Praying for the President's Wife

I have been praying for the President, because I believe that is biblicalalways have (1 Timothy 2:1-2).

But today I am also praying for President Trump's wife, just as I prayed for every President's wife. I remember how Michele was viciously called names. I hated that. Now it's Melania's turn, apparently.

We simply have little respect and grace these days.

Will you join me in prayer for Melania?

I am praying she knows Jesus (in other words, that she is not just religious), and if she doesn't know Him personally, she will come to know Him soon. That is the most important thing to me.
  • Out of that, I would pray for godly purity, strength, integrity, wisdom and kindness to reign in Melania's life.
  • I am praying for her as she mothers her son, and as a wifethat she will support the President and cultivate respect for him. 
  • This high calling has a tough learning curve. I am praying Melania will be humble and teachable, and especially receptive to the Word of God during these tough days. 
  • I am praying she will be a woman who models love to this nation that needs to understand what love looks like on so many levels these days. 
There are no perfect people. There is no perfect President or President's wife. So we must pray for our leaders.

Franklin Graham wrote in 2014:
"Prayer is the Christian's greatest weapon in a world that seems to be coming apart around us."
We need to pray for our leaders and their families and stop shredding them apart.

Graphic of Melania Trump from wikipedia.


Uncommon Love

Valentine's Day our hearts will turn to love, especially romantic love, but there is another love that defines and motivates me today.

I call it "Uncommon Love."

I made hopeful stabs at this kind of love for yearssacrificial and selfless lovebut the truth is, I could not live out this true kind of love until I knew the love of the Lord for me and in me.

"This is love: not that we loved God, 
but that he loved us and sent his Son 
as an atoning sacrifice for our sins" (1 John 4:10).

I learned all my efforts to love selflessly would never obligate God to love me back. I am flawed in countless ways, and particularly in my ability to love wisely and well.

But then I read 1 John 4:19.
Because the Lord first loved me, I am able to express uncommon love.
That understanding changed everything!

It is the Lord's effectual love and work in me that enables me to conform to Christ and love as He would, for God is love (1 John 4:16b). He defines and is the pattern for love.

As Christians, God's love is engraved on our souls.

And God wants to perfect His love in us. He wants to direct our hearts to His kind of love (2 Thessalonians 3:5) and causes us to express that love in practical, helpful ways in the church especially, but also to others throughout the world—to those who look and act like us, and those far different.

He wants us to express love:
We must remember God loved the world so much He sent His Son to die to redeem people who were hopeless without Him (John 3:16).

Imagine such love.

That's why hatefulness—any lack of love toward a brother or sistershows we do not truly KNOW or LOVE the Lord of the Bible (1 John 4:19-21). In fact, John says, "Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar" (4:20).

I've thought a lot about love recently. Voices in the culture demand we "love" in many ways, often in hateful tones (great hypocrisy). Even within the church, there seems to be a disconnect about what loving God-loving others looks like.

We get in our holy huddles and clutch our material possessions without compassion; we only love in word and speech—not in action and truthwhen God calls us to "lay down our lives" for those He loves (1 John 3:17-18). He wants us to love each other as He has loved us, modeling His love to a watching world (John 13:34-35).

I believe love must be connected to the redeeming, sanctifying, heart-changing Gospel, or it is not true love. Anything less, while admirable, may alter culture temporarily or alleviate some stressful situations, but is it the transforming love that comes from a change of heart and change of mind?

There is so much to unpack in 1 John 4so much that is misunderstood by our culture. And I will admit I am a toddler when it comes to expressing godly, agape love.

But this I know: the Father sent the Son to be the Savior of the world (4:14), and it is only by acknowledging our need of Jesus and His righteousness, and allowing the Spirit of God to transform us, that we are made holy and truly loving in the Son.

And it is this holy love from God in usnot the love of religion or even the syrupy, politically correct "love" of the God we think the Bible describesthat gives us "confidence on the day of judgment" (4:17) and best motivates us to love others and meet their needs.

I still have much to learn about loving others in our hurting world with uncommon love. And I have even more to learn about this amazing God who love us firstthe most incredible love of all.


The "What If"s of Parental Worry

Are the "what if"s of parenting crippling you?

I spoke with a young mom recently who was almost paranoid over the many "what if"s of motherhood. I grieved inwardly as I watched and heard her beat herself up over her mothering skills when she is such a fantastic parent!

The episode reminded me of a chapter in Cindi McMenamin's book, 10 Secrets to Becoming a Worry-Free Mom.

Cindy wrote about some of the same "what if"s my young friend voiced:
  • What if I'm not involved enough in their lives?
  • What if I'm holding them back?
  • What if I'm too strict?
  • What if I'm not strict enough?
  • What if my own dysfunction is rubbing off on them?
My young friend wasn't the first mom I've heard beating herself up over her parenting abilityand truth told, I did too. (That last "what if" question was a big one for me!)

The culture doesn't make it easier with unreasonable expectations from well-meaning educators and even church leaders.

True, there are some genuinely "bad moms" who make terrible choices for themselves and their children; and God can, in His grace, change them and rescue their families. But too many good and godly women are sinking under false guilt, blaming themselves when there's absolutely no need to do so.

I took after my dad, a worrierhis nickname was "Wartie," short for worry-wort. I worried about being the "perfect" wife, and later, the "perfect" mother. It was horrible, because I could never measure up to my own "perfect" standards, let alone anyone else's.

Growing up, I saw dysfunction in families around me. I didn't want that for myself, and certainly not for the husband and children I would have.

And that was a good thing. But I went about avoiding that dysfunction by creating some dysfunction of my own. And believe me, perfectionism is about as dysfunctional as a church-going Christian can get!

Cindi cites a Barna Group report (2014) that explained part of the problem. "What once was 'You can have it all' has now become 'You need to have it all.' [emphasis mine] You need to have the perfect job, the perfect husband the perfect house, the perfect kids, the perfect play dates and craft nights and date nights and do-it-yourself Pinterest projects and #nofilter Instagrams."

Cindi quotes a mutual friend, Stephanie Shott, who wrote, "It's pretty hard to be all and do all when you're really just overwhelmed by it all." *
The answer for all my parental worrying came when I stopped carrying a load the Lord never intended for me to carry. 
God's only expectation for me was to depend on Him, not to shoulder the load of perfection.

The verse that spoke to me most was "Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me... you will find rest for your souls...  my yoke is easy and my burden is light" (Matthew 11:29-30).

For so long I was yoked to expectations. It was a relief to allow Godmy Perfect and Faithful Fatherto yoke me to Jesus. His "burden" was so much lighter than the one I constructed and carried.

The Lord took care of all my "what if"s as my boys grew through their teen years in to manhood.
  • I learned I could trust the Lord and cast all my worries and cares on Him (Psalm 55:22). 
  • Whenever I became anxious, kicking in with the worry-cycle, I could run to Him in prayer (Philippians 4:6). 
  • Just remembering that He is God and I am not (Psalm 46:10a) solved a lot of issues! 
Do we really believe God wants the best not only for us, but also for our children?

In a post for Crosswalk.com some time ago, Cindi wrote: "I've recently come to see how many of my fears and worries, throughout my daughter's childhood and now into her adulthood, were unfounded because I know and love a trustworthy God. Because God hears our prayers and answers them according to his infinite knowledge about what is best for our children, We don't need to waste our time worrying. 

"Praying? Of course. But worrying? Never."

Do you struggle with perfectionism? 
Are you living with regrets about parenting? 
Are you worrying... or praying? 
What would trusting God with your parenting look like?

Cindi's book is practical and will not only help you upgrade your trust in our faithful Lord, it will help you improve your parenting as you cooperate with and rest in Him.

* Stephanie Shott, The Making of a Mom


Inauguration Day - a New Beginning

Inauguration Day reflections: Someone asked where I stand on "unity" in America. I think we can be unified as Americans without having all the same experiences and even the same religious beliefs.

I personally believe we were founded as a Christian nation, but with arms open to others who do not agree in "The Land of the Free".

Americans should recognize three things: (1) God's blessings on our nation and our responsibility before Him; (2) The wisdom of the Constitution to guide our republic; and (3) Our responsibility to care for each other in love and compassion.

I am not big on rehashing the sins of our pastexcept to acknowledge and confess them. Dwelling in the past is not the way of wisdom. I believe that for all Administrations. We all need to learn from our mistakes and foolishness and seek God's wisdom to move forward effectively together.

Such unity can bring peace, even in the midst of strong disagreements. "Seek peace and pursue it" (Psalm 34:14). We may not always agree, but we can still be civil and try to understand other viewpoints, while holding true to our most cherished values. It's hard, but possible.

"Father God, help us."


Heart Tuning

"Come Thou fount of every blessing, tune my heart to sing Thy praise."

My heart felt out of tune today. I didn't feel so blessed.

Grumpy. Tired. Frustrated. Critical.
A mess.

"Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it, Prone to leave the God I love."

I needed that song. I needed to remember I am a debtor to God's grace.
He rescued me.
He is changing me.
He will never leave me.
He will accomplish His purposes in me.
And it's all because of His "sovereign grace."
I am memorizing Ephesians 1, and I was captivated this
week by these words:
"Blessed be the God and Father of our
Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us

in Christ ... he chose us in him ...
that we should be holy and blameless
before him. In love he predestined us
for adoption to himself...
according to the purpose of his will,
to the praise of his glorious grace,
with which he has blessed us
in the Beloved.
In him we have redemption ...
according to the riches of his grace,

which he lavished upon us....."
(Ephesians 1:3-8, ESV)

I needed to remember God is the origin of every blessing I enjoy. I needed to believe He can help me discover blessings even in the tough times.

It's a choice to praise Him, and it's an easy choice when I meditate on what He has done for me.
Does your heart need "tuning" too?
* Hymn lyrics to "Come, "Thou Fount of Every Blessing"