Ever have a crappy, horrible, why did I get out of bed kinda day? Tuesday was mine. It started with lower back spasms and muscle relaxers. Then it turned into this:
“Mom, I have a headache.”
“Do you need me to come get you?”
“No, it’s okay. We’re on lockdown anyway.”
“Apparently there are kids with guns on campus.”
Meanwhile, my phone rings. It’s about the middle child in middle school:
“Your child is suspended from riding the bus for three days… “
And then when I picked up the youngest from Private Christian School, the teacher told me this:
“He can be such a good, loving child, but if I could’ve paddled him today I would have.”
So how’s that whole Parenting According to Amos thing going for me? I won’t even ask you, because most likely your children are close to perfection and you’ve just humored me in reading what I think God is saying to parents through the prophet Amos. Most likely your children get all greens or smiley faces on their agendas. Most likely your children live up to every single responsibility you ask of them. Most likely your children get all A’s on their report card (not even one ‘F’, not even one). Most likely you just pity me, looking down on me with a pierced mouthed smile, trying to let me know through your eyes that someday, I will be a better mother and everything will be okay.
But in the meantime I take this to heart–like God is telling me to straighten it up, to tighten the reins on my little family:
“Hear this word that the LORD has spoken against you…against the whole family…”Amos 3:1
Oh and it doesn’t stop there either, because verse 11 says this:
“An Adversary shall be all around the land; He shall sap your strength from you, and your palaces shall be plundered.”
God was speaking of the Assyrians at the time, but now, I consider my adversary Satan himself. And yes, he is sapping my strength and yes, he is plundering my palace. My child was held in a classroom for 2 hours yesterday so the 10 police cars full of officers could search students class by class. (There were kids peeing in bottles in the corners of rooms–no kidding. I have photographic evidence, but I’ll spare you.) My boys are forgetting their manners, and what obedience is, and how important honesty is to our family, and to God.
But I am reminded that the Adversary is the real enemy, from the beginning of my life to the end of my children’s. I must discipline my kids, I must teach them a better way of life. I must teach them to fight from a place of Victory in Christ, because if I don’t stop the disobedience now–if we don’t teach our kids honesty, responsibility, respect–then one of our kids could be the one at school with a gun.
When God speaks of disciplining his chosen people of Israel in the book of Amos it’s because he knows the possibility of the outcome if he didn’t. We can’t ignore the possible outcomes in our own kids lives.
What are some ways you need to stand firm against the ADVERSARY and not allow him to sap your strength?
What is your worst day ever with your kids?
Share with me!
I remember when I first started in ministry. I had lots of naysayers, including people in my family. I was not the one expected to commit to full time ministry. That job was reserved for my much more “religious” brother who didn't commit as many sins as I did. Working in children's ministry was one of the only places in my life that made any sense at the time. Besides being a mom, it was the only thing that came natural and that I was good at.
Regardless of the comments from the doubters, I knew it was where I needed to be. But it didn't come without consequence or mistakes. I was so overwhelmed at that time in my life, trying to balance it all and be it all for Jesus that I lost a really great friend, and unfortunately hurt her in the process. I gave up opportunities to work elsewhere making more money, which as a single mom I needed.
No longer was I, or am I, able to make “gut” or logical decisions about my future. Every move I make or don't make involves prayer and more prayer and wise counsel, and often times tears. Me being in ministry has put my entire family in frustrating positions and financial difficulties.
Ha! I'm obviously not the salesman of the year when it comes to convincing you that ministry is awesome! Oh but it is! All of those sacrifices and struggles are worth it when you hear a teenager pray for the first time, or a kid run up to you and hug your leg on Sunday morning. When the kids in the neighborhood want to know when you will start a Bible study for them, and when teenagers don't want to move because youth group is so important to them. Then there are the proclaimed atheists who now know this Jesus that adores them. And the addicts who know that Jesus is the only answer.
It is just that in times like these, when me and my husband must make a hard decision where we don't seem to win either way, it is so hard not to feel guilty. Ministry is not just a sacrifice for me, but for my husband, for my children. I am so incredibly grateful that the sacrifice Jesus made was enough for my family to be 'all in.' But it is hard to swallow that in order for me to pursue what Jesus has for me, my husband must take a second job to support our family or work countless hours of overtime.
Ministry has these moments when you and your family must come together, completely unified, with faith in God that He will make all things right. It is ugly and beautiful all at once.
Don't give up.
What are some sacrifices you've made for ministry? Comment and let me know.
One of the greatest challenges it seems that comes with growing a church is not having your own builiding. My students are the ones who have suffered the most with our sense of homelessness. For the last year and a half we have bombarded the living rooms of parents, who had no idea what they were getting themselves into.
As those opportunities have expired, I find myself forced to reconsider the entire ministry. The easy way would be to find another living room and keep on moving forward in the same ryhthm doing the same thing, with the same perspective…same…same…same.
Jesus never did ministry the same. He constantly adapted with every new challenge that faced him. The foundation of his ministry never changed–it was all about Him. Our ministry will always remain all about Him. But in order for there to even be a ministry, I had to ask the students what they thought, what they wanted, how they wanted to learn about him. This is what they told me:
- We want a comfortable and hip environment.
- We want awesome and inspiring music.
- We want to minister to people our own age.
- We want to feed the poor and clothe the naked.
- We want to be heard and to make a difference.
- We want our own building.
It’s a tall order, but one that no doubt is possible, well except for the last one right now. This past weekend we started with “We want to minister to people our own age.” After grabbing Three Taco Parties from Taco Bell and loading the ice chest with gatorade we headed to the local skatepark to show the skaters some Jesus Love. We will continue learning and doing ministry in an organic way, focusing more on serving and loving others with sporatic times of intense teaching.
When buliding a ministry, we have to be moldable, willing to follow where the Spirit leads. So often in church planting we want to use a model, or mimick a local “successful” church. Our success depends on how we accomplish His will for His ministry.
Where in your ministry have you bucked the system and leaned into God’s creativity in your church plant?
The last few days I’ve spent ample time with Zac. He’s been home from school with pulmonary junk. So between the million breathing treatments, we’ve watched the Karate Kid at least as many times. Zac loves to punch and kick and flip. So after the millionth time of me asking him to sit down and stop putting himself on the brink of respiratory failure, he settled in with my iPad.
“Mom, how do you spell karate?”
Before I knew it, Zac was on Karate Depot investigating how much black belts cost.
“Mom, can I buy a black belt?”
So being the fantastic, insightful mom I am, I replied with, “A black belt can’t be bought. It must be earned.”
Quickly, Zac was just as insightful, “I am going to earn it–well, I’m going to pretend I did.”
Isn’t that the American way? We want to pretend, or live as if, we have earned something. We want a fantastic marriage, but we don’t want to fight our way through it. We want kids who are well-adjusted and able to handle no matter what comes their way, but we don’t want to impose the boundaries. We want that deep faith in God, but shrug our shoulders at the thought of daily prayer and Bible reading.
All of us on some level want to pretend we’ve earned all the benefits of maturity. We shop at a Karate Depot, or Marriage Depot, or Parenting Depot, hoping to find something that will give us an outward badge of honor–to show the world our amazing-ness. We are willing to pay the $29.95 and even the inflated shipping fees if only it will give us the shortcut.
I wish I could purchase a black belt in writing, and in teenage dating issues, and in church planting, and in marriage. But even if I did, when it came down to the time to battle the enemy, I would lose.
I finished the conversation with my determined child forehead to forehead. I looked him in the eyes and said, “We can’t cheat our way through things. We have to work hard, train, do whatever it takes to get our black belt. Even if it takes 15 years to get it. And that’s not just with Kung Fu. We have to work hard to be whatever it is we dream about. We can’t buy our dreams on the internet.”
He flipped and kicked his way upstairs and came down with his Judo uniform and proudly tied his white belt. The kicking and flipping never stopped, but hopefully he learned–hopefully we have learned–that whatever it is we want to be best in, whatever we want to wear a black belt for, will take doing the hard work!
Happy Friday. You are loved!