Tag Archives: Parents of Military

How Do You Relate to God? Four Points, Part 1

Posted on by
Salad or Stew

How Do You Relate to God – As a Judge or Father

“How you think of God, determines how you relate to God,” said Pastor, Craig McLaughlin of Marysville Church of the Nazarene. Indeed, “family is the primary way God relates to us.” That is certainly true for me. All my major turning points in my life were through relationships with my family, and how God manipulated those family circumstances that moved me along His path for my life. God thinks in terms of family, too. “See what love the Father has given us, that we should be called children of God; and that is what we are” (1 John 3:1). This verse is evidence of the concept of ‘family’ used in Scripture. God is the parent and we are His children. But the crux of the matter is this: How you think of God, determines how you interact with Him.

If you were brought up with the understanding that God is a detached being, uninvolved in your life, you may also see Him as a distant ruler that you can’t relate to. If this has been your perception of God growing up, then that perception will influence how you relate to Him later in life.

God As A Judge

When John Calvin arrived on the scene in the 1500’s his view of God wasn’t so much a distant king or a ruler, but as a judge–a righteous judge. As a result, many people of his time viewed God in the same way. This mindset believes God is always ready to condemn us. It’s the inner belief that if I fail in any one area, or break some rule, He will judge me harshly.1 This view of God fosters an unhealthy manner in which we relate to Him.

God As A Father

Then, in the 1700’s along came John Wesley. His view of God was more in line with how we believe God wants us to view Him–that as Father. He is our heavenly Father and we are His children, not just in eternity, but right now.2 And just like we would be available for our own children, God is also available to us. Like parents, God also wants His children to seek Him for meeting all our needs–the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual needs. God isn’t some remote king uninterested in our lives. Quite the opposite, He created family and this means family matters to Him.

Have you seen the television commercial of the daughter who is backing up in her car and she hits the lamp post at the end of the driveway? She turns around to see her father coming towards her with a serious look on his face, but then her father’s countenance suddenly changes to a gentle grace-filled smile. This is not the face of a parent coming to judge her for backing over the lamp post, but to come alongside her and teach her how to use care and caution in backing out of the driveway.

God is Grace as Expressed in the Flesh

When our children break a house rule and they need discipline, that discipline isn’t all about punishment, but in showing grace (to extend kindness to a person who doesn’t deserve it or can never earn it). True, grace corrects, but always with accepting the person, not with dismissing remarks such as “you can’t do anything right,” or “you never use your head or think.” These are shaming statements and it breaks down a person’s sense of worth.

The Creator Knows His Created

The first thing God deemed not good was Adam being alone in the garden. Adam needed family, so God created Eve. Ever since, we have the ‘essence’ of family wired into us; It was put there by God. “All that is good in life is connected to family whether directly or indirectly.3 Since family matters to Him, it also means our heavenly Father is a relatable God.

Next Post: Part 2, Is Your Family Like A Salad or A Stew?

Tweet: How do you relate to God? http://www.LisaNixonPhillips.com/blog.

Blessings,

Lisa

Notes:

1 Pastor Craig McLaughlin, “What Matters to God?” (accessed 4/3/16).

2 Ibid.

3 Ibid.

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

Posted on by
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

Psalm 127: Have You Deployed Your Arrows Yet?

Posted on by

 

Did you get the blessing?
Am I aiming my children in the right direction so they will hit their target for God?

 

Sons [and daughters] are indeed a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward” (Psalm 127:3)

Have you deployed your arrows yet? I’m talking about children, that is, not actual arrows released from a bow. Psalm 127 uses the metaphor of arrows to describe our children. This psalm, written by King Solomon, offers wisdom for the spiritual building of our homes and children as gifts from God. He says, “Sons are indeed a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward” (v.3). Rest assured, even though verse 3 refers to sons, daughters are included in this blessing. Today, our western culture too often views children as liabilities. But according to King Solomon, children are to be regarded as assets. In fact, in Old Testament times, a father with many children was honored in his home town.

As parents, it’s our responsibility in preparing our children for life outside of our home. This includes skill building for how to manage on their own, but also includes training them up in God’s Word so they can add faith and godly living to their lives, too. If you have children, God has tasked you with the job of aiming your children towards a relationship with Jesus. But there’s more to this than simply raising godly children. There’s also a purpose behind this crucial responsibility. Our children will become the next generation of salt and light dispensers in our dark and warped world. They become Christ’s agents as they live out their lives. While they’re still with us in our homes, it’s important to ask ourselves, “Am I aiming my children in the right direction so they will hit their target for God?

As I write this, my son, Lawrence, is about to head off to Navy boot camp. He is following in his father’s footsteps, as did our daughter. She serves in the Army National Guard. Clearly, my husband’s military service had a positive influence on our children, but my hope is that our faith in the Lord makes an even great impact. Our influence as parents will never be as strong as it is while our children are still in the home where we can shape their minds with godly principles, goals, and choices. When we deploy our children into the world, to navigate their way through life, will they draw from their faith and relationship with Christ, or slowly mold into the culture of our world? This is where the rubber hits the road for me. As a mother, did I carry out my responsibility to my fullest potential in steering both of my children towards a faith in Christ? Did I incorporate into their lives good building materials that led them to develop their own unique relationship with Jesus–a foundation that equips them with a stout faith and grounded by the principles of God’s Word? In other words, did my convictions, values, and beliefs make an imprint on their lives to such a degree that I leave them a legacy of faith?

Fortunately, just because our children will leave the security of our homes doesn’t mean our influence as parents comes to an end. In reality, parenting doesn’t end when they leave home; it just changes. Our daughter, while in college, often called us for our opinions or our thoughts on a particular subject she was considering. This was my confirmation that her father and I must of done something right because she values our responses, whether they are spiritual in nature, or just wise living. Everything else our children encounter in life, once released from our charge is prayed over and entrusted into God’s hands.

Delight yourself in the Lord today,

Lisa

You can also find me on Facebook at www.Facebook.com/FaithStepsForMilitaryFamilies, Twitter @lisanixonphili, http://google.com/+LisaNixonPhillips4487 and Goodreads.

 

 

Prayer Supports Adult Military Children

Posted on by

All the paths of the Lord are steadfast love and faithfulness, for those who keep his covenant and his decrees. Psalm 25:10

Does your military member have your prayers?

Does your military member have your prayers?

My book, Faith Steps for Military Families is about spiritual readiness–incorporating one’s faith in preparing for adversity or living under difficult circumstances and includes how well a military family can bounce back. As a retired military wife and now a Blue Star Mother (mothers who have children serving in the armed forces. See www.bluestarmothers.org ), it’s hard to see our grown children who serve our country go through difficult trials.

Our daughter, Megan’s, biggest challenge began in the summer of 2007, between her high school graduation and departing for college at Washington State University in Pullman that fall. She had worked hard and done everything right when she secured a spot in the college’s Army’s ROTC program. Excited, she was ready for her upcoming college experiences and the ROTC program. But all her grand plans were nearly extinguished with a cancer diagnoses. Earlier, I insisted she get her booster tetanus shot. While in that office visit, the doctor detected a large mass on her throat. A tissue biopsy later came back positive for cancer. The timing of this diagnosis couldn’t of come at the worst time–on the very day we were leaving to move her to the college.

 After many phone calls to doctors and faxing medical records to the medical clinic in the small college town, Megan was confident she could mend herself after surgery in order to stay in college, but her standing and participation in the ROTC program was hanging in the balance. Not wanting to give up on college, we supported her decision to have surgery and radiation treatment in Pullman, while attending college. As expected, the ROTC program abruptly ended for her. Understandably disappointed, we encouraged her to focus on her health. From home, we monitored her progress and recovery. As expected, the mental and physical demands of college became challenging and her grades suffered, but she was determined to stick it out and overcome this setback.

 Daily, I prayed for God to provide her with the strength and will to keep strong and not to give up. Surgery to remove the cancer was successful. It was additional good news that the cancer hadn’t spread to her lymph nodes. Radiation was the next step of her treatment. Afterwards, she began working with doctors on her physical health, getting it dialed in with new medication she’d be on for the rest of her life. With the cancer behind her, getting her grades up and seeking to be restated back into the ROTC program became her new focus. She would have to work harder than even the first time around because her health had been compromised by the cancer. It would prove to be her hardest challenge yet. Her grades weren’t stellar, but in time they improved as did her health.

 Four years later, she graduated with a 3.32 gpa and received her criminal justice degree. As parents, watching our determined daughter complete the grueling ROTC program on time, long with her fellow cadets, and be commissioned an Army officer was truly a blessing.

 My son, Lawrence, will have a different challenge come this fall when he departs for Navy boot camp. He will be a submariner – a first in our family. After boot camp, there’s sub school, then from there to “A” school for training in his rating. As parents, we know he will have some big challenges of his own as he completes each phase. Again, his father and I will be on the front lines as prayer warriors.

Prayer is the Supportive Key

 It’s hard to see our young military children go through difficult trials. What it boils down to is that they need to acknowledge there will be challenges in life; some may be life and death situations and some may be living under difficult circumstances. But a life of faith doesn’t always protect from experiencing certain tests and trials. However, having a faith in the Lord does give us a godly perspective regarding trials. God goes before us and meets us right there in the trouble and distress. There’s comfort in knowing that faith in Jesus is that special something for spiritual readiness. Psalm 46:1 says, “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” Faith makes a difference because God is in the here and now. In those times, however, when we can’t understand the works of His hand, we must rely on His Word, and trust it.

 It’s imperative that, as parents, we pray daily for our military children because we never really know when their skill set will be called upon by our commander-in-chief. Prayer changes things. Prayer affects circumstances. And the Holy Spirit provides discernment into those circumstances. This is so we can see these circumstances through the lens of a godly perspective. Prayer manifests God’s hand into their situation. If your military son or daughter is encountering a difficult season in his or her life, pray these prayer points.

 1). They will recognize Jesus as their strong tower and choose to run to it for safety (Proverbs 18:10). Instead of relying solely on their own abilities, but that they will find their endurance and strength from Jesus.

 2). Pray their heart will become sensitive to the Holy Spirit and follow in its leading.

 3). Pray that he or she will discern, or glean what must be learned from the challenge, and,

 4). Pray their faith would grow as a result of the trials in the complex military lifestyle.

 There’s a human tendency to want to get the rough times over with in order to alleviate the associated discomfort, but encourage your beloved military member not to disregard the golden nugget–don’t overlook the work, the inner spiritual work of the Holy Spirit. God may be allowing this trial to move them along in their faith journey to discover His plan and purpose for their lives.