Parenting From Truth ~ Grace and Truth Week 37

The pull of our world is strong, friends.

Just the other night, one of my young boys talked to me about his concerns that he doesn’t know what God wants him to do in the future, or even now.  He’s looking for his purpose in life. It’s not the first time he’s mentioned such concerns to me, even at the young age of nine.

And to be honest, I’m wasn’t really sure how to answer him other than to suggest that he continue to be faithful in doing all things as “unto the Lord.”  But that suggestion failed to satisfy. Looking back, I think his questions were aiming more at finding significance than I initially understood.

Although the conversation was frustrating for me as a parent, realizing I lacked the answers he was seeking for his restlessness, and likewise frustrating for him as a child, it reminded me once again of how my parenting is limited by my humanity.

Above all, we must teach our children to seek a real and personal relationship with their Creator God.

And with our oldest boy halfway through high school already, I’m more and more aware that time with them is fleeting. A parent’s influence only reaches so far, and while they are still under our roof, I want to make the most of this time!

Maybe you’re feeling that urgency, too?

To get all of the wisdom in during these years that fly by faster and faster as time passes?

In last week’s Grace and Truth linkup, I read two excellent posts from parents who get it – this need to connect our children to those gospel truths that will last beyond our home and into eternity.

Rebekah from Surviving Toddlerhood shared a poignant  post relating to the Josh Duggar scandal (not your typical Duggar post at all). I appreciate how Rebekah gets right at the root of raising young men who understand their need for a Savior!

Katie from I Choose Brave shares about the lessons that hard things teach our children.  She also gets to the root of the issue, which is the need for Jesus.

Thanks ladies for reminding us of our parenting priority – helping our children understand their great need and the solution to that need.

Sometimes we can effectively apply parenting advice and other times we just do our best and pray about the rest.  Being a loving Christian parent isn’t about attaining perfection, but about faithfullypointing them to Jesus!

Parent on!

Jen :)

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My Favorite Life-changing Books

Obviously every good Christian girl would put the Bible at the top of a list of life-changing books. :) The Bible is first and foremost the ultimate resource for life in general, after all!

However, sometimes we read a book other than the Bible and understand spiritual truths in a whole new way. These are the type of books I’ve chosen for a list of life-changing books.

Each one has had an impact on how I understand and live out my Christian walk.  Some of them I am still learning from today!

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Life-Changing Books

 

Life on the Edge

I read through this material when I was still in high school, and for me it was a life-changing book because it helped me plan for the future rather than be afraid of it. During those last few years of high school, students face enormous pressure to make important life decisions.

I highly recommend this book for young adults as they begin to face life on their own rather than under the safety of their parents’ wings!

The Stranger on the Road to Emmaus

This book is another pick from my high school years, but one that I actually still use. Although I grew up in a Christian home with parents who were faithful to teach me about God’s Word, I still didn’t have a solid grasp on the overall themes of the Bible and how the Old Testament connected to the New Testament (and why that’s important!).

Reading through The Stranger, which focuses on the overarching themes of the Bible from creation to Christ,  gave me a very clear picture of God’s love for and plan for mankind from the very beginning!  I now use it whenever I disciple others.  The Stranger will speak to unbelievers as well as those who have believed for many years!

The Circle Series by Ted Dekker

Every book lover surely includes some excellent fiction writing on a list of life-changing books!  As a lifelong book-lover, I’ve read an abundance of classic, secular, and Christian fiction, and one of my favorite authors of all is Ted Dekker. Each one of his riveting tales teaches readers a lesson about faith. But this series in particular stands out above the others.

The spiritual allegory that runs throughout Black, Red, White, and Green is rich and the vivid imagery helped me understand things like baptism and dying to sin/rising in Christ in a whole new way.  Most of all, I loved how the characters pursued one another and how they were pursued by the Christ-like archetype. The Circle Series is like the Chronicles of Narnia, but for adults! :)

And for the youth in your life, The Lost Books Series is a thrilling companion to the Circle Series!

First Place (Bible Study Series)

This life-changing book and subsequent series of devotionals helped me to see how letting food control my life is really a sin issue.  I also learned how to change the way I ate by learning to read nutritional information, cooking with better ingredients, etc.

But what I like most about this particular series is the focus on putting Christ first. Being healthy physically is important, but being healthy spiritually is more important!

Although the Bible is the ultimate resource for life, sometimes other books help us understand spiritual truths in a whole new way, like these life-changing books!  Find out which ones made the list.

Believing God (the Bible Study)

Although I don’t agree with everything this author claims, I can whole-heartedly recommend this bible study.  I actually read the workbook version of this book and really enjoyed the depth of bible study and Hebrew/Greek word study.

I call this book life-changing because it helped me realize that although I claimed to believe God and believe His character is true, I often failed to live that out. I wasn’t thinking and acting on my so-called belief. Instead I worried and mistrusted and misunderstood the hard things in life.

Trust Without Borders

This lovely devotional made for easy reading yet contained surprising depth.  Author Arabah Joy utilizes modern day parables to teach valuable lessons about trusting God.

She has a way of getting to the heart of the issue that leads to lots of light-bulb moments! I often re-read each day because each one was packed with so much good information to really chew on.

The Case for a Creator

Especially now, when Creationism is under constant attack, understanding the real scientific evidence for why we believe what we believe is key.  For that reason, The Case for a Creator is life-changing because it defines our very beginnings here on this beautiful planet.

The author takes the reader through a study of creation from the perspective of physics, biology, chemistry, astronomy, and so forth. One of the things I love most about this book is that when readers start to grasp the significance of why our Earth is positioned the way it is, and so forth, they can’t help but be awestruck by our Mighty God.

If you are an analytical thinker who loves facts and data, then this book is for you!

The Screwtape Letters

My second fiction pick, The Screwtape Letters, is a life-changing book because it opens our eyes to the very real spiritual warfare going on all around us.

I don’t think I ever realized before how sneaky our enemy is, especially in using good things to distract us from the best thing, our relationship with Christ.  Go read it, and anything else by C.S. Lewis, for that matter. :)

Messy Spirituality

I’m not sure I actually agree with all that this author had to say, either. Why include it on a list of life-changing books then, you ask? Because I’m not a fan of throwing out the baby with the bathwater.  But more than that, this author challenged my view of what being a Christian looks like in a way my perfectionist nature didn’t like at first. :)

He also broadened my view of grace, took it out of my nice neat little box and made it, well…messy.  I never thought of myself as a self-righteous person before starting this book, but it was the catalyst for seeing my own sin in this area. I’d say that qualifies as a life-changing book!

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The Purpose Driven Life

Here’s another book whose author I don’t always agree with, especially in regards to some of his statements in more recent years. Nevertheless, The Purpose Driven Life had a profound impact on my understanding of my purpose in Christ.

You see, as a perfectionist, I was one of those good Christian girls who relied much more on performance than on grace without even realizing it.  Yet in my heart, I truly wanted to serve the Lord.

I just didn’t realize that worshiping and serving the Lord doesn’t always involve big things or ministries!

Sometimes serving the Lord is as simple as taking care of my family by washing the dishes or cooking a meal. That might sound silly, but realizing that I could do even those very small acts of obedience in service to the Lord gave me a satisfaction in life that I previously lacked.

Missionary Autobiographies

God at the Controls, God Planted Five Seeds, Peace Child, Through Gates of Splendor and others I can’t remember the titles of are also on my list of life-changing books.

As a child of overseas missionaries, these books helped me understand the great need for the Gospel to reach so many unreached nations.  They also helped me witness the power of God to use difficult life circumstances, even death, in the lives of His people to impact whole tribes and communities – talk about life-changing books!

Other Heroes of the Faith Autobiographies

The Confessions, The Hiding Place, and others.  There is nothing like hearing the story of a fellow believer’s faithfulness to challenge and boost our own faith!

I hope you find at least a few that you haven’t yet read from my favorite life-changing books.  Try out some new ones from the list and see how your faith is challenged.

And as with all things you read or hear, please check them against the truth of the Word!

Jen :)

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Whatever You Do ~ Grace and Truth Week 36

We’ve all heard the verse before, the one that tells us “…whatever you do, do it as unto the Lord” (1 Cor. 10:31), but do we really have that mindset day by day? Are we intentionally choosing an attitude of serving the Lord in the midst of both the important moments and the incredibly mundane?

I so often fail to remember that even my most despised house chores are opportunities to worship the one true God and to practice thankfulness for the many blessings He has bestowed.

In fact, if you were at my house, you might find me grumbling about all that needs to be done, about how the four kiddos in the house leave their mess out for me to pick up, how my husband leaves his shoes for me to trip over, how the laundry never, ever, ever gets all the way done.

You may be laughing, but I’m not kidding – these are the complaints that at least register in my head even if I don’t always verbalize them (unfortunately, plenty of them do get verbalized). That’s just the honest, messy truth about me.

I can be a critical complainer.

But it ought not be so, friends.

I’m feeling more than a little convicted about this tendency to downplay the gift of life.

Every moment is a gift, even the ones that try us to the core of our beings.

I’m learning this difficult lesson – to give praise in the everyday and even in the painful moments, too.

Because I want to leave a legacy of putting God first in all things, not just in ministry or in writing, but in ordinary moments of parenting, and housekeeping, and marriage, and friendship, and… the list goes on.

Don’t you want it, too? The kind of legacy that leads others toward Christ rather than away from Him? The legacy that brings glory to a Father who deserves infinitely more glory than we can bring in a lifetime?

Lori of Searching for Moments reminds us of how easily we can get distracted from our legacies by busyness in our lives.  She reminds us of how mundane moments can add up to something extraordinary in the life of another. Stop by and give it a read – it’s worth the time!

Yes, we can leave a legacy of faith even while tackling that dreaded laundry mountain!

I’m not advocating a return to perfectionism, no sir.

I’m advocating a graceful approach to a spirit of worship in all that we do.

Let’s live out our faith even in the small moments.

In whatever we do.

Even laundry.

Jen :)

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How to Persevere in Life

Every once in a while we have those brave moments when we openly share our struggles with others because we are so very desperate to overcome.

I shared previously about my fat girl insecurities, and then again earlier this year about setting some personal goals for myself, especially learning how to persevere in this weight loss journey (this isn’t a post just about weight loss, so hang in there).

Yesterday I stepped on the scale for a weight check, hopeful yet worried. I haven’t been able to work out consistently for the last few weeks because a summer cold flared up my asthma. So, I wasn’t really sure what to expect.

After taking a deep breath, I looked down to see The Number.

And promptly burst into tears.

How to Persevere in Life, overcoming, weight loss journey, facing discouragement, persevere in spite of obstacles, how to persevere in weight loss, how to be an overcomer

It’s not quite what you might be imagining because these were happy tears, thankful tears.  Tears that meant I really could persevere at this weight loss journey in spite of frequent obstacles.

The Number was the one I had been waiting on, the one that put me under a major weight-loss marker, the one that more than solidified my twenty-plus pound loss thus far.

Seeing that number provided positive proof that the lies I used to believe were just that – lies meant to keep me enslaved.

So when I saw the Number my heart just filled up to overflowing with gratitude. I was grateful for a God who never gives up on me, one who continues to work in my life to free me from myself and my own sin.

See, it’s really not just about the weight for me. It’s about knowing my Father is looking out for me, helping me along the way.  It’s about believing that I can persevere because He’ll help me!

I can lose weight.

I can choose to eat healthy foods.

I can live a healthy lifestyle.

I can get back on track over and over again, after obstacles get in my way.

I can do all of this and more, not by own might, but by the strength that comes from abiding in my Father God.

I can persevere.

How to Persevere in Life

Yes, remember that word from earlier this year that I didn’t really want?  Well, the Father is showing me in a multitude of ways that I can persevere despite incredible difficulty. I know how to persevere because of the power of Christ in me.

Even more, I can persevere because of His faithfulness.

The best part is that all of those things are true for you, too, my sisters in Christ.  If you have that personal relationship with Christ, then you have the power of Christ in you to finish your race well.

Recent world events might have you fearing for the future.

Life circumstances may be weighing you down.

A loved one may have betrayed you in the worst possible way.

Your family may be struggling just to survive.

But it doesn’t have to remain that way, friends.

We are capable of living victoriously even in the darkest of times because of the great Hope we have in an All-powerful God.  

It’s a Hope that never fails, a Hope that remains steadfast and true.

A Hope that tells us we are not alone.

We can learn how to persevere by saying “I can because He did.”

How Persevering Leads to Overcoming

Earlier this year, I wanted a word that sounded a little less like hard work and a little more like a mountaintop experience. To me the word persevere meant “get ready because more trials are coming down the line!”  But to my Lord and Savior it meant, “get ready to see the work I’m doing in you and wait hopefully for victory!”

I failed to realize then how close the connection is between persevering and living the victorious life because truly, one leads to the other!  When we learn how to persevere, we are learning to live in victory, to claim our very own Promised Land right here on Earth.

When we persevere, we develop the character we need to be the overcomer God meant us to be from the very beginning!

When God asks us to persevere in a life situation, it can sometimes feel like we're being sentenced to suffer.  However, according to scripture, persevering has some pretty fantastic benefits!  persevere in life, persevere in hard times, bible verses about persevering, persevering in faith, christian persevering

Listen to what the Scripture has to say about persevering, friends!

“And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope;  and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.”                              Rom. 5:3-5 (NASB)

Are you low-down and desperate for real hope today, friends? Are you stuck on a plateau, believing the lie that you’ll never find your way forward?  Have you wasted so many years that changing now seems downright impossible?

Read it again. “[H]ope does not disappoint.”  Hope is never wasted, no matter what the enemy tells you.

Lift your head and see the Hope before you.

Persevere and watch His mighty hand at work!

Jen :)

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Being Steadfast ~ Grace and Truth Week 35

Being steadfast isn’t easy in an ever-changing world, one where we “debate” over dead baby parts and watch children lose their heads for the sake of Christ. A world where twin towers haunt our memories, teaching us that even in Amercia, we are not untouchable.

Our world is full of sin and evil, and not just the kind that lives halfway around the world, but the kind that touches you and me everyday.

I’m talking about the kind of evil that destroys countries and churches and marriages and children and people….so many people.

It’s enough to make a woman heart-weary and numb.

When we face such trying situations, whether personal or not, what will our response be?

Will we stand firm in the Lord?

Or will our feelings overrun us?

Ifeoma from Purposeful and Meaningful shared some lovely words and scriptures on this topic last week.  Be sure to stop by and be encouraged!

Don’t be moved, friends. Now more than ever, we need those beacons of light to pierce the  encroaching darkness. We need steadfast hands and steady hearts to bring a balm of comfort and peace to a broken and hope-hungry world.

Don’t be moved, my sisters in Christ.

Not now.

Jen :)

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4.) All links are randomly sorted – feel free to link as early or as late as you’d like. The playing field is even!

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5.) Grab a button or link back to encourage new linkers. This is not mandatory to participate, but is required to be featured.

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Share the Gospel ~ Grace and Truth Week 34

Every once in a while our eyes are opened in a powerful way to the lost of this world.

Maybe your eyes are opened through news of a tragic natural event taking the lives of many, or maybe it’s a single boy washed up on the shore of a distant land, lifeless.

They are all around us, you know, those who may not even know who Jesus is and those who do know of Him but remain separated from Him.

When did we forget the power of the gospel?

So often we wake up in the mornings, get busy with our days, work hard until evening, and fall into bed exhausted, never once thinking of those who are waiting for Good News and the freedom that follows. I know because many days that’s me – too caught up in this world to focus on that beyond.

As my husband and I work through the church-planting process, we’re realizing that we’ve lost sight of the importance of living life on purpose in some ways. We grew weary and settled for “good enough.”

That ought not be, friends, not when it comes to spreading the Gospel.

We cannot sit back and wait for the perfect opportunities, or for a miraculous sign from the Lord, or for encouragement from others, or for whatever “it” is that we’ve been waiting for. What kind of faith do we have if we are waiting for the perfect combination to guarantee our success?

I want a faith that is fierce, a faith that forges ahead even when discouragement strikes, a faith that leads to victory in His Name.

Who will choose boldness with me?

Let’s quit leaving the Gospel-sharing job to pastors and missionaries and husbands and all of the other someone elses in the world. Instead, let’s love others enough to put our own pride at risk and share a little truth with someone in need.

Maybe you’re thinking, but I’m not naturally an out-going person and I’m certainly no evangelist.  Here’s the thing, we’re all commanded to go and make disciples – not just those who are naturally out-going or who find it easy to share.  Hard truth? Yes, I know!

In fact, often throughout the Bible we’re commanded to sacrifice, to do things that lead us straight out of our comfort zones because we serve a big God and He wants us to learn to rely fully on Him.

So because I know how nerve-wracking it can be, I’d love to share with you a cool new tool I recently learned about. It’s called the Life Conversations Guide App (from the North American Mission Board) and is available for both android and apple devices. There is even a Spanish version!

It’s like a gospel tract right on your phone. You’ll always have it with you! Even more, the fact that it utilizes technology instantly generates more curiosity, especially among younger generations.

Once you’ve downloaded it, watch this brief video that explains a little of how to use it. :)

The best part is that once you download and use it yourself, you can also encourage those you share it with to download it themselves. Why? They can go over the talking points again on their own, and they can even watch a video version that explains the Gospel.

And here are 20 more ways to share the gospel, just in case.

Ok, now you and I both have no excuses!

On to the link-up…

Jen :)

Thanks for linking up with us last week. If you were featured, feel free to grab a featured button below!

Grab button for Being Confident of This

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Christian bloggers wanted for Grace & Truth : A Weekly Christian Link Up. Come share your recent Christian Living post with us!

Grace & Truth exists to point people to Jesus! We hope this link-up will be a source of encouragement each and every week. If you’re a blogger our hope is that you’ll use this space as a way to meet new friends within the Christian blogging community. If you’re a reader our hope is that you’ll meet new bloggers that love Jesus just as much as you do! Most of all, we hope you’ll meet Jesus here.

Meet Your Hosts

Satisfaction Through Christ
BLOG
| FACEBOOK | PINTEREST | TWITTER |G+

Kaylene Yoder
BLOG | FACEBOOK | PINTEREST | TWITTER | G+

The Brown Tribe
BLOG | FACEBOOK | PINTEREST | TWITTER | G+

Arabah Joy
BLOG | FACEBOOK | TWITTER | PINTEREST | G+

A Divine Encounter
BLOG | FACEBOOK | PINTEREST | G+ | STUMBLEUPON

Being Confident of This
BLOG | FACEBOOK | PINTEREST | TWITTER | G+

Busy Being Blessed
BLOG | FACEBOOK | PINTEREST | TWITTER | G+

Sharing Redemption’s Stories
BLOG | FACEBOOK | PINTEREST | TWITTER | G+

Grace&Truth-Rules2

1.) Follow your hosts via their blog and/or social media channels. This is not mandatory, but appreciated!

2.) Leave 1-2 of your most recent CHRISTIAN LIVING posts. Please do not link DIY, Crafts, Recipes, etc. Links of this kind will be deleted. We also reserve the right to delete posts that don’t align with the theme or that are deemed by the hostesses to be inappropriate.

3.) Visit 1-2 other links and leave a meaningful comment! We want to encourage community, so please don’t link and run!

4.) All links are randomly sorted – feel free to link as early or as late as you’d like. The playing field is even!

In order to be featured next week:

5.) Grab a button or link back to encourage new linkers. This is not mandatory to participate, but is required to be featured.

6.) Each host will choose one link to feature and promote via their social media channels next week.

7.) By linking up you agree to allow the hosts to use your featured post image if you are chosen as a feature for next week.

Grab A Button

Grab button for Being Confident of This

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