* He allows us to be left out of the normal flow and function of our world = leaves us feeling discarded or in a ‘time out’, but we’re not.
* He allows our circumstances to be uncomfortable and difficult = suffering
This isolation and instability is awful. It removes all manner of old affirmation and familiar encouragements, this is exactly as intended by God to lead us deeper and further into our intended purpose.
Psalm 27 is / has been a significant strength to me.
1 The Lord is my light and my salvation;
whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold of my life;
of whom shall I be afraid?
4 One thing have I asked of the Lord,
that will I seek after:
that I may dwell in the house of the Lord
all the days of my life,
to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord
and to inquire in his temple.
5 For he will hide me in his shelter
in the day of trouble;
he will conceal me under the cover of his tent;
he will lift me high upon a rock.
7 Hear, O Lord, when I cry aloud;
be gracious to me and answer me!
8 You have said, “Seek my face.”
My heart says to you,
“Your face, Lord, do I seek.”
9 Hide not your face from me.
Turn not your servant away in anger,
O you who have been my help.
Cast me not off; forsake me not,
O God of my salvation!
10 For my father and my mother have forsaken me,
but the Lord will take me in.
11 Teach me your way, O Lord,
and lead me on a level path
because of my enemies.
12 Give me not up to the will of my adversaries;
for false witnesses have risen against me,
and they breathe out violence.
13 I believe that I shall look upon the goodness of the Lord
in the land of the living!
14 Wait for the Lord;
be strong, and let your heart take courage;
wait for the Lord! (ESV)
Life in the Wilderness – Biblical Examples:
* Abraham in the promise land – experiencing famine and leaving the promise land to go down to Egypt. (Foreshadowing)
These ‘examples’ should bring us comfort and perspective. Each of us will enter multiple seasons of wilderness life, each will need to move from anger and doubt to acceptance and trust. The wilderness in scripture represents a time of testing and teaching. God was not punishing, He was preparing.
So it is with us.
5 Essential Issues for Today’s Christian Parent!
As summarized from the Brilliantly Brave Parenting Podcast series:
Parenting is hard work and it requires effort and conviction to do well! Sometimes it feels like the odds are stacked against us. We’re here to bring hope and practical advice to the challenges of faith-based parenting. Brilliantly Brave Parenting wants to be a fun and encouraging resource for today’s Christian family!
#1 Fighting Futureshock: Today’s generation of parents currently active & engaged with the church is struggling with more than a simple ‘generation gap.’ We are struggling with ‘Futureshock.“ Which means, “a displacement of reality in which life is only focused on the present, and constantly being redefined by the moment. This lack of stability and constancy creates a state of constant flux for parents.”
Clearly as parents in a shifting moral landscape we are going to need to anchor ourselves and our kids to something ‘greater’ than ourselves.
The traditions of the faith provide a powerful resource for parents and pastors to utilize. Disciplines of devotion offer a way for us to be reminded of the truth of our biblical heritage. The constant remembrance of how BIG GOD is, and how the values of our world do not match with the values of scripture.
https://soundcloud.com/brilliantlybrave/ep57-bishop-dan-scott – Find out more Listen to our FREE Podcast Link
#2. Self-Care is ESSENTIAL:
When was the last time you invested in yourself as a parent or pastor?
Parenting is exhausting, the idea that we can just persevere through it is a bit naive. We need to rest. We need to recharge and refocus. As parents we can’t give what we don’t have. Our modeling and ability to teach our kids will be profoundly impacted by the energy we have to give them.
Self-Care requires healthy habits, resting well at night, making space in our schedules to spend time with our families, and watching our diet and exercise. That also means saying ‘no’ to outside things so that we are sure that we’re involved with our kids. We can’t offer what we don’t have.
Jesus modeled this idea when he would retreat from the crowds and the disciples to go apart and pray. He would withdraw to the mountains as often as he could, knowing the essential nature of rest and refreshment spiritually, physically, and emotionally. We are no different.
#3 Heritage of Faith
God calls parents to do amazing things with their lives! We can’t put Him in a small box, His ways are not our ways, and His thoughts are not our thoughts… the path God leads is often overwhelmingly big and seemingly impossible. But God has a long, long, history of calling ordinary men and women to do extraordinary things.
We need to ‘listen’ and be aware of the subtle requests that God nudges us to do. It is NOT our life, we are on loan to God, and we can’t forget that God has plans for us that are bigger than our own. The same is true for our children.
Our kids and our plans can’t be driven by our ambition or pride, because it’s not about us. EGO is Edging God Out, and we can’t do that as Christians.
God will empower us to see beyond our own lives, to see the needs of those around us and to give us the strength and courage to act boldly!
#4 The Danger of Self-Reliance:
Being perceived as “strong” and above it all is a huge temptation for parents in the church to try and project. The reality is, we’re not. We can’t handle it all by ourselves. We need help and we need encouragement, and we need support from other believers.
Parenting is more than a project to complete, it’s a sacred assignment to be guarded and stewarded well. Part of stewarding our parenting role is to surround ourselves with wise counsel and experience from those who have gone before us.
Living self-reliant as a parent can result in the spiritual death of your kids! Don’t do it. Jesus never called us to be ‘good’ – but Holy. Good is what we do, Holy is what He does. Christian Karma is when we start ‘comparing’ our good/bad behavior with others and rely on our being ‘better’ than other people.
Values based parenting vs. Rules based – the difference is all about what we parent from… fear or love.
What is our goal as a parent? To deliver a ‘good’ kid at 18 years of age, without having premarital sex, or having tried alcohol or drugs? Or is it to love them unconditionally and help them discover their identity as God created them to be?
Podcast Link: https://soundcloud.com/brilliantlybrave/ep30-dean-diehl
#5 Single Parents and the Church:
One-third of all households are led by a single parent. Today’s single parents are struggling to engage with the church and with their faith. Being ‘alone’ and unsupported by the Christian culture is something solo parents often ‘feel,’ no matter what a local community of faith might project.
The battle for single parents to raise their children to be responsible and well-balanced citizens, provide for their well-being, and keep up with all of the myriad of demands that life throws at us is impossible. They are overwhelmed by it all in the best of circumstances.
The role of church in coming along side of single parents has largely been in question. Many single parents feel abandoned or judged by the church and lack the confidence to enter the doors of a church to ask for help. The need for single parent spiritual support and practical assistance is only growing. How the church responds now will be a significantly positive or negative impact for the next generation of parents.
Single Parent Stigma and the Church!
1/3 of all households are led by a single parent. (34%) Today’s single parents are struggling to engage with the church and with their faith. Being ‘alone’ and unsupported by the Christian culture is something solo parents often ‘feel’, no matter what a local community of faith might project.
The battle for single parents is real. It’s hard enough to raise our children to be responsible and well-balanced citizens, to provide for their well-being, and keep up with the all the myriad of demands that life throws at us. The challenge to do that without a spouse is nearly impossible. Single parents are overwhelmed by it all in the best of circumstances, and they need our help.
The role of church in coming along side of single parents has largely been a question. Many single parents feel abandoned or judged by the church and lack the confidence to enter the doors of a church to ask for help.
As parents, the demands of doing both a father and mother’s job with their kids is intimidating and discouraging. We as Christ-followers are challenged to help the “widows and orphans” as a manifestation of our ‘true religion”. (James 1:27)
What role should the church play in supporting a single parent? Why?
The growing needs and complex issues surrounding single parent families are not going away, and as our culture continues to shift… the role of family will obviously continue to grow and stretch. The church will need to stretch and grow with those changes and reach to meet the needs of parents in crisis. A big part of that change within the church will be the priority of creating ministries specifically focused on the needs of the single parent family.
Our interview today explores some of the ‘stigma’s associated with Single parent living, and how to engage with your local church in a way that will help and not hurt you! We invite you to listen in as Nikki tells her story of redemption and renewal!
About Nikki Leonti Edgar:
Nikki Leonti started her music career as a successful teen gospel singer. She went on to lend her vocals as a backing singer for artists such as Carrie Underwood, Kelly Clarkson, CeeLo Green, Demi Lovato & Amy Grant to name a few. As a sought-after vocalist in Los Angeles she contributes her talent to Fox’s hit show “Glee” as well as “American Idol”, “The Voice”, CW’s “Oh Sit” and many others!
Author of “All things Beautiful” 31 Devotionals for single moms!
Podcast Interview Link: https://soundcloud.com/brilliantlybrave/ep59-nikki-leonti-edgar
YouTube Link of interview: https://youtu.be/5CgGxmHJLMk
Solo Parent Society Link: https://soloparentsociety.com/
Brilliantly Brave Parenting Website Link: https://brilliantlybraveparenting.com
“All things beautiful” Devotional Link: https://www.amazon.com/All-Things-Beautiful-Devotions-Single/dp/1424556287
Fact: 34% of parents are single parent families.
“In the middle of struggling… that’s where the GOOD stuff happens” – Nikki Leonti Edgar
“Single parents struggle with feeling like a ‘failure’ when dealing with the issues single parents face in raising a family.”
“It’s difficult for Single Parents (SP) to know how to ask for help when you feel isolated and alone”
“SP’s need lifelines. Take the time to throw a lifeline to a single parent you know.”
“Ways to help SP’s in your life or church. – Babysitting – handyman services – errands – meals at home!”
This week, we consider the metaphor of “Athletics” as our entrance into this passionate principle of Christian living.
Paul’s describing the (his) call to ministry as similar to running a race, an illustration that his audience would recognize and appreciate. Athletic heroes and achievements were as huge in Paul’s time as it is in ours. The influence of the Greek culture included the Olympic ideals of athletic excellence and the cult fame of being a champion.
Let’s consider something similar in our time… the cult of athletics is alive and well – fan worship is enormous. Just consider the recent success of the New England Patriot football team and the accomplishments of QB Tom Brady and coach Bill Belichick. Their unprecedented record and longevity of winning has established them as legends in the annals of the NFL.
The effort and sacrifice required to earn such a reputation and record on the field is enormous and widely regarded as obsessive. Such dedication and personal commitment is remarkable and requires a year around dedication to train, diet, and avoid unhealthy habits or behaviors to ensure their bodies and minds are free of any containment’s or conditions that might reduce their athletic strength or skill.
This extreme level of athletic effort and prolonged discipline of will is the exact context that Paul uses to describe his focus and attention to ministry and personal spiritual living.
Assuming then that our lives are full of options – of different paths to choose from, we have lots of possibilities to race after, from prosperous careers to acclaim and celebrity – we have our pick of races to run in – The question becomes… what race are you and I running?
“I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some. 23 I do it all for the sake of the gospel, that I may share with them in its blessings. “
Paul’s life had changed dramatically from that of a scholar to that of an evangelist. His focus and attention were completely captured by the truth of the Gospel. His experience with God had redirected his energies to serving the needs of others more than himself.
Many of us get caught running the wrong race…not that ‘other’ races in life are bad or wrong – but they are “less” than the pursuit of God’s Kingdom. Remember the words of Jesus…in the Gospel of Matthew chapter 7
“31 Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”
Paul was not focused on “earthly” achievements – he was focused on one primary goal, to finish the work that God had given him to do. Paul’s work assignment of planting churches across the Roman empire was specific to him, but we all share the bigger picture – God has entrusted each of us with a series of unique and specific assignments to oversee in our lifetime.
We are all called to be a part of the Christ mission on earth. Each of us are prompted by the Holy Spirit to function as an ambassador and agent of our Heavenly Father. Like Jesus at the temple – Paul in His Roman jail – we all have a specific place – time – and specific responsibilities customized for our specific gifts and personalities.
For the Christ-believer, we must be in pursuit of the presence of God. It drives us to go and do and risk everything – to follow is to obey. For the Christian there is always a Christ-commission that is meant become the prime directive of their life. Everything else is meant to be measured by that – all other considerations are meant to be reduced under the divine commission.
If you’re not sure what that is…it maybe time to ask until you get an answer. When we ask specific questions , God will clarify specifically.
Romans 12: 1-2 “ I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. 2 Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”
Paul is making the point to the church at Corinth, don’t just rush around without a specific purpose or clear assignment. Don’t rush into ministries you’re not called or equipped to perform – those will only exhaust you and wear you out. It’s important to engage with your specific God breathed task or assignment.
Many times we want to be just “like” a leader or mentor we admire – we model our lives and actions to match theirs and assume God would want us to follow in their footsteps… rarely is that so. We can waste years of our lives in frustration and confusion trying understand why our hard work and dedication isn’t showing any fruit. Paul reminds us to be clear on what we’ve been called to be and do.
Life is full of “races” to run – but only one race is truly essential. We have to be careful to focus ourselves in winning the right race.
Father Brad Mathias – First shared at St. Margarets Anglican Church in Conway NH
*Statistics say that 3 out of 4 women struggle with an unhealthy relationship with food.
Ever ask yourself if that might be you? Or your daughter… wife, best friend?
Might be time to consider expanding your circle of trust and risk sharing that struggle. What about taking the step to engage with someone or something that has helped thousands get free? It takes courage and humility to admit our need for help, and it takes the support of someone who walked before us.
Let me introduce a friend and expert on the subject, Constance Rhodes – she’s the founder and CEO of “Finding Balance” and she can help. Her help saved my daughter’s life six years ago and it might do the same for you or someone you know. Someone who’s fighting in despair and feels all alone and about to give up.
Eating disorders and poor self-esteem related to body image are arguably the most common and painful struggle any parent with teens will ever face.
I’ve done it. It’s rough. Seriously dark stuff to wrestle with by yourself. No one wants to over-react, to provoke things further, but if you’re noticing a pattern… a trend, then its very likely real.
You may wonder if this important enough to risk the anger and resentment? It is.
First step... admit there might be a problem.
Second… ask for help.
With all my heart…
*FindingBalance interview – BBP Podcast.
We are working with the TGA (Tween Gospel Alliance) on a new book / resource project and need your anonymous input.
If you are a socially aware parent, and have an active and ongoing interest in our shifting Faith culture and parenting, we would LOVE and APPRECIATE your help with this ten question survey!
TAKE OUR SURVEY HERE – You could win some cool stuff from Chik-Fil-A !
Survey is fast! It only takes 90 seconds to complete the ten multiple choice questions and it’s going to help thousands of parents and kids!
God Bless you and please share with your friends or family!
Pastor Brad / Road Trip Parenting – TGA team