Friday, September 19, 2014

Share the Dream

I've been reading in Genesis the last several days in preparation for a series of Sunday School lessons I'll be teaching on the life of Joseph. His life intrigues me. Each time I read his story I am amazed at his wisdom, self control and self discipline, his faith, and his forgiveness. He stands as a shining example to every little boy and every little girl of what God will do with a life of integrity, character, and submission to His divine will. I have read his story many times, taught many Sunday School lessons, and heard many sermons based on his life, but didn't react to this one particular verse until the other day: Genesis 37:11;
"And his brothers envied him, but his father kept the matter in mind."

If you aren't familiar with his story, Joseph was son number 11 of Jacob and his beloved wife Rachael. Jacob had run away from his angry brother Esau, traveled to the land of his mother's people, met beautiful Rachael at a well, agreed with her father Laban to work for her hand in marriage for 7 years, was tricked on his wedding night and found out the next morning that he had actually married her older sister Leah. His love for Rachael was so great that he agreed to work for another 7 years for her and he and Rachael were married the next week. Over the course of the next several years, Leah and his 2 concubines gave Jacob 10 sons, but the Bible says that Rachael could not have children.

In Genesis 30:22, "Then God remembered Rachael, and God listened to her and opened her womb."
Verse 24; "She called his name Joseph." Rachael and Jacob later had another son, Benjamin, but in giving birth to Jacob's 12th son, Rachael died. From chapter 30, on through the rest of the book of Genesis, we see Jacob's favoritism toward Joseph and the envy that it created among his other sons almost destroyed his family.

The Bible tells us that Joseph was a very handsome man. The Bible also tells us that Rachael was a beautiful, stunning woman. I believe Joseph looked exactly like his mother and each time Jacob looked at that face he saw the face of his beloved.....and the 10 older sons could not help but see the look of love on Jacob's face each time he looked at Joseph or spoke of him. (Please read the rest of the book of Genesis to see how things turned out. It's a good lesson for every parent on what not to do! Don't play favorites with your kids.)

In chapter 37, we're told that Joseph dreamed dreams of greatness. And he didn't keep those dreams to himself, but he shared them with his father and 10 older brothers. And in v11, when Jacob heard Joseph tell of his dreams, "he kept the matter in mind." I believe at that moment Jacob knew that God had placed His calling on his son's life. Of course he didn't know all the details, nor did he know the hurt and anguish they both would endure for the next several years, but....he knew.

Mom, I believe God has placed within your heart the ability to discern His voice in your child's life. I have many examples with all 3 of our sons when I knew that God had spoken to them, but I'd like to share one in particular.

When Jeff was a junior in high school, he came to me one day with a piece of paper in his hand and said, "I wrote a sermon." For a few moments I didn't know quite how to respond, then I said, "Well what are you going to do about it?" And at that moment I had a sense, deep within me, that God was going to use him in ministry in some way. I had no idea how, but I knew.

We did not talk it about anymore for years, and he became involved with teaching at our church and working with the youth and I thought maybe God would use him in some way in youth ministry. But when he shared with his Dad and me that he knew God was calling him to preach the Word, I wasn't surprised because I just had always been there because "I had kept the matter in mind."

So how can we help our children and grandchildren discern God's voice in their lives?
1. Love the Word, be a student of the Word and teach them from an early age to be lovers of the Word.

This is where they will first hear God's calling on their life and where He will establish His Word in their heart. A student of the Word is someone who is preparing to hear from God, and this above everything else will develop a sensitivity to all things holy and spiritual in your child's heart.

2. Make sure they hear good, solid, conservative gospel preaching that speaks truth into their young lives.

Have them attending a good Sunday School class with a teacher who has been called by God to teach children. And ladies there is a difference in a teacher and a God-called teacher. God calls teachers just as He calls preachers. (1 Corinth.12:28) Could God be calling you to be teacher? ASK HIM!

3. And this is so important; begin early in your child's life developing the kind of relationship with your children that they feel comfortable coming to you with "their dreams."

Jacob and Joseph lived in a time when children were considered property. Most sons didn't have an open, loving relationship with their father and Jacob certainly didn't have that kind of relationship with his other sons. But in chapter 37, Joseph eagerly shared "his dreams" with his father. Joseph saw Jacob as "approachable". Do kids not share their dreams with us because they are afraid we will not take them seriously or dismiss their intimate thoughts? I love to hear my sons share their hopes and dreams with me. Whether it is Kyle sharing with me his dreams for Africa, Bryan sharing his dreams for his family and his personal life, or Jeff sharing a dream he has for his church, I want to be approachable to my sons and interested in their dreams. And the really neat thing is, now my grandchildren are sharing their dreams; maybe not on as great a scale, but I believe little dreams turn into big dreams and I want to be a part of it all!! you tuck in those little ones tonight, or sit around the table with your teen or pre-teen, create an atmosphere in your home that invites "dream sharing." What a privilege to be a part of their lives and dreams. And when they do open their heart, (maybe just and inch or so) and share their most intimate hopes and dreams, "keep the matter in your mind" and watch over the next few years how God turns that dream into a calling on their lives. And because you have been approachable and inviting, you get to influence the dream and become a part of it.


Sunday, September 7, 2014

To Stay or Flee

Did you ever get in trouble as a kid and try to hide from your Mom? Some of you may remember when families kept a "folding bed" tucked away for guests who visited and spent the night. Basically they were like a sofa-bed except they could be moved more easily. It was a regular bed with "springs" and a mattress, 4 wheels, it folded in the middle, had latches on the top, and when you unfolded it, it became a bed that could be used, then folded and stored away till the next batch of company showed up. They are becoming popular again and are great for when the grandkids visit. And for kids, they can be a great place to hide when they are folded.

When I was a child we had one. It stayed "folded" and out of the way until we had company, and one of the funniest stories my Mama would tell was about one of us kids, (not me) and the folding bed.

One of the "kids" did something he or she shouldn't have done, knew they "were going to get it" and ran and hid in the folded up folding bed. Well Mama couldn't find him/her anywhere, then she noticed the folding bed and saw his/her feet sticking out of that folded up bed and got so tickled she could not bring herself to punish him/her.

I hadn't thought of that story for years until I read Psalm 11.
v1: In the Lord put I my trust; how say you to my soul, "Flee as a bird to your mountain?"

David knew what it meant to hide. For 10 years he hid from Saul and then he spent years hiding from his son, Absalom. He had put his trust in the Lord and now he hears God speak to his soul and say, "Flee, just like a bird who is pursued by an enemy flees to the safety of the mountain."

David had spent most of his life in the fields and the woods and the mountains. Don't you know that many times he watched as a bird being pursued by a larger bird or animal flew higher and higher until it reached safety. And how many times he may have watched that bird and longed to be able to fly far, far away. Far away from Saul, and later in life, away from God's eye.

I know what it's like to want to hide and I know what it's like to wish I could "flee". But I also know that there are things to stay and fight for. And in this post I want to share with you 2 situations; in one of them we stand and fight, and in the other we flee. The secret is having the spiritual discernment to know which to do at just the right time; our testimony and our effectiveness depend on staying or fleeing.

v3; If the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do?

Foundations are important, right? Does it matter what kind of foundation your house is built upon? It sure does.A foundation is something you lay down first, and in today's building code, that foundation is cement or steel, depending on what is being built. Then layer by layer you lay down the right material in the right order and when you do it right, you have built something that will last and stand the test of time.

So let's do some building; let's build a marriage. What is the foundation that a lasting marriage is built upon?
1. Love for God, love for each other.
2. Respect.
3. Trust.
4. Faithfulness; to each other and to the marriage.
5. Forgiveness.
6. Patience. (ouch)
7. Work together as a team.
8. Commitment to the marriage.
9. Endurance.
10. Choosing to look for the good, refusing to allow bitterness to grow.

Ladies, we are at a crisis level in our world today. The 2 targets on satan's hit list are the family and church and in that order. Your family starts with the foundation of your marriage and then on that foundation you build a foundation in your children. If he can destroy the family then he will succeed in destroying the fabric of our society and he is targeting our kids. We stay and fight for marriage and family.

This fall tv viewing season is said to be a record setting season for the number of shows that do not depict the traditional family, and this is how you stay and fight:
Educate yourself about what your kids are viewing on tv, reading, the music they listen to, who their friends are, and pay close attention to what they are wearing. In other words, get real nosey. Who told you you had to respect their privacy? You are MOM and studies show and I firmly believe that kids today are "needy" for an "on sight" Mom and Dad who love them too much to respect their privacy. Commercials, shows, movies, books, and music that portray families as anything other than a Mom and Dad are targeting your children to help develop in them a tolerance for open sin and tolerance for lifestyles that are not biblical. (I know there are many single parents today doing a fantastic job and I know a few of them personally. Keep it up! That isn't the subject of this post; please keep reading and you'll see what I mean.)

For example; when you watch a movie or tv show and 2 people who are married to other people decide to have an affair, does it shock you? Probably not because our generation grew up being conditioned that, "Hey, that's life." Why? Because there is a crumble in our foundation and we have developed a tolerance for the adultery we see portrayed, cursing and taking God's name in vain, nudity, exploitation of women and children and they are so common place that we aren't even fazed by it. And the result; we are helping satan accomplish his purpose, crumble by crumble.

So how do we stay and fight? We get back to Bible morality. We read it for ourselves, ask God to give us His convictions for how we are to live our lives, and then we speak up; first, in our homes and to our own children, then we don't remain silent when issues come up at work, in the school, in our community, or in our relationships. We don't hide away and let our foundation begin to crumble: we take a stand and we fight!!

But when do we flee? When a man who is not your husband begins to notice you a little too much, or makes you feel awkward or uncomfortable, that's our God-given 6th sense that warns us of sexual danger; "that's your cue to flee as bird to your mountain." And if he doesn't stop, tell the appropriate people in your life. Stand up for yourself, you don't have to be treated that way even if it is your boss, or family member, or family friend. If you are married, do not be alone with any man who is not your husband, do not accept gifts from him, and after the first, "you look nice today", don't let it go any further; flee!

We fight by speaking truth into people's lives, and we flee by protecting ourselves and those we love. And yes, even a teenager needs the protection of parents who know the truth and teaches it by how they live their lives. And ladies, our husbands need our protection, too, just as we need his. That's a blog for another time!

Morality, morality, morality; we teach it by taking a stand for it, and we teach it by fleeing when it's time to flee to the mountain.

Whew........I have felt so pressed in my spirit to share this with you. I know it may sound so out of date and old fashioned to some of you, is the truth.

Questions or comments?