Encouraging Confidence in our Ourselves and Our Children


“I have no greater joy than this, to hear of my children walking in the truth.” 3 John 1:4

I’m participating in a Bible Study on confidence. The book seems to have been written specifically for me, but the all the ladies in my group feel the same way. How could they feel any lack of confidence? They are all prettier, smarter, thinner, or more educated than I am. Each one seems to be a better mom. The truth is many people struggle with a lack of confidence.

How early in life do our perceptions, attitudes, and circumstances begin to affect our confidence? We know our attitudes and behaviors start to be shaped when we are small children. As kids we let the words and actions of others have a deep, lasting impact on how we value ourselves. Circumstances can have a disastrous effect on us and we believe many lies. Adults often live with leftover negative emotions from their childhoods. Sometimes these feelings of inadequacy penetrate our adult thinking and have a negative effect our confidence. I know these incorrect thoughts have caused me to lose confidence.

I don’t want this to happen to my children.

My daughter, Elianna, just turned 10. She’s been doing gymnastics and cheerleading for years. I’ve watched her confidence shattered by the words and actions of certain coaches and even other parents. Several years ago she came to believe she couldn’t do a back handspring. Elianna was little. The right choice at the time was to change coaches. Now she can do several back handsprings in a row. She got her confidence.

ellie

Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” Deuteronomy 31:6

Now that confidence teeters because she’s struggling with another stunt – being a cheer flyer. Although her confidence is wavering, this time the process is different. Her coach is encouraging her, helping her with every step of the process. She sets smaller goals to help my daughter gain confidence. My husband and I also encourage her, and we let Elianna know what we expect from her. Our standards are high, but not so high she can’t reach them.

That’s how it is with God. He encourages us and prepares the way for us. If we put our trust in Him, our confidence will soar and we will be able to accomplish the tasks he has set before us. Proverbs 3:26 tells us, “For the Lord will be at your side and will keep your foot from being snared.” And Isaiah 41:10 states, “So 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.” Those verses are more than verses for cheer leaders who want to perform stunts; they are promises from God for all of us.

I pray for my daughter (and son) to have the confidence of God, not just for sports, but to have the confidence to accomplish all that the Lord sets before them. It’s a big prayer, but it’s what God wants for all of us. He’s all we need to accomplish His will for our lives.

“Not that we are competent in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves, but our competence comes from God.” 2 Corinthians 3:5

 Our kids are going to face many challenges and dilemmas as they grow. We are forced to work with people who want to bully us, or try to shatter our confidence in other ways. Sometimes people will withhold love if we don’t behave a certain way. We need to teach our kids to believe in themselves and have the confidence to stand up to people who are less than nice. That confidence comes from our Lord. Are we modeling that truth for our children?

 “I can do all this through him who gives me strength. Philippians 4:13

We must learn to replace falsehoods with God’s truth. But we need to do more than use these tools for ourselves. We need to pass these tools to our children so they will grow up to be confident, godly men and women. The Bible gives us a lot of information about our identity in Christ. Let God’s perspective fill you, and your children.

 “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” 2 Corinthians 5:17 (ESV)

 We are fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14). As we let go of the falsehoods others have said, or circumstances that shatter our confidence, we must teach our children the same truth. As you talk to God about changing your thinking, ask Him to help your children develop correct thinking and confidence in Him. The Message paraphrase of Romans 12:2 urges us to reject the flawed thinking of our culture and those who surround us: “Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You will be changed from the inside out.”

We must teach the confidence God gives us, and His sufficiency early in life, but how do we do that? I think the answer is simple, but hard to do. We have to let go of our strong wills and turn ourselves over to God. We have to ask Him to increase our faith, so we aren’t tempted to try to solve problems in our own strength. Then we need to pass that truth onto our children. We also need to learn to forgive ourselves, and those who have hurt us.  Forgiveness doesn’t excuse someone else’s behavior; it merely prevents their behavior from destroying our confidence.

“Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” Ephesians 4:32

May you and your children feel and believe the full measure of the confidence our Lord desires you have.

 

Scripture: http://www.biblegateway.com

Photo: Gerry Garro

Bible Study: A Confident Heart by Renee Swope

Facing A Storm


storm

Have you ever had a crisis of faith? Was there an occasion you found yourself immersed in despair, or felt totally defeated and there seemed to be no way out of your situation? Perhaps you cried out to God, but He seemed silent, just when you needed Him the most.

The Prophet Elijah faced such a situation. First Kings 19 tells us about Elijah’s crisis of faith. The great prophet found himself in the midst of a raging storm. How did he hear from God? Let’s pick up the story at verse 9, where the prophet was hiding in cave.

The Lord Appears to Elijah

And the word of the Lord came to him: “What are you doing here, Elijah?”

10 He replied, “I have been very zealous for the Lord God Almighty. The Israelites have rejected your covenant, torn down your altars, and put your prophets to death with the sword. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too.”

11 The Lord said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.”

Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. 12 After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. 13 When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave.

Then a voice said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”

14 He replied, “I have been very zealous for the Lord God Almighty. The Israelites have rejected your covenant, torn down your altars, and put your prophets to death with the sword. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too.”

15 The Lord said to him, “Go back the way you came, and go to the Desert of Damascus.

The first lesson is God comes to us in a gentle whisper. When we face difficult trials and the storm is raging, we must listen for the voice of God. Psalm 46:10 tells us to “Be still and know that I am God.” It may seem counterintuitive to get quiet when you feel you should act, but we all need God’s guidance before we can respond correctly to any situation.

We learn our second lesson in verse 16. God told Elijah to go back the way he came. In other words Elijah was to go back and face the trial. How many times are we tempted to run from a horrible situation? Maybe we want to quit the job, end a friendship or just take an easier path. Facing the situation God’s way will result in God resolving the issue; God is the only one qualified to do so. God is strong, and God is love. He will fight for you.

Zephaniah 3:17

The Lord your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves.
He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing.”

 When I recite this verse I picture the sweetest, purest voice singing for me. The thought calms me and reminds me whose fight it really is – God’s.

Our Heavenly Father will not abandon you in your time of need. We need to learn to stop fighting the battle alone. Quiet your spirit before the Lord, listen for His instruction, and let Him calm the storm.

Blessings on your day.

Scripture: www.biblegateway.com

Image: http://www.googleimages.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pursuing Your God-Sized Dream  


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 Psalm 37:4: Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.

A year seems to be such a long time. When the year is young, we believe we can achieve certain dreams and goals. But then the busyness of life gets in the way of our plans, and we whittle down our dreams so we don’t disappoint ourselves. Sometimes we plan to resurrect a dream or a goal that we put on the shelf years ago, then we set it aside again. There is a reason we are drawn to certain dreams. God is the author of our dreams; He’s put His dreams in our spiritual DNA.

Psalm 139:14a: I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.

Not only does our Heavenly Father give us dreams, He enables us fulfill the dreams he has given us.

Philippians 2:13: “For it is God who is working in you, enabling you both to desire and to work out His good purpose.”

  Proverbs 16:3: “Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and He will establish your plans.”

A few years ago, a big dream was placed on my heart. As I pursued that dream I discovered a few things about how God works to fulfill His dreams for us.

  1. A God-sized dream is a dream God created just for you. It’s as individual and unique as you are. God is so big; He will give you a dream that’s big. It may seem unachievable, but nothing is impossible for God (Genesis 18:14; Matthew 19:26).
  1. A God-sized dream begins to take shape by having faith to follow God’s leading. We have to have the courage to believe God. “For everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith.” 1 John 5:4
  1. God-sized dreams require we let God lead us. “The true children of God are those who let God’s Spirit lead them.” Romans 8:14, and I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you.” Psalm 32:8
  1. God-sized dreams will grow or shrink in direct proportion to your obedience to God. Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding” Proverbs 3:5 and, “But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom,and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do.” James 1:25.
  1. To follow your God-sized dream, you have to let go of your junk. So many people settle for the average, mediocre life. It’s easier to push dreams to the side and forge ahead with the life others expect. Perhaps this happens because we live in a dangerously busy and noisy world. It’s hard to hear God’s voice through all the wrong messages that bombard us each day. We have so much to do we get the incorrect perception that we have to keep up with it all and that leaves little time to pursue the dreams God has given us. There are also so many false messages that are coming at us, so fast, we exist on overload all the time. We always have to sacrifice something. It’s a wonder we get anything done at all. When we are so busy, we don’t stop and listen to God. We tend find security in things we are familiar with, but those things have no lasting value. We get comfortable with our difficult circumstances, or worse, we feel like we don’t deserve good things. But you are not defined by your circumstances. You are not your job loss. Or your divorce. Or your illness. You are not your regrets or failures. You are a child of the one True King. And He has a plan for you! “The Lord of hosts has sworn: ‘As I have planned, so shall it be, and as I have purposed, so shall it stand,’” Isaiah 14:24 and, “Surely there is a future, and your hope will not be cut off.” Proverbs 23:18 
  1. God-sized dreams start to become reality when we seek God with our whole heart. If you want to know what the God-sized dream God has waiting for you, start by spending some quality time alone with Him. Ask Him to silence the noise of this world so you can listen to Him alone. Ask Him what His plans are for you, and how you are to go about achieving them. God has a way of speaking to each one of us. He will let you know your heart’s desire, and guide you to fulfilling that dream. (1 Kings 19.)

 What is the God-sized dream our Lord has placed on your heart? I don’t know what your God-sized dream looks like. Maybe it seems scary or unattainable. Perhaps you don’t feel qualified to chase that dream. Consider this: If you don’t follow the dream God has given you are you going to look in the rear-view mirror of life and have regrets? When it comes time to stand before the Lord, what are you going to say to Him if you don’t follow the dream He has given you? 

You will never regret following your God-sized dream. After all, God created it just for you.

 Jeremiah 29:11

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’”

May the Lord richly bless your dreams.

Scripture: http://www.biblegateway.com; http://www.openbible.info

Image: Google Images

The Power of a Word


power of word

 

In 2014, my good friend Gennie* challenged me to select a word (and a verse) to focus on for the year, a word God would lay on my heart. Within moments God gave me that word – perspective. I prayed and worked on having God’s perspective in all matters and I think the challenge made a difference. I repeated that challenge again this year and selected the word perseverance; Hebrews 12:1 is my verse for 2015.

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles.

And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us” Hebrews 12:1 (NIV)

I chose the word because perseverance is more than determination. It means “a steady persistence in a course of action, a purpose…especially in spite of difficulties, obstacles, or discouragement.” It also means “continuance in a state of grace to the end, leading to eternal salvation.” God is full of grace and love – He shows it constantly. Grammatically, perseverance is noun, but to me, it’s a verb. It’s a word that requires action. It means to constantly remain focused on the plan God has for me, and for me to work toward achieving that plan.

My verse for the year, Hebrews 12:1, reminds me that my brothers and sisters in Christ are available to support and encourage me, if I need it. One of the beautiful benefits of fellowship is knowing you can go to your brothers and sisters for prayer. We encourage each other.

Focusing on a theme, or word, is important and helpful because it gives us a clear purpose and direction. If we remain focused on what God has in mind for us we remember our work and trails are for God’s glory, and we don’t spin our wheels focusing on something that doesn’t matter. It also puts the focus of our life back on God and reminds us to pray (without ceasing – 1 Thessalonians 5:17). Focusing on what God has planned for us reminds us that we are not alone in the journey; He is constantly by our side.

Finally, focusing on a word affects your thoughts. Frank Outlaw wrote:

“Watch your thoughts, they become words;
watch your words, they become actions;
watch your actions, they become habits;
watch your habits, they become character;
watch your character, for it becomes your destiny.”

 The year is still young. You can pick a word or a theme for your year, one that will bring you closer to God. It will give you spiritual refreshment, strength, and peace, and give Him glory.

*Gennie’s blog is “journey to the hills.com.” I highly recommend it.

 

Blessings on your day.

Scripture: www.biblegateway.com

Image: google images

Confidence


confidence

Sometimes I struggle with being confident in my abilities, despite recognition and accolades about jobs well done. Sometimes I compare my successes with the successes of others. Perhaps you do too. God has given each of us gifts and talents (Romans 12:6-8), and we know He is with us always (Matthew 28:20). So why do we often lack confidence?

I ran across a passage in the Book of Job that holds a key to that answer – surrender. It seems counterintuitive to surrender ourselves, but God is the one who gives us strength, hope and renewal.

 Job 11:13-19 (CEV)

Surrender your heart to God, turn to him in prayer,
and give up your sins—even those you do in secret.
Then you won’t be ashamed; you will be confident and fearless.
Your troubles will go away like water beneath a bridge,
and your darkest night will be brighter than noon.
You will rest safe and secure, filled with hope and emptied of worry.
You will sleep without fear and be greatly respected.

Surrendering to God is a Christian concept I struggle with. How do I let go and give it all to God? The word surrender is associated with the military idea of giving up and being taken prisoner, but is that all that the word means? I turned to the dictionary and found an additional definition “to yield or resign and office or privilege in favor of another” (dictionary.com). When we surrender, or yield, to God we are placing control of the problems in the hands of the one infinitely more qualified to handle all matters. It’s so hard to let go and let God handle our situations, but we must remember He is the only one who is qualified to bring about the right solution.

As I pray for the courage to surrender every problem to God, I feel a renewed sense of confidence in the ability to handle various situations because I’m not dealing with them alone. I have the infinite power of God by my side in everything I do. If I let Him take control, the outcome to every problem is sure to be the right one.

Blessings on your day.

Scripture: www.biblegateway.com

Image: Google Images

 

 

Dealing With Writer’s Block


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As long as I can remember writing has been a positive outlet for me. I’ve written poetry, short stories, and a book. I write for my job. But I’ve been dealing with writer’s block for a while now. I want to blog and work on my next project but can’t seem to find any words, much less put the pen to paper. My prayer life is also becoming stagnant and often redundant. Have you ever experienced the same situation?

I ran across the solution. Some time ago I wrote a list of 50 prayer starters – conversations to have with God. It’s just a list of subjects to talk to God about. My hope is that reading and praying about a few of these topics will jump-start your creative writing. Journaling your thoughts about any of these prayer topics will lead to ideas you can blog about later. Here is that list.

  1. I am sharing the light and love of God with others.
  2. I trust God.
  3. I believe God speaks to me.
  4. How often have I been moved by faith stories but never tried to grow in my own faith?
  5. How can God use me?
  6. Am I prideful?
  7. What three biblical characters would I like to have lunch with and why?
  8. What would I ask them?
  9. My favorite verse in the Bible is __________ because _________.
  10. Do acquaintances know I am a Christian?
  11. When have I been the closest to God?
  12. When does God seem most distant?
  13. These are the miracles God has performed in my life.
  14. What changes am I willing to make to grow spiritually?
  15. How big is my God?
  16. How often do I pray?
  17. How often do I read Scripture?
  18. What impact does Scripture have on me? Does it change me?
  19. What biblical miracle speaks to me the most? Why?
  20. My favorite Bible story is __________ because ___________.
  21. What is the quality of my prayer life?
  22. What is my self-talk like?
  23. Do I honor the Sabbath?
  24. Do I break any of God’s commandments frequently?
  25. Are there idols in my life?
  26. I ask God for His wisdom.
  27. Am I thankful? Does my life show gratitude?
  28. Do I need to ask for forgiveness?
  29. Do I need to forgive others?
  30. Have I forgiven myself?
  31. Do I express love and compassion?
  32. Do I tell people how to improve? Why do I do this?
  33. Do I ask for feedback for self-improvement?
  34. Do I seek godly counsel?
  35. Do I treat my body like the temple of the Lord?
  36. What do I value?
  37. Do I tithe?
  38. Do I volunteer regularly at church or for missions to serve others in God’s name?
  39. What five blessings am I most grateful for and why?
  40. Am I now, or have I ever been, in spiritual darkness?
  41. Have I ever passed on my faith to my children?
  42. Have I ever shared Christ with anyone outside my family?
  43. I go to church because I want to, not out of a sense of duty.
  44. If faith was taken out of my life tomorrow morning, how would my life be different? Would anyone know?
  45. If I suddenly found myself in a country where I was unable to practice my faith how would I respond?
  46. How can I be certain my faith is growing? Can faith be measured?
  47. I imagine the second coming of Christ to be ___________.
  48. How has my walk with God grown in the past year?
  49. The past five years?
  50. I want God to change me in this key area:

As I prepared this post I found several websites with lists of writing prompts. If you are dealing with writer’s block, consider looking at some of these suggestions. I look forward to reading your posts.

Psalm 45: 1      My heart is stirred by a noble theme as I recite my verses for the king; my tongue is the pen of a skillful writer.

 May the Lord richly bless you as you share your faith with others.

Scripture: http://www.biblegateway.com

Image: http://www.googleimages.com

A TRUE Star


My dear friend has recently started to blog. Her words are wise and spirit filled. I hope you enjoy this post that has touched my heart.

Journey to the Hills

As far back as I can remember, I loved being the center of everyone’s attention.  I was the first born in my family and the first born grandchild on both sides.  You can imagine the way everyone doted on me.  I enjoyed entertaining my family and making them smile and laugh and for them to tell me how proud they were of me.  These moments made me feel alive and accepted and my self-esteem grew.

My mom and dad with me when I was almost 3 My mom and dad with me when I was almost 3

In high school, I was very involved in many activities, but it was my hidden passion for theater that caught my dad by surprise when I told him I wanted to be a famous actress when I grew up.  I wanted to be FAMOUS!!!  My dad always had a way of speaking so gently and led me in different directions.  He asked me if…

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