Building a family of faith

We all want our children to walk with Jesus and to grow in the ways of God.  One of the most important things we can do is to fill our homes with love and with a spirit of worship.  When our children hear us speaking of the good things that God has done and of His wonderful love and mercy their lives will be drawn to the God that we serve.  

Be an example

Our example of a Christ filled life, is the clearest picture that our children will see of Jesus. For us to walk as Christ walked we definitely need to have time with Him, and to rely on His Spirit to work in us and to live through us.  Being connected to the vine is the answer.  "Without me you can do nothing,"  Jesus said when he was describing the vine and the branches. " Abide in me and  you will bear much fruit. "What kind of fruit do we need in the everyday life of living in a family?  We need the fruits of the Spirit:  love, joy, peace, longsuffering, patience, gentleness, goodness,  faithfulness and self control.   These things can mature in our lives over time, but the true expression of these fruits come from a life filled and controlled by the Holy Spirit.  Each day as we give ourselves in surrender to God, and ask Him to live through us we get new mercy and strength.  

Many times we feel frustrated over our own failures and short comings.  But if we keep a humble attitutude, and admit our failures and ask forgiveness when we are not walking in the attitude of  Christ, our children will have mercy on us.  And by this they  will begin to understand that we all need grace... even parents.  Because we need mercy we should be quick to give mercy.  

Let the children come unto me and forbid them not... of such is the kingdom of heaven.

When I was a child, I thought as a child, I spoke as a child, I behaved as a child, but now that I have become a (woman) I have put childish things away....  In the middle of the most famous love chapter 1 Cor 13 we read these words.  How do we embrace our children and let them be children, without  the weight of perfection, and still hold them to a high standard.  God is our teacher.  He loves children.  Jesus wanted them to come, so He could bless them.  Kids are  sometimes messy, loud,  and seem to be  always seeking our attention.  Do I give my child the time he or she is searching for?  There is a real balance between being there all the time, and letting your child learn that the universe does not center around them, and sometimes they need to wait for something.  When my children were young we were living overseas.  We still are actually... but I hovered over them like a mother bird always intent on meeting all of their needs as quickly as possible.  Later I read something by Elizabeth Elliot on raising children,  and she told how her mother would teach even the youngest child in their home that they sometimes had to wait, and that they would always be loved and cared for, but they weren't now the King of the Palace.  For me this has been a hard area to find balance in.   It's one of the areas that I need grace and wisdom from God.  I don't want to raise my children to be self centered by waiting on their every want and whim, and I don't want them to feel unimportant when others are around by always putting others ahead of them.  

As my children are getting older it's one of the things that we are talking about and looking at in Proverbs.  There are so many verses that talk about choosing to live wisely by honoring others and treating them with kindness and respect.  Jesus loves each of  His children.  Isn't it great that He never is too busy for us.  Yet even though he has the power to change our circumstances many times he allows us to grow in faith and patience rather than  immediately giving us our requests.   God also is  a good  Father and he says, that who he loves he disciplines as a son.  The kind of discipline that God uses on us depends on how we respond to His urgings and guidance.  If we are a close son  or daughter who lives in obedience to our Father,  He will nudge us gently to change directions or to share about Christ with someone, or to give of our time, resources or money to someone in need.  But if we are strong willed He may use stronger ways to get our attention.  He loves us so much He doesn't want us to stay in our own willfulness and selfish ways.  In the same way  we are called by example to teach our children about unselfish living, generosity and loving those around us.  We also can expect our children to grow in these areas as they mature.  He who controls himself is greater than he who takes a city... Proverbs 17   .  Loving our children is teaching them to become Christlike and generous and to be thoughtful of others.  
Children need to have regular times with us, when they know that they have our complete attention, and that we enjoy them.  That can include listening to them and watching them perform for us, or just being together and cuddling with them on the couch.  Each child has different needs for love.  Each one of them expresses love different and accepts love differently.  All  children need our encouragement, but some children thrive on words of blessing.  Others feel loved when we do a project with them.  Some receive love by having special time talking and communication when we give them quality time.  Others need a hug, or our hand resting on their back while we talk.  For them our touch speaks love to them. 

 Watch and Pray

We can watch our children and pray for them.  As we see their weaknesses we can lift this up to the Lord and ask Him to help them in these areas.  As we locate their strengths we can pray for these areas to be developed and to be put under the Lordship of Jesus Christ.  Even their strengths can be their downfall if they do not use them wisely.  I think of Elvis, who came from a Christian home, and obviously had a great gift of music.  What if he had used all of his talent and his energy to promote the King of Kings and the Kingdom of God?  What an influence he could have been.  So it is important to pray that  God will be Lord of All in our childrens lives, their talents,their education, their relationships and in everything.  

Whatever is good, true, honest, just, pure, lovely of good report: Think on these things!

Keep smiling and enjoying the time you have with your kids.  They will grow up quickly and they can tell if you are under stress or if you are really at peace and enjoying life, and enjoying them.   If our lives are in turmoil they can sence that.  So keep your heart free from bitterness and unforgiveness.  Keep your attitudes positive and uplifting.  Keep a song in your heart and love in your hugs and remember that  Children are a blessing from the Lord! 

Created for Love

We all need love and friendships that will blossom and grow with time.  No one is an island.  God created man with a need for someone just for him... (Eve)... and  then our creator God said It is GOOD!  

When God made women he put a compass in our heart that points to relationships as the thing that guides our heart.  Women can try to find fulfillment in a powerful job or in  financial affluence or in personal beauty... but we all are going the same direction... and botox can't fix everything....Especially a lonely heart.  Many women who are the most beautiful on the outside find it hard to hold onto strong relationships.  Maybe because they have worked so hard on the outward that they think this will keep their husband interested and others drawn to them.  Beauty can go all the way to the heart,  but beauty alone will never buy happiness or hold off loneliness. It's time for a revolutionary beauty training to begin in God's women... It's time to quit comparing ourselves with the world and those around us and to be the best person that Christ Jesus created us to be, without guilt or fear or shame.  God can help us to love Him first,  then to love ourselves and to have an extravagant  love for others.  

Relationships need time and investment

We all tend to be either extroverts or introverts... Simply meaning  that we get our spark back or our tank filled up by either spending time alone, or by spending time with other people.  If you are an extravert, you probably  love to be with people,  and may feel your best when basking in  the limelight.  You may be another kind of extravert that gets strength from conversation and from giving out to others in a more quiet, sensitive way.
  Then there are many  women that are introverts; who need time to themselves to sort through life, and to receive what they need before giving out to others.  Being with people nonstop will definitely be draining for this type of personality. 

Wherever you fall in these two extremes we all need to take time out to be filled up and to have something to give others.  If we are just with people we are in danger of not having enough substance in our lives to make a difference... and if we take too much time for solitude we fall into the danger of loneliness or depression because we were created for relationship.  Here are a few tips for building relationships that can help us all become at relationships. 

  1. Friendliness attracts!  Be a person who cares about those around you.  Keep your heart open to others and they will feel that you really care about them.  This will open up their hearts to a deeper relationship.
  2. Learn to be a good listener:  We can become a better mother, spouce or friend by just practising being a good listener.  That means that we stop and really listen to the other person, without thinking of what we want to say.... Through practise we can learn to enjoy people  and try to hear what they are saying from their heart, not just from their mouth.  
  3. Take time to  have fun while you build relationships.  If your life is extremely busy taxiing around kids, or working too many hours... remember that only relationships will last.  Take time each week be with the people you care about, and to have fun together. Don't lose your sence of adventure.   Try something new as a family or with a friend.  Enjoy doing sports together, or going to a movie you have both wanted to see, or plan a vacation and do something you have dreamed about.  Don't be too busy to build memories that will keep your relationships strong for years to come.
  4. Pray for the people that are important in your life.  It's such a great blessing that we can help one another and carry their burdens to the Lord in prayer.  Ask those you are in relationship with what you can pray for them, and if they are open to it,  take time to pray together regularly.  This will bring you closer and build a bond that will last.   

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