A Cry for Justice by Shelley Hundley

September 30, 2011 at 11:49 am | Posted in Books | 2 Comments
Tags:

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old…or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

 

Today’s Wild Card author is:

 

Shelley Hundley

 

and the book:

 

A Cry for Justice

Charisma House (September 6, 2011)

***Special thanks to Kim Jones | Publicity Coordinator, Charisma House | Charisma Media for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


Shelley Hundley is one of the original interns who helped launch the International House of Prayer under Mike Bickle’s leadership and has been on the senior leadership of IHOP-KC since its inception in 1999. She currently serves as vice president of training at International House of Prayer University in Kansas City, Missouri. Fluent in four languages, Shelley is passionate to see the nations of the earth prepared for the return of Christ and to see 24/7 prayers for justice combined with 24/7 works of justice.

Visit the author’s website.

SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:

“Knowing Jesus as the Judge who will make all things right has been the greatest comfort of my life.”—Shelley Hundley

The daughter of American missionaries, Shelley Hundley was born in Colombia, and grew up on the campus of a seminary that trained leaders to serve in what was one of the most violent nations in the world. After suffering abuse at the hands of a minister in the community, she turns from God—angry and confused that He could allow this to happen.

In A Cry for Justice, Hundley uses her story as a backdrop to show how she found healing from the pain, guilt, and shame of the abuse she endured as a child and how she came to know Jesus in a new way—as a righteous judge who fights for His people and takes upon Himself the burden of our injustices and pain.

The story of Shelley Hundley’s journey from bitter atheist to wholehearted lover of God is unique. Yet what she learned on this journey is relevant to every person who has ever been hurt and has silently wondered, “Who will fight for me? Who can make the wrong things right?”

Product Details:

List Price: $14.99
Paperback: 224 pages
Publisher: Charisma House (September 6, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1616382597
ISBN-13: 978-1616382599

AND NOW…THE FIRST CHAPTER:

Why I Became an A theist

When I entered college at the age of seventeen, I was an avowed atheist, and I quickly distinguished

myself on campus as one of the most hostile and defiant people to the message of Jesus. This was no small thing because I attended a Christian college where the gospel was preached often, including at mandatory chapel services. I wasn’t always this way. The daughter of American missionaries, I was born in Medellín, Colombia, and reared on the campus of a seminary that trained leaders to serve in what was one of the most violent nations in the world. Murder and kidnapping were commonplace, and it was hardly unusual for my family to hear bomb blasts and gun fights on our street. In fact, I grew up thinking this was normal. I went to bed each night to the sound of attack dogs unleashed at 10:00 p.m. to prevent thieves or hired assassins from breaking into the seminary and killing or kidnapping one of the many missionary families who lived there. I knew of many believers who lost their lives when guerrillas burst into church services and sprayed bullets in the sanctuary. Even at a young age, I knew what it meant to suffer for Jesus. I saw people do it almost every day.

Although my childhood was anything but easy, I never resented living in Colombia. I thought Medellín was a beautiful place. It had perpetual springlike weather that made the brilliant landscape seem to be always bursting with life. From my perspective as a child, the Cordillera mountains seemed to wrap themselves around Colombia’s second largest city like a warm hug, protecting the fruit trees, wild orchids, and South American wildlife that thrive in its lush valley.

When I was a little girl, I often would slip out to the front porch in the evenings just to take in Medellín’s beauty. As sunlight fled and darkness took its watch, the city lights flickered across the sky like a magic show, climbing the sides of the mountains and then spreading out in every direction. The beauty and safety I felt as I looked at the mountains never meshed with the terror, violence, and death that shrouded the city and gripped its inhabitants with fear.

A Climate of Fear

Everyone seemed to have the same nagging yet unspoken question, “How long?” How long will the violence continue? How long until the next person disappears? How long before the guerrillas spill more innocent blood in the streets? No one said this out loud, but no one had to. It was in the eyes of every Colombian and anyone who had lived in the nation long enough to be infected by this contagious feeling of dread. Violence was as constant in Colombia as sunrise and sunset. With the advent of the drug years in the 1980s, Colombia fell into a downward spiral of political chaos and staggering suffering. A relentless underground cocaine industry and a vicious hierarchy of drug lords backed Marxist guerrillas. These rebels took over the Palace of Justice, which was the equivalent of the US Pentagon, as frightened Colombians watched the real-life drama unfold on their TV sets.

At the height of its “narco” (narcotics) years, Medellín was ruled by a drug lord named Pablo Escobar. He bred an environment of instability and unpredictability, and unspeakable bloodshed seemed to lurk around every corner. At any moment, a store or a restaurant might be blown up, massacring everyone in the vicinity, just because Pablo wanted to settle a score.
The danger was at such a height that my mom sat me down once before a visit to the dentist and reminded me not to give out any information about our family—what we did, where we lived, how many siblings I had. She told me, “Remember, Shelley, anyone could be a guerrilla, even people who seem nice. Nurses and dentists can be killers or kidnappers.” As a little girl, I struggled to understand what all of this meant. I pictured normal people taking off their masks and revealing their true identities as guerrillas, whatever those were. All I knew was that these guerrillas weren’t animals; they were men and women, sometimes even children, who had killed people we knew, kidnapping children and adults alike.

The other constant in Colombia was unspeakable poverty. Even as a child, I could never get over the despair and deprivation around me every day. I played soccer with neighborhood kids who had only one pair of shorts to their names and actually picked pockets to secure food and other essentials. This was so well known, the neighborhood children who came into the seminary were frisked on their way out to ensure they didn’t steal anything. This always seemed unfair to me at the time, but I understand it was necessary. Once, we missionary kids devised a scheme to turn the tables on the adults. We stole all the seminary professors’ wallets; then at the end of the day, when the neighborhood children were being frisked, we returned the wallets, grinning ear to ear.

As you may have guessed, I had an adventurous and sometimes mischievous personality. I caused a little trouble here and there for sneaking too much food to my friends or for refusing to wear new shoes or clothes because my playmates had none. But I also had fun despite my dangerous surroundings. I loved to play soccer with my big brothers, and I tried to keep up with all of their crazy stunts. The hills across this paradise were great for sliding, and bamboo groves made the best kids’ bows and arrows you could ever wish for. I especially liked to climb the mango trees. I’d carry my pocketknife in one hand and a little bag of lemon and salt in my pocket to dip my fresh mango slices in. Truth be told, I ruined my appetite for dinner many times with my mango eating, and it was a constant source of tension between my mom and me.

Medellín was like the times Charles Dickens described in A Tale of Two Cities: full of the best and the worst. It was a constant contradiction—good and bad, happy and sad, beauty and pain, paradise and poverty. I had the honor of being surrounded by missionaries who had left everything to serve the Lord and by radical Colombian believers who were ready to die for Christ. Many received the chance to do so. Some Colombian Christians were assassinated in the very churches where they worshiped because of their opposition to the Marxist guerrillas’ call for violent revolution.

Americans too were targeted for murder and kidnapping as retaliation for the arrests of Colombian drug lords who were extradited to the United States to be tried for their crimes. My brothers and I had the equivalent of “snow days” when the US Embassy would call to warn our parents that there were new death threats against Americans, so we couldn’t go outside or be near the windows.

Although violence hounded us, I considered Colombia my home. So when my parents decided to move to Indiana just before I entered eighth grade, I felt like the ground beneath me had been removed. My identity was deeply rooted in my cross-cultural experience in Medellín. I was a gringa-paisa, an American by blood but a Colombian by birth.

My family had lived in the United States for short periods of time, and the thought of leaving a nation and people I loved to move to a country whose rules I couldn’t seem to figure out pierced my twelve-year-old heart. I told my parents I wouldn’t leave and threatened to run away from home, but then reality began to sink in. The prospect of running away in a city where I would certainly be kidnapped didn’t seem to be a viable option either, so I begrudgingly surrendered to the move.

In Indiana, I trudged through middle and high school, dealing with major culture shock and struggling to make friends, though my gifts in music won me some friendships. Looking back I don’t think my experience in high school was much different from other American kids my age.
I visited my church’s youth group and attended their retreats. I even longed for intimacy with God at this young age, but I never sensed a breakthrough in my heart. I always felt like I was outside of God’s presence, incapable of even looking in. Real intimacy with Jesus always seemed just out of reach.

Buried Memories

In the midst of all my normal teenage challenges, I was grappling with feelings of self-hatred that I just couldn’t shake. On many nights I would sit huddled in my bedroom just sobbing in the darkness because I couldn’t make the shame and self-loathing go away. Terror would overwhelm me, and images of sexual abuse would flood my mind.

I didn’t know how to process these thoughts. I didn’t want to believe they represented actual experiences, but something was deeply wrong in my heart. I saw a girl huddled on the floor of an old Spanish-style home in Medellín. She had long wavy hair that seemed to be a mixture of light brown, blonde, and amber. And her soft blue eyes were filled with too much sadness for a child of only eight. Hugging her knees tightly to her chest, she buried her face and cried because someone bigger and stronger had forced himself on her, and I had the sense it wasn’t the first time this had happened.

The girl sat there wishing she had never been born and fearing when the abuse might happen again. She sputtered out jumbled phrases amid her tears and heavy breathing, “Why does this keep happening? When will it all stop?” Her breathing got heavier and heavier until she felt as though her lungs were filled with heavy iron. Each second made her feel more and more anchored to the cold tile floor.

When the tears finally stopped, she felt a numb, empty feeling wash over her. She felt this every time she suffered abuse. This man hadn’t been the first. He was the third person who had done this to her, but this time had been the worst ever.

Sitting there, cold and limp, she shuddered as she remembered how he had threatened her so she wouldn’t tell. But she was past the point of trying to figure out a way to tell someone, to stop the horror from happening again. She felt doomed to serve out a sentence she was beginning to think she must deserve. She thought that surely the torment must have been her fault somehow.

She looked so small and alone there on the floor as she recalled the man’s threats. “If you tell people, they will all know how perverse you really are and how you bring this on yourself. Do you want everyone to see what you really are?” His words seemed to burn into her brain, and she couldn’t make them go away. “God must hate me so much, but I just don’t know why,” she told herself. She thought she might explode because the pain was so great. “I can’t make it. I can’t make it another day!”

Another wave of weeping and heavy breathing poured out of the girl’s exhausted little heart. She remembered how disgusted she felt when she heard the man preach at a church service where the congregation responded so wholeheartedly to his message about holiness. Hearing him preach made her feel ill, but she wondered if that was just further proof that she was only receiving what she deserved. “I must be going to hell!” the little girl muttered. “I must be worthless and horrible and perverse.”
Somehow I knew the girl had accepted Jesus in Sunday school but couldn’t seem to find her Savior amid the confusion, guilt, and despair. “I must be everything he says I am,” she told herself. “I must deserve it all.” She pounded her body in anger thinking that if her injuries were even more severe, maybe then someone would notice and stop this torture. Once I saw that she succeeded in getting away. She ran as far as she could, only to realize as she fled that she was in as much or more danger running down the streets of Colombia as she was in the hands of the abuser. Terrified and feeling forlorn, she climbed a tree to the highest branch she could reach and sat there and cried.

No matter where she turned there was nothing but torment. When she was finally able to quiet herself down a little bit, she could hear some of her friends playing outside the house. But she couldn’t go out to play. Instead, she sank into a daydream, imagining a day when someone would finally make the pain and abuse stop.

Even when I didn’t want to believe that I was this little girl, the images of her and the pain she felt were always there in the background. And no matter what was happening in my mind, I couldn’t deny the depression, loneliness, and feelings of worthlessness that plagued my heart even when everything in my teenage life seemed fine.

The images kept coming, and with them an unexplainable repulsion toward one minister our family knew well on the mission field. His face seemed ingrained in all of the images, but still I hoped the scenes of the little girl weren’t real. Tormented by these persistent, invasive thoughts, and even more so by the fear that I could never escape them, I retreated even further behind a wall of shame. I did what I could to bury it all.

Facing the Past

I carried these feelings of pain and hopelessness silently for years. Then one month before I left home for college, I had a conversation with someone who had been on the mission field with my family. That meeting changed everything. Completely unaware of the abuse I had suffered, this friend told me that a minister we had known in Colombia was found to have sexually abused children when we were living in Medellín. He listed several children’s names, and some of them were my dear friends.

This individual had no idea what was happening in my heart as he told me this. All of a sudden I felt as though I was outside of myself listening to what was being said. I felt cold all over and couldn’t control the tremors that came over my body. It seemed as though some dark and tempestuous evil had reached up from the ground and grabbed me by both legs.

The person who spoke with me thought I would be shocked by what was said, but I barely even looked surprised. I knew now without a doubt that all the images that had filled my mind and the pain that kept me up nights crying in terror were real. I kept a cold expression on my face because I wasn’t ready to say anything about my own experience. I listened and took in all the information the person offered and asked as many questions as I could without giving away my own story.

When we ended the conversation and I walked away, I began a terrifying journey into the past. In those next moments, I felt as if I was being encircled by hell’s fire. I felt fenced in on every side, and I couldn’t move. I couldn’t talk. The curtain that covered the thing I couldn’t name had suddenly been removed, and now I was forced to face the reality of those horrible images. My emotions were all over the place. On one hand I felt a sense of relief as I thought, “I am not the only one. It really was wrong what he did. It wasn’t my fault.” But on the other hand, a steely, silent sort of rage started rising up in me.

I felt anger that I had never before been able to feel for myself, and it began to rise up as I thought of all the others this man had abused. I was finally beginning to piece together what I had experienced, and I was 100 percent certain that this person had sexually abused me for several years when my family lived in Colombia. The excruciating pain I had locked away deep inside had suddenly been set free and was now moving throughout my being.

I was filled with a quiet but fierce indignation during the silent drive home. I looked out at the road, but all I saw were the events of my life replaying with a new, insidious, hellish fire illuminating the dark, sadistic series of events. This horror wasn’t imaginary; it was my real life and the reality of some of my dearest childhood friends. And not only had this man abused me, others had done so as well.
In the car, I felt a heaviness begin to overtake me. Then I had a thought. It seemed like a lofty and wise idea, an indisputable solution to a difficult equation. I felt as though I was rising above my situation and being caught up by a wiser, more definitive conclusion than any I had ever drawn. The evidence had presented itself. It all made sense now. None of what I had heard about Jesus was true. It was all a lie. There is no God. And I should kill myself.

Raising a Daughter After God’s Own Heart by Elizabeth George

September 29, 2011 at 2:08 am | Posted in Books | Leave a comment
Tags:

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old…or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

 

Today’s Wild Card author is:

 

Elizabeth George

 

and the book:

 

Raising a Daughter After God’s Own Heart

Harvest House Publishers (September 1, 2011)

***Special thanks to Karri | Marketing Assistant of Harvest House Publishers for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Elizabeth George, whose books have sold more than 6.5 million copies, is the author of A Woman After God’s Own Heart® (more than 1 million copies sold) and Breaking the Worry Habit Forever! She’s also a popular speaker at Christian women’s events. Elizabeth and her husband, Jim, are parents and grandparents, and have been active in ministry for more than 30 years.

Visit the author’s website.

SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:

Elizabeth George, bestselling author and mother of two daughters, provides biblical insight and guidance for every mom who wants to lead their daughter to a godly life through example, study, and prayer. Elizabeth includes questions to draw moms and daughter closer as together they pursue spiritual priorities and God’s heart.

Product Details:

List Price: $12.99
Paperback: 208 pages
Publisher: Harvest House Publishers (September 1, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0736917721
ISBN-13: 978-0736917728

AND NOW…THE FIRST CHAPTER:

The Bell Sheep

Part 1  —  Earning Your Bell

You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.
And these words which I command you today
shall be in your heart.

—  Deuteronomy 6:5

On a recent Christmas Sunday, my husband, Jim, and I and our family of 14 arrived at a church service extra early to make sure we didn’t end up in the “Standing Room Only” section for this special occasion. With my bulletin in hand and several minutes to spare before the service started, I opened my Bible and looked up the Scripture passage the pastor would focus on during his message. Then I read through some additional teaching notes and commentary in the margin of my Bible. One article was entitled “The Bell Sheep.”

The bell sheep? What in the world is that? I wondered. I read on. The article explained that when a shepherd noticed a sheep who willingly followed him and stayed near him, he hung a bell around the neck of that sheep so the flock would follow the bell sheep…who, in turn, was following the shepherd.

Knowing I would begin writing Raising a Daughter After God’s Own Heart as soon as the Christmas holiday was over, I almost jumped out of my seat when I read this. I was shouting out in my mind, “That’s it! That’s it! A mom should be the bell sheep for her daughter!”

And it’s true! When we as mothers stay close to Jesus—as close as close can be, and when we love Him with all our heart just the way Jesus said to, and when we willingly follow Him and His Word, guess what? We become His bell sheep for our daughters to follow. Our girls observe—and copy—our behavior. They can—and will—follow our example. We become their very own personal walking, living, real flesh and blood, visual example of what it means to be a child, girl, tween, teen, and woman after God’s own heart.

How to Be a Bell Sheep…in Three Verses

Finally Christmas was over, meaning it was D-Day for me—or more accurately, W-Day as in Writing Day. So I sat down to begin and wondered and prayed, “Where does Christian childrearing really begin? And what is Thing 1, Goal 1 for a mom?”

In a few seconds I had the answer! And it came from God’s Word. It was packaged in three verses I had discovered as a young mom, and also as a baby Christian. I flashed back on those early new-believer days of excitement, of newness, of need as I hungered to find out for the first time what God teaches about…everything! And especially “What in the world am I supposed to do with two little toddling girls?”

I’m so glad a wise woman had advised me to read in my new Bible every day. Well, the day arrived when I made it to the book of Deuteronomy. And there I hit gold when my eyes landed on Deuteronomy 6:5-7. I was stunned. Amazed. Thrilled! God was actually showing me His guidelines for raising my own little daughters, then only one-and-a-half and two-and-a-half years old. And in only three verses! How practical is that? Here’s what I read over and over again and finally memorized:

You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up.

I adore these verses because they are packed with clear communication to moms. God goes straight to the heart of the matter—the parent’s heart, the mom’s heart. He knows we become what we love. So He is utterly straightforward about where we are to place our love: We are to love Him supremely.

Two Questions to Ask Yourself

Believe me, I thought through this powerful passage—a lot! Then I took it apart word by word and thought by thought. And I came up with two questions I constantly asked my heart during those days with little girls, and still ask even today with two married daughters who are now raising their daughters. (After all, a mom is always a mom!)

Heart Question #1: What—and whom—do I love?

We “love” a lot of things for a lot of different reasons. But God prescribes perimeters and scope for our love. He tells us what not to love: “Do not love the world or the things in the world” (1 John 2:15). And He tells us what we are to love and where our love is to be focused—we are to “love the Lord” (Deuteronomy 6:5).

But hold on. The Lord goes a step further and demands all of our love. He wants us to love Him with every fiber of our being—every breath, every ounce of energy, every thought, every emotion and passion, every choice. He wants us to love Him. He wants us to think first of Him and to desire above all else to please Him. And He wants that love to be intense and total, “with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.” As writer Matthew Henry summarizes, “He that is our all demands our all.”

Matthew Henry continues on to point out that our love for God is to be a strong one that is lived out with great enthusiasm and fervency of affection. It is to be a love that burns like a sacred fire, a love that causes our every affection to flow toward Him.

Now, apply this information about the strength of this kind of love for God and think about the love you have for your daughter, for your children. I’m sure you’ve heard others say, “There is no love like a mother’s love.” And it’s true! From the split second we know a baby is on the way, all our thoughts, dreams, prayers, and goals are channeled toward that little one. We are completely consumed and preoccupied by this tiny being. As the baby grows within us, our love blossoms and our commitment to it grows right along with our expanding body.

Immediately we begin to prepare physically for his or her arrival by meticulously taking care of our health. Healthy mom equals healthy baby, we’re told. We also prepare physically by setting up a nursery area for the new little addition. A bassinet or crib. A blanket. A mobile. Clothes. Supplies. Loads of diapers! Sometimes we even paint or remodel a room.

Then we moms get to work preparing our schedule. Maybe we have to quit a job or arrange for a leave of absence. Oh, and we have to find a pediatrician, as well as make time for our own doctor appointments. And, if we’re smart, we begin to prepare by gathering wisdom and information from our own moms, other moms, and from classes, books, and the Internet.

But as much as we obsess and focus on an approaching child, God wants us to obsess and focus even more on Him. That’s because the more we love Him, the more we will know about love. And the more we know about love, the more we will know about how to love. And the more we know about how to love, the more we will love our baby, our child, our daughter. I like what C.S. Lewis wrote about his love for God and how it affected his relationship with his wife: “When I have learnt to love God better than my earthly dearest, I shall love my earthly dearest better than I do now.” Mom, your love for God will prepare you to love your child. The more you love the Lord, the better you shall love your earthly dearest daughter.

So…God’s first assignment to any and every mother is to love Him above all else. If you are a sold-out, on-fire, hot-hearted, committed-to-God woman, you will be infinitely further down the road to being the kind of mom who, by His grace, can raise a daughter after God’s own heart. Because all your love centers upon God, and because you follow Him with all your heart, you will qualify to lead your daughter to follow God too—to be…well…God’s bell sheep for her.

Heart Question #2: What’s in my heart?

I don’t know what’s in your heart, and I’m working on what’s in mine! But God tells both of us what is supposed to be there, what He wants to be there. Here it is: He says, “These words which I command you today shall be in your heart” (verse 6).

And here’s the scene surrounding these words: In Deuteronomy 6, Moses is in the final weeks of his life. It has been 40 years since God’s people left Egypt, 40 years of homeless wanderings in the desert. At last a new generation was poised to enter into the Promised Land. But before they move out, Moses restates the Law one more time to this new generation that had been born in the wilderness. Because this next generation had married and now had—and would have—children, he addresses their spiritual responsibility as parents. As Moses speaks, he doesn’t want these moms and dads to merely hear the words of the Law and the Ten Commandments. No, he wants more, way more! He wants the words of the Law to go beyond their ears and reside in their hearts.

You may want to look again at Deuteronomy 6:6, but it tells us that God’s Word, the Bible, is to be in our hearts. Other passages in the Bible send us this same message:

This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night (Joshua 1:8).

Your word I have hidden in my heart, that I might not sin against you (Psalm 119:11).

My son, keep my words, and treasure my commands within you…bind them on your fingers; write them on the tablet of your heart (Proverbs 7:1,3).

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly (Colossians 3:16).

The message is repeated…and loud, isn’t it? And clear! God’s Word is to be in our heart. He asks this of you and me as moms. Why? Because when truth resides in your heart, then you have something to pass on to your daughter. She benefits! And you benefit too: As a mother you have something to guide you when you need help, strength, wisdom, and perseverance in your role as a mom, as a bell sheep. Don’t get me wrong—having and raising a child is perhaps the greatest earthly blessing you will ever enjoy. But, at the same time, it is the greatest challenge. But take heart, mom! God’s Word will always be there in you, with you, and for you as you guide your daughter in the ways of the Lord.

So…God’s second assignment for you as a mom is to be committed to His Word. You are to do whatever it takes to embed the teachings of the Bible in your heart, soul, and mind. As the saying goes, “You cannot impart what you do not possess.” The same is true of moms. To teach and guide, lead and raise a daughter after God’s own heart presupposes and requires that God’s truth be in your heart first. Then you possess something to impart. Then you have the most important thing to pass on to your precious daughter—the truth about God and the grace He extends through His Son, Jesus.

Becoming the Bell Sheep

I hope your heart is responding fervently to our initial glimpse at this primary role in the life of a mom after God’s own heart—that of being your daughter’s very own bell sheep. But maybe you are feeling like you need a little help. Well, read on to find out how to become the bell sheep. Practical help is on the way!

Part 2  —  Ringing Your Bell

You shall teach them diligently to your children,

and shall talk of them when you sit in your house,

when you walk by the way, when you lie down,

and when you rise up.

—  Deuteronomy 6:6-7

When my girls were young, I didn’t know about the bell sheep. But if I had, I would have wanted with all my heart to be one. And I would have been praying, “Oh, dear Father! You know how much I desire to be a bell sheep for my daughters. My greatest goal in life is to lead them to Jesus and teach them His ways.” I’m imagining this same heart-cry is being lifted heavenward from your soul’s core too.

As you’ve probably learned, knowing there is something God wants you to do is crucial. And wanting to do what God wants you to do is vital. But if you don’t know how to do what it is God wants you to do, you can become extremely frustrated.

So now we come to the big issue of how do I do this thing God wants—and expects—me to do? Well, here we go!

Yes, but How?

How does a mom help her daughter develop a heart for God? Deuteronomy 6:7 comes to the rescue and answers this question for you and me. God says, “You shall teach them diligently to your children” (verse 7). A mom who wholeheartedly loves the Lord and holds God’s words in her heart is to teach them to her sons and daughters.

—  “To teach”   There are two key ways to teach—by model and by mouth. And there are some basic practices you can follow for teaching effectively. I have a degree in education and have taught preschoolers, students from grades seven through twelve, and adults taking night school classes. Teaching was a job and I took it seriously. I developed my lesson plans for each day, week, month, semester, and school year. And I studied and prepared in advance for each day’s classes.

I also have a daughter who homeschools. I am in constant awe of her commitment. She plans out each year. She searches for materials for five children and their respective grade levels. She orders curriculum to arrive well before back-to-school day so she can preview it. Then she plans in advance the best way to teach, lead, and guide the five of them through each day of study.

Now picture this: I taught subjects that had nothing to do with God or with being a Christian, and so does my daughter. Imagine the effort we both put into teaching information and facts. And here in Deuteronomy 6:7, God is telling both of us—and all moms—to teach our children His Word, His ways, His truth. Now, this is life-changing stuff! The Bible is wisdom that will guide their lives and their choices. It is truth that will pierce a heart and bring a daughter to Christ. So be aware that every time you teach God’s Word you, the bell sheep, are ringing your bell! You are signaling to your daughter the priceless value of the treasure of the Scriptures.

This is exactly what happened in the New Testament to Timothy. As the apostle Paul said of Timothy, his trusted associate in ministry, “from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus” (2 Timothy 3:15). God’s Word is dynamite! And Timothy’s mom and grandmom, a mother/daughter tag team after God’s own heart, were faithful to ring their bells! They were faithful to teach him the sacred truths of the Bible, which paved the way for Timothy’s salvation. Mom and grandmom did their part—they fulfilled their mission to teach God’s saving truth. And God certainly did His part!

Time out for a second. I’m thinking as we pause here, shouldn’t a mom after God’s own heart who wants to raise a daughter after God’s own heart take her teaching of Scripture seriously? If you are in this position, shouldn’t you be committed to…

…instructing your daughter in God’s ways?

…planning to some extent how you will accomplish this goal?

…scheduling a time each day for some kind of formal Bible time with her?

…encouraging her to have some time alone with God, a quiet time?

…coaching her in ways to have daily devotions?

…searching for age-appropriate materials and talking with other moms about how they teach their children biblical truth?

…praying daily about this mission from God, this teacher role He has personally given you?

—  “To teach diligently”   Next God tells us in verse 7 to “teach them diligently to your children.” The “them” is what you are to teach—God’s Word and His commands. And “diligently” is how you are to teach—being purposeful and conscientious in a task or duty.

Think about this for a minute: What are you diligent about? Some women diligently floss their teeth. Others are so diligent they would never miss their daily exercise or walk, or be late to work, or fail to pay a bill on time. I know women who are so serious about every bite of food they put into their mouths that they diligently record what they eat in a daily log. On and on goes the list of life instances in which women choose to be diligent instead of careless, or lazy, or negligent.

Now switch your thoughts to doing what God says, to being diligent to teach spiritual truth to your daughter…versus leaving this all-important assignment to someone else, such as a church leader or a Christian school or a grandparent. Don’t get me wrong! These are wonderful and needed resources. But they are to be your partners in imparting truth, not your substitutes. You as a mother are to be the bell sheep who rings the bell of truth like crazy! You, mom, are to be the primary model and teacher of truth to your daughter.

Well, thank the Lord He doesn’t leave moms on their own. This isn’t mission impossible. No, it’s mission possible. God knows most moms don’t have a degree in education or training in teaching. And, whew, God doesn’t expect this or demand it! Aren’t you glad? Instead, He tells us how to teach and what this teaching involves. He says, “You…shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up” (verse 7).

No matter who you are, or what you do or don’t know about teaching—or how busy you are!—God expects you to pour God’s Word out of your heart and into your daughter’s heart. All you have to do is:

Step 1, love the Lord with all your heart;

Step 2, have God’s Word in your heart; and now

Step 3, teach His truths diligently.

By…what? Talking?! You mean that’s all? That’s it? Yes, that’s it—by talking.

Now I ask you, you’re a woman. How hard can talking be? Why, we girls are the world’s experts when it comes to talking!

And note where all our mother-to-daughter talking and teaching is to take place—at home. Nothing could be easier or more natural or more convenient than home sweet home! You don’t need elaborate plans. You don’t need to dress up or go anywhere. You don’t need to start the car. And you don’t need to spend any money. No. God simply says that “when you sit in your house,” you are to talk about Him.

Whew again—this one’s easy! You sit to relax. You sit to eat. You sit to visit. You sit to read. You sit to work on a craft together. And you sit whenever you’re in the car together. No matter what your daughter’s age is, these natural, low-key, sitting instances provide prime opportunities to talk about the Lord and His love and His promises…and His Son.

And “when you walk by the way” you are to talk about the Lord. From babyhood, to toddler times, to little girl, to schoolgirl, you’ll be walking with your daughter. That’s your special time for talking about the Lord. So…

Got a newborn? You will walk…and walk…and walk each time you calm your crying, ill, or restless baby. And you’ll put in miles pushing her stroller. And you’ll find yourself talking baby talk to her. I laughed out loud when I read this true-to-motherhood quip: “Being a mom means talking to your baby all the time.” So go ahead and talk all you want. It will develop the habit in you—and tune your baby girl’s heart to your voice.

How about a school-age daughter? If you walk your young daughter to school or to and from the school bus stop, you get to talk about the Lord. Tell her how He will help her through her time at school, with her test or report, with making friends. If you walk to the mailbox down the road, take your daughter along and chat about the wonders of the Lord and what it means to know Him. Let her know how she can trust Him and talk to Him anytime, anywhere, and ask for His help. When you walk together through the grocery store or the mall, again, make that an opportunity to talk about God and His provision and blessings. If there’s a breathtaking sunrise, sunset, rainbow, or wonder of nature—a bird’s nest, blooming flowers, even something as small as a dandelion, go outside and marvel at God’s handiwork together. And while you’re at it, do as the psalmist did and “talk” of His doings. “Praise” the Lord for His mighty acts and His greatness. “Declare” His faithfulness.

And then come the teen years. Hopefully you and your daughter have developed the habit of talking to each other about any and every thing, and especially about the Lord. So during her teen years, when things can get a little weird, and she may even see you as a little weird, you can still talk because of your history of talking. Believe me, if you are available, and care, and give her your love and attention, she will spill all!

And if you haven’t developed this early habit of talking, don’t worry and don’t give up. Just be sure you start now. Start talking, even if your daughter doesn’t seem to be listening. She is hearing, and what you say in loving wisdom will be filed away in her mind and heart. And it won’t go away. She won’t be able to shake it or forget it. Draw your strength from the Lord and speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15). And if your daughter won’t talk to you, that’s okay. Just know before God that you talked, just like He asked you to do. You faithfully rang your bell. You shared truth from His Word. And take comfort in the fact that God promises His Word will not go forth in vain but will accomplish His purposes (Isaiah 55:11).

And to end each day and start the next, God tells you what to do in Deuteronomy 6:7: “When you lie down, and when you rise up,” talk! Talk about the Lord, and keep on talking about Him. You can help even your tiny young daughter start her days and end them with thoughts of God in her mind. You can greet your waking girl with, “This is the day the Lord has made; we will rejoice and be glad in it” (Psalm 118:24). Or you can call out, “There you are, my precious blessing from the Lord! Good morning!” And at night, prayer is the perfect way to put a little—and big!—girl to bed. It puts her day and all that happened to rest. It calms all sorrows and soothes every hurt from the day. And it quells her fears. Like David testified, “I lay down and slept; I awoke, for the Lord sustained me,” and “I will both lie down in peace and sleep; for You alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety” (Psalm 3:5 and 4:8).

So…another of God’s assignments to any and every mom is to constantly be teaching and talking to your daughter about the Lord you love. Teaching and talking. And talking and teaching. Or put another way, ringing your bell! I hope you are grasping that being a Christian mom is more than taking your children to church. Home is a sort of church too. Home is the natural 24/7, morning-to-evening place to impress truth upon your daughter. Home is where she gets to see and hear every day how important the Lord is to you. Wherever and whenever the two of you are together is God’s opportunity for you to tell her about Him. So take advantage of the gift of such times. And if they are too few and far between, make it happen. Create the times together. In his book Shepherding a Child’s Heart, author Tedd Tripp gives this challenge to parents:

You shepherd your child in God’s behalf. The task God has given you is not one that can be conveniently scheduled. It is a pervasive task. Training and shepherding are going on whenever you are with your children. Whether waking, walking, talking or resting, you must be involved in helping your child to understand life, himself and his needs from a biblical perspective.

But What If…

I realize this ideal scenario does not happen in every mother/daughter relationship. Maybe the family you grew up in was not a Christian family. God knows that. He knows all about it—all about what you missed, and all about what you know and don’t know about being a Christian family and mom. So know that your mission is to begin where you are to follow the Lord. It’s never too late to receive Christ as Savior, to begin loving the Lord and growing in grace and in the knowledge of Him and His Word. You can choose any day—today, if you haven’t already—to begin diligently teaching the daughter you love, and talking to her about the God you love and who loves her. Point her to God. Encourage her in the Lord. Teach her what you know about Him from experience and from study. Pray for her with your every heartbeat. See her spiritual growth into a daughter after God’s own heart as your calling, your mission assignment from God. Commit to doing your part, and trust God to do His.

Perhaps you are thinking, This woman is crazy! Well, I wouldn’t blame you. But I will tell you I am crazy about God, crazy about my two daughters, and crazy about my four granddaughters. I will also tell you that I am passionate and passionately sold out to my role as a woman, mom, and grandmom after God’s own heart. It’s just so clear what God wants His moms to be and do. Your daughter has no other mother. You are the one He has chosen to teach her. And if you don’t, what if no one does?

Here’s a powerful description of what an all-out, all-or-nothing love for God and our daughters looks like. Let it encourage you today and in the decades of mothering to come:

…my mission is clear. I cannot be bought, compromised, detoured, lured away, turned back, diluted, or delayed. I will not flinch in the face of sacrifice, hesitate in the presence of adversity…I won’t give up, shut up, let up, or slow up.

You Can Do It!

Each of the following suggestions is something you can do to contribute toward becoming the mom you dream of being. And each one betters your life…and your daughter’s too. Here we go:

Analyze your day.

Think through the rhythm of your day and pinpoint your discretionary time, the time when you have a choice about how it is used, when you can choose how it’s spent. There is always time to do what’s important to you. You’ll need to find the time to get to know God—to put first things first.

Design a quiet time.

Once you’ve carved out a special time to be with God, begin reading your Bible—even for just ten minutes. It’s been calculated that if you simply read your Bible for ten minutes a day, you will read through all of it in one year. That’s a doable task for you as a bell sheep whose life goal is leading your daughter to Jesus. There are scores of activities that fill your day. So steal ten minutes from a nonimportant activity like time on the Internet, time talking on the phone, time watching TV. Make a daily appointment with God and allow Him to speak to your heart from His Word.

Memorize Scripture.

Here’s a statistic for you: People remember about 40 percent of what they read. Wouldn’t it be nice to remember 100 percent? Well, you can if you memorize verses from the Bible. That’s what someone told me as a new Christian, and I followed their advice. As I shared earlier, as soon as I read Deuteronomy 6:5-7, I learned it by heart. I also picked out some verses that would help me with my daily life, including the daily challenge of being a mom after God’s own heart. Like “I can do all things [including be a mom!] through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13). Once you store up some verses in your heart, you’ll find that wherever you are and whatever is happening, you can remember God’s words to you. And just think—as a bell sheep, you can draw your daughter to Jesus as you speak His words to her.

Read about parenting.

In my mentoring ministry, one of my assignments for the women I meet with and give my time to is that they read five minutes a day on a variety of topics. They can pick the topics and the books. They can buy them, borrow them, or check them out of the church library. I do this because I’ve been reading on my own topics for five minutes a day for decades! For instance, I’ve been reading five minutes a day on marriage and family for what seems like forever. The same goes for time and life management. And health.

If you do this too, you will amaze yourself as you become an expert on your subjects by merely reading five minutes a day on them. You will also be super motivated because the topic and your new knowledge is fresh in your mind. Instead of dreading something, you’ll look forward to approaching it differently and trying some new techniques or methods. Your reading will serve as a reminder and an instructor to pay attention to the areas of your life you targeted for growth. Pray, and then choose your subjects. Just be sure as a mom that childrearing is one of them.

Write a letter to God about your daughter.

Then read the letter to Him as a prayer. Prayer involves God. So now there are two of you taking on the challenge of raising a daughter after God’s own heart. It will seal your commitment to becoming God’s kind of mom so, Lord willing and by His grace, your daughter grows to be God’s kind of girl. File your “My Prayer to Be a Mom After God’s Own Heart” away where it is handy and can be prayed often, even daily. Your prayer is another good reminder each day to keep on keeping on in your goals as a mom and your goals for your daughter. And here’s an idea: Each year on your daughter’s birthday, slip a copy of your prayer into her birthday card. Be sure to tell her where you were and what you were feeling when you wrote it. What a gift!

Mom’s Think Pad

Before you move on to your next Mom Mission, take a minute or two to think about what you can do to track with God as a mom. Make some plans of your own to take a few small steps that make a big difference.

I’m awfully busy, but I want to be the mom God wants me to be! What are several things I can do—or not do—to create some time to get into God’s Word? I want to be a mom after God’s own heart!
I want to set a goal to memorize Deuteronomy 6:5-7. Here’s my checklist:
Write these verses on an index card and carry it with me.

Pick a daily five-minute time slot that works for my schedule, during which I can memorize these verses.

Write out each verse ten times.

Copy these verses on several more index cards and post them on the refrigerator door, bathroom mirror, computer, car dashboard.

Ask my daughter to help me memorize these verses, to listen to me recite them, to be my audience, my checker, my best helper!

What are some ways I can “teach” my daughter about God and His Word by “talking” about Him…
…when we are sitting together?

…when we are walking together?

…when she is going to bed or going down for her nap?

…when she gets up?

What are some ways I can be more faithful and “diligent” in passing on God’s truth to my daughter?
Do I need to be mentored in my own spiritual growth? Who could help me? Or is there a class I can take? A group I can join? A book I can read?

Bible Commentary: “Yom Teruah (Rosh HaShana)”

September 28, 2011 at 7:44 am | Posted in Bible Commentary | 1 Comment
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Today, at sundown, the Jewish New Year or Rosh HaShana begins.  Because of the importance of this day we are sending this message explaining its meaning so we can be inspired in our spiritual walk.

“Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, “Speak to the children of Israel, saying: ‘In the seventh month, on the first day of the month, you shall have a sabbath-rest, a memorial of blowing of trumpets, a holy convocation. You shall do no customary work on it; and you shall offer an offering made by fire to the Lord.’ ” (Leviticus 23:23-25 NKJV)
“‘And in the seventh month, on the first day of the month, you shall have a holy convocation. You shall do no customary work. For you it is a day of blowing the trumpets” (Numbers 29:1 NKJV).

The origin of Rosh HaShana is biblical as seen in our text above. It is a sacred occasion  commemorated with loud blasts of the Shofar (the ram’s horn). The bible refers to the holiday as Yom Teruah (the day of the sounding of the Shofar) and Yom Zikaron Teruah (the day of  remembering the sounding of the Shofar). Previously the day has been called Yom HaZikaron (Day of Remembrance) and Yom HaDin (Judgment Day) but the name Rosh HaShana or Head of the Year) has become the name of choice.

Yom Teruah (Day of Trumpets) in traditional Judaism signifies the first day of the Jewish civil year (Rosh ha Shanah, or “Head of the Year”).  It is also the first day of the Days of Awe (a period of repentance and introspection culminating ten days later in the Day of Atonement, or Yom Kippur. A part of traditional Judaism recognizes the Day of Trumpets as the anniversary of the creation of the world.

There are three themes in Yom Teruah/Rosh HaShanah, according to traditional Judaism: The Sovereignty of God, the Remembrance of God (of all men’s deeds, with justice), The Trumpet of God, heralding the initial revelation of God at Sinai as well as the final messianic revelation and redemption to come at the end of days.  Jesus spoke of the day when He will fulfill Yom Teruah/The Day of Trumpets: “Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And He will send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other” (Mat. 24:30-31 NKJV).

Child of God – Why is this day important to us who are not Jewish? By the blood of Jesus we have been grafted into the vine and are now joint heirs with Him. As Jesus was Jewish and we are now all brothers and sisters then our roots are part of this rich and vibrant spiritual heritage. Let us join with our Jewish family and celebrate a tradition that God Himself originated with Moses and will fulfill with Jesus.  Paul told us Yom Teruah (Day of Trumpets) signifies the day when Yeshua
will come for those who are His, and we will all be changed: “Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed–” (1 Corinthians 15:51 NKJV).

Our prayer:
Lord, thank you for giving us a path to look at in your Word that we may know that the symbols we can see in it are also for us to appreciate and wait on. When you come back we will hear the trumphet and we will see your glory! Amen.

If you want to have a personal relationship with Jesus as your Lord and Savior pray: “Dear Jesus, I know that I am a sinner and that out of love for me you willingly sacrificed your life so that I may live. I repent of all my sins and open my heart to you as my Lord and Savior. Amen.

If you prayed this prayer for the first time or if you have any questions please contact us. We would love to hear from you.

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