Teachable Moments

The Mirror of Prayer

Children can both cause us to laugh and learn when you ask them about prayer.  From the internet, here are my favorite stories that can make us smile and ponder the amazing gift of prayer.

  • My brother, when he was about 9 years old, had to take a test in catechism and one question was, why did Jesus ascend to heaven on the third day? His answer: To be with his Dad!
  • A friend of mine’s son prayed so quietly at the dining room table that we couldn’t hear what he was saying. When his sister complained to him about it he said, “I wasn’t praying to you.”
  • When I gave birth to my youngest, a boy, my daughter, age 6, whined, “But, I prayed for a girl.” Her brother, age 4, replied, “I prayed harder.”
  • A wife invited some people to dinner.  At the table, she turned to their six-year-old daughter and said, “Would you like to say the blessing?”  “I wouldn’t know what to say,” the girl replied.  “Just say what you hear Mommy say,” the wife answered.  The daughter bowed her head and said, “Lord, why on earth did I invite all these people to dinner?”

Nothing reveals more about who we really are and what we truly believe than prayer.  So often we see prayer as something we do to try and change the circumstances of life or someone else’s heart. However, when we approach it as such, we miss so much of what God has for us.

Prayer reflects the heart of the one who prays; prayer reveals what God needs to accomplish in our own lives perhaps even more than what we are asking God to do in others.

We can see prayer as our “spiritual mirror” when we look at the prayers of the prophets in the Old Testament.

JOB

Job shows great faith in God in the beginning as tragedy after tragedy enfolds him.  But due to his willingness to discourse and even passively listen to his friends’ unwise, foolish explanations regarding his life, Job shows his wavering trust in God.  “Oh, that I knew where I might find him, that I might come even to his seat! I would lay my case before him and fill my mouth with arguments . . . Why are not times of judgment kept by the Almighty, and why do those who know him never see his days?” (23:3–4; 24:1; cf. 13:23–24).  Job’s consistent turning to people for wisdom and his lack of prayer not only encouraged his questioning faith, but showed his lack of faith in the Almighty.

JONAH

Jonah, in the belly of the fish and desperate to get out alive, turns to God NOT in worship or repentance, but in resignation. We see Jonah’s bad attitude all the way through the book of Jonah which ends (Jonah 4:9-11) with Jonah being angry about his circumstances. God asks Jonah about his heart attitude which had been so apparent through all of Jonah’s discourse with God.  

But God said to Jonah, “Is it right for you to be angry about the plant?” “It is,” he said. “And I’m so angry I wish I were dead.”  But the Lord said, “You have been concerned about this plant, though you did not tend it or make it grow. It sprang up overnight and died overnight. And should I not have concern for the great city of Nineveh, in which there are more than a hundred and twenty thousand people who cannot tell their right hand from their left—and also many animals?”

HABAKKUK

We silly humans believe more is better – more knowledge will bring peace and more information will solve any uncertainties.  Habakkuk respectfully and humbly asks God for understanding in the ways of the world during his time and God grants his petition, explaining what is happening and even what will happen along with some reasons.  Two times Habakkuk hears God’s reasoning, and in the end, Habakkuk finds knowledge is a poor replacement for faith. In perhaps the most worshipful prayer in scripture, this minor prophet reveals his complete faith in God through his final moments of prayer (Habakkuk 3:17-19):

Though the fig tree should not blossom,
nor fruit be on the vines,
the produce of the olive fail
and the fields yield no food,
the flock be cut off from the fold  
and there be no herd in the stalls,
yet I will rejoice in the Lord;
I will take joy in the God of my salvation.
God, the Lord, is my strength;
he makes my feet like the deer's;
he makes me tread on my high places.        

Dear Readers, may we allow our prayers to reveal to us what work we need God to do in our lives.  Let us see our prayers as a mirror: exposing our hearts to us, convicting us, and leading us to personal repentance and unwavering faith in our Almighty, Sovereign, Wise God. 

Praying for you!  Elizabeth 

Teachable Moments

Midweek Meditation: Don’t Try Harder

The concept of not trying harder may seem foreign to us in a world that promotes being busy and striving to be successful at all costs. However, when we are seeking to set the Gospel pace in our life, we need to be more attuned to scripture’s dictates more so than that of the world. Colossians 3:2 tells us to “Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.” We need to increase our reliance upon God and decrease our reliance on ourselves. 

How do we seek God above all else daily?  What does this practically look like?  I suggest a 4 step process will help us to live out Colossians 3:2 today (and every day):

  1. Model it – Practice setting our minds on things above in ways that our families can watch.
    I.E.:  Thank God for giving you patience in a trying time, acknowledge His presence while sitting at a Red Stop Light, or hearing a news report, quote Romans 13:1 and pray for the government (“Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God.” NIV)
  2. Pray it – Ask God to give you the mindset you need to rely upon him.
    I.E.:  Pray before a meal or bedtime or even in the car, asking God to help you think about Him and His word on a regular basis.  Let your children hear you ask God for His provision and presence and how you rely upon Him
  3. Meditate on it – Spend time dwelling on what it means to set our minds on things above.  
    I.E.:  Write Colossians 3:2 on a  3X5 card. Place it in places you can easily see throughout the day.  Stop every hour or so to read it, think about what is occupying your mind and returning to contemplating God – His person, His function or His purposes.  
  4. Rejoice – Praise the Lord that we don’t need to be caught up in the things of earth and can find peace in him. 
    I.E.:  Share your joy in how God met you today when you see your family. God says, “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.” (Matthew 7:7, NIV)  Let them know how God answered the promise of His presence when we ask Him.

When we rely on Him, we see His Word come to life in ours. Let us take time to meditate upon the things above today that we may come to rely ever more upon Him. 

Blessings to you, dear reader.  Fondly yours,  Elizabeth

Teachable Moments

Midweek Meditation: Follow the Leader

The game Follow The Leader becomes a significant teaching tool when we engage with it through a biblical lens; through play, children can learn what it looks like to follow.  Following Christ then becomes less of an exercise of behavior and becomes instead, a transformation of the heart. One of the ways we are transformed as we follow our Lord is by meditating on His word.  I encourage you to take time today to meditate on what it means for you to be a Christ follower:  

  • What does Philippians 3:7-10 say about following Christ?  
  • What does your life look like as a Christ follower in light of this scripture?  
  • How can we share what we have meditated upon with those around us, including our children?

Last thought for our Midweek Meditation:  Let’s strive to approach following Christ as a joy, not a duty.

May you be blessed abundantly!
Elizabeth

MEDITATION SCRIPTURE 

Phillipians 3:7-10 But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith— that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death.

1 Peter 2:21 For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps.

John 8:12 Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

Mark 8:34 And calling the crowd to him with his disciples, he said to them, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.”

*All Scripture in ESV

Teachable Moments

Follow the Leader

Contemporary Pastor and author, Francis Chan, wrote this about following Christ; “Following Christ isn’t something that can be done half heartedly or on the side. It is not a label we can display when it is useful. It must be central to everything we do and are.” (Crazy Love:  Overwhelmed by a Relentless God)  Following Christ then becomes less of an exercise of behavior and becomes instead, a transformation of the heart.

A Christian Disciple is a Christ-follower, a constant learner from and about their Master.  The Christian Disciple strives not only to know their God, but follow His lead and become like Him as they do.  How do we teach our children to be a Christ-follower?  

Easy – play a game!

Games teach us – intentionally.  When the best designers sit down to create a new game, whether a board game, digital, or interactive, they usually take one aspect of human experience and create an interesting balance of challenge and reward.  Games are intended to make us question our abilities and bring us to our limit. In this, games are some of the best teaching aids around.

Children’s games are no different than adult games in these key characteristics.  While Jeopardy challenges someone’s quick remembrance of trivia, Sword Drills in Sunday School or family devotions challenges how well a child remembers Bible verses.  Jeopardy and Sword Drills are all about memory and content. And while content games have their place, interactive physical play is hands-on learning at its best. Take for example, the game, Follow The Leader.

Follow the Leader requires a number of skills that translate directly into our spiritual walk with Christ.

  • Pay attention to the Leader
  • Watch carefully what the Leader is doing
  • Understand what the Leader is saying
  • Use the Leader as your example of what to do
  • The goal?  
    • To do exactly what the Leader does exactly how they do it and exactly when they do it.

Aren’t the above objectives the key elements of a faithful Christ Follower?

  • Pay attention to the Leader
    • Behold, as the eyes of servants look to the hand of their master, As the eyes of a maid to the hand of her mistress, So our eyes look to the LORD our God, Until He is gracious to us.  (Psalm 123:2, NIV)
  • Watch carefully what the Leader is doing
    • “Now then, stand still and see this great thing the LORD is about to do before your eyes”! (1 Samuel 12:16, NIV)
  • Understand what the Leader is saying
    • “The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom. Though it cost all you have, get understanding.” (Prov. 4:7, NIV)
  • Use the Leader as your example of what to do
    • For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps,” (1 Peter 2:21, NIV)
  • The goal?  
    • To do exactly what the Leader does exactly how they do it and exactly when they do it.
      • “Whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked.” (1 John 2:6)

Teaching children to be Christ-followers can be as easy as playing the game, Follow the Leader.  As you play this game, remember to have fun with your kids.  Get into the spirit of the game! And while you do so, reinforce the above objectives and then share with them how God’s Word tells us to “play” Follow the Leader with Him.

Dear Reader, if we but stop and think, we can teach a biblical worldview to our children through our everyday activities as play.  Let’s not waste a moment to challenge them and ourselves to Follow Christ Faithfully all the days of our lives.

In Him and For Him Alone!  Blessings to you – Elizabeth

Teachable Moments

Midweek Meditation: Call Your Children To Be Disciples, Not Just Christians

As we approach the weekend, I would encourage you to take a minute to stop. It is so easy to get caught up in the busy pace of our world, but I want to encourage you to choose the gospel pace, the pace that puts the things of Christ before the things of this world. It is not an easy choice, but a deliberate day by day choosing. Take a minute or five today to meditate on the following quote from my last blog, Call Your Children to Become Disciples, Not Just Christians, and verses, then close your time with the Puritan prayer. 

May this time of meditation be sweet and refreshing to your soul, dear reader!
Blessings Abundant, 
Elizabeth

“Costly grace is the gospel which must be sought again and again and again, the gift which must be asked for, the door at which a man must knock. Such grace is costly because it calls us to follow, and it is grace because it calls us to follow Jesus Christ. It is costly because it costs a man his life, and it is grace because it gives a man the only true life.” 
   Dietrich Bonhoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship

Romans 12:1 Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

Ephesians 5:1-2 Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.

Matthew 16:24-26 Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.  For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul?”
    *All verses are in ESV

Devotion – A Puritan Prayer

God of my end, it is my greatest, noblest pleasure to be acquainted with You and with my rational, immortal soul; it is sweet and entertaining to look into my being when all my powers and passions are united and engaged in pursuit of You, when my soul longs and passionately breathes after conformity to You and the full enjoyment of You; no hours pass away with so much pleasure as those spent in communion with You and with my heart.

O how desirable, how profitable to the Christian life is a spirit of holy watchfulness and godly jealousy over myself when my soul is afraid of nothing except grieving and offending You, the blessed God, my Father and friend, whom I then love and long to please, rather than be happy in myself! Knowing, as I do, that this is the pious temper, worthy of the highest ambition, and closest pursuit of intelligent creatures and holy Christians, may my joy derive from glorifying and delighting You. I long to fill all my time for You, whether at home or in the way; to place all my concerns in Your hands; to be entirely at Your disposal, having no will or interest of my own. Help me to live to You for ever, to make You my last and only end, so that I may never more in one instance love my sinful self.
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