I need a break!

Once the kids are born the time demands never seem to end. It starts with the 3 am feeding. Next we have teething and earaches. We run the daily rat race from home to daycare to work to daycare to home to bed. And that’s a slow day without tee-ball, soccer or dance class! My life revolves around my children. I don’t have any time to myself.

Do you feel this way? Have your family concerns and obligations sapped your strength? Take heart, you are not alone!

One of the toughest lessons for me to learn as a parent was that taking quiet time for myself does not mean that I don’t love my children. As a matter of fact, taking time to be alone can be one of the best things I can do for my family. I learned this truth from Jesus.

Many times in the Bible, like in Matthew 14:13, we see that Jesus took time for himself. This verse says “Jesus withdrew privately to a solitary place.” Jesus is the perfect Son of God who gave his life on the cross for mine, yet he took time on this earth be alone and pray to his Father in heaven. We don’t need to feel guilty when we do the same.

I understand now that I need to take time alone. I am a parent, yet I am God’s child. I need time to be held by him. I need time to hear how much he loves me. I need time to talk to him. I need time to listen to him. Spending time alone with my Father in heaven gives me strength. He is my perfect parent and a model for me to follow. Spend time alone with him you will find the same.

Calming Fears

When someone you know is really scared, what can you do to help them overcome their fears?

Do you know what most people do? They try to divert their attention away! If they’re afraid of heights they yell, “Don’t look down!” If they are afraid of lightning flashing at night, you close the curtain.

But the person is still way up high and lightning still flashes. There must be a better solution to help those who are afraid.

God wants you to trust in him. In the Bible he provides the answer to quieting fear: “I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go” (Genesis 28:15). And also, “Cast all your anxiety (fear) on him (Christ) because he cares for you” (1 Peter 5:7).

Do you know someone who is afraid. Maybe you can share God’s promise with them.

Do you regret not knowing what to say to such a person from the Bible? Then perhaps you can read your Bible more and learn what to say.

Hiding from fear won’t last. Distracting one’s attention from fear won’t last. Only one thing will help someone overcome their fear. Share God’s promises with them.

It is God’s love for them that will help them overcome their fear. God proved this love for us by sending his Son, Jesus, to take away the sins of the world and give us his true peace.

Direct people to Jesus’ love and you will help them overcome their fears!

Quality Time

A few years ago there was a statistic which claimed that the average American dad spent five minutes a day with his children. If that’s true, I sure hope those are five really good minutes!

I’m sure we can debate the validity of the statistic, but it does raise a question: How much time are you spending with your children and grandchildren? Perhaps the better question is: How are you spending that time? We certainly do lots of good things with the children in our life. We cheer for them as they run the bases in a little league game. We take them to the lake, to the movies and to the county fair. We read to them, laugh with them and wrap them up in great big hugs. Those are the good times.

What about the other times? Much of the time we spend with them is filled with impatience and frustration. We use harsh words and unloving actions. We fail to discipline and instruct with love and patience and compassion. Sometimes we are too busy for them. Sometimes we are too preoccupied to answer their many questions.

If we are honest with ourselves, too often even our “quality” time with our children is missing something. God reminds us of what we too often leave out of our time with the children who are important to us: “Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds…Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up” (Deuteronomy 11:18-19). Do the children in your life get to hear from you about the love their Savior has for them? Do they get to hear on a regular basis about the God who has created them and saved them and given them so many wonderful promises? If we don’t take the time to teach them, who will?

Thankfully we have a Father who gave us more than five minutes. Actually, our heavenly Father gave us much more than that: he gave us an eternity in heaven through faith in our Savior Jesus Christ. We will be with our Father in heaven forever. That same Father is with us every minute of every day in his Word. Get together with the children in your life and spend some quality time with God’s Word.

Offering the True Hand of Help

It can be so frustrating. In love you reach out a hand of help and get rebuffed. “Mind your own business.” It could be as minor as a child stubbornly saying, “I can do it myself.” But it could be as tragic as a loved one enslaved in a dangerous habit, and refusing to see your offer as anything but meddling. Dangerous habits become tragic addictions. And the person seems blind to the horrendous outcomes of ruined lives and empty bank accounts or worse. How can I show that person I care and not be pushed away?

Look to the One whose outstretched hands offer help for now and for eternity! Your Savior God says, “I am the Lord, your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you.” Isaiah 41:13 Those hands of Jesus touched lepers and healed them. Those hands of Jesus smeared mud on eyes and turned the blind into seeing. Those hands of Jesus were stretched out and nailed to a cross in a love payment for all sins, even sins of addiction. Those hands of the resurrected Jesus were shown to doubting Thomas as proof positive of power to do the impossible.

The Lord Jesus still demonstrates the power to do the impossible and reaches out his hands of healing. Start with prayer and remember his promise: “Do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10 Talk to your loved one and extend your hand in prayer with him or her. Don’t pretend you can fix it. Together ask Jesus for his powerful love to reach a heart. Ask Jesus to move that heart to see and reach for the many other hands offered to help: a pastor’s hand of Scriptural counsel, a doctor’s hand of medical help, a counseling center’s hand of intervention. Be patient and persistent in your love and in your prayers. Stay close to that person and lovingly remove opportunities to indulge the addiction. Reach out in love, and remember your Savior’s promise, “Nothing is impossible with God.” Luke 1:37

What Is God’s Role for a Husband?

Before we can answer that specific question, we have to take a step back and remind ourselves what responsibilities God has given to all his children, not just to husbands.  In the fifth chapter of the book of Ephesians, the apostle Paul reminds all of God’s people to mimic their heavenly Father by living lives of love.  This love, he goes on to explain will often show itself in the way each Christian will put the needs of others ahead of his or her own.  This submission to others is a mutual submission and always an expression of love.

While every Christian will seek to love others as Christ has loved him, and while every Christian will submit to the needs of others as an expression of that love, a Christian husband is called to do this in a very specific way in his marriage.  Jesus wants the Christian husband to mimic him (i.e. Jesus) in the way he treats his wife.

So, Jesus says, a Christian husband is to demonstrate his love for his wife by loving her in the way and to the degree that Christ has loved his church, the gathering of every believer.  To know the height and depth and extent of Jesus’ love for you, is to know how Christ wants a Christian husband to love his wife.

Consider such words of Christ.  “The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45).  “I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me” (John 10:14).  “The good shepherd lays his life down for the sheep” (John 10:11).

That is the kind of love a husband is to show his wife.  That is the way a husband is to speak to his wife.  That is how well a husband is to know the needs of his wife and family.  That is the kind of attitude a husband is to adopt as he provides godly leadership for his family.  That is the extent to which a husband will go to demonstrate his love.  The Christian husband is not a self-serving tyrant.  The Christian husband is the self-sacrificing, servant leader Christ has called him and made him to be.

When the Christian husband loves his wife as Christ loves the church what a beautiful picture he paints for his wife and his children of Christ’s love for them!  That is the greatest role a husband can fill.

Parenting

A sign along the freeway shows a picture of a worried mother with her teenage son. The caption reads, “Too bad children don’t come with instructions.”

Every parent is faced with many dilemmas, frustrations, and heartaches throughout life, and it seems like sometimes there is nowhere to turn for “The Instructions.”

But in actuality instructions ARE available. It’s just that so many parents either don’t know or overlook the instructions. It’s called the Word of God.

You see, we parents don’t create children. God does. Science can explain the process to some degree. But only the Creator can create new life.

Now, along with that new life, He wants to bless parents and children with a deeply caring relationship that will last for time and eternity.

First and foremost, the Lord God made it possible for our family bonds to last forever. God the Father sent his one-and-only Son to bring forgiveness of wrong doings, to rescue the world from death and hell, and to give us the gift of heaven on top of it all! It’s a “done deal” through the life, death, and Resurrection of Jesus!

Now when your family has Jesus in the center of its life, that makes for a loving and rewarding home life, too. Not easy, not trouble free, but richly blessed.

These instructions really WORK! If you could list every valuable piece of advice from books, newspaper columns, radio talk show hosts, and clinical counselors, you’d find that all the best advice has been said before—in the Bible!

Consider, for example, this one piece of advice from the Apostle Paul: “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving one another, just as in Christ God forgave you” (Ephesians 4:32).

Parents, don’t toss the “Instructions” away. Take the time to read the Bible. It works.

How can I help when others are depressed?

What a helpless feeling! A friend, spouse, sibling, co-worker shows all the signs of depression. The person has gone from full of energy and life to tearful, lethargic, unmotivated and overwhelmed. The change from positive and confident to pessimistic and hopeless is heartbreaking to observe. You desire to help your loved one, but how do you? What can you do? Perhaps you have tried to cheer them up or invite them to functions so that they can get out and be with other people. Maybe you have attempted to talk them out of their depression by telling them it will get better soon or encouraged them to look at the positives in their lives. Despite your efforts, does it seem like nothing you do really helps?

There are things you can do to help someone you care about who is depressed. You can be a loving listener, an encouraging voice, and a praying heart. You can remind them of the many blessings that they have and help them identify the times in their lives in which they have not felt depressed. You can encourage them to seek the counsel of a physician, therapist, or minister. However, the most important gift you can give them is to remind them that they are loved unconditionally by Jesus Christ.

Jesus is the only one who understands their suffering completely. The Bible explains how God became a man, in Jesus. And He lived on this earth with all its challenges. Jesus suffered as He endured pain, hunger, fatigue, rejection, loneliness, and more. Ultimately, Jesus even experienced death on a cross. The Bible says in Philippians 2:6-8, “Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death—even death on a cross!” Not only does Jesus understand what it is like for us to suffer but he did all of this so that we can be saved. Jesus died for us that we may receive the ultimate blessing of eternal life in heaven. Sharing this gift with someone we care about who is depressed is perhaps the best medicine!