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Monday, January 16, 2017

You're a Mother Forever--Or Not?


Mom says to her fifty-year-old son, “You have to obey me, because I’m your mother.” A different mom tells her thirty-six-year-old daughter what to wear, where she can go, and what time to be home.

Once a mother, always a mother?

Yes.

And no.

You will always be your children’s mother, even if you’re eighty and they are sixty—exactly the case with my parents and me. My own “children” are in their thirties, married, and parents themselves. I am still their mother.

But, we’re going to talk about mothering. When does it stop? Does it stop?

Are you always responsible for your kids? Can you always boss them? Do they have to obey you?

I can’t tell you how many marriages have had issues over in-laws. His mom won’t let go. Her mom meddles. Parents pop in unannounced or call at 7:30 a.m. on Saturday mornings—the only time their daughter and son-in-law can sleep in. I even heard about one mother-in-law who decorated the house for the newlyweds! (I’m sure she thought she was helping.)

Does the Bible address this? Yes, it does. I think we can find some valuable guidance about being grown children and being parents.

For adult children:

  • Honor your parents. Honour thy father and mother; (which is the first commandment with promise (Ephesians 6:2).
  • Grow up. When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things (1 Corinthians 13:11).
  • Take care of your parents in their old age. (Matthew 15:3-6)

For parents of grown children:

  • Be there as an advisor. Hear, ye children, the instruction of a father, and attend to know understanding (Proverbs 4:1).
  • Be a friend. Her children arise up, and call her blessed (Proverbs 31:28a).
  • Be a godly example. Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ (1 Corinthians 11:1).
  • Influence your grandchildren in a spiritual way. We will not hide them from their children, shewing to the generation to come the praises of the LORD, and his strength, and his wonderful works that he hath done. For he established a testimony in Jacob, and appointed a law in Israel, which he commanded our fathers, that they should make them known to their children: That the generation to come might know them, even the children which should be born; who should arise and declare them to their children: That they might set their hope in God, and not forget the works of God, but keep his commandments (Psalm 78:4-7).

Some practical tips:
  1. Encourage adult children to live on their own and support themselves financially.
  2. Treat adult children as adults—even if they act like children. Let them make their own mistakes and have their own life experiences.
  3. Give advice when asked for it. Don’t preach when it’s not asked for. Keep communication open and free, not condemning or criticizing.
  4. Ask before volunteering to help.
  5. Give a married couple time at the beginning and end of the day. Don’t call too often either. Be considerate of their schedule.
  6. Love your children—always, unconditionally.
  7. Pray for your children, their spouses, and their children. Never give up praying. This is the best thing you can do for them.
  8. Love your grandchildren and look for ways to impact them for Christ. Can you give them a meaningful gift? Can you share about Jesus in a natural way—Christmas, Easter, birthday, etc.?

Once a mother, always a mother? Yes! 

God bless you as you effectively mother your adult children.


  

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Does God Plan Our Lives? If We Mess Up, Does It Have a Domino Effect?


Does God really map out our lives? Does He have a master plan for every detail? We know He sees our whole life as if it had already happened, and we understand that in God’s sight our short life is like a mere appearing and disappearing of steam: Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away (James 4:14). Yet, God cares! Jesus said, But the very hairs of your head are all numbered (Matthew 10:30).

So, does God really plan my life?

In the Bible, it’s obvious that God called certain people for special tasks:
  • And I will make of thee (Abraham) a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing (Genesis 12:2).
  • Thus saith the LORD that made thee, and formed thee from the womb, which will help thee; Fear not, O Jacob, my servant; and thou, Jesurun, whom I have chosen (Isaiah 44:2).
  • For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end (Jeremiah 29:11).
Except for special persons in the Bible—Samson, the prophets, John the Baptist, Jesus Christ, and the Apostle Paul—an exact life plan isn't revealed. Even when God foretold what people were going to do—David, for example—sometimes they didn’t always obey Him. They messed up. (In David’s case, he was guilty of adultery and murder.)

I’m not sure if God has a master plan. Maybe He does and maybe He doesn’t. But, we know that He expects us to walk with Him daily, communicate with Him always, and be completely dependent and satisfied in Jesus.

So, what if you mess up? What if you've already messed up? For one thing, you have lots of company. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him (Jesus) the iniquity of us all (Isaiah 53:6).

No one has ever been without sin. Everyone sins. But God doesn’t want us to live like that, so He provided a Savior, Jesus. And he (Jesus) is the propitiation (substitute payment) for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world (1 John 2:2). It’s for us to call out to Him to save us. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved (Romans 10:13).

Once we’re saved, the Bible assures us that our sins are forgiven. Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool (Isaiah 1:18). And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more (Hebrews 10:17).

What if I know the Lord and still do something wrong, think sinful thoughts, or omit doing what I know is right? If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9). Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded (James 4:8).

The Lord wants us to know His will. It’s revealed in His Word, the Bible.
  • And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God (Romans 12:2).
  • For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure (Philippians 2:13).
  • Make you perfect in every good work to do his will, working in you that which is well-pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ; to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen (Hebrews 13:21).

The Lord works in us as we walk with Him and follow His will. When we mess up, we can ask forgiveness and cleansing. Repentance is key. The word repent means to turn around and go in another direction. True repentance means turning from sin and going towards God and holiness and purity. We let God show us our sins, and we confess them, get them forgiven, and then we try to obey Him. It’s a lifetime learning process.

If we mess up, does this mean we’ve spoiled His whole plan for us? I don’t think so. God shows us in the Bible that He is quite willing to give people second chances. (Examples: the Samaritan woman, the woman caught in adultery, Thomas, Nathanael, the Apostle Paul)

There are, though, dire consequences for certain sins. If it’s illegal, one might need to pay a fine or go to prison, or both. If it’s immoral, sin affects relationships and families. One could also suffer health problems because of sin (HIV, STDs, etc.). Another consequence for sins (such as gambling and overspending) would be financial.

Still, there is forgiveness for any sin at the feet of the Lord Jesus. Confession and true repentance produce forgiveness and peace.

What is God’s plan for my life?

Being confident of this very thing,
that he which hath begun a good work in you
will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.
(Philippians 1:6)