Friday, March 30, 2012

Thankful in Times of Sacrifice – Part 3 of 5

One thing that my husband and I gave up soon after we were married was the TV. We realized that it was a big temptation for us simply to watch whatever was on even if there was nothing worth watching. We realized that we weren’t allowing God to talk to us concerning our free time, so we decided to get rid of the TV.

It wasn’t always easy living without a TV. We had to retrain ourselves on how to get along without it, but the sacrifice paid off as it ceased to be a driving force in our lives. Once we felt we had learned our lesson, we gradually reintroduced TV viewing into our home. Now we carefully choose what we watch and when to watch. My husband even learned that the remote control doesn’t belong to him, and that he could give up watching sports if it was stealing his time with the family.

I’m a firm believer in monitoring what my children spend their time watching, because all shows and movies teach a message. I believe it’s the devil’s ploy to degrade the human race, and he targets our young people because whatever they think about themselves now will often follow them into adulthood. You see, God says we are created in His image (Gen. 1:26). Of course, the devil hates the image of God, and so he’s trying to destroy it in any way he can.

I want my kids raised on the good stuff and not the bad because it influences their values and their attitudes. Just because a cartoon is aimed at children doesn’t mean that its content is good for children. In some cartoons which depict distorted and disfigured human characters there’s a disregard for the sanctity of human life. Values are distorted, and then we wonder why our kids are so negative and struggle with low self-esteem.

We need to be sensitive to what our kids are watching and have discussions about what they are learning. Sometimes my kids are not allowed to watch programs and movies that their friends are watching, but I try to avoid making them feel worse off for it. In some cases the restrictions were lifted once they were older. Whenever I’ve had to put my foot down, I’ve always explained to them why.

It’s important to have alternatives for our children. Over the years we’ve accumulated an extensive collection of children’s videos and DVDs. I want my kids to embrace our values so they can make good choices for themselves when I’m not there to monitor them. I know it’s working because once in a while they eagerly share how they make right choices when I’m not there. If they do break my rules when I’m not around, then it’s on their conscience instead of mine.

You can read my blog post When to Say "Yes" or "No" to TV Programs for more on this topic.

In the above photo, Amanda (at age 1) is watching a Disney Baby Einstein DVD.
Read More

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Thankful in Times of Sacrifice – Part 2 of 5

The Israelites, at first, had only manna to eat while in the desert. They were put on a forced fast by God from earthly food. This was God’s way of cleansing them, not only physically, but also spiritually. Sometimes fasting is necessary to get breakthroughs. The Israelites didn’t realize that God was busy freeing them, not only from the visible chains of slavery, but also from invisible ones. They had been corrupted by lusts of the flesh. God cared about every aspect of their lives. He cared about their physical, spiritual, and emotional well-being.

God wants only what’s best for His children. That sometimes includes asking us to sacrifice things that we like. Sometimes we hold on to things that aren’t beneficial to us. Maybe they blessed us for a time, but now that time has come and gone. We have to let go and keep in step with the seasons of our lives if we want to continue to grow. It may mean fasting, or giving something away, or letting go of a bad habit.

If you give up something that you’ve been depending on, it might be necessary that you consciously replace it with something else. A very basic example would be if you give up bad thoughts to replace them with good thoughts. This is especially important in the area of addictions. Otherwise, you might create a void. This can cause more heartache as the devil will tempt you to soothe that emptiness with other destructive desires.

The most important question you can ask yourself regularly is, “What is driving me?” Nothing should have power over you except the Holy Spirit. Anything that takes the place of His authority in your life and masters you is a god to you.
Read More

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Thankful in Times of Sacrifice – Part 1 of 5

It’s easy for us to recognize God’s faithfulness and protection towards the Israelites because we know the outcome of their story. They, on the other hand, had a much harder time believing that this crazy adventure would have a happy ending.

We know from the Bible that God took care of them. He provided them with food and drinking water. The first miracle food that He gave them they called “manna”, which, translated, means “what is it?” It was a kind of bread that tasted like wafers, honey, and fresh olive oil. None of them had ever eaten heavenly food before and now they were expected to eat “what is it?” for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and for how long? This one-item menu became monotonous, and they wound up complaining again.

Remember that until then, God hadn’t required anything of them other than to leave Egypt and to follow Him. At the time of their leaving, not one Israelite had to die fighting the Egyptians and whatever they needed of their oppressors they could take before they left. However, God was now requiring something more from them. He wanted them to sacrifice fleshly desires; to give up what they loved (familiar food) for something better (heavenly food). Despite everything that God had already done for them, they still weren’t willing to make any personal sacrifices.

Perhaps you might be tempted to judge them as thick-headed. Maybe they were, but we’re not much different from them. Have you ever eaten food from a foreign country and wondered, just like the Israelites, “What is it?” Having traveled to many countries around the world, I’ve had the privilege and opportunity of trying different traditional foods. Some have been tasty, others terribly spicy, and some pretty unusual.

After eating unfamiliar food, most of us can’t wait to get back to real “home cooking.” That’s because it’s hard to adapt to new things. Our familiar things, like family traditions, home cooking, or anything else, bring back memories that feel right and comfortable. The Israelites, like many of us, wanted to have those foods that they were used to and so they grumbled over God’s choice of provisions.

In some ways, God had put them on a forced diet – not because He wanted to lord it over them, but because He knew what was ultimately best for them. The mere fact that it came from heaven meant that it had to be good for them.

The same is true for us today: if we eat right, we will live well. This was a diet like none other. It was supernatural! Besides being a heavenly diet, it was also a kind of fast, not a fast from food, but a fast from earthly food.
Read More

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Poem - Walking by Faith

Walking by faith is a hard road to travel
Living under the law is easier to understand
But it’s by grace that we receive from Your hand
Even when others don’t, help me in Your grace to stand.

I want my life to be a life of faith
To trust You in every situation
Even when worrying can be such a temptation
Help me to remember You are my rock and salvation.

When things get hard it’s easy to forget what You’ve promised
Help me remember in the dark what You’ve shown me in the light
Even when my mountain seems to be such a great height
You are stronger yet, so I must just keep You in sight.

You want me to live a life fully dependent on You
As a little child in my Father’s care
Not caught up in my own affair
But given over to Your life, which You so graciously want to share.

That’s when I will see Your mighty hand move
You are a God that likes to put the impossible to shame
Who joys in giving the foolish things of this world the power of Your name
One day the world will acknowledge Your fame.

by Christina Morley

Read More

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Thankful in Times of Need - Part 4 of 4

What would be your reaction if, after following the Lord’s voice, things didn’t turn out as you expected? How would you feel if your family didn’t have a place to stay or enough money for the next day’s meals? It can seem frightening when you no longer have control over basic things.

The faith walk that we are called to doesn’t depend on what we see, but on what we don’t see (God and His promises). Thankful hearts provide the positive perspective we need despite seemingly negative circumstances. Being thankful when we don’t see provision can only come by faith. With faith on our side, we will thank Him no matter what the circumstances.

Your faith is tested by your actions, but you mustn’t act until you know what God is asking of you. Faith operates through obedience. However, if God has called one believer to give all his money away, that doesn’t mean that He has told you to do the same. Other people’s testimonies are there to enrich you and to help you grow, but not to dictate to you your faith walk. Your faith walk is unique.

Read More

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Thankful in Times of Need - Part 3 of 4

I’ve walked the road of faith with my family and I can testify that when God calls, He also provides. I’ve learned to trust God wholeheartedly and to thank Him for his faithfulness even when life isn’t going my way.

A story that always sticks in my mind is about what occurred in the life of George Mueller (1805 - 1898). He was born in Prussia (now Germany), but felt called to England during the time that child labor was a major problem. To try and protect some of these children, he started a few orphanages where they would be properly cared for. These were not government-funded orphanages, and Mueller didn’t personally own lots of money. He ran his orphanages on faith alone.

One morning, he and his orphans sat down for breakfast, but there was a hitch: they had no food. In faith and obedience they thanked God for their food while looking at any empty table. Right after giving thanks, there was a knock at the door. They were surprised to receive a basket full of bread which a baker had felt prompted to give them and the milkman decided to give them milk, because his cart broke down outside their orphanage.

These were just some of the many miracles that God performed for George Mueller and his orphans. They had big needs, but they had an even bigger God. Just as God was faithful to them, He’ll be faithful to you.

The photo below is of the five orphanages that were built because of George Mueller's great faith in a miracle-working God.

Read More

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Thankful in Times of Need - Part 2 of 4

Humans are creatures of habit. We like the security of the familiar, so the unfamiliar can be a scary place. Egypt was a familiar place to the Israelites. They had been in slavery for a few hundred years and were used to relying on their oppressor’s resources. Of course it was a place of terrible slavery, but at least they had access to plenty of food and water.

They could see, hear, feel, taste, and touch Egypt, but they couldn’t do the same with God. It made more sense to rely on man’s resources, even if it came from the hand of the Egyptians, rather than from the hand of God. You see, the idea of supernatural provision just didn’t make much sense to them. Since they didn’t believe that God would continue to look after them, they began to complain bitterly. Instead of having faith in the invisible God (who had demonstrated His abilities and favor toward them), they had fear of the visible desert.
Don’t we also find comfort in what’s familiar to us? There’s a strong sense of security in a steady job and income. Even if the pay is low, it’s better than the feeling of not knowing where and when the money will come from next. What if God asked us to give up that steady income, move from our home with our family, and go to a place that we’ve never seen? Before going out into the unknown, we would have had a certain amount of security and control over our lives. If that were taken away, all we would have left would be God and His love and mercy.

Read More

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Thankful in Times of Need - Post 1 of 4

When Moses and the Israelites had to flee Egypt, how did they respond to adversity? Perhaps you have heard that story or read it several times and concluded that they were an unthankful and ungrateful people. After all, they had God performing miracles before their eyes. Why should they grumble and complain?

Actually, it’s easier to point out their faults while ignoring our own. In this series, “Thankful in Times of Need,” we’ll take a closer peek into their lives, which will offer us a greater understanding of them and, consequently, ourselves.

The Israelites were excited when they first set out from Egypt. Not only did they gain their freedom, but they won the respect of their oppressors too. God’s favor toward the Israelites was so powerful that they were able to ask the Egyptians for their gold, silver, and clothing (Ex. 12:35&36).

God gave His people a great victory that day without their having to give their husbands and sons to war. How astonished they must have felt at their swift and glorious release. However, these feelings didn’t last long. Soon they found themselves trapped: the Red Sea was in front of them, and the entire Egyptian army behind them. What now? Had God lied? Could He pretend to love them one moment and then abandon them the next?

We all know that the Israelites did make it across the Red Sea as God miraculously parted the waters and dried the ground under their feet. And God gave them another great victory when the sea collapsed on top of the Egyptian army and drowned them all.

With that problem behind them, they now faced a new challenge. On the way to the land that God had promised them, they found themselves in the desert and it wasn’t looking too promising. By their complaints, they must have concluded that the desert was not a place to keep a few million people along with their livestock even if it was for just a short trip to a place called the Promised Land.

Read More

Monday, March 5, 2012

Poem - Father, Thank You for Your Love

Father, thank You for the love that You give
The only love which helps me live
I would be nothing without You
You are sweeter than honey and refreshing as dew

When the world becomes too great
And I find myself in a terrible state
You lift me up with Your tender hand
And I realize that You understand

When the weight of my burdens become too much
And I feel discouraged as such
You remind me that You’re there
To take my burdens, because You care

When everything seems to go wrong
And I think I won’t last long
You fill me with Your staying power
And make me strong as a fortified tower

And when my troubles reach their peak
And I realize that I am weak
You cradle me in Your loving arm
To keep me from anymore harm

Then I realize the love that You give
Is the only thing which helps me live
You are sweeter than honey, refreshing as dew
And because You first loved me, I can love You

by Christina Morley

Read More

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Joy and a Thankful Heart – Part 3 of 3

All believers are meant to have the joy of the Lord consistently operating through them, but this is often not the case. After taking a quick look at regular Sunday morning churchgoers, we might conclude that this joy is present, but if we were to look closer we might be surprised to find that many are just doing a good job of role playing. All the smiles and nice clothes hide the turmoil, the depression, and the loneliness. God’s joy doesn’t hide these things, but acknowledges them.

I chose to marry in my husband’s country of South Africa and settle there. Moving to a new country didn’t bother me much because I had lived a good part of my childhood outside of the United States. Once I started having children, though, I became more housebound and isolated. It was during those long, lonely hours that I often didn’t feel like being thankful. I’m an extrovert, so I get energized by being with other people.

I missed having a decent conversation with another female. When I did get the chance, those conversations were few and far between. I did try building some new relationships, but for the most part the ladies I met were busy enough with their own friends and families. Cultural differences also made it harder to connect. Missing out on meaningful relationships made raising children that much more stressful.

We may not always be able to change our circumstances, but whatever our disappointments, there is still one thing that we can change and that is ourselves. It’s usually during the tough times that we grow most. As long as we maintain the right attitude, we’ll continue moving forward; however, if we have a bad attitude, we’ll just get stuck in the situation we’re in and never pass the test.

One lesson that I’ve been learning over the past sixteen years, no matter if I’m socializing or not, is that God is enough. I’m thankful for my relationship with God, which is good. Also, my relationship with myself is good. I’m happy to be who God made me and I don’t pretend to be someone else for other people.

I recommend you also read my poem, "I See You" at Consider the Lilies, my poetry blog.

Read More

© 2011 Happy Moms, Happy Homes, AllRightsReserved.

Designed by ScreenWritersArena