When your religion is perfectionism Part 2

Take time to read Romans 4 again and meditate upon it today. We are continuing our focus on the religion of perfectionism. In other words, a religion of perfectionism is having a religion that is dependent upon me being flawless and sinless.

God is holy and just. He demands obedience. The Bible is plain on that. I think many of us know that very well. But that is not the whole picture of the Bible. The God of the Bible, Old Testament and New Testament, is also a God of grace, mercy and lovingkindness. Here are some passages to help us remember other aspects of God’s nature and how it is connected to our salvation, joy and peace.

It is His goodness/kindness that should also lead us to repentance.

Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance?
(Romans 2:4)

It is His grace that teaches us to live godly lives and do good works for God.

For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works. Declare these things; exhort and rebuke with all authority. Let no one disregard you.
(Titus 2:11-15)

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
(Ephesians 2:8-10)

It is the blood of Jesus Christ that cleanses you from all sin today, not the list of good deeds you were able to check off today. It is the blood of Jesus that brings you near to God, not your ability to do it all by the book.

But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.
(1 John 1:7)

But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.
(Ephesians 2:13)

It is Jesus’ righteousness, not yours, that will save you.

Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men. For as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous.
(Romans 5:18-19)

…and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith (Philippians 3:9)

It is the peace of Jesus Christ freely given to you at the cross. In Jesus is the peace, not in your perfect law-keeping.

for He himself is our peace… (Ephesians 2:14) 

I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”
(John 16:33)

Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God.
(Romans 5:1-2)

More to come tomorrow, Lord willing.

Always Abounding

“Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord.”  I Corinthians 15:58

I never stop moving.  Even when I sleep, Kristine says that I toss and turn and kick.  I always stay busy on one project or another.  Whether it is at work, around the house, for the church or one of my various hobbies, I hardly ever stop.  I’m sure a professional psychologist would identify a number of reasons for this but I think it has something to do with the desire to be useful.  In fact, one of my greatest fears is being useless.

In addition to the fear of death, I think most people dread getting old because of this very reason…feeling useless.  Brother Claude taught me some very valuable lessons about redefining usefulness.

When you read the verse above from I Corinthians 15, what kind of Christian do you picture?  “Steadfast” and “immovable” makes me think of strength and courage.  The idea of “always abounding in the work of the Lord” creates images of Apostle Paul type Christians.  People with multiple bible studies going with non-Christians while they squeeze in visits to the sick and take food to shut-ins.  They get off their knees in prayer long enough to volunteer at a homeless shelter, mow the lawn at the building, and rescue Sister Ethel’s cat out of a tree.  You know, Super Christians.

A couple years after meeting Claude his deteriorating physical condition caused him to make some significant changes.  He had to get rid of his beloved Dobermans and sell his house.  He moved into a one room assisted living facility.  Additionally, he had to give up his walker and exchange it for a wheelchair.  He recounted one of his first nights in the assisted living facility and told me, “I was laying in bed thinking about my new situation.  I was staring up at the ceiling and praying and I asked, ‘What now Lord?  What do you want me to do now Lord?”

Brother Claude battled resentment, bitterness and depression associated with the loss of his independence, like anyone would, but he didn’t give in to those temptations.  In spite of his new limitations, he decided to get to work.

On Sundays, Brother Claude would scoot his chair into the building and park at the end of a pew.  Because he took his seat with him, he could sit by just about anyone he wanted.  He took advantage of this freedom and traveled all around engaging in worship with different people all the time.  I believe he knew more people in that local body than just about anybody because of his “limitation.”

Brother Claude had a heart for children and they loved him.  His new wheels forced him to be significantly closer to the ground, putting him eye to eye with the little ones.  This vantage point allowed him to smile and connect; giving attention to a population of the group that is often overlooked and marginalized.

Selling his house and moving into assisted living created a fixed budget for Brother Claude and put some money in the bank.  Being a former broker for Merrill Lynch, he understood finances and he knew exactly what he needed to get by month to month and he knew what he could give away.  He inquired on several occasions about supporting men who preached the gospel.  During one visit he told me, “I want to die penniless.  I want every cent used up for the work of the kingdom.”  I personally know of several individuals who benefited from his generosity and love for the Lord.

Every time I stopped by to visit Brother Claude his laptop was open and there was a stack of CD’s next to it.  He always had a collection of sermons he was listening to.  On one occasion he told me that he had listened to a sermon I preached a number of times because he “really needed it.”  He would share tidbits of something he had heard or comment on how a particular lesson had encouraged him or helped him.  His lack of physical independence didn’t put his mind in a cage.  He chose to meditate on the word of God and he shared those things with others.

I was able to visit Claude the day before he died.  He wasn’t very lucid as the pain medication kept him very drowsy.  I went into his room and touched his shoulder, softly speaking his name.  He slowly opened his eyes and focused on my face, taking a minute to adjust to the light.  After a few minutes I asked him if he knew who I was.  His breathing was labored but a slight grin spread across his face and he struggled to say, “Andy!”  He fought with the blanket to take his hand out and grip mine.  He didn’t say another word for the entire visit, he just sat there staring at me and holding my hand.  I told him about the kids, about our new life in Indiana, and I told him I loved him.  After about 15 minutes he drifted back to sleep but every time I would move my hand he would grip a little tighter.  Even in the end he was the encourager.  He always had a kind word, an uplifting sentiment, or an expression of gratitude.

I don’t know what my future holds.  I don’t know if I will slow down gradually or if my work will come to an end suddenly.  I don’t know if I will experience physical pain, tragic loss, or relative health and peace.  What I know is that if I meet the future with faith and trust the Lord will find a way to use me regardless of my circumstances.  If I allow the Lord to define “usefulness” then I will always be able to abound in His work.  Brother Claude taught me that.

I am going to Heaven!

Another lesson from Benjamin Lee’s meeting with us was titled “I’m going to Heaven”.  In teaching the lesson, he referenced a sister in Christ and how she lived with this attitude.  If you asked her…she would tell you and because she believed it she lived it and that made a difference on others.  The same is true for us as fathers, grandfathers, uncles, brothers…as men influencing children in our home, community, church…in our lives.  If we live with this faith, that we are going to heaven, then our children will see it and it will give them encouragement, confidence, and belief in their own lives.

In order to live this way, there are some questions we must keep working through our minds and help our children work through their minds.  These questions are good checks for us as we work toward our goal of Heaven.

1.  What will we need to get to Heaven?

We will get to Heaven through salvation and that salvation comes from God’s grace.

23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25 whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed, 26 to demonstrate at the present time His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus. (Romans 3:23-26; NKJV)

And though there are many things that demand our attention, we need to be in God’s word (Psalm 119:105) which is a lamp to our feet and we need to be obedient to it and God’s commandments (John 8:31-32—Truth makes us free; Galatians 5:4—But we can fall so we need to stay obedient).

2.  What help might we need to make our goal of Heaven?

In addition to God’s grace, His word and our obedience; we will need the edification, fellowship and help of our brethren.  The local church is a source of help as we make our way from earth to Heaven.  We see many examples of being joined to and strengthened by local brethren in the first century church.  (Acts 2:42-47; 9:19, 26; Philippians 1:1)

3.  How long will it take us to reach Heaven?

The rest of our lives!  Our journey is a marathon, not a sprint and it won’t always be on even ground.  Which is why we need God, we need our brethren and we need constant reminders.  We need to take time daily and think about Heaven and how awesome it will to be home.  How often do we truly do that?  We need it just like we need God’s grace, Word, and His people.  There are going to be challenges (Galatians 2:1-14) and we have to remember that our journey is about progress and not perfection.  We are perfected in Jesus Christ and that takes time and will take the rest of our lives.  But we can confidence in our end goal just as Paul did (2 Tim 4:6-8) no matter what phase of our life we are in.

4.  Finally, why do we want to this goal? Why do we want to go to Heaven?

I will leave you with that question but let me encourage you by the words of my nine year old daughter.  She answered this question before Ben did…and she leaned over to her mom and her answer was “Because that is where God is!”  Amen.

Evangelism Made Simple

I was encouraged last night as we continued our meeting with Benjamin Lee at South Macomb. Ben taught us about evangelism and here are some thoughts from his lesson.

  • We have to have a sense of urgency when it comes to the gospel because there are people out there who want to hear it and we might be the one to tell them.
  • There are a lot of excuses we create to keep us from sharing Jesus but we are not alone in that and there are great men in the bible (i.e. Moses; Exodus 3:1-4:17) who made excuses about why they shouldn’t do what God was asking them to do…and God was patient but in the end His anger was kindled against those who resisted Him and that is the same with us…we need to repent of that and get to work.
  • Evangelism is not Rocket Science and there is no secret recipe or silver bullet…it is simple and it is about us and our attitude and our purpose.
  • There are opportunities all around us whether at work, at the grocery store, at the gym, in our home…we just have to be ready to see them…we have to prepare our mind to see them and we can do that through prayer.
  • So how simple is it? How about this simple:
      • Open Your Eyes: In John 4:30, Jesus says “lift up your eyes” in talking about the opportunity to teach and that is what the Apostles did throughout the first century…they looked and what they saw were opportunities to teach Jesus. What was the difference between the time when Jesus taught in John 4 and what we see them doing in the book of Acts? Their eyesight! That is, they were focused on lost souls and because that is what they were looking for that is what they found and in that they found opportunity to teach.
      • Open Your Mouth: Can’t you say something about Jesus? Hasn’t He done more than enough in your life to come up with something to share? Of course you can…but we don’t always because we lack confidence or are afraid we will offend or that there is no way they are going to believe us. Well, the truth is all that is true…we will lack confidence at times, some will reject us, some will mock us…but some will want to hear more and some will hear more and obey. How awesome! It happened to Paul in Athens (Acts 17) and like Paul can’t we endure a little disappointment for the joy of a soul saved? We just have to open our mouths.

    • Open Your Bible: And we have to use God’s word…it has the power to save not ours. We can overcome our lack of confidence by being well studied in the bible. Are we taking time each day to grow in our knowledge of God’s word? If yes, that is evangelism…at least it is the training necessary. Add prayer for opportunities to that and you are on your way…with eyes wide open ready to speak and teach…God’s word will not fail…so speak it confidently.

As I think about this…I know that these points are true and having a sense of urgency for the gospel and evangelism is something that I need to grow in…especially for my children. Even if we all retain our health and live a full life…I only have them for a short time before they become men and women…now is the time to plant and water so that they will be prepared in Jesus to take on the world. And I don’t have to be afraid…God is with me and if call out to Him…He will reassure us and He will be with us…and He will work with us. He did for Paul (Acts 18:9; Acts 23:11). Be encouraged. Let go. Get out of the way. And let God work in you!

Responsibilities, Expectations, Consequences

 10 For “He who would love life and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips from speaking deceit.  11 Let him turn away from evil and do good; let him seek peace and pursue it.  12 For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and His ears are open to their prayers; but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.”  13 And who is he who will harm you if you become followers of what is good? 14 But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you are blessed. “And do not be afraid of their threats, nor be troubled.” 15 but sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear; 16 having a good conscience, that when they defame you as evildoers, those who revile your good conduct in Christ may be ashamed. 17 For it is better, if it is the will of God, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil.  18 For Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive by the Spirit… (1 Peter 3:10-18).

Our children are little people and just like us big people, they have their own personality, make their own choices, have their own desires, etc.  I say this because sometimes I forget that as much as I want to protect my children, see them not make the same mistakes I did, always go the right way, not hurt…these are not realistic.  Our children, like us, have to make their own way and WILL make their own way.  Our hope is that we will provide them a good example, teach them to keep Jesus close and to pray without ceasing and allow God to work in their lives.

God has always given His people specific guidance in the form of His laws.  It is His will for us.

The Israelites had the Law of Moses and their obedience to the laws of Moses set them apart and their obedience would point them and others to Jehovah. (Deuteronomy 4:1-8).

As Christians, we have the Law of Christ and our obedience sets us apart and will point us and others to Jehovah.  (1 Peter 1:13-25).

In teaching our children God’s Law…that found both in the Old and the New Covenant, we provide them the opportunity to understand what is expected of them, their responsibility and the reward for their obedience and/or the consequences of their rebellion.  We cannot make them choose obedience and as much as I would like to duct tape my children to their bed or hide them in a bubble, that is not how our Father raises us and is not how we will raise our children.  Our Abba Father wants us to choose Him and if we abide in His Son…loving Him by keeping His commandments…He will work in our lives…even in the times that hurt.  The same is true for our children and if we believe that and talk to Him about it…we will find comfort, confidence and hope.

God has provided us the roadmap for our lives and the guideposts to ensure we know we are on the right path.  He has taught us our responsibilities, His expectations, and the consequences if we go astray.  Our prayer…God help us to learn your way, believe your word, and model it in our lives and teach your way to our children.  With God in their lives…they have no better Father.

Safely Abide and Pray

In John 15, Jesus tells us to “Abide in Me.”  Like a branch connected to a vine…be connected and draw nourishment and bear fruit.  Our words will be His words and as we ask of Him it will be granted to us and in that God is glorified.  Love.  The love the Father has for the Son is the love the Son has for us and we love Him by abiding in Him and keeping His commandments.

All of this demonstrates a safe place with Jesus standing at the door calling us in to abide with Him.  When safely in, Jesus wants us to talk like Him and act like Him…obedient and to the glory of God.

So from our safety in Jesus, I invite you to take some time, turn in your bible and read Psalm 91.  Meditate on it and take God’s words given to us by inspiration and pray them on behalf of your home, your children, your grandchildren, and the children of our family in Jesus.

I offer you my version and leave you to yours.

“Dear Heavenly Father, me and my household have made You our dwelling place, the Most High, who is our refuge. I trust that because of this, no evil shall be allowed to befall me and my children, no plague can come near my home. For You will command angels concerning us to minister to my family.  On their hands they will bear me up lest I strike my foot against a stone. I will tread on the lion and the adder; the young lion and the serpent we will trample underfoot. As a father of the children You have blessed me with, I rest upon your promise: “I will rescue those who love Me. I will protect those who trust in My name. When they call on Me, I will answer; I will be with them in trouble. I will rescue and honor them. I will reward them with a long life and give them My salvation.  In name of my Savior, Jesus Christ, Amen.”

Don’t be Afraid to Forgive Your Kids

Did you ask God yesterday or today to forgive you for something you knew you shouldn’t have done or have been admonished for doing in the past?  Did you really mean it?  Were your really sorry for what you did and committed to not doing it again?  I know I did.  I know we all find ourselves before our loving, merciful, longsuffering Father knowing we have violated His rules, hurt Him, or strayed from the straight path He has laid out for us.  So what?  Why start here?

I start here because I am not providing this same blessing to my children.  There are probably a lot of reasons for that but as we have been talking about…a lot of times my own insecurity or fear of the trajectory of my kids’ life is taking when considering their actions or decisions.  I want them to be safe…first and foremost spiritually and when I see them going or catch them in the far country, I am guilty of going straight to angry and sometimes that takes away any opportunity for them to say “I’m sorry” or ask for my help.  Certainly, I am expected to discipline my children, but I am not talking about constructively leading my children.  I am talking about being for them what I find in my Abba Father and Elder Brother…graceful, merciful, longsuffering, forgiving, loving, providing security, help…all of the tremendous blessings I have in Jesus.

So that is the thought for today.  How can we better forgive our children so that we can be a positive part of the solution?  Again, we should all endeavor to get ahead of trouble and teach our children to avoid it…but when they don’t…can we forgive them, love them, and take them by the hand as they stand up and get themselves back on the path they should be on?

Jesus demonstrated it.   (I Pet. 2:21; Phil. 2:3-5; Luke 23:34).  Jesus gave us the example.  Our Father forgives us daily.  We have our examples and they are worth following for our own sake and the sake of our children.

We have been forgiven. God, in Christ, has forgiven the sins of the Christian (Eph. 4:32). As Christ has forgiven us, then we should forgive others (Col. 3:13) and our kids need it so that they can feel safe and we might find opportunity to teach them and model a forgiving heart.

We must pattern our forgiveness after the forgiveness God has granted to us. It must be accompanied by actions which befit true forgiveness.  Forgiveness involves a kind attitude—abandoning all animosity and hatred. All bitterness, anger, wrath, clamor and evil speaking should be put away (Eph. 4:31). We can’t hold grudges.  We are the adult.  We have to act it.

We are going to have to forget.  Of course, we are not able to just erase it from our mind, but we can avoid holding our children accountable to something if they have come to use for forgiveness and with a true heart toward not doing it again.  Our forgiveness granted should be the end of the matter and we should assume the best of our kids to do their best moving forward.  God is for us.   He is for them.  We are in this together with our kids and I know forgiving isn’t always the first thing I think to do but when I can get that right I see a softened heart looking for my leadership and that is an awesome opportunity.

Like you, I have spent my children’s entire lives protecting them and providing them every advantage.  In the end, the best advantage they have is a life lived with Jesus.  That is our best advantage and if we are freed up in that security we can stand to forgive and love…just like our Abba Father forgives and loves us.

Leaning In

Eudokia: Properly, what seems good or beneficial to someone, “good-pleasure”

This word is used twice in Ephesians chapter one and is translated “kind intention”. In this chapter, while Paul is discussing “every spiritual blessing” that we have in Christ, he says that it seemed good to God to bless us. There are nine places in the New Testament where this word is used (Mt. 11:26, Luke 2:14, 10:21, Rom. 10:1, Eph. 1:5, 9, Phil. 1:15, 2:13, and II Thess. 1:11). Most of the time it is translated “well-pleasing” or “good pleasure”. In Romans 10:1, Paul is discussing his Jewish brethren and he says, “my heart’s desire” is for their salvation. So we could say that it was God’s heart’s desire to bless us in Christ.

This desire that God has must be kept in the context of Ephesians. Immediately after exploring all the things that God has done for us in Christ, he reminds us of what we were. Chapter two starts, “And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest.”

This idea is a foreign concept to me. When people reject me, treat me harsh, or are downright hostile my instinct is to strike back. On a good day I will just shut down our step back but God didn’t strike back or shut down, He leaned in and showed kindness.

This attribute of God has been particularly powerful for me lately in light of challenges we are having with one of our daughters. She is speeding towards her teenage years and has been struggling with our recent move, leaving her friends behind and being introduced to a new church family and school. She has been grumpy, irritable, distant, and at times rude and disrespectful. She doesn’t want to participate in anything and when we force her to comply with our expectations she manages to do it while clearly showing her disgust. She is happy in her own misery and seems to be trying to infect the rest of the family with it.

To my shame, I have failed her. Her attitude is so repulsive to me that most of my responses have been driven by my own anger and irritation. I have tried to control her through my “fatherly” authority and punishment. And I hate to admit it but it has become easier to just avoid her and attempt to isolate her impact on the rest of the family. In short, I’ve responded exactly the opposite of how God has responded to me.

My guess is that some of you dads have experienced, or are experiencing, similar situations with your children. I am not nearly arrogant enough to believe I’m qualified to provide advice on this subject. What I know is this: God’s love and kindness is what draws me to Him. I reject Him and I rebel and He is still there, leaning in. I fight and I kick and I scream against His will and He is still there, leaning in. I fail and I fail and I fail and He is still there, leaning in.

So this is what I’m going to do. I’m going to ask my Father for His forgiveness, which He has promised in abundance. I’m going to ask my daughter for her forgiveness which all my children have shown me in abundance. I’m going to lean in. I’m going to bless her.

Perspective. Present. Participate.

1 Let brotherly love continue… 5…For He Himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” 6 So we may boldly say: “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?” (Hebrews 13:1, 5-6).

 

1 Therefore, my beloved and longed-for brethren, my joy and crown, so stand fast in the Lord, beloved….13 I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. (Philippians 4:1, 13).

Our children need us. God has provide us His instruction so that we can lead them and be for them what they need. Still, we need our Heavenly Father and Savior. In them, we are going to be the best influence in our kids’ lives. In them, we are free to love, forgive, and risk having our hearts broken time and again. They will not forsake us and are for us even when it seems like nothing is going right in our relationships with our kids or we are frustrated with the choices they are making or are questioning what we might have done wrong to get to this point. There is going to be a lot of joy with our kids…but there is a lot of sorrow and frustration. How do we deal with those hardships?

Perspective. Living today in the context of eternity and understanding God is with us and with our kids and He is able to carry our weight, show us the way, and strengthen our spirit. Further, we can consider our own relationship with Him and in it we will see much of the same in the relationship with our children. There is unconditional love. There is clear expectation for behavior. There are times we fall short and God is disappointed. And in these times, when we go to Him, we find grace, mercy, forgiveness, love and encouragement. This process happens over and over…just like with our kids. He is available and able…we just have to go to Him.

Present. God is ever-present in our lives and we need to be present in the lives of our children. Present doesn’t only mean in the same room as them or we make it to every school, athletic, or other activity they are participating in. I have learned the hard way that is not enough. Present means that we have put the other distractions away and give your full attention to what they are doing or what we are doing together. Of course we will not be completely and fully engaged in everything they are doing when we are in the same place…that is especially difficult when we are talking multiple children. What it means is we be there for our kids, make ourselves available and when they come to us or invite us to participate we are all in and give our full attention to them. That is what God does for us…we need to do this for our kids.

Participate. We participate in their lives by example…by providing a consistent example of our love for Jesus and the way He dictates how we live, the choices we make, the things we say, etc. That our love for Him is at the forefront of our lives…that we demonstrate Jesus to them. We then are going to be part of their lives and so we will enjoy their highs and endure along with them their lows. We will teach them in that. We will treat them the way God expects them to treat others. We fulfill the responsibilities God has given us with joy. It matters…more than we might know day to day but as a brother told me yesterday… “they will love you more for it”. He is right and it is that unexpected moment when my son gives me a hug, or says thanks, or my daughter blows me away with her grace or mercy, or love for another. What a beautiful moment.

In Christ Jesus and with our Heavenly Father, be free to love your kids and when you are hurt or frustrated…go to the One who can truly help you and strengthen you. Then get back to work…it’s a work worth doing and in many cases a work only you can do.

H-O-P-E

How much of a difference would I make if I demonstrated “hopeful living” in my home?  There are a lot of things I can do as a dad to help my kids but there are a lot of things I can do to hurt them too.

I wonder sometimes…am I hurting them more than helping them?  I say that because sometimes I am led by selfishness…and in that the mistakes or bad choices and emotions associated with them can feel like a burden…and unfortunately my kids might be getting that message.

Or sometimes I am afraid…and that fear comes out in anger…and so my kids think that I am mad at them when really I am just scared of something bad happening to them.

Neither of these are positive and they certainly don’t represent the kind of person I want them to become…selfish or afraid.  So what do I do?

What I should do is live with hope…which is the favorable and confident expectation…having to do with the unseen and the future.  Vine’s defines it as a verb meaning “to trust”.

Hope describes a happy anticipation of good.

God tells us we can live “in hope of eternal life” (Titus 1:2)  But what is that hope based on?

Christ in you the hope of glory” (Colossians 1:27).  Jesus is the object upon which our “hope” is fixed…“the Lord Jesus Christ, our hope” (1 Timothy 1:1).

Isn’t this kind of hope the best of things?  And if this kind of hope is the best of things, perhaps hopelessness is the worst of things…“having no hope and without God in the world.” (Ephesians 2:12)

With God..in Jesus…there is hope and we are not alone.  In that, we have to take the focus off ourselves and put it on God.  We have to trust that He will not forsake us and will be there for those who search after Him…that means He is there fore our kids too so we don’t have to be afraid but have a hopeful outlook for them in Christ Jesus.

Live with hope and it will make a difference in your life and the lives of your kids.

Take this little memory aid with you…live with hope…and make a difference for Jesus in your home.

HOPE:  Helping – Others – Prepare for – Eternity