Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Raising Children

It’s a difficult world and time in which to raise children. So many conflicting “words of advice” bombard us from both reliable and dubious sources. Where do we turn for the truth?

God’s Word never fails. Within the pages of the Bible are many proven truths. When it comes to parenting, I find the wisdom book of Proverbs to be an excellent source of guidance.

These Proverbs stem from the basic premise that parents deeply and sacrificially love their children and want what is best for them. (Sadly, that is not always the case today.) But knowing what that best is can be quite a challenge. Since children are not born with a “manual” attached, I simply offer these tried and true Proverbs as words of encouragement:

·       Proverbs 1:9 A parent’s wise teaching will improve a child’s character.
·       Proverbs 6:22-23 A parent’s teaching will lead children when they travel, protect them at night, and advise them during the day. Parents’ instructions are a shining light; their correction can teach children how to live.
·       Proverbs 13:24b If you love your children, you will correct them.
·       Proverbs 15:1 A gentle answer quiets anger, but a harsh one stirs it up.
·       Proverbs 18:21 What you say can preserve life or destroy it.
·       Proverbs 19:18 Discipline your children while they are young.
·       Proverbs 22:6 Teach a child how he should live and he will remember it all his life.
·       Proverbs 22:15 All children do foolish things, but firm correction will make them change.
·       Proverbs 23:26 Our lives are our children’s examples.
·       Proverbs 27:15 Nagging is like water going drip-drip-drip on a rainy day.
·       Proverbs 29:15 Correction and discipline are good for children.

When my children were growing up, I remember praying and seeking guidance for how best to raise them. What words of wisdom from God’s Word would you offer fellow parents today?

Be encouraged!

©2016 Pamela D. Williams

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

A "Lonely Place"

Photo by Dick Williams
“Very early the next morning, long before daylight,
Jesus got up and left the house.
He went out of town to a lonely place where he prayed.”
Mark 1:35

Where is your “lonely place”?

In order to talk with his Father, Jesus left the crowds, even the home of friends, and sought out a place, a time, devoid of distractions. With the constant barrage of people and pressures, he needed that time alone to re-connect and re-focus. Even as God’s own Son—as God himself—Jesus found it necessary and beneficial to slip off to a “lonely place” to pray.

Our days fill quickly with responsibilities, people needing our attention, and the constant background hum of life. As followers of Jesus we can learn from his example. We, too, need a “lonely place” to re-connect with our Heavenly Father. What that time or place may look like will be as varied as we are individual. What works for me, might or might not work for you.

  • As a busy mom, your “lonely place” may look like my friend Debi’s—on the floor of her bathroom with the door locked and the fan running.
  • Perhaps your “lonely place” resembles my husband’s when he commuted to seminary—in the car on a long drive by himself.
  • For those of us who are early risers, those precious moments before dawn—the only sound the gradually awakening of the birds—become our “lonely place” and bring sweet communion with Jesus.
  • “Night owls” might find the time after everyone else is in bed, and the house comfortably quiet, the best “lonely place” to review the day and re-energize for tomorrow.

 The only essential of every “lonely place” is making sure we find it and spent time there—whether it is a physically “lonely place” or merely a spiritual one (for it IS possible to be in a crowd and still be alone with God). Where is your “lonely place”?

Be encouraged!

©2016 Pamela D. Williams

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Preparing the Road

“Get the road ready for the Lord; make a straight path for him to travel!” Mark 1:3b

When I think about witnessing to others, I am instantly inundated by “what ifs”.
What if I don’t say the right words?
What if I’m not convincing enough?
What if I turn them off?
What if they don’t respond at all?

As I was reading Mark 1:1-8, the second half of verse 3 stuck in my mind, like a leaf caught in an eddy of water--“Get the road ready for the Lord; make a straight path for him to travel!”

I suddenly realized what it didn’t say—It didn’t say I had to convince them. It didn’t say I was accountable for their response.

All this verse asks of me is to prepare the road for Jesus.

As I thought about Mark 1:3, I got to wondering what all goes in to making a road?

According to the Michigan Department of Transportation there are five steps: 1) informing, 2) designing, 3) earthwork, 4) paving, and 5) opening. Each step is tackled by different teams—engineers, environmentalists, landscape architects, soil scientists, contactors, heavy equipment operators, inspectors, masons, and a plethora of others.

It’s clear that making a road is teamwork. Isn’t preparing the way for someone to meet Jesus also teamwork? Sometimes God might use me to share what I know about Him. Other times He may direct me to lay the bedrock of Scriptural truths. There have been times when I have simply felt led to pray with the person. I realize all these are steps in preparing the way for Jesus to move in a person’s life.

I wonder what my, or your, "road construction" jobs will entail today?

Be encouraged!

©2016 Pamela D. Williams

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

We forget . . . He remembers

photo by Pam Williams

We have sinned as our ancestors did. . .
They forgot the many times he showed them his love. . .
But they quickly forgot what he had done. . .
They forgot the God who had saved them by his mighty acts. . .
Yet the Lord heard them when they cried out,
    and he took notice of their distress.
For their sake He remembered his covenant . . .
Psalm 106:6, 7, 13, 21, 44-45

I forgot my aunt’s birthday. I sent her a cute belated card but it was still thoughtless to forget. This is the aunt who took me on vacation with her, hosted my wedding and reception at her house, sent me flowers on my birthday, and visited me when I was in the hospital.

The truth is my aunt didn’t care that her birthday card was late; she just enjoyed hearing from me. She loves me despite my careless ways. But how could I forget to celebrate someone who has been so good to me?

And yet I do it all the time to the One who brought me together with my soul mate, who created the seasons, each with its own unique beauty, who gifted me with a loving family, who gave me the great comfort of knowing when my dad passed on it was into the arms of Jesus, and most importantly, who died in my place. How quickly I forget all that God has done and is doing for me.

And to top it all off, God doesn’t forget about me. Even though I take all His loving kindness for granted, He still hears my prayers and takes note of my anxious heart. On a daily basis, God continues to love and care for me, His ungrateful child.

Grace and mercy flow from our God the Father, who always remembers, always forgives, always answers, always loves. . .

Will you join me for a moment today to stop and remember the good things God has brought about in abundant measure over the years?


©2016 Pamela D. Williams

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Faith Rewards

Photo by Pam Williams

Rewards cards—I have a keychain full of miniatures and enough to fill my wallet a couple times over. The rewards include everything from discounts on groceries to seniors on Tuesdays (for which I am happy to qualify), to free upgrades at hotels, to preferred treatment when flying. There seems to be a rewards card for just about anything these days—free beverages, cash back, haircuts—you name it!

In a devotional recently I read, “Jesus always rewards faith.” It got me thinking about the rewards of faith. What do we gain by having faith in Jesus—in who He is, what He has done, and what He continues to do?

Since the very beginnings of my faith journey, God has shown that he does reward faith in Jesus. In 2015 I underwent surgery and chemotherapy for breast cancer. Looking back, I have to say, it wasn’t as bad as I anticipated. Why? Faith. God granted me the assurance, that, no matter what, Jesus was with me, taking care of me. On days when fatigue reigned, and I felt overwhelmed by the process, God threw me the lifeline of His Word, “You can do all things through Christ, who strengthens you.” (Philippians 4:13)

The rewards for faith aren't necessarily health or prosperity or position; sometimes the benefit is merely the ability to hang in there when the going gets rough. The list of blessings that stem from faith in Jesus just keeps growing and growing!

Salvation: “You can be saved through faith in Christ Jesus.” 2 Timothy 3:15
Fellowship: “As you share the faith you have in common with others, I pray that you may come to have a complete knowledge of every blessing we have in Christ.” Philemon 1:6
Guidance: “Our lives are guided by faith, not by sight.” 2 Corinthians 5:7
Joy, Peace, Hope: “God … [will] fill you with joy and peace through your faith in him. Then you will overflow with hope...” Romans 15:13
Strength: “Be strengthened by the faith that you were taught.” Colossians 2:7
Endurance: “Your faith produces endurance.” James 1:3
Victory: “Our faith is what wins the victory over the world.” 1 John 5:4

What do you count as a “reward” for faith in Jesus?

Be encouraged!

©2016 Pamela D. Williams