door.  Writing out my prayers mean keeping an appointment with God. This slows my mind and body down so I can have an honest heart-to-heart connection with the Lord.

Legacy of Faith

One of the blessings that come from a life of penned prayers is the legacy of faith you leave your children and grandchildren. When my grandmother passed away, I received one of her journals. It’s a mixture of her daily reflections on life, family, faith, but also some very gut-wrenching prayers. I can say that it was her prayers that I most treasure. They allowed me to get a glimpse of her pained heart laid raw and hurting before God.  Underpinning her petitions to her heavenly Father was a heart of humility, recording her failings as a parent, her shortcomings, fears, sorrows, and even some regrets. But for all the grief that filled her life towards its end, she remarked how thankful that Jesus stood in the gap as well as the void, between what was all wrong and missing in her life, and the forgiveness and acceptance Jesus offers.  Her repentant heart reflected in the truth that she needed God – every day.

And there’s more, something I will always carry with me- her prayers for me and referring to me as a blessing in her life. Of course, she wrote letters to me often and expressed her love for me and offered affirmations, but to know that I was a blessing to her life impacted me when I was a young adult. She wasn’t perfect, but I know from her prayer journal that in all her weaknesses, she placed her confidence in God, and trusted in His love and forgiveness. Her prayer journal, in turn, was a double blessing back to me.

Blessings to you,

Lisa

Tweet/Post: One of the benefits of penned prayers is the legacy of faith you leave your children and grandchildren.#PenPaperAndPrayers@lisanixonphillips.com/blog

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Vain Building

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Who's the Builder of Your Home?

Who’s the Builder of Your Home?

Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain. Unless the Lord guards the city, the guard keeps watch in vain. Psalm 127:1

Are you building in vain? King Solomon knew a thing or two about vain building. He knew the importance of creating a home with God as its foundation. His own father, King David, was a far better ruler than he was a parent. He deliberately planted the seed of sin that triggered a string of horrific consequences for himself as well as for his family members when he committed adultery with Bathsheba. From there it only grew worse. Constant trouble came upon King David’s household creating a crevasse of deep disunity.  Disunity in King David’s home led to what we call today a dysfunctional family.

Solomon’s message is clear: Families make a house a home, but vain building means that God is not part of every aspect of the building of the home. Its efforts are futile. A family without God can never experience the spiritual bond God brings to relationships.1 In Psalm 127, Solomon compares a home to a city. A city without God will be at risk of crumbling due to evil and corruption on the inside,2  even if those who guard the city are awake; it will still fall.  Likewise, a home without God is at great risk of imploding due to unchecked sin, pride, and disunity. This is because a home where God doesn’t dwell is a home void of His blessing. And without the Lord’s blessing, our toil is meaningless. In addition, it will have no eternal value. Therefore, be encouraged by Solomon’s wisdom of this psalm. Wisdom is attained when we find God’s perspective.

God Created Families

God designed us to be in families and He designed our homes to be under His Lordship. This means that the outcome of our toils is dependent on whether or not we have His blessings. If we go about this life with no regard for God, then it is reasonable that we also can’t expect Him to bless our homes. In truth, we are dependent on our heavenly Father for all aspects of life within our homes: for our health, our personalities and skills He created that determine our vocation, and how those skills contribute to our families, the wisdom we attain, and the outcome of our undertakings. The God who created our families is the same Power and Authority that controls every aspect of our existence. We are dependent on God for the very breaths we take and for the health and strength of our bodies.  If we invite God to be in the life of our homes and we allow Him to manipulate and orchestrate what goes on within it, then even if evil or harm touches our efforts, it will not be permanently consumed, but carefully preserved in heaven. When we have God’s blessing upon our home, His dividends far exceed earth’s temporary wages.

Blessings to You,

Lisa

Notes:

1 Bible Note for Psalm 127:1, Life Application Bible (Iowa Falls, IA: World Bible Publishers, Inc., 1989).

2 Ibid.

Psalm 134 – Give Thanks to the Lord

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Have you blessed God yet?

How many ways have you blessed God yet?

Psalm 134 is much like a psalm of thanksgiving. Written by King David, it is three short verses with a powerful call for the ancient Israelites to bless the Lord. Singing this psalm at the temple in Jerusalem was an acknowledgement for all that God had done for them. But what does blessing the Lord mean? First, the word “blessed” (barukh) is related to the Hebrew word for “knee” (berekh), as is the word for “blessing,” (b`rakha), thus implying an association between humbling ourselves, (i.e., kneeling before God in recognition of His blessedness) and receiving personal blessing from Him. Simply, to bless the Lord is to acknowledge God’s goodness He has bestowed on us, as well as His exalted status. In short, blessing the Lord is thanking Him for being the great Overseer of our lives. Psalm 103 is just one psalm among many that praise God for His greatness. I encourage you to read it as a part of today’s devotional. It is a good example of “why” we should bless God:

  • His forgiveness of sin (v.3)
  • His healing (v.3)
  • His Kindness (v.4)
  • His provision (v.5)
  • His justice (v.6)
  • His mercy and grace (v.8)
  • His patience (v.8)
  • His compassion (v.13)
  • His steadfast love (v.17)

This psalm highlights God’s magnificent acts and His inconceivable nature. Our list of praises ought to include His provision of good health (v.3). Even though He may not choose to heal every disease, every healing does come from God. He is on the side of the helpless and extends justice for those oppressed. The Psalms of Ascent are God’s record of all His miraculous feats of preserving the ancient Israelites from their enemies, as well as sin’s destructive nature. He is for us as well. We are precious to God. We are the apple of His eye (Zechariah 2:8). God is all-powerful, yet He is also patient, compassionate, and kind. This makes Him a perfect father. He knows we are mere mortals; our lives are like grass “they flourish like a flower of the field; for the wind passé over it, and it is gone, and its place knows it no more” (vv.15-16). Yet, for those who revere and obey Him, His love never ends. His nature and His ways can’t be compared with any other god. And His blessing remains upon those who are steadfast and vigilant in their faith.

If your faith journey is difficult right now, read Psalm 103. David’s list will encourage your heart and revitalize your appreciation of Him. It will also give you a fresh awareness of His presence in your life. We are fragile children, but God’s care is mighty and eternal. He never takes His eye off of you.

As Christians, we are called to bless the Lord. When we examine all He has done for us, we perceive and appreciate what God is really like. Today, consider your life. Is it a reflection of His blessings?

 Blessings to you,

Lisa

I can also be found on Facebook at www.Facebook.com/FaithStepsForMilitaryFamilies and on Twitter at Twitter.com/lisanixonphilli. To order my book, Faith Steps for Military Families click on the book’s cover above.

God – Our Master Builder

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Unless the LORD builds the house, those who build it labor in vain. Psalm 127:1

There is a spiritual bond like no other when parents bring the Lord into their home.

Unless the LORD builds the house, those who build it labor in vain. Psalm 127:1

 King Solomon asserted that a life that is lived apart from God is a futile effort. In fact, a life that declares it doesn’t need God is an empty life. It means it is void of eternal meaning and purpose. Having God as the Master Builder of your military home ensures His blessings.

 The book of Ecclesiastes (Ecc. 1:2) says, “The words of the Teacher, the son of David, king in Jerusalem. ‘Vanity of vanities!’ All is vanity.’” The word vanity means “breath” or “vapor.”2 Solomon states that our lives are as fleeting as a spray of thin mist. The years swiftly pass by. If you are a parent, you can identify with this concept. When our children are small it seems like they will be small forever, or least for a long time. However, when they are grown we reflect on how those formative years zipped along.

 Psalm 127 is a psalm about family. Its wisdom states that unless God is in the life of our home, the Master Builder, all of life that goes on in our home is futile. Leaving God out of every aspect of life renders all that we do, achieve, or pursue, as pointless, void of eternal value. It is as if we’re trying to invest funds into our retirement accounts with counterfeit money. There is only one thing that is lasting–a life that pleases God. This type of life is based on 1 Corinthians 3:10. “According to the grace of God given to me, like a skilled master builder I laid a foundation, and some else is building on it. Each builder must choose with care how to build on it. For no one can lay any foundation other than the one that has been laid; that foundation is Jesus Christ.”

 There is a spiritual bond that is like no other when parents bring the Lord into their homes. When a home has invited God to be an active participant in all areas of the home, those relationships are not only blessed, but God imparts meaning into each relationship, forging eternal perspectives and purposes. This isn’t to say that God doesn’t call out a life from a broken home and give him or her a spiritual purpose. He does. There are many examples in the Bible where God does just that (i.e. Rahab).

 Some years ago I heard this analogy about a home that is void of Jesus’ presence. His blessings are gifts to us. But when the Lord is vacant in the home, it is like a gift still under the tree, still wrapped up. It was never opened in order for its blessings to be experienced. Philosopher Soren Kierkegaard says, “Life must be lived forwards, but can only be understood backwards.” The beautiful thing about God is that He is full of compassion and gives us second chances. If we didn’t grow up in homes where God was present and welcomed, we can choose the Lord as adults and allow Jesus’ to establish our homes today, allowing Jesus’ life to be the source of its strength, joy, resiliency, unity, and purpose. God blesses a home that is moving towards Him.

 Blessings,

Lisa

The above devotional was an except from Faith Steps for Military Families. You can also find me at www.Facebook.com/FaithStepsForMilitaryFamilies and on twitter at www.Twitter.com/lisanixonphilli

 

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? (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