This is a guest post by Lauren Sparks who is “a wife, mom, fitness instructor, proud Baylor Bear, and grateful believer in Jesus Christ.” She shares the ups and downs of the faith of a special needs mom at The Sparks Notes
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My transition (although it’s now been years ago) from corporate America to stay-at-home mom was a little rocky. And I’m not just talking about dealing with the uncontrolled seizures of my first-born. The people-pleaser in me struggled with the lack of feedback available when I wasn’t working for someone else’s approval.
I came from a rather high-achieving background. I took honors classes and made excellent grades, graduating second in my high school class (behind only my twin sister). I was an obedient child who gave my parents very little trouble and received praise from other adults for my maturity and behavior. As an employee I always did what was asked and gave good customer service. Even in things I didn’t excel – I was a mediocre athlete – I worked hard enough to receive an occasional pat on the back. That was enough to keep me motivated.
In the wake of the shootings in Dallas this past Thursday, which left 5 police officers and 1 assailant dead, tension continues to seize our country. As news agencies, churches, politicians, special-interest groups and a myriad of others weigh in on the recent tragedy and the other tragic events leading up to it, many words are spoken. Many actions are taken. Some are meant to help. Some are meant to hinder.
How can we choose our words and our actions wisely?
We’ve walked through Proverbs for a time and now land on Proverbs 25. In this chapter, we can find so much that relates to current news in our culture.
“A man without self-control is like a city broken into and left without walls.” – Proverbs 25:28
What are we to do when the world keeps sliding further into animosity? We see the lack of self-control plaguing every facet of society. The world pushes for no rules and keeping things relative.
Seek the Lord.
Ask for the self-control to do the opposite of what the world would have you do.
“If your enemy is hungry, give him bread to eat, and if he is thirsty, give him water to drink, for you will heap burning coals on his head, and the Lord will reward you.” – Proverbs 25:21-22
Jesus is the Bread of Life. He is the Living Water. Self-control should emulate how Jesus interacted and spoke with those who would desert him, deny him, betray him, hurt him and kill him.
I’ve been reading many articles lately that keep proclaiming how many are leaving and “done” with the church, how no one can trust the church because of issues, and how church isn’t really that important. I know there are many backgrounds involved with this and everyone’s story is different, but I’d like to encourage you in the fact that the Church is more important than you might be thinking.
Leaving And Being “Done” With Church
I think this line of thinking can apply to many people, but mostly it seems this is coming from the younger generation. Many are growing up in the church or at least observing it and when their expectations aren’t met, they are leaving. They are claiming that real Christianity doesn’t have to involve the church if they are following Jesus and they are doing just fine. Unfortunately, this line of thinking is not true.
Church is the body of Christ. It’s the people. Every follower of Jesus is a member of the body and together, we make up the church. It isn’t a building or a location, but it’s made up of individuals. The church is the hope of the world and God will use His Church to advance His Kingdom.
You simply can’t “leave” or be “done” with the church. What you’re really saying is that you want to follow Jesus on your own terms, not on the Bible’s terms.
“So we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.” – Romans 12:15
“And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” – Matthew 16:18
Can’t Trust Church Because of Issues
Another popular argument against the church is people can’t trust it because of so many issues that come up. Let’s remember again the church is made up of people. Sinful, flawed, people. We are all sinful…we all make mistakes…that’s the whole reason we need a Savior to begin with. We can’t live this life on our own and we certainly can’t live this life perfectly. So if we can’t do that, of course the church is going to have issues.
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Goals are very important and there are many pros and cons to them. They can help us know how we are progressing with something and if we are achieving our objective, but at the same time, they can become an obsession where all we care about are our goals and nothing else.
I believe it’s a big deal for followers of Jesus to know how to be productive, get things done, and set and complete goals. However, at the same time (myself included in this big time), we have to remember a few things about our goals.
- Are our goals about advancing the Kingdom at the end of the day?
- Do we treat our goals as something that only we can do, or only something God can do?
- What do our goals currently reveal about our priorities?
I’m often guilty of either setting my own goals without having God in mind or working hard to achieve “my goals,” while Jesus isn’t even a part of the equation. He’s the Real One who is at work here, not me. Yes, let’s work hard and achieve goals, but let’s do it in a God glorifying way that advances His mission.
Here is what the Bible has to say with scripture on goals:
Evil appears to triumph today. You can say it even appears to run up the score.
For those that long for peace and justice, what hope do we have in a world that increasingly tolerates evil and seems to want to celebrate it as well? It’s not hard to find a horrific headline mixed in with celebrity gossip and salacious sports stories lately.
Proverbs 24 speaks about evil and its counterparts, violence, trouble, scheming and abomination. It is disheartening to know that for a time evil is allowed to prevail. People are hurt as a result. Animals are hurt as a result. All creation is hurt as a result. And there doesn’t seem to be an end in sight.
But have hope.
Proverbs 24 doesn’t leave us high and dry. Evil will always have its comeuppance and will one day see an end. Many an evil plan is being thwarted today.
We’re reminded this end to evil occurs by the Lord’s hand.