Learning to Honor Difficult Parents is a Process
Have you ever wondered how Biblical characters might have told their stories to therapists? Moses might have warranted abandonment issues when his mother floated him down a river for adoption. Joseph was kidnapped and sold into slavery by his brothers. He could relate to any betrayal, jealousy and stolen identity case studies. Isaac probably struggled with trust issues and complained that his Dad tried to kill him, “I don’t know what would have happened if that ram hadn’t happened by.” Only God knows the prayers of the children of the Hebrew 11 heroes.
With all of the faith heroes, God cuts through their lives to find the redemptive threads in each person and calls it good. He does the same with us. He sees the good and the bad and looks for the redemptive threads. One benefit of accepting Jesus as our personal savior is that God sees us through Jesus’ righteousness. Whew. For the people who have hurt us, we might need to meet with a counselor, and we might need time to heal. With God’s help, we can seek His perspective on the difficult people in our lives. Ultimately, God calls us to forgive those who have trespassed against us.
The next step in the honoring process is acceptance. The first step is honesty, and the second is acceptance. The word, “process” indicates that coming to honor is a journey. Accepting our parents for who they really are is a choice to love them honestly.
To catch up, see Learning How to Honor a Difficult Parent – Part 1
To continue, see Learning How to Honor a Difficult Parent – Part 3
The Desiderata is Etched in Stone at St. Paul’s Church in Baltimore Maryland, 1692
But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.” 1 Corinthians 12:7
Go placidly amid the noise & haste, remember what peace there may be in silence. As far as possible without surrender, be on good terms with all persons. Speak your truth quietly & clearly; and listen to others even the dull & ignorant; for they too have their story. Avoid loud and aggressive persons; they are vexations to the spirit. If you compare yourself with others you may become vain & bitter; for always there will be greater & lesser persons than yourself. Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans. Keep interested in your own career, however humble, it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time. Exercise caution in your business affairs; for the world is full of trickery. But let this not blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals; and everywhere life is full of heroism. Be yourself. Especially do not feign affection. Be neither cynical about love; for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment it is perennial as the grass. Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth. Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with imaginings. Many fears are born of fatigue & loneliness. Beyond a wholesome discipline be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees & the stars; you have a right to be here. And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should. Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive him to be, and whatever your labors and aspirations in the noisy confusion of life, keep peace with your soul. With all its sham, drudgery & broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be careful, strive to be happy.
St. Pauls’s Church, Etched in the stone, Baltimore 1692
Starting Life Together in Prayer Adds God to Create a Threefold Cord that is Not Easily Broken
“Again, I tell you that if two or you on earth agree about anything you ask for, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven.” Matthew 18:19
I don’t know what Mary’s prayer for herself is
But you do
I pray for the courage to pray it, especially on days when it’s tough to say the words and in seasons where it’s dry
I stand alongside my friend in prayer
We are two
We pray together in harmony
You promise that “it will be done”
We agree to believe this, no matter how long it takes will we see it
Thank you for the results we can recognize…
To 5 minutes of praying
To 7 days of praying
To 21 months of praying
To 40 years of praying
We will keep praying steadfastly
Even when thoughts and emotions try to tell us it’s foolish
We will continue to hold up the request
And hold fast to our confidence
You are at work on the issue
The victory is sure
Your love is relentless
The Prayers of a Righteous Man are Powerful and Effective
Last week in our Home Group we talked about the concept of repenting on behalf of the state of our nation. We discussed the rise of sexual activity outside of marriage without being conscious of God’s thoughts about this. We lamented churches that are not exercising their voice to wake up the people in the church or ouatside the church. We observe how our TV shows actively use foul language and show sexual acts on the screen. We express dismay at the level of occult that is creeping into society teaching people how to curse, hold grudges, welcome vampires etc. We are appalled that lying is becoming expected, and in fact coached, at all levels of life including excuses to not do what an employer wants. We aren’t even surprised that politicians get compromised from their campaign promises once they reach their elected office.
In Bible Study yesterday, I asked the question at how to repent over the sins of our land. Does it really make a difference? How do we pray for our leaders? Can God reclaim territory of what is right and wrong to a conscious level?
One of our members added that we do need to pray about our fallen human leaders. He said, “I think God likes it when we pray for our country and tell God we don’t like what we see. I’m not pleased with the people’s hearts toward God.” What was the prayer of one righteous man – Lot (hardly perfect) before God? What was his cry for Sodom? What is our cry in these times? How do we repent for the sins of the land?
It still gets back to individual decisions. I can still serve the land by picking up the trash on the ground that people littered. I can care for the homeless, the afflicted, the impacted. I can speak praise to God, even when no one else ever cares what God might think, I can strive to live by the truth of God’s laws.
Yes, our prayers matter. He hears every one of our prayers. I think our prayers of frustration draw us closer to Jesus. Jesus lived on earth as a man ad saw the injustices of His times politically and religiously. Expressing our concerns in prayer connects our heart with His heart.
God’s Criteria for Bragging is about Understanding and Knowing God. We start with Studying the Bible.
In Part 1, we read Jeremiah 9:23-24 where the Lord tells us not to talk about everything the world usually places high esteem on: intelligence, power and money. Rather God suggests a new criteria. “Thus says the Lord, “Let not a wise man boast of his wisdom, and let not the mighty man boast of his might, let not a rich man boast of his riches; but let him who boasts boast of this, that he understands and knows Me, that I am the Lord who exercises lovingkindness, justice and righteousness on earth; for I delight in these things,” declares the Lord.”
God’s new criteria is based on knowing and understanding the Lord God Almighty. How much do we understand God? How much do we know God? Now, that’s a challenge. Do I understand and know God better than I did a year ago? I hope so. I work at dialoguing with God in prayer. I take time to read His word every day. But even doing this, I see new things in scripture that I thought I had read or memorized years ago, but the meaning didn’t penetrate my heart till a “now” moment. It’s an ongoing process. At some point, we will all have our Appointment with God. For some, it might feel like a global SAT test for a class they never took. We will be responsible for what God has brought across our path. Maybe we should take more time to nurture God’s criteria points. It begins with reading the Bible to learn about Him. It continues with a dialogue in prayer.
Revival Will Bring the Fathers’ Hearts to Love their Aborted Children
Good people have chosen to have abortions in the past for all kinds of reasons. Most of the attention has always focused on the woman. It’s known that abortions have had their impact on woman years and years after the abortion takes place. Women seem to recognize that the fetus given up was a child at some level. Even if a doctor calls it tissue, it’s a very little person designed by God.
Every child has two parents, not just one. Most of the genealogies in scripture talk about a man begetting a child. Yet, in societies with abortion, men who have let women make the decisions about an abortion are still considered the father by God’s design. How many men have grieved the loss of a fetus, or even admitted that it was their child? Few. Even the laws to make abortion illegal have always focused on punishing the woman while the man walks away completely free for the same consensual act.
Healing comes when someone comes into God’s opinion of sin and confesses their sins. God hears a person’s heartfelt confession and repentance. They He forgives the sin and cleanses the person from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:9. Letting Jesus’ blood come and cleanse us of our sins is what brings healing and wholeness to our lives. We walk forward in mercy, forgiven by God.
When revival comes, I believe God will convict men and women’s hearts for the sin of abortion. This will be part of turning the hearts of the fathers toward their children that God talks about in Malachi 4: 5-6. Some men may not even know they fathered a child. God knows. Some men will care. Some men will not care. God convicts our hearts so that we can come and receive forgiveness. Repenting means turning and not continuing to go in the same direction. Revival is going to bring both men and women before the cross to ask for and receive forgiveness. Given the statistics in America of abortions, revival meetings could be large and widespread. This will start to heal the hearts in our nation. It will bring physical healing to some. And, it will bring healing to our land. 2 Chronicles 7:14
See Also The Grief of the Unknown Dad & Bringing Fathers’ Hearts to their Children 2
Lord, Set a guard over My Mouth Today
Guard My Mouth
Set a guard, O Lord, over my mouth; Keep watch over the door of my lips. Psalm 141:3
Guard my mouth, O Lord
Let me not say anything against your purposes
Even in my frustration, let me not speak against you
Teach me how to work out my salvation and growth
While keeping my words in check
Let my words be blessings to all who hear them
Teach me how to love people with my words
Let me speak truth in love
Let my words be honoring of people
Whether they are present or not
Thank you for the privilege to praise you with our words
Many people sweep sins under the rug, which is never quite big enough
In Part 1 of How to Deal with Sin we looked at the first step of facing the truth about what God calls sin. We ask the Holy Spirit to come and show us (not the whole world) what we need to address before God.
Once we face truth about our sin, we can go to God with it in repentance. He is not surprised by our sin. He already knows about it. He will not do anything about it until we ask Him to. When we desire to “come clean,” we can tell him about it. We desire resolution. God has already provided a solution for the resolution in the work of the Jesus who died on a cross for our sins. We give our sin to Jesus by laying it at the foot of the cross where His innocent blood drips on our stuff. In this moment, we enter into the diving exchange. We lay before Jesus our sin and we receive the fullness of forgiveness.
To fully repent, we get up and turn to leave it at the cross and return to live out our lives. Repentance is about turning and sinning no more. We learn this from the words of Jesus to the woman caught in the act of adultery. “…I do not condemn you; go and sin no more.” John 8:11. In John 5:14 Jesus heals a man and says, “See, you have been made well. Sin no more, lest a worse thing come upon you.” Continued in How to Deal with Sin – Part 3
Learning to Honor Difficult Parents is a Process
The Ten Commandments includes a commandment about honoring our parents. “Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you.” Exodus 20:12. It doesn’t make any exceptions. For some, it’s a tall order.
So how does one do this? How do we honor a parent that’s complicated and not any of the things that God designed for a parent to be? For years it meant keeping my mouth shut and not saying anything about my Mom. The polite thing to do is say positive things and never talk about the tough things that happen behind closed doors. To not say anything felt like pretending that everything was okay and living a lie. Real friends were people who believed me when I shared a story or two. Real friends were ones that validated my experience and didn’t make me pretend. Even my father would say things like, “Oh honey, you don’t really mean that.” Oh, yes I did. It feels like lightweight denial.
Hence, the first step of the honoring process is honesty. Real honesty. Wow. This is good news. Our parents are not better than they were. It’s no longer about overlooking the truth. Honoring starts with an honest assessment.
Our society trends toward wanting to have everything good or bad. We like movies where the good guys are thoroughly good and the bad guys are really bad. We like our wars that way. The good guys are always good and the enemy troops are dark and evil. Further, we want the good guys to win. In studying Bible characters, the emerging pattern reveals God as perfect, and our heroes as flawed. Looking at the Hebrews 11 list of characters, we see God honor various men and women for their faith. Yet, we know their imperfections. Noah endured ridicule to build an ark. We also know about the night he drank too much and had to hide his nakedness. We know Rahab hid the two spies and saved her family. We also know she was a harlot. King David had a heart after God, fought wars valiantly, and openly admitted sin and repented before God and man. We know David’s sins included murder and adultery. Nonetheless He was loved and honored by God.
Continued in Learning How to Honor a Difficult Parent – Part 2
Many people sweep sins under the rug, which is never quite big enough
Many people (and families) prefer to deal with sin by lifting the rug up, sweeping the incident under the rug, and never speaking about it again. God insists on a different way. The Bible talks about facing the truth.
The first step in dealing with sin is being honest about the sin before God. David writes in Psalm 51, “For I acknowledge my transgressions…” Confession is coming into agreement with God. Confessing sin is to recognize what God calls sin and agree with Him regarding any actions in our lives is sin that He calls sin. The Holy Spirit brings conviction, which is designed to bring us to God. The enemy loves to heap condemnation on top of this. Conviction brings a desire to get right before God. Condemnation brings a desire to hide from God. Many people have never been taught this distinction. It is critical to bringing healing and spiritual cleansing.
Sometimes being honest with ourselves involves a process. Once we admit one thing, then we can see the cover up as a sin, or we finally come to the root issue of sin in our lives. Someone may say a mean thing to another person (and we realize we should not have said the words). But the deeper issue is a jealous streak (this requires a deeper repentance and cleansing) and the deeper issue might further be a root of insecurity and inferiority – which usually leads to lie from the pit of hell about ourselves. God did not make any mistakes in creating you. Let’s bring the good creation in each of us to the surface so God can develop it and shine His glory on it, and it can fit into the community for which we are designed to operate in.
It takes courage to invite the Holy Spirit to give us an honest assessment about ourselves. The goal is not to feel guilt. The goal is to take it to the cross where we will find forgiveness for our sins and cleansing for all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:9.