Sunday, May 4, 2008

The Week in Review

These are my big sisters. Family is very important and something that we should cherish.

(As presented at the WCG Conference in 2005)

2. Favor: friendly or favorable regard, approval or support. How do we help our children find favor with man and with God? As we teach our children what things are approved of God we also teach them something that is dear to God’s heart, that we love one another. We have to teach them that loving someone has nothing to do with the person being your best friend or if they are even nice to you. It’s about making the choice to be concerned about others and their needs. Now this one is very hard, even for a lot of us adults to handle. We love those that love us and treat us well. But we find it very difficult to love those that would mistreat us or misuse us but when we learn to do it ourselves and model it for our children, we show them how to find approval in the things they do. God will also open the hearts of others to support your efforts when you are doing as he wills. I believe the favor comes when we are willing to make total sacrifices of ourselves. This is where we have to work at trying to show our children about sacrifices. Are you willing to help others or are you looking out only for yourself? Can you give up some of your time for someone else’s needs, even if it means missing something that’s important to you? If we don’t show this before our kids they won’t get it. I know people who won’t give someone a ride home because it’s two blocks past where they want to go. So how does that same person turn around and tell his or her child you need to be willing to help someone else? Watch that what you say is what you do. We have to make sure our words link up with our actions. Do your children see you make sacrifices of your time with out complaining about having to “always” be the one that does this or that? Do your children see you complaining about time you are giving to the church? Do you give your children the impression by your actions that the church is a hindrance? If you were why would they want to be bothered? Do your children see you making the effort to make it to Sunday service or mid week service with a cheerful, anticipating attitude? Or do they see it as something you half-heartedly do? You know God loves a cheerful giver, even if that giving is of our time. So are our words linked with God in this area? If it’s not then we need to make the change so our children learn this lesson by what we “do” because we are “doers” of the word.

This is also the area that you put ever effort into helping your children learn to resolve their situations. I know from time to time my oldest daughter will ask me for help regarding problems with her friends or with teachers. The normal tendency is to go in and solve it. Stop yourself. This isn’t teaching your child how to stand. Your job is to teach. I’ll ask my daughter about the situation and allow her to voice her feelings about what has happened. I’ll give my support, but I make sure that I direct her to look at it from both sides. There are always two sides to every story. If she has done something wrong I tell her that God wants her to go back and make it right. If she’s right, I tell her to make sure that she is patient with the person until the can see the truth. If they don’t, she still has to go forward in love. If it’s something that calls for me to step forward, then I will. I’ve seen the joy when my child has had to stand for herself and resolve situations that she was at first fearful of resolving. We teach them the valuable lesson of knowing that they have inside of them what it takes to accomplish things. I told her, pray and ask God to give you what to say and he will. And when she did, this was another “his story” lesson she could rely on later when she needed to remember what has God done for me. This allows your child to have something to look back on where God did something personal for them and then know they can trust him in future times. My daughter was accepted to a really good public high school in Chicago for her Sophomore year. During the end of her Freshman school year her math seemed to be suffering after she lost her grandfather. It dawned on me we all were depending on her knowledge and not on God’s mercy. I told her, look, stop stressing yourself. When she sat down to study for her math, I prayed for her and asked God to give her the understanding and allow her to be relaxed when test time came and we asked God for 100% on the test. During this time my daughter began to do something that she hadn’t done before. She would e-mail me from school and tell me she was having a test and would I pray with her that day as she prepared her mind for the test. No one else may think that’s a big deal, but to me it said, she’s realizing it’s not in her strength, but God. By the way, she did get 100% on the first math quiz and a 90% on the next one after that. She passed her math class and she knows that it’s all because God helped her.

Disciplining of our children. We want to teach our children what is acceptable within the family guidelines so they can find favor with us. This happens to be one of those areas that can be quite frustrating, especially if you are trying to guide a teenager. Sometimes we can become discouraged because it seems our children aren’t hearing a single thing we are telling them. The Lord had to recently speak to me regarding this with my oldest daughter. I’ll use the example that he showed me. I had stepped on the scale to do my weigh in and instead of losing a few pounds I had gained a few. I was at first discouraged, because it looked like I was going backwards even with all my efforts. I then remembered that I needed to also take my measurements. When I did I had lost a total of 4 ½” off my total body, but the scale said I was 2 lbs. Heavier. How could that be?
I had to look deeper and find the facts. The fact is muscle is heavier than fat. It looked one way but when I understood the complete picture I understood better that I was making progress. It was the same with the children of Israel. When then went around the wall of Jericho seven times don’t you think by the time they came to the last day, they had a pretty good idea about what that wall looked like? I bet they knew were the holes were, were the caulking was coming out, where any imperfections were. By the time they got around that wall the seventh time it didn’t look so intimidating. When we examine the situation and understand what we are facing it becomes less intimidating because we begin to see where the work needs to be done and we have a clearer picture. When we get discouraged sometimes we have to look at the complete picture and see that we have actually made progress.

So how do we handle disciple? I don’t know about you, but I was a world famous YELLER. There’s probably a picture of me somewhere for world champion yeller. I yelled and then I yelled some more. I believe this is really our way of dealing with our feelings of inadequacy. I was feeling frustrated and didn’t know what to do. I knew that every thing I was going to tell you, God was going to first take me through so that I would be able to tell you because I went through my self; I could be a witness of what he will do.

The Lord showed me how we were trying to “force” my daughter into doing what we told her to. It just wasn’t working. She was getting frustrated and we were ready to send her to Jesus, literally. The Lord spoke to me and this is what he said. “How do I discipline my children? Do I force you to do my will? Or do I give you a clear outline of what is expected of you and then tell you what the benefits are for being obedient and what the consequences are for being disobedient?”

It was like a light bulb went on for me. And maybe all of you aren’t as slow as I am but I was amazed at what we needed to do. So we did it. First we have to give our children (even the small ones) clear written instructions. Now I don’t know what this was difficult for me to see because I’ve done this with my smaller children forever, but I wasn’t doing it for my teen. Look this also will cut down on their amnesia later, when you ask them why they didn’t do something. You know the answer, I don’t remember or I didn’t know I was suppose to do that.

In this written instruction you put what is expected from them and what the rewards are when they follow and what the consequences are when they don’t do them. For example we were having a problem with my eldest and that cell phone. She was told again and again to keep the bill down, but it wasn’t happening. What was the problem? First we (the parents) were yelling about it and fusing but we were keeping her from dealing with the consequences of her actions. This isn’t helpful to our children to try and keep them from facing the consequences of their actions. We have adults today that don’t feel they should have to go through anything because somebody has been handling their consequences for them all their lives.
So we set in place the “Phone policy”. We set the ground rules on what happens if she abuses the privilege and what happens when she follows. You know what, that makes things so much easier. One we don’t have to go back and forth and she knows what will happen if she abuses the rules. We don’t have to listen to the excuses on why she can’t get her friends to stop sending her text messages. When she loses her phone for a month, I bet you she’ll get them to stop with no problem. See they’ll have their phones but she won’t. We set that in place for everything. We call it the “Family Bible”. We are to represent to our children what true authority looks like. See God has authority. He gives us the guidelines to follow. Some times we understand and sometimes we don’t. We can go to him and seek his wisdom on why we should do things his way. But even if we go away and still don’t fully understand, we still have the same rules. God doesn’t change the rules because we are not willing to understand them or follow them. If we disobey we will have to face the consequences of that disobedience. Yes God is willing to forgive us but that doesn’t take away the consequences. I believe this helps everyone within the family understand their roles and how to accomplish these tasks. If for instant you have a child that refuses to get up in the morning for school, why are you fighting with them? You have to let that child know if they are late for school they will have to deal with the consequences of being late. Even help them to understand that a little better. I heard this from someone and I love it, write a note to their teacher and say “Tommy or whatever your child’s name is has absolutely no reason for being late today. Feel free to do whatever you do to children that are tardy. Thank you, Tommy’s mom.” How many times do you think that kid will be late? So put into place those things that will help your children understand the expected behavior. Also make sure they understand the benefits as well as the consequences of their actions. Isn’t that what God does for us. He tells us in his word what the benefits are and what the consequences are. And when you have to feel what a few of the consequences are, I believe you will quickly change you mind about being disobedient. And let me tell you, it has cut down on my yelling. I don’t need to yell because it is all written down and posted on the refrigerator for all to see. If you forget, go back and read the covenant. Everyone from the youngest to the oldest signed it. I have a young lady staying with me she even signed it. As for my household and I, we will serve the Lord. Now I don’t have a copy for everyone of the Family Bible, but if you would like a copy to give you some ideas for your family or to see how I set it up, you can e-mail me and put in the subject line – Convention raising healthy families. Then I will gladly send you a copy (If you are interested today, you too can e-mail me for the copy of the Family Bible).

If you missed the last week, look under The Week in Review on April 27, 2008.

The Week in Review

“The Truth, the Whole Truth and Nothing but the Truth”
Originally preached by Jewel D. Williams
at Faith COG 8/06(Part IV)

Modern day false prophets – I have to tell you, it saddens my heart to hear so many of the popular preachers on television today that are teaching this softer, gentler Jesus. I mean the Jesus they preach doesn’t have any backbone! Who wants to serve a God that can’t tell you what is right and wrong? Who wants to serve a God that just lets you do what ever you want? We might all say, I wouldn’t mind, but be real, how much respect would you have for your parent if you knew you were doing wrong and they just let you get away with it? You would think they were weak, marshmallows. We have churches filled with thousands of people listening Sunday after Sunday to messages by preachers telling the people that God loves them, and that he only wants the good for them, and that he wants them to have everything they want. Please someone tell me the scripture verse that agrees with that. See the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth says,

“Beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service” Roman 12:1 or how about “And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple” Luke 14:27. The truth of God’s word tells us that you must count the cost of our salvation in him, and that while we cannot save ourselves, we must live completely for him, which calls for us to die to ourselves, our own ideas and our own desires. So I’m not going to preach to you some cotton candy message with no meat in it. That’s what I call those messages that preach no repentance of sin, cotton candy messages. After the message you wait for the choir to get up and sing, don’t worry be happy. That stuff might sound good for a while, but start going through a hard place, and see if that cotton candy will sustain you. You’ll be looking for some meat to sustain you through those hard times. We also have those that preach you can accomplish salvation through your own works. Just give up a few bad habits and you’ll be just fine. You can’t give up bad habits and be fine. You need cleansing from you sins, and that is what preachers are commanded to preach, “Thus it is written, and thus it behooved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day: and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.” – Luke 24:46-47

When I first accepted my call to the preaching ministry in ’04, I asked God what do you require of me? I had many tell me, you have to say things in love and not be harsh or too abrupt. You have to make sure you are careful. So I was becoming confused, because that is not how God would send me. He told me to go to the book of Jeremiah. I went on what I call a Jeremiah journey for 8 months. I came back from that place with this important understanding. I have to say what God tells me not matter what your faces look like. He already knows whom he is sending me to. He knows the hardheaded people in the bunch. He knows those that are ready to hear and receive. He knows those that might want to stone the messenger. But don’t get mad with me, I’m just the messenger; get mad at the sender of the message. I am held accountable to God for what I am required to tell you.

So then what is the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth? Just as I mentioned early, it is that Jesus died to take away our sins so we could stand righteous and justified before God. Jesus death and resurrection was to do a two-fold thing.

“But one of the soldiers with a spear pierced his side, and forthwith came there out blood and water” – John 19:34 The blood shed from Christ was for the forgiveness of sin. The people of God in the Old Testament had to sacrifice animals that were the first male, without blemish or defect, over and over again for the sins of the people, but it was not a permanent thing, yet the blood of Jesus, that lamb without spot, or blemish was done once and for all. His blood was shed to forgive sins. The water that came from his side represented the cleansing we need. We do an injustice to people when they get saved, by making the gospel hard to follow because of our own ideas that we place on them. This is also what Paul is speaking to, those that were adding ritualistic ideas for the people to keep, putting a heavy yoke of bondage on them. The truth is this; the day we get saved we are new. The old man is dead and now we are a new creature in Christ Jesus. Yet, even thou we are new, we still have something that has stayed with us, our flesh. And in that flesh dwelleth no good thing. So how do we connect this new creature with this no good flesh? That is where the cleansing process comes in. Daily God is molding us into vessels of honor. The day you get saved all your old habits won’t disappear. What you do is begin to seek God so that he will begin the process of removing not only the old habits, but also the desires for those old habits. Old habits are not just smoking, and drinking. There are some saints still sitting Sunday after Sunday raising holy hands, yet if you look closer they are tainted. They still have old habits they should have let go of years ago. That’s why some are still on milk and not on the stronger meat of the word. Habits like anger, being unforgiving, and no tongue control (that think flaps every time it gets a chance). Sometimes that tongue flaps so much it looks like it is having a seizure. Habits of being selfish and mean, habits that should not be dwelling within if you have the spirit of God there.

Reflection: Do you believe you can live a holy life? Do you believe that old habits can be changed or do you believe this is just the way you are?
Come back next week for part V of the message, The Truth, the Whole Truth and nothing but the Truth. If you missed part III of this message look under “Week in Review” on April 27, 2008 to read it.