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LOST TREASURE

My husband and I celebrated my birthday this past Saturday with a trip to Cleburne, the theatre, and dinner with friends. Relaxed and content, Dick and I climbed into the car, ready to enjoy our long ride home.

About fifteen miles out of Cleburne I reached to adjust my glasses. My hand brushed the side of my ear and panic swept through me like a down-draft. “It’s gone.” I shouted and rubbed my ear lobe.

“What’s gone?” Dick jammed on brakes, swerved, and pulled to the side of the road.

“My new earring.” I wailed. “I’ve lost my earring.”IMG_5903

“How? Where?” Dick glared at me like I’d lost my mind.

“If I knew where it wouldn’t be lost.” My mind raced back to Cleburne and I mentally retraced my steps. I had the earrings on DSCF5959at dinner. One friend had voiced how lovely they were. How would I ever be able to tell Lisa and Michael.

Our daughter-in-law is the best gift-picker-outer ever. She and my son had sent two pair of unique, creative silver earrings fromDSCF4389 the Kennedy Center in Washington for my birthday, just last week. This was the first time I had worn my beautiful gift.

“Dear God,” I breathed. “Please help me find my earring.”

“Why don’t you call the restaurant and see if anyone found them,” Dick said.

A short phone call brought discouraging news—no earring found.

“Honey, would you mind going back?” I knew my request meant we would be late arriving home. Too late to watch Dick’s Nascar race. And, it might be a useless trip. Still, I had to return to search for my treasured gift of love.

We parked in the same spot we left forty-five minutes earlier and retraced our steps between the car and the restaurant. I walked through the parking lot, my eyes scanning every inch of black asphalt. Remembering I had hugged a friend goodbye before we walked to our car, I stepped onto the sidewalk right where we had left the couple. I looked down.

The earring lay on the cement, right where it must have fallen.

Relief and joy replaced the weight of despair as I snatched and held up the recovered treasure for my sweet husband to see.

His eyes widened and a smile spread across his face. “DiAne, you have got to be one of the most…”

I interrupted, “…blessed.” I said.
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He hugged me. “Yes, dear, blessed.”

As we drove home, an enormous moon topped the horizon and I thought of the scripture where Jesus tells of the Shepherd who loved His sheep so much He left the ninety-nine obedient sheep to go search for one lost lamb.

The earrings were gorgeous and a wonderful gift, but the givers of my gift are the objects of my love. She loved me enough to DSCF4399pick out jewelry she knew I would enjoy and my love for my son and daughter-in-law caused me to search for my lost present.

In just that way, the Greatest Gift-Giver of the Universe offers each one of us His mercy, His grace, and His forgiveness. Forever. A priceless gift of love purchased with the blood of His only Son. And we risk losing that priceless treasure when we run from His amazing love. Why?

I rehearsed the scripture again. And remembered a time when I strayed because I was rebellious and lost. Lost in the false DSCF3352thrill of doing my own thing. But Jesus sought and found me. Forgave me. Restored me to a relationship with Him, because He loved me enough to take my punishment—death. And give me life—new life in Him.

How about you? How long have you been running? Lost and alone, running from the Father who loves you? The Shepherd is searching.

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You are His treasure and He takes pleasure hearing the sound of your voice. Why not cry out for His help today and come home? His arms are open wide. Waiting just for you.

“I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep. He who is a hireling, and not a shepherd, who is not the owner of the sheep, beholds the wolf coming, and leaves the sheep, and flees, and the wolf snatches them, and scatters them. He flees because he is a hireling, and is not concerned about the sheep. I am the good shepherd; and I know My own, and My own know Me, even as the Father knows Me and I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep” (John 10:11-15 NAS).

WORLD BLOG TOUR

In this enormous Cyberspace World it’s increasingly obvious we are but wisps in the wind. I pound the keyboards each week and fling my words into the airwaves of the universe to land where they may.

Last week I received an exciting invitation from friend and author, Julie B. Cosgrove, to join this blog tour of recommended artists, writers, creative Christian minds. The purpose? To help you find authors whose words tickle a lasting harmony along the chords of your heart.

Each one of us is to answer four questions for you, so here goes:

1. What am I working on?
Always on the ADHD side, I’m never working on one thing. Brain’s just not wired that way. Arnold, the Ant Who Didn’t Want to Be an Ant, I’ve written and illustrated for elementary ages or is the perfect book to read with your grandchildren. Arnold is a mischievous ant I met some years back. He learns to be content being just what God created him to be—an ant. But is was a rough ride to get there. And he will be coming to a bookstore near you soon.

I am finishing the last set of edits (notice I didn’t say the final edits) on my middle-grade manuscript Roped and will be seeking an agent and publisher. Roped is action/adventure about two Texas rodeo teens. Their unusual sport reveals all pre-teens face the same problems. Plus a few horrors hiding in life’s murky shadows.

Three weeks ago I typed the first few chapters of my WIP The Scarlet Cord. These words have been playing ping pong in my head for four years and will be the stories of folks who’ve been through the loss of a loved one and found the comfort of God at GriefShare.

2. How does my work differ from others of my genre?
Well, I’m an artist, as well as a writer, and tend to look at stories like a painting—in shades and hues of brilliant colors and deep, dark blacks. The fact I’m older than dirt gives me a different perspective on life’s issues. My husband just calls me different. Very, very different. Hmmm.

3. Why do I write what I do?
When I was fifteen I won a writing contest with a short article entitled The Basis of a Great Nation Is A Christian Home. And these years later I’ve come to realize how profound my topic was—then and now. You can’t teach what you don’t know. That’s why so many of our young people have no clue about God’s Word—Mom and Dad don’t know. My purpose is to teach both, one spoonful at a time. One life lesson at a time. One hardship and loss at a time.

4. How does my writing process work?
I’m what is fondly referred to as a seat-of-the-pants writer. And that’s my modes operandi for life—God gives the idea, I shift into gear and push the pedal to the floor. Yeehaaa! I make organized and sane people crazy. Having been a legal secretary for years, my fingers fly as fast as my thoughts. Then the real work begins—editing. And editing. And more editing. But that first draft is sheer delight. At least for me. My edit group? Not so much.

Julie B. Cosgrove’s blogsite, Where Did You Find God Today?— will help you focus on the many ways God is constantly involved in our lives, constantly teaching, constantly loving each one of us. I invite you to visit her site. And, if you like her writing as much as I do, click on “follow” to automatically receive her posts each week. You will also find a list of her books now available at your local bookstore.

Please meet my friend and author, John Tourney. AdobePhotoshopExpress_15d775caca034386bd325f82b65f2c91_jpg
Author and CAD Technician for a pharmaceutical, John Turney graduated from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio with a Bachelors in Fine Arts. While attending college, he took several writing classes. After graduation, he entered the Engineering field as a drafter when pencils and paper were still used. As a writer, he has published articles in eZines, devotionals, and several stories in the Splickety Magazines. His first novel, Innocent Blood: Equinox of Reckoning, came out in 2013. In August, his second novel Whiskey Sunrise, will be in a bookstore near you.

SLICED AND DICED

Peach time in Texas and the trees are loaded! Friday the 4th I picked twenty pounds, took them home and sliced and diced them for the freezer. DSCF5793And yesterday evening I took two friends back with me and we picked fifty pounds of yummy, organically grown, reddish delights.

I selected each peach and carefully plucked and placed the fuzzy fruit in my bag. But, in spite of careful handling, some peaches arrived in my kitchen blemished and bruised.

Grabbing my soup pot I brought water to a boil, filled the sink with ice water, preparing to slip the skins off and slice the fragrant beauties. To my horror, the peaches were wormy. Little white, yucky worms had burrowed holes clear to the seed, leaving portions of the flesh brown and mushy.

Now my Mama was never into canning and freezing or gardening—the food kind. So I learned from the cooking channel, recipe books, and trial and error. And in my younger, stupid years, I would have pitched the whole lot of peaches in the garbage.

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But as I stood at the sink this afternoon, I recalled a memorable lady who taught me to value food God provided.

Her name was Mildred McWhorter and she operated two mission centers in Houston’s inner-city. Along with several friends, I worked at the missions a day or two a week. We picked up bread from a local grocery store and transported it to the missions to be given away. When the lady in charge of store donations learned where the bread was going we found much, much more than bread in our baskets—detergent, rice, beans, and even an occasional toy or doll. The donations grew until we needed two cars to haul this marvelous provision from God.

One morning Kathy and I were unloading a super-sized car-full of goodies when I heard Mildred’s voice bellowing above the sounds of the city. “Well, you certainly don’t love your baby if you can’t take thirty-minutes to listen to God’s Word.”

I turned toward the mission entrance where she stood with this enormous man. Now Mildred was no small woman, but he dwarfed her. The man shook his head and mumbled something we couldn’t hear, but by the expression on his face we knew he was angry. Very angry.

In her booming out-door voice Mildred retorted, “No. No lesson from the Word—No diapers or formula.” She didn’t flinch.

The man turned in a rage, jumped in his car, and screamed insults at her all the way down the street.

Kathy and I were frightened, but when he left we questioned Mildred about the wisdom of sending him away empty-handed. “Should we feed the body and ignore the soul?” With her hands firmly planted on her hips, she glared first at me then at Kathy.

“No ma’am,” we whispered.

“If your child was hungry would you do everything in your power to get them food?” Her glare demanded an answer.

“Yes ma’am,” we replied in unison.

“And anyone with a hungry, messy baby would too. He didn’t want the food for a baby. He was going to sell it on the corner. How could I stand before God to answer why I fed his body, but not his soul?”

She turned abruptly as one of the volunteers dumped several huge bags of potatoes in a can to be taken to the dumpster. And in the same verbose voice bellowed, “What do you think you’re doing?”

The woman froze. Kathy and I were grateful we were not the object of attention of this courageous woman of God.

Mildred took the can and turned to all the helpers. “God provides everything we give others at this mission,” she said. “How arrogant we would be to throw food He provided in the garbage when it’s perfectly good—just because we’re lazy?” She reached down and picked out several potatoes and held them up for us to see. “Yes, there are a few bad spots.” She twisted them in her hand then handed them to the woman. “Cut out the bad spots,” she ordered.

I’ve never forgotten her words.

Those who came to the Mildred McWhorter Mission Centers knew they were going to receive spiritual as well as physical food. And those who came heard the Word of God. Many became brothers and sisters in Christ and God turned their lives around.

As I stood slicing wormy peaches this afternoon, I heard Mildred’s voiceDSCF5787 and remembered the lesson. And I determined once again, not to be lazy. I cut out the bad spots and preserved the good fruit.

And that’s what the Lord Jesus gives us the strength to do in our lives when we receive Him as Savior and Lord. He gives us the power of the Holy Spirit to cut the bad spots out of our lives—blemishes of addictions, adultery, divorce. Worm holes of pride, idol worship, greed, and covetousness. And bruises caused by lack of forgiveness, rebellion, and anger. Any and all sins of our flesh and our spirit. So our lives can produce good fruit to the glory of God.

Church, we are required to be a holy bride, without spot or blemish. A bride set apart for Christ.

My beautiful bags of delicious, de-wormed peaches wait in the freezer to be DSCF5786transformed into ice cream, pies, cobblers, and smoothies. And they will be gone before next year’s crop. But my de-wormed heart and soul will survive for all eternity.

“The mouth of the righteous is a fountain of life, but the mouth of the wicked conceals violence. Hatred stirs up strife, but love covers all transgressions” (Proverbs 10:11-12 NAS).

“…from the same mouth come both blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be this way. Does a fountain send out from the same opening both fresh and bitter water? Can a fig tree, my brethren, produce olives, or a vine produce figs? Neither can salt water produce fresh. Who among you is wise and understanding? Let him show by his good behavior his deeds in the gentleness of wisdom” (James 3:10-13 NAS).

 

AND I WONDERED

Last year around the 4th of July I wrote this blog post, and as I read through it this morning, I wondered if God put a mark on the head of everyone in America who sighed and groaned over the abominations which are being committed in our nation how many would be spared by the mark? And how many would be slaughtered? And notice where the judgment begins. This past year has seen us slip further down, down into the chasm of chaos.  America is upside down. Only God can save us, and He will only do that if we cry out to Him. Just like Judah in 605 B.C. ,  are we beyond repair.?

“As the deer pants for the water brooks, so my soul pants for Thee, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God; when shall I come and appear before God?” (Psalm 42:1-2 NAS).

 

Have you ever been working in the yard, forgetting about everything but the task at hand, and suddenly realize you are thirsty? So DSCF2652thirsty you drop everything and flee to the fridge or water faucet for a refreshing, cool drink of water?

As I read this Psalm today, I wondered, do I become that thirsty for God?

Does my soul pant for God like the deer pants for the water brooks? Or does my soul pant for the things God has given me?

Do I become so distracted by the abundance of His blessings, I shove Him to the end of my I-love-You line?

Oh, I get up and go to church every Sunday, and I wonder, is worshiping God number one on my list, or am I wondering what the choir director has planned and will I like it.  Or what the preacher will talk about? Perhaps the central thought on my mind—where am I going to have lunch and who is going to come with me?

Last Sunday we celebrated the 4th of July at First Baptist Dallas. And I knew there would be special music. One of our Texas Senators  delivered the morning message. (This year we were blessed to hear Todd Starnes).  It was a time of joy-filled, flag-waving worship.

I got up early, knowing church would be crowded, and considered wearing red, white, and blue. But, in light of the shameful events in America and in Texas the past weeks, (doubly true in 2014), my heart mourned.

Senator Ted Cruz delivered a powerful message, recalling the founding fathers, principles, and legacy of this nation under God. He called us to prayer and to action. To stand up and speak up. (And a year later Americans are as apathetic as ever, or more so. Where will it end?)

And I wept.

Our forefathers gave their lives so we could have the freedom to worship God; and, I have to ask myself, have I allowed Sunday morning to become entertainment rather than a time for repentance and confession and true worship of my Lord Jesus Christ?

The choir sang The Battle Hymn of the Republic.

And I wept.

God has blessed this nation. Prospered us and built up the walls of America as our founding fathers placed their faith and trust in Him, but I’ve sat silent while those who mock God tossed His Word and prayer out of public schools, murder generations of  this nation’s babies, and are determined to force us to accept a deviate culture God identified as unnatural and wrong since the beginning.

 And I wonder, have I grown accustomed to the violation of God’s laws, shrugging my shoulders and shaking my head, while approving and feeding the coffers of movies and TV shows that revile righteousness and worship at the feet of false gods?

And I wept.

Did I say no to my children and grandchildren when they patterned their dress and behavior after sports figures and teen idols who thumb their noses at the Lord God Almighty?

No, this 4th of July will not be a time of celebration for me, but one of remembering, cherishing, and repenting. Remembering and cherishing the sacrifice of those who’ve gone before me. Remembering and repenting for my silence and my failure to proclaim the whole truth of The Word. And remembering and repenting for allowing my soul to be satiated with the things of the world, rather than thirsting for the living God.

How about you?

In Ezekiel 9:4 God said about ancient Israel:

Go through the midst of the city, even through the midst of Jerusalem, and put a mark on the foreheads of the men who sigh and groan over all the abominations which are being committed in its midst. But to the others He said in my hearing, ‘Go through the city after him and strike; do not let your eye have pity, and do not spare. Utterly slay old men, young men, maidens, little children, and women, but do not touch any on whom is the mark; and you shall start from My sanctuary.’ So they started with the elders who were before the temple” (Ezekiel 9:4-6 NAS).

 

Where will God find you this 4th of July, 2014?  Will you join me?IMG_1980 190 Sighing, groaning, and praying for God’s mercy and healing for me and you and the rest of His rebellious children.

 

I’m so old I remember when we didn’t have air-conditioning or television. We lived in Jacksonville, Florida, and nine months out of twelve, it was hot—inside and outside the house.

Houses were constructed of wood, with large windows and screens, sash type windows you could slide up and down for maximum air flow. The floors were hardwood and off-grade, so air could circulated under, over, around, and through.

Daddy bought a window-box fan that fit just inside a window to draw air into the house. Of course, that meant we slept with all the windows open. None of us thought it strange to live in a world without artificial cooling. A world where our home was always unlocked. A world where God, home, and family were the basis for a great and godly America.

However, on hot summer afternoons, cooking supper over an open flame gas stove turned the kitchen into a sauna. Supper was the main meal of the day at our house, except on Sunday. Mealtime was always an event and Mama was a wonderful cook and our family loved to eat.

Finger-lickin’southern fried chicken—crispy, but melt in your mouth delicious, fried in her iron skillet. Picked-that-morning green beans, seasoned with a hock of ham, simmered on the back-burner. While potatoes waited to be mashed and slathered with butter. Real butter. Homemade biscuits—is there any other Hot in the Kitchen 6kind—baked to perfection in a hot oven. And her fresh baked pound cake cooled on a cake rack, waiting to be dressed with sugar-sweet strawberries and whipped cream.

The aromas titillated-the-taste-buds, but the kitchen was hot enough to melt wax. And me.

Mama told me over and again, if you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen.

Of course, she would be red-faced and sweating as her words blossomed to a full-fledged-guilt-cloud that dumped on my head. But like a good little southern girl, I cowgirled-up and stayed in the inferno to see the meal devoured, the dishes washed, and put away. My hands were the dishwashers, not some humming machine.

Years passed and this old saying twisted to a new meaning, inferring if we couldn’t take the pressure of difficult situations, decisions, and actions, we’d better get out of whatever situation needed solving.

I now have central air-conditioning, electric ranges, and refrigerators. But we still face fiery fumes of friction that require boldness, courage, and strength outside ourselves to act Hot in the Kitchen 5upon. Family problems, illnesses, job loss, financial difficulties, failing relationships, all cause great stress. And many folks decide rather than stay and solve their problems, it’s just too hot. They can’t stand the heat. So they leave.

“Be strong and courageous, for you shall give this people possession of the land which I swore to their fathers to give them. Only be strong and very courageous; be careful to do according to the law which Moses My servant commanded you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, so that you may have success wherever you go” (Joshua 1:6-7 NAS).
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This generation is no different than generations in the past. There are always going to be difficulties, distresses and dreadful decisions that must be resolved. But this generation no longer feels a sense of responsibility to untangle the messes we’ve created. We kick-the-issue down the path to a future where someone else will have to deal with the heat of our foolishness.

Problems require solutions, not can-kicks.

We’ve lost the ability to reach acceptable solutions in the hot,Hot in the kitchen 2 sticky kitchens of life. We’ve accepted personal and federal exorbitant debt as normal. Living beyond our means, we’ve become cowards who refuse to parent our off-springs. Parents who’d rather be their child’s friend than their hero. Our elected officials are more focused on the next election and paybacks, rather than the security and future of America.

Our government has so transgressed the Law of the Land, we are clinging to the cliffs of no return. And Congress, up to this Hot in the Kitchen 3point, has become impotent, incompetent, and ignorant.

When cooks leave life’s sizzling kitchens, families cease to follow and obey God, parents divorce, children become pawns or predators, businesses go bankrupt, the heart and soul of our foundation cracks, corruption and crime creep in among us like poison, government crumbles, and anarchy and tyranny become the law of the land.

We need godly folks, strong courageous folks. Folks willing to Hot in the Kitchen.jpg 1cowboy-up in the home, in schools, in businesses, the church, the State House, and in Washington, while there’s a glimmer of heat in America’s kitchens. While there’s still food to cook. And, while we still have memory and know-how, to repent of our rebellion toward God, and devote ourselves to repairing our crumbling walls of freedom.

“Finally, be strong in the Lord, and in the strength of His might. Put on the full armor of God, that you may be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore, take up the full armor of God, that you may be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm” (Ephesians 6:10-13 NAS).

Words were on my tongue, out my mouth, and scorching the air between us like flames from a blow-torch. Why did I react like that? My heart twisted between anger and shame. Richard sat red faced, but silent. His hands played the clasp-release game with the steering wheel.

He wheeled the car to a stop at the curb. I threw the door open,DSCF2348 and in a silent huff, picked up my Bible, pasted a sanctimonious smile on my face, and marched into sanctuary.

Ack! My mother’s words echoed in my ears—your actions speak so loud, I can’t hear what you’re saying.

I wish I could tell you that’s the only time my ungodly actions out-screamed respect for my husband and trust in God. But it’s not.

The next terrifying thought as I entered that holy place, Did anyone see us flinging torches at one another? And the stirring in my conscience said, “Yes. God did.”

And like the Spirit always does when He has my attention, the next thing through my mind was the fact the disagreement ignited the night before and escalated this morning—when I had disobey God and gone to bed angry. Because I know I’m twice as livid when I wake up.

Good thing I wasn’t playing baseball. Strike one—going to bed angry the night before. Strike two— fighting with my husband on the way to worship God. One more strike and I’d be out. But God doesn’t act like we do. He uses the scriptures we hide in our hearts to bring us to repentance.

“A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger” (Proverbs 15:1 NAS). Ouch! I had imagestirred a hornet’s nest for sure. There wasn’t a gentle bone in my body when I lashed out at my husband. We might as well have turned around and gone home.

“Be angry, and yet do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and do not give the devil an opportunity” (Ephesians 4:26-27 NAS).

Opportunity? When I rolled over and refused to speak to him Saturday night. I chose to give the devil access to my heart’s super highway with a full tank of gas and a pedal shoved to the floorboard.

And if you’d asked me at another time and place, I would have counseled, “Never go to bed angry.”

But I did.

I knew what God’s Word said. Yet, my arrogance and pride allowed sin to fester and take me where I knew I shouldn’t go, and produced a situation that chipped at our marriage. Worse still, those selfish choices could have destroyed our testimony of loving Jesus and each other to anyone watching.

The sad part of this confession is we all repeat similar scenes over and over again. My husband and I have been married thirty-eight years and I’m sure if we could see emotional battle scars we’ve inflicted on each other and on our children, we’d be on our faces, horrified.file4611347287108

But God sees those wounds we’ve imposed and refused to repented of. He sees the wounds inflicted on us, as well as the slice-and-dice wounds we’ve not yet perpetrated.

And He still loves us. And waits for us to come to the end of our foolishness and run to Him for forgiveness and cleansing. However, He warns, in the same manner we forgive others, He will forgive us.

“For if you forgive men for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions” (Matthew 6:14-15 NAS).

The first time I read and understood this passage, truth and fear stabbed my heart. “Father.” I cried. “I can never remember all the times I’ve been angry and hurt others. Or the times I’ve been angry and unforgiving with Richard. What can I do?”

Immediately a high school dean I had unloaded on over a situation with my son a year or so before came to mind. My mind argued, but I was right and he was wrong. That still small voice whispered, “Your words were angry and ugly and you haven’t forgiven him.”

I vowed to forgive him and promised if God would bring him across my path I would apologize and ask his forgiveness. That same evening as I pulled into the church parking lot the high school dean and his wife parked beside me. I couldn’t believe my eyes. I didn’t even know they attended our church. A parade of excuses lined up and marched soldier straight through my brain.

DSC09455-BAnd the still small voice asked, “Well?”

With trembling hands and a terrified heart I stuttered an apology, confessed my anger, and asked the dean to forgive me. The weight lifted, was cast behind my Lord’s back, into the depth of the sea, never to be remembered by Him again.

But I remember, and every so often I ask God to remind me of anything I need to ask His and another person’s forgiveness for. And He is always prompt and faithful to shine His truth into the dark places of my heart.

How about you? Do people know you’re a believer by the way you DSC_5394handle business? How about the way you dress and your lifestyle? Your actions and reactions? Are the places you frequent consistent with your faith? Do books you read, TV and movies you watch honor God or the devil?

Do you struggle aligning your actions with your words and your faith in God? You’re not alone. We’re all in this battle together. Like me, do you have side-roads of unforgiveness and anger or resentment and bitterness, barricading your heart? Roads that will drag you down Satan’s detour to destruction?

“…from the same mouth come both blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be this way. Does a fountain send out from the same opening both fresh and bitter water?” (James 3:10-11 NAS).

Our lives are to be a beacon of light that points others to Jesus. But we are instructed to forgive—seventy times seven (Matthew 18:21-22 NAS).

Forgiveness is a choice. The minute we choose to forgive someone, if we’re a child of the King, it’s done. But forgiveness is also a life-sentence. We must unconditionally forgive them all, over and over again, ‘til Jesus comes.

Life in the here and now is a war zone, a battle to overcome the lusts of our flesh, the pride of our eyes, and the deceitfulness of our hearts. Our goal is for our actions, our words, and our testimony to match and give glory to our Lord God Almighty.
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“He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, I will grant to eat of the tree of life, which is in the Paradise of God” (Revelation 2:7 NAS).

SEEN BUT NOT HEARD

I was raised in a very disciplined household. “Children were to be seen and not heard,” my mother always said. And that statement was hammered into my head. Not just from my parents, but from other adults of that generation. My opinions didn’t count nor could they be expressed.

A sense of worthlessness grew inside me along with its good buddies, resentment and anger.

My attitude became one of sitting down and being quiet on the outside, but standing up and screaming inside. One of Mama’s favorite quips was, “If I tell you black is white, you’d better get a paint brush and paint it.” Her word was law—end of discussion.

The response my husband had to the seen and not heard instruction was timidity and stuttering.

When I became a parent, I determined never to utter those words to my children. They could express their feelings, even disagree, as long as they spoke in a calm, respectful manner, with the knowledge Dad was the officer-in-charge and I was the first mate, but we needed and counted on the input of our children.

Many of you were probably raised under the seen and not heard mantra. What effect did those words have on you? Did you raise your children by that premise?

A friend and I were talking the other day, and she had an even stronger reaction to that old saying being repeated to her again and again. She struggled with a sense of worthlessness and depression from early childhood, which led to teen and early adult addictions. Today we both lead support groups and see how actions, attitudes, and emotions from unresolved conflict in the past explode and affect the present griefs and addictions.

The home and family is the place where children should fledge—sprout wings. Without encouragement to participate in family discussions and decisions, to respect and be respected, to understand and be a part of loving relationships, the maturing process is stunted, possibly forever.

So just as we threw away last week’s quote, time heals all wounds, we should throw away this week’s children should be seen and not heard.

In giving our children a voice, we must be careful not to lean too far the other way. All we have to do is turn on the evening news and watch elementary hoodlums sassing and raging at teachers. No respect. And their actions are contagious to less aggressive children. What do you suppose these kids do at home? Or how about when they are older, bigger, stronger?

Another friend taught in the public school system in Dallas where special needs children are main-streamed into all classes. A young elementary student was given to rages—throwing things, turning over desks, screaming, kicking, biting. The district instructed the teachers to remove the class from the room and let the child’s tantrum run its course. And we wonder why we have school shootings, fights, attacks? Where is the logic of this policy?

So, what are we to do? Where are we to go? We do the one thing we always do when a problem is illusive. We go to the Word of God.

“Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be prolonged in the land the Lord thy God giveth thee” (Exodus 20:12 NAS).

“Fathers, do not exasperate your children, that they may not lose heart” (Colossians 3:21 NAS).

“Children, be obedient to your parents in all things, for this is well-pleasing to the Lord” (Colossians 3:20 NAS).

“Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. Honor your father and mother (which is the first commandment with a promise), that it may be well with you, and that you may live long on the earth. And, fathers, do not provoke your children to anger; but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord”
(Ephesians 6:1-4 NAS).

“Behold, children are a gift of the Lord; the fruit of the womb is a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, so are the children of one’s youth. How blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them” (Psalm 127:3-5 NAS).

“But Jesus called for them, saying, ‘Permit the children to come to Me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Truly I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it at all” (Luke 18:16-17 NAS).

These scriptures, and many others, show us it’s all about relationships. Parent and child, just like God the Father with each one of us. Does He strike you with a bolt of lightning when you ask why? Or when you question Him in grief, heartache, or despair? No, He encourages you to come to Him and pour out your heart. Even when you’re angry and don’t understand.

“Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you, and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart; and you shall find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy, and My load is light” (Matthew 11:28-30 NAS).

Let’s noodle this out together. Do you think Jesus would issue a limitless invitation to come to Him, then when we get there tell us, “Don’t try to get My attention? Sit up straight. Be still. Just sit there, shut-up, and look pretty ‘til I have time to listen.”

“That’s absurd,” you say. “He’s God. I’m not.”

Right, He is sovereign over the whole Universe. But He has given us authority over our little plot of the world. And we’ve allowed the pendulum to swing too far to the left of right.

So what can we do now?

Parents must go back to school. In this age of technology where children operate computers, IPhones, Kindles, etc. before they learn to tie their shoestrings, it is imperative for parents to understand it’s not a question of if trouble will happen, but when will it happen. Every parent must learn about electronic protections and safeguards, time restraints and locations for using these cyberspace playgrounds.

Regimented family life is imperative. In our home suppertime was 6 PM. Until I married and left home, we all gathered for the evening meal. Together.

Difficult discussions must take place with each child—straight to the point and often. Always making sure the child knows they can never do anything that will make you stop loving them. The family will work to solve every problem, together.

Young people and children in America are starving. Starving from a deprivation of understanding and believing the relevancy of the Word of God. Let’s talk about this urgent issue while freedom to speak is still the law of the land.

The most important thing parents must do is read the Word of God and pray with their children. Teaching them from an early age, God loves them, and each one of you are accountable to God for the stewardship of your life.

Jesus tells us in Matthew and in Luke, “Every kingdom divided against itself is laid waste; and any city or house divided against itself falls” (Matthew 12:25, Luke 11:17 NAS).

Children are our future and our heritage. We must live out the principles of God’s Word—that it’s all about relationships not religion. Relationships with God. Relationships with one another. Or America will cease to be.

What do you think? Were words spoken during your childhood that blessed or harmed you? How did your upbringing affect the way you raised your children?

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