Sister to Sister: Podcast is Thursday. All about the Spirit.

0968af02c7d4cac0bd7a0b9f0b0e7085Podcast is Thursday. All about the Spirit.

So much is happening so fast this week. I know it will be a good week for me because all of my events are centered on the Word. It’s Sunday afternoon and I’m out the door in a minute to hear a great Q and A session at the West Huntsville church. You can hear our monthly Q and A Sunday nights at www.westhuntsville.org. Tomorrow, we’re off to the Memphis, Tennessee area, where we will be speaking at the Power Lectures at the Southaven Church (http://southavencoc.org). My topic is “Sarah, Whose Daughters You Are.” I love getting to speak to the sweet sisters there. The lectureship is based on lessons we can learn from the life of Abraham. Should be some great stuff. Then from there we travel to Amory, Mississippi, where Glenn will speak on Wednesday night about our hope in Christ. Then I’ll be back in Huntsville by Thursday night to, at long last, be with you in a special two-hour edition of the Digging Deep podcast, in which we’ll be focusing once again on God, the Spirit. It’s at 7 pm CST. Hope you can join us! (http://new.livestream.com/whcoc/for-women) Pray that we (Emily Anderson is co-hosting) can be prepared by that time! It’s great to have Jennifer Benavides back in Huntsville after her father’s prolonged sickness and death and it’s wonderful that she brought along her mom, Judy Denson, who will be a great asset to our West Huntsville ladies ministries. Good things can come out of tragic circumstances and I will be praying for much good for this sweet family. Jennifer will be back on deck Thursday to produce the podcast. The final podcast will come to you live from Polishing the Pulpit (www.polishingthepulpit.com) in late August. Then next Saturday is the “Happily Ever After” Purity day at West Huntsville with Hannah Colley Giselbach speaking. She’ll help your teen girls make the best choices for a regret-free future for Him (purity.westhuntsville.org).

I’m thinking a lot about the Holy Spirit lately and particularly what he does every day for me. That’s right. Just because He is no longer revealing and giving miraculous gifts does not mean that I do not consciously feel His presence in my life. I am spiritually (and even emotionally) tied to His work in countless ways. (Just this week, the ways my life is inextricably linked to His work are pretty many and sundry!) I love the way the Holy Spirit (along with the Father and the Son) is just very much a part of any Christian’s daily planner! Here are a few of the ways He affects me practically, just off the top of my head:

He allows me to know the very mind of my Jesus (I Cor. 2:13-16). I am so grateful for that.
He validates or give me the assurance of my salvation (II Corinthians 5:5-10). That’s huge to me.
He gives me comfort when the going gets tough (John 15:26) through the truth he has revealed. (This one, of    course overlaps with the previous one.)
He shapes my conscience (I Timothy 1:5).
He gives me the basis of this wonderful Digging Deep Study!

Please try to join us this Thursday as we discuss the Spirit and how he enables us today through His amazing revelation of truth—the Word! It’s important to know. I’m finding that knowing more about the Spirit makes me hungrier for what He wants me to know…and that’s a good thing.

Sister to Sister: Q&A–About that Strong-willed Child

imagesI have a question for you, that I hope and pray you will have a few minutes to respond to. I remember at TFE a couple years back, you spoke about one of your children having a strong willed nature. I remember the phrase, “45 minutes here, and another 45 minutes there, and so on,” regarding discipline. I have had some strong willed children, but my 2 year-old son takes the cake. I was wondering if you could share some practical advice from your dealings, that you think I could benefit from. I would really appreciate your sage advice….Tara

Hey Tara,

Now I know that you know lots more than I do about child-rearing since God only gave me two, but I will give a few suggestions that I am sure you are already doing. In my experience (and according to the Word) strict, consistent discipline is the only thing that I have found to be effective and, with the strong-willed (i.e. consistently disobedient child) it just takes a whole lot more persistence and determination on the part of the parents. That child tests the mettle of the parents and, really, what kind of parent you are doesn’t even start to reveal itself till you’ve had the big challenge of a consistent “war” with a child. Dealing with this is not for the faint of heart, as you know. It is worse, if you have a strong-willed child who is also manipulative and, even though this may not be surfacing yet, I have not seen a strong-willed child who is not also constantly trying to “play” you. (At two, it is probably “It was an accident” and at eight or ten it’s “You are spanking me too hard. You are hurting me.” or “You need to calm down, Mom.” —all manipulative ploys and they can tell when they are breaking you down. Most of this I have come to be confident about because my adult child is now very open with me and remembers those tactics very well. =))

In our experience, “time out” is hardly worth doing. To us, it seemed to prolong the behavior, demand a lot of attention from parents to enforce, and have very limited positive consequences. At two, we spanked and spanked and spanked—not for forgetting to obey or for carelessness, but only for blatant disobedience, rebellious back-talk or lying. Both kids just knew that those three infractions were going to get a penalty that was very uncomfortable, physically, from the time they were about six months old (at six months it was just a little hand pop and, of course, was only for screaming at us when we tried to put them in the car seat or buckle them in the high chair) till they were about twelve years old. Every.Single.Time. Now I know this is not rocket-science, but this is what we found worked. Just consistently doing this. You probably are already ahead of the game here, but I cannot tell you how many parents we know who have not ever been consistent in this process, but when they do it for the first time, it works! It takes about two weeks of tormenting living and then life gets a whole lot better and they call us and say, “We are so glad we did this, even though we wanted to give up several times during the first two weeks.”

As you have probably already heard me say, we are really pretty set on the “process” of spanking. That is, rather than going to physically remove the child from the “temptation” as you spank him, you spank him and then put him right back into whatever the action was. Then re-issue the command and see if he learned to obey from that first spanking. If he obeys the second time, that’s great. You praise him. If he disobeys the second time, you spank again and then put him back in the same scenario, once again re-issuing the command.  You just have to do this over and over and over until you, the parent, win. Every.Single.Time. Winning, of course, is getting the commanded action. Of course, the most important thing to remember is that the child can never “win”. You have to always win. This is torture for most parents. But it is short-lived torture. The over-all tenor of the home gets a lot happier in short order when this system is enacted. It’s important that the child knows this spanking will occur no matter what the outward circumstances are. If you are in a restaurant, it will happen. If you are in the church building, it will happen. When they are five, you can tell them it will happen when you get home IF you are positive you can remember to do it when you get home. But when they are two it has to happen within a couple of minutes, at least, of the infraction (just long enough to get to the restroom or car, if necessary.) I have parents all the time tell me it gives children low self-esteem and shames them to spank them in public. I believe it gives them low self-esteem if they understand (and they eventually do) that you do not care enough about their behavior and souls to be consistent when there may be some external risk of embarrassment or even legal action. They have to know that you will sacrifice whatever it takes that is pleasurable for you to be the kind of loving disciplinarian that God wants you to be. Once when our kids were older, it was an anniversary night away for which we had already paid the hotel cost, but we told this child that his/her behavior was not such that we could leave him/her that day. That child still tells us that that day was a very important day in his/her training.

When the strong-willed child got older, there were some more positive things that we did to make him/her know that we were willing to make investments of time and money to be with him/her, because he/she was fun and because he/she and his/her sibling were the most valuable heritage God had given us. But I will save those for another time, since this is a book and since your baby is two. I know it is cliche, but let me emphasize that the child with the iron will can be the Daniel, the Shadrach Meshach or Abednego, the Joseph—the one who will literally die before giving in to sin. I have seen that blessed process occur—the trip from refusing to flinch in self-will at the threat of punishment to the refusing to flinch in HIS will in the face of persecution. It takes a lot of foresight and faith. It takes not doing what seems the most reasonable and easy right now, for what you can have for His glory in the long run.

Sister to Sister: I Just Love this Story!

Unknown-4I hope you are enjoying the week as much as we are at the West Huntsville church. It’s Family Bible Week and the excitement is over the top. Kids are learning and adults are, too. My skit this year is a re-enactment of the parable we call “The Prodigal Son” so I’ve been thinking lots about that boy who chose the money over the security and about how we, enamored by the world’s cheap glitter, often do the same. I’ve thought about how you could never have talked him out of going to that far country when the silver was jingling in his pockets and how that you could never have talked him out of returning home when it was gone. The difference, of course, was all in that moment when he “came to himself”—you know, the pig pen moment. The pig pen moment is a moment of the heart (called repentance) and we all have to have it before we can come to (or come back to) the Father. I hope you have had your pig pen moment. I have had several.

I’ve thought about the Father, too—how he released the son to go and waste his substance. I’ve pondered how many people I know who are in the faraway country today because God never makes anyone serve him. He never keeps you against your will. I’ve thought about how you can be a prodigal even on the church pew every Sunday. If your heart is in the pig pen, then sitting on the pew doesn’t make you any less filthy. Teens get to choose between the Father’s house and the pig pen even if parents are forcing them to be in the worship assemblies, because the pig pen is all about the heart. God releases us. He allows us to choose. It’s free moral agency and it’s what sets us apart from any other creatures He made way back on the sixth day of history.

I picture Him as he rested on the porch. I do not believe it was an accident that he saw His son “a great way off.” He was watching and anxiously waiting for him. But His work was done. He had a place—a home—ready and waiting for the homecoming of the one that was astray. He did not go looking for the Son. It was the “seventh day” for this Father. Everything he had done for the son was good. It was all up to the boy now. Of course, I am the boy in the spiritual analogy. There is nothing more God can do to bring me home. The choices and faith’s response of obedience are all up to me.

The best part is that the Father ran. That’s right. When the boy came down the path, haggard, dirty, lean and lost, the Father ran and fell on his neck and kissed him. God runs. When a prodigal turns his heart from subversion to servanthood, God runs to forgive.

He rejoiced, too. My Father makes merry. What a tragedy when all things are ready for a feast, but I keep the long-suffering One waiting on the porch.

He reclaimed. Notice that the son asked to be a servant. That position is much more than he deserved. But the Father restored him to the position he claimed before he ever left the house. “Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God!”

He reconciled. You have to love the way the Father approached the elder brother whose body was in the back yard, but whose heart was in the pig pen. The Father wanted the elder brother to be pure, not only in practice but in his heart. He wanted the love of the Father to be in that boy. It’s interesting that John tells us that if we love the world (like the prodigal was doing in the faraway country), the love of the Father is not in us. (I John 2:15). But the same passage tells us that if we fail to love our brethren, we are still stumbling in the darkness (I John 2:9). How many nights did the prodigal spend stumbling around in the world without the love of the Father in his heart? How many nights did the elder brother spend stumbling around in the Father’s house of light because he failed to love his brother?

I just love this story. It is my favorite parable of the Lord. I have been the prodigal. I have been the elder brother. It’s interesting that our Lord left the “jury out” on the heart of the elder brother. Perhaps the “pig pen moment” is harder if you’ve never physically left the Father’s house. But may I always remember that I can stumble in the darkness even in His house. I can be in dire need of “coming to myself” even when I am physically in the presence of the family of God.

I just love this story.

A Great Idea for an Outdoor VBS!

nonameIt’s family Bible week at West Huntsville this week. One hundred adults have convened nightly for about the past week putting together some very animated versions of three eternally important stories that our Lord told while here on earth, along with assembling another center about laying up our treasures in heaven. They’ve also gone all out putting together a plan and materials for age appropriate crafts, planning an art contest and a “tribal time” sing-along for kids. It’s the time of year when there’s the most excitement about Bible classes and, best of all, the time of year when we have more non-member visitors than at all the other services during all the rest of the year combined. Look for pictures and a report about the week later on. Better yet, come on over and see it for yourself—through Wednesday night beginning each night at 6:45.

 

But today, I’d like to share with you some photos of another Bible adventure hosted by the West 160 church in West Plains, Missouri. On the property of the Kirby Cole family and open to church and community, it proved to be one of the best attended events of that church in recent history. I think the pictures will give you an idea of the theme and the unique outdoor flavor of this day. What a unique way to bring the scriptures to life for our children! One family had an idea, other Christian families pitched in and a re-enacted trip to Canaan happened, complete with crossing the Jordan and piling up the rock monument.  Best of all, lots of people left with a new zeal for reaching our promised land. (If you click on a photo–wait–then click on it again, the pics will enlarge!)

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Run!

runningThere’s only one chance at the wreath that awaits

Only one lifetime to strive.

Only one finish that counts in this world.

And only the time you’re alive.

Only one manual, one trainer, one chance.

Just time between you and the goal.

Only one foe to disqualify you

But this enemy runs for your soul.

This race is for brave-hearted, die hard achievers

For buffeting, disciplined focused believers.

For those who can throw off the weights that would slow them

For those who have studied the rules and who know them

For those who lean heartily on practice and skills,

But also on faith and an undeterred will.

So run, undistracted.  Run fast toward the goal.

Keep steady, breathe deeply, and run for your soul.

The world is now small in the distance diminished.

The wreath soon you’ll wear..You’re approaching the finish!

The glory of this wreath dies not with applause.

This glory’s forever, for it’s in the cross!

 

 

Crazy-Happy

daily-glow-photogallery-zit-zappers-woman-with-towel-on-face2I love days like today. The neighborhood was Sunday-morning-quiet at 6 am when I did my two mile walk. Even the bull dog who passed me on the Pike was friendly. I had about 36 hours at home between trips and I was thankful and planned to use every moment of it expeditiously–laundry, unpacking, repacking, picking blueberries, studying for three lessons I’m doing this week, and most importantly, worshiping the Lord; praising Him for the first-world life of material blessings and renewing my desire to place them in after-world investments. He is so good.

And just as I began to get ready to leave for worship, my phone rang. Nuris. Now I love Nuris. We’ve been studying the scriptures together for the past four years, on and off. Nuris is from El Salvador, a wife and mother of two sweet little girls. I knew that Nuris was close to making the most important decision of her life. Hearing her voice on the phone with a baby crying in the background, I knew she was intent about something on this early Sunday morning: “I am trying to come church, Cindy. But I just found out my car is broken and my husband has to fix. So I don’t think it will be fixed in time.” (I love her sweet broken English. She is learning so quickly.)

So I threw my wet hair in a quick braid and I was out the door. Nuris lives pretty far from me and she lives pretty far from the building where we worship, too. As I was on my way to pick her up, she called again. Long story short,  her husband ended up bringing her, because he needed to get a car part in town, so I turned around to go back home and retrieve my husband. I forgot the card I was supposed to deliver to someone. I forgot the books I was supposed to deliver to someone else. There was no time to go and look for the frog costume (yes, that’s what I said) that I was supposed to take to yet another person. I did throw a baggie of fruit loops and a doll in my purse for sermon-time entertainment for  Nuris’ sweet little four year old.  I remarked to my husband, “You know, my life is just crazy!” I was out the door for the second time.

My life IS crazy…crazy happy. When the sermon was over this morning, my friend Nuris walked down that aisle to put on our Lord in baptism. I came with her, baby carrier in hand and a four-year-old in tow. My sweet sisters Holly and Emily met us all down front to lend hands with kids, towels and sweet hugs. We filled up that front pew. I love having a front row seat to hear that sweet confession. Then on the way to the baptistry, Nuris said, “I am not out there in the world anymore. I am of the Lord. You know, Cindy, the devil put so many things in my way, but I am not going to let him stop me.” I hope she never lets him stop her.

I heard this afternoon that there were people who had crazy-happy days like this in the states of Tennessee and Virginia today, too. I hope there were people all around the world who could rejoice with the angels today. It is not everyday that you get to play a tiny part in a process that moves the finger of God as He writes a name in the Book of Life. But I wish it was.