Parenting With Grace

A wise friend once said to me, “If you give your kids only what they deserve, you will rob them of a healthy life. Don’t give them what they deserve; give them what they need. Just like Jesus does for us!

Parenting With Grace

Jesus doesn’t respond to us based on what we deserve to get. He responds based on what we need. He provides for our needs even though we are undeserving. He died for us while we were still in rebellion against him. He allows us to grow. He doesn’t force us to clean up our act before he comes into our lives. He meets our needs and gives us the grace and the space to grow.

When I thought about how difficult it was to see my young daughter Madeline develop some troubling characteristics, even belligerence and rebellion, I suddenly saw the parallel with our Father God and all of his children. Every one of us is rebellious. We pout. We shout “No!” in our spirits. We sneak around doing what we know we ought not to do. And yet he accepts us wherever we are. He refuses to abandon us or give us what we so richly deserve; he pours great rivers of (amazing) grace into our lives. As David marveled,

He does not treat us as our sins deserve
or repay us according to our iniquities.
For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
so great is his love for those who fear him;
As far as the east is from the west,
so far has he removed our transgressions from us.
As a father has compassion on his children,
so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him. (Psalm 103:10-13)

Thinking about the grace of God will help you become a grace giver to your children. Their imperfections help you to see your own. Accepting them as they are helps you to taste the wonder of how God accepts you as you are.

Excerpted from “More Jesus, Less Religion” by Stephen Arterburn and Jack Felton

See Also: Raising Great Kids

Contentment

contentment.newlife 

We often find it difficult to be content with what we’ve been given don’t we? How often do you compare yourself with others, whether it’s your job, your spouse, your child’s performance, your looks, or even your talent, and find yourself falling short? Comparison produces discontentment. It results in blaming God for not providing what He presumably should, and life becomes an ongoing struggle of the discontented heart. And friends, this isn’t the sort of struggle that lessens with age.

The truth is, contentment doesn’t come from what you have. It comes from a heart change, a change of mind-set, and a willing choice. Only a transformation of mind, emotions, and will can bring about real and lasting contentment in your heart. And only a personal encounter with the living God can bring about this kind of transformation.

When God gets hold of a person, that person becomes a new creature. He or she finds refuge in the Lord of all wisdom and kindness, and recognizes God’s provision is sufficient. That person learns to trust that the Lord knows exactly what His children need and cares about their every desire. That person comes to own by faith the magnificent message of Psalm 139: the One who knows you best, loves you most. Is this the direction you’re moving, friend? I pray it is.

But these are lessons that aren’t always learned easily. What new creature comes forth without a few birth pangs? What profound lessons are mastered without frustrations and setbacks?

Consider the patriarch Jacob. His life was an exercise in deception, disappointment, and discontentment, until he wrestled with the Lord one fateful night on the bank of the Jabbok River. Daybreak found Jacob a new person; a father to the nations; a man on a mission from the Lord. Jacob’s life took on purpose that transcended discontentment. Hebrews 11:21 comments, ‘By faith Jacob, when he was dying . . . worshipped as he leaned on the top of his staff.‘ In a foreign land, weak with age, and well acquainted with heartache, Jacob died content in the Lord.

In his book The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment, Jeremiah Burroughs said, “Christian contentment is that sweet, inward, quiet, gracious frame of spirit, which freely submits to and delights in God’s wise and fatherly disposal in every condition.” You’re content when at peace with, submitted to, and happy in God. So please don’t shy away from struggling with God over the discontentment in your life. Your struggle may not look the same as Jacob’s, but each of us must walk the same path: discontentment, struggle, an encounter with God, a new identity, and contentment. Whatever shape your night on the Jabbok may take, being mastered by God is far sweeter than being ruled by worry and disappointment.

Excerpted from “Being God’s Man by Finding Contentment” by Stephen Arterburn

Necessity of Boundaries: 5 Ways to Develop Boundaries

Necessity of Boundaries: 5 Ways to Develop Boundaries

boundaries.newlife

No one has perfect boundaries. At times we all take on what’s not ours, or don’t take on what is ours. God has provided help in repairing and developing our broken boundary-setting abilities. Just as we need to exercise and work with an atrophied leg after it comes out of its cast, setting appropriate boundaries is an ability we must learn. Here are some ways to develop boundaries:

1. Ask God to help you become a truth-teller, even of hard truths. Proverbs 10:18 tells us ‘He who conceals hatred has lying lips.’ Often, people with shaky boundaries may feel resentful about the supposed power of others over them, not realizing they have surrendered that power to them. When people with shaky boundaries begin to feel like they don’t have choices, they will also feel angry and resentful. Often the first step to reclaiming their ‘brand’ is to admit the anger to themselves, God, and others.

2. Find people who celebrate your separateness. ‘As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another’ (Proverbs 27:17). Separateness helps relationships. It isn’t possible to learn to develop boundaries in isolation with unsupportive people. When we try, we repeat our original boundary injury. That is, we find ourselves in a controlling relationship with an unsupportive person and attempt to set a limit on the relationship. The person rejects it, and we find ourselves alone. Most of us would choose being in a bad relationship rather than no relationship. We need to find maturing, caring people who will respect our boundaries just as much as they love our attachment.

3. Practice disagreement. Truth telling always involves differing opinions. You can’t find out who you really are without first knowing who you aren’t. A sign that you’re beginning to set boundaries is that you will rock some boats. There’s most likely a problem if no one ever reacts negatively to you.

Jesus said, ‘Woe to you when all men speak well of you, for in the same way their fathers used to treat the false prophets’ (Luke 6:26). It’s a disconcerting thought that for us to recover spiritually, some people will probably get upset with us! Yet these are usually people who have a difficult time relating to adults with boundaries of their own.

4. Take responsibility for your mistakes. People with boundary problems sometimes see themselves as out of control of their lives. They feel helpless to change their own problems and others’ treatment of them. This can lead to a blaming or rationalizing attitude. ‘If I can’t control my life, then my problems aren’t my fault,’ might go the thinking. Taking stewardship over your life means learning to admit when your problems are the result of your irresponsibility rather than finding excuses. People who ‘own’ their problems tend to mature much faster than those who excuse or transfer blame. The excuser has nothing to fix, and consequently, no opportunity to grow.

5. Learn to respect others’ separateness. One indication of a boundary deficit is an inability to live with the ‘no’ of another.

I once worked with a couple that experienced this problem. Every time the wife disagreed with the husband, he would head toward the door exclaiming. ‘That’s it! ‘the marriage isn’t going to work out.’ Panicked, she would chase after him and apologize for the ‘sin’ of having an opinion. When we learn to accept another’s boundaries, we are saying, in effect, ‘If you don’t give me what I want, God and I will find another way to get my need met.’ It keeps the other person out of a position of indispensability, which is actually a form of idolatry. If our need to be understood, listened to, or loved can’t or won’t be met by the person we’d like, we are to find someone else to help meet that need. That’s why there is a multiplicity of believers in the Body of Christ: when one friend is busy, we are to call on another. This allows us to support the boundary-setting freedom of others in the way we’d like to. If we want others to accept our freedom, we must respect theirs.

Excerpted from “Hiding From Love” by John Townsend

Honor

God expects us to honor age:  Age should speak; advanced years should teach wisdom. Job 32:7

And he specifically instructs us to honor our parents:

Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the LORD your God is giving you. Exodus 20:12

Honor your father and your mother, as the LORD your God has commanded you, so that you may live long and that it may go well with you in the land the LORD your God is giving you. Deuteronomy 5:16

So what are some practical ways that you can show honor to the adult figures in your life?

1. Write a letter. Tell your mother, father, grandmother, grandfather, or another elderly person in your life how they have blessed and impacted you.

A letter is sometimes better than a call as the person can look back on your words and be honored again and again.

2. Make a list. One family made a list for their father and mother’s 60th birthdays, including 60 reasons why they loved and appreciated them. Mom’s list included gratitude for making their lunches, taking care of them when they were sick, and for her amazing multitasking qualities. Dad’s list includes thankfulness for his service in the war, for passing on a love for music, and for his financial faithfulness. This is a great project to include kids and grandkids (sometimes the grandkids have some of the best ideas.)

3. Teach your kids about the importance of age. Who gets served first for dinner in your house? In Asian cultures, the elderly are served first. Find little ways to teach your kids about the importance of respecting age.

4. Visit a nursing home with your kids. Far too often, elderly people are considered a burden. Ask the staff at a nearby nursing home if there is anyone in particular who could use some love and encouragement. ‘Adopt’ this person by bringing them cards, treats, by singing for them, or by simply listening to him or her.

5. Address disrespect in your home. A disrespectful tone or disrespectful actions should never be tolerated in your home. Dads especially need to communicate to their kids that mom is always to be addressed with respect and that he too must be addressed respectfully. If you notice a general lack of respect in your home, call the family together and discuss it. An un-teachable child, one who thinks he knows more than his mom or dad, is headed for a world of pain and disappointment. Encourage your kids today to show respect to all of the adults in their lives. (Note, sometimes disrespect in little ones is excused as ‘shyness.’ Make it clear to you children that when you are with them, they are safe, and you expect them to always answer an adult who says hello or asks them a question. Explain to them that you understand their tendency to be shy, but shyness is never a valid excuse for being rude).

For more on this subject please see our New Life Devotionals and Bibles. Also, if you are struggling to honor someone in your life due to some real hurt, we’d love to help. Please join us at our next New Life Weekend.

Horton's Character

From the book Being God’s Man by Standing Firm Under Pressure by Steve Arterburn, Kenny Luck, and Todd Wendorff

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego replied to the king,

‘O, Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and he will rescue us from your hand, O king. But even if he does not, we want you to know, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up’ (Daniel 3:16-18).

No one likes to stand out if it means being ridiculed. So what do we do? We blend in; we go with the flow; we don’t rock the boat. Majority opinion prevails most of the time, and democracy has trained us to swallow the results of elections when more than 50 percent of the vote carries. Thankfully, no one posts our photo on the six o’ clock news and announces that we voted against the majority. We aren’t branded a dissenter, either and therefore the threat of a political assassination never enters our mind. But Daniel and his three friends faced such perils in Babylon.

That empire was not a democracy; it was a monarchy. Votes were not cast; rather, edicts and decrees flowed from the king’s mouth right into the law books. And why not? The king was considered divine and could rule as he wished. For loyal subjects, life could change on a dime. Noncompliance to the king’s edicts meant being branded a dissenter, which resulted in a one-way ticket to the brick furnaces. No questions asked, no two hundred dollars for passing ‘Go,’ and certainly no appeals. Once a law was written, it was a done deal. Break the law, feel the pain.

Times may change, but God’s men and women face trials of courage in every age. Nero blamed the Christians for the Great Fire of Rome in AD 64, and the slaughter that followed would have been a media bonanza. Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a pastor in Hitler’s Nazi Germany, stood strongly for
Christianity (which didn’t blend well with a master-race theology), and he was hanged from the gallows. In China today, being a committed Christian means being branded a counter-revolutionary. Christians constantly risk persecution or imprisonment, or they might even disappear.

Most believers in the Western world may never face this kind of test of their Christian commitment. But that doesn’t diminish the temptation to blend in, to not ruffle feathers, to go with the flow–living as God’s men and women, but incognito.

We have opportunities in our culture to stand out and stand up for our faith, to go against the grain, and we have thousands of choices in our lifetime to bring praise and glory to our Savior and Redeemer.

The question is: Will we choose to stand out? Or will we just get on board with the crowd and play it safe.

Set these three goals before you and pray God will help
you with them:

  • Reject the demands of men if it means sinning against God
  • Remember that God allows trials in your life to reveal His power
  • Allow God to use your trials to reveal Himself to others.

You made him [man] a little lower than the heavenly
beings and crowned him with glory and honor.
Psalm 84:11

For more help on this subject, please see: Being God’s Man’by standing firm under pressure.

New Year, New Mercies

Steve Arterburn

 

God’s Word is
essential to our life. Without it, we will doubt, despair, and forget that God
is good and that He’s for us.  This year
will be marked with joy and difficulty’through these times it is
imperative to carry God’s promises with you. I encourage you to pick one or
more of these to read every day of the week. When a new week begins, pick a new
promise of God. Your heart will soak up this truth and you’ll be encouraged to
persevere through it all.

 

25 Great Promises
of God by Mike Yorkey

 

1. Psalm 51:12 – God gives joy.
2. Isaiah 26:3 – God will give you peace.
3. John 15:9-11 – Christ wants your joy to be full.
4. John 15:11 – Christ’s joy will remain in you.
5. Philippians 4:6-9 – You can have peace

When You Need Help
6. Deuteronomy 10:18 – God promises to provide justice, food, and raiment to
the fatherless.
7. Deuteronomy 14:29 – God promises sufficient food for the fatherless.
8. Psalm 10:14 – God promises to help the fatherless.
9. Psalm 40:17 – God knows you and will help you.
10. Psalm 46:1 – God is a very present help in trouble.
11. Psalm 68:5 – God promises to be a father to the fatherless

When You Feel Your Efforts Are in Vain
12. Psalm 30:5 – Your weeping won’t last forever.
13. Proverbs 22:6 – If you train your children in the way they should go, even
if you don’t see signs now, they will not depart from it when they grow up.

When You Can’t Take It Any More
14. Psalm 18:32 – God girds you with strength.
15. Ephesians 3:16-20 – God will strengthen your inner self.
16. Philippians 4:7 – God will keep your heart and mind.

When You Don’t Feel Smart Enough
17. Proverbs 2:6-7 – God stores up wisdom for you.
18. Proverbs 3:5-6 – God will direct your path.

When You Have Your Own Needs
19. Isaiah 54:5 – God tells Israel that He is her husband (a great promise for
single moms).
20. Matthew 21:22 – God will answer your prayers.
21. Philippians 4:19 – God will supply your needs.

When You Have Failed
22. Joshua 1:8-9 – You can be successful if you make the right choices.
23. Psalm 37:4-5 – If you trust Him, He will work things out.
24. Colossians 1:13-14; 2:13 – God will forgive you.
25. Ephesians 1:6 – You are accepted in Christ.

For more help see please join us at our next New Life Weekend.
Also, see our New Life Devotionals and Bibles.

Rest and Joy at Christmas

Excerpted from The Top Ten Dangers Teens Face by Steve Arterburn and Jim Burns

A few years ago, Jim and
Cathy’s annual Christmas evening discussion went something like this:

Cathy: We’ve got to do it
differently next year.

Jim: I bought all my presents
on Christmas Eve AGAIN!

Cathy: We haven’t had a free
weekend in six weeks.

Jim: I can’t believe I’m going
to work tomorrow when I’m totally exhausted.

Then they promised that next
year they would control their schedule and buy presents earlier.  ‘Next year,’ they said, ‘we’ll spend more
time with the kids and less time cooking, cleaning, and decorating.  Next year, we’ll begin to build special
holiday traditions for the girls.’

The next Christmas, Jim and
Cathy found themselves busier than ever. 
Christmas Eve was a blur.  The
only rest they got was during the hour-long Christmas Eve service at
church.  But even during the celebration
of the Lord’s birth, Jim was planning their traditional Christmas Eve
Chinese-takeout dinner, and Cathy remembered that she forgot to wrap a present
for one of the nine people coming to heir home after the service.  Cathy and Jim breezed through dinner, gifts,
cleaning, preparing Christmas stockings, and completing other necessary tasks
to prepare for Christmas Day.  Then they
dropped into bed at 12:15, too exhausted even to talk with each other.

At 4:47 A.M. Christy wandered
into their room and asked, ‘Is it time yet?’

‘No!’ Jim replied.

At 5:54 A.M. Christy brought
Rebecca, whom she had awakened, and climbed into bed to get Jim and Cathy in the
Christmas spirit.  It didn’t work.  They told the two girls not to wake
Heidi.  At precisely 6:01 A.M. all three
girls, including Heidi (‘We didn’t wake her up, Mommy.  She just woke up by herself when we jumped
on her bed.’), staged a major protest that Jim and Cathy had to get up.  After they opened stockings and presents and
cleaned up the mess (no easy task), they started on breakfast.  After breakfast and a quick reading of Luke
2, Jim and Cathy cleaned the dishes and started preparing Christmas dinner.

Cathy and Jim worked fast and
furiously, too busy to talk to each other or the girls.  When Jim’s parents arrived, Jim and Cathy
just kept cooking.  When other family
members arrived, they served ‘Cathy’s finest meal’ and ate standing up half the
time.  Then on to more presents,
cleaning up, dessert, cleaning up, putting away the presents, making phone
calls, running to the store, and more cleaning up.

It was past time to put the
kids to bed and do PJs, teeth, potty, drinks of water, medicine, more drinks of
water, prayers, stories, screaming, negotiating, begging, threatening, drinks
of water, and preparing to give up. 
Finally, it was quiet.  Just for
good measure, Cathy and Jim did some more cleaning.  At last they sat down on the couch to watch the end of their
favorite Christmas movie, It’s a Wonderful Life.  Cathy fell asleep in 10 minutes.  Jim, probably overtired, hungry, depressed,
sick, or who-knows-what, cried like a baby through the last half hour of the
movie.  Stumbling into bed, Jim and
Cathy mumbled, ‘Next year, it’s going to be different’Next year.’

You can call it crazy.   You can call it insane.  But the truth is, most parents today are
just too tired to do proactive parenting. 
One of the major problems with families is the breathless pace at which
we live our lives.  The above story is
no exception.

Overcommitment and fatigue are
two of the greatest distractions from positive parenting.   Our children need our time and
attention.  When Jim and Cathy tried to
remember special meals (such as Christmas dinner) they had as children they
couldn’t remember much about the meals. (Sorry, Mom!)  What they did remember and treasured, however, was the times
their parents took time to play with them’whether it was Dad throwing a ball in
the backyard or Mom having something better to do but playing a game at the
kitchen table one more time.

Here’s my advice: Parents, quit
working so hard.  Save energy for
yourselves, and your family.  If it
means moving to a smaller house or making a smaller car payment, then do
it.  Life’s too short to settle for
fatigue, lack of intimacy, and busyness in the place of meaningful
relationships with your spouse and children.

What are you doing this
Christmas season’this week for that matter’that will be an absolutely enjoyable
experience for you and your children? 
If you don’t have a plan, stop what you’re doing and create one.  Time is too short not to celebrate with your
family.  What’ll stop you from relaxing
a bit and enjoying your kids?  The
dishes can wait.  The home projects can
wait. Turn off the TV.  Grab a few
moments of joy and laughter. 

 

For more help see our New Life Perspectives on Holidays!

Set Self Aside

Excerpted from the book 21 Days to a Great Marriage by Henry Cloud and John Townsend

Have you ever found it difficult to make needed changes in
yourself for the good of your marriage? 
Today you’ll meet that obstacle in person: it’s you!  We know, because we battle ‘self’ in our own
marriages.  So let’s take ‘self’ to the
mat together.

Remember the days before you were married?  Remember the freedom of doing whatever you
wanted, whenever you wanted?  You
answered only to yourself, and that was pretty much it.

Then you fell in love. 
All of a sudden you had to say no to yourself with respect to freedoms,
choices, and preferences that you enjoyed in your previous life.  You had to consider someone else’s feelings
and desires, which can be a painful way of life.

This way of life is called self-denial.  Simply put, self-denial is the practice
of postponing, or even giving up, activities and attitudes that block love and
connection.
  In great marriages,
self-denial is a daily way of living, relating, and thinking.  And it’s one of the most important keys to
love.

 

What Self-Denial Looks Like

A loving and well-thought out attitude of self-denial will
mean giving up things like these:

The comfort of detachment.  Love requires the effort of making an
emotional connection, even when you least feel like it.  It’s very natural to disconnect when you’re
stressed, tired, or upset with your spouse, and at times you do need ‘me’
time.  But more often, you need to deny
yourself the choice of withdrawing from the relationship.  Getting out of your comfort zone and
connecting on the relationship’s terms, not your own, helps generate love and
close feelings.

Your dreams and desires.  At times, one partner will need to postpone a good dream or
legitimate desire for the sake of connection. 
For example, a wife might delay developing her career while she raises
the kids.  Or a husband might live in a
city that is not best for his career, but best for the marriage and family.

The right to demand fairness.  When both partners insist on playing fair,
they enter into legalistic, loveless emptiness.  Give more than you receive in your love life, and deny yourself the
demand of fairness.  Don’t get put out
if you end up going to the basketball game with him more than he goes to the
symphony with you.  Love gives up
keeping score in order to gain connection and compassion.

Saying whatever you want.  Learn to deny the strong urge to say to your mate exactly what
you feel when you feel it.  Partners
hurt each other deeply when they assume carte blanche to say anything to each
other.  Instead, first ask yourself,
‘How would I feel if he said that to me?’ 
This sort of approach also includes denying yourself the privilege of
confronting every little thing your mate does. 
As Proverbs 19:11 says, ‘A man’s wisdom gives him patience; it is to his
glory to overlook an offense.’

Self-denial is like the economic laws of saving and
investing money: Those people who can be patient and wait will always reap the
greatest payoffs in the long run.

 

For more help see all of our books and CDs on Marriage.

Also, join one of our marriage groups at our next New Life Weekend!

Your Identity

New Life Ministries

 

Saint Augustine is without
doubt one of the most, if not the most, important thinkers in the history of
Christianity.  Yet before Augustine
became a Christian in his early thirties, he was, by his own estimation, a restless
wanderer who had made a shambles of his life. 
Aware of his inner sense of emptiness, Augustine looked to the popular
philosophies of his day to answer his deepest questions about the world and
himself.  Aching with loneliness, he
looked to illicit sex to meet his need for intimacy.  And possessed of towering intellectual gifts, he pursued career
advancement to provide him with a sense of power and purpose.

 

To be sure, his brilliance and
eloquence had taken him all the way from the small town in North Africa where
he was born to the magnificent Italian city of Milan’in that day, the center of
political power for the Western Roman Empire’where his job was to use those
skills to promote the Empire’s prominent people and their plans.  In order to solidify his standing, and his
potential for continued upward mobility in that society, he secured an
engagement for marriage to a young girl from a local family of great
wealth.  The problem, however, was that
Augustine was currently in a fifteen-year-long, out-of-wedlock relationship
with his concubine, who, to make matters even worse, was the mother of his
teenage son.  But this woman had become
an obstacle to Augustine’s career, so he sent her broke and brokenhearted back
to her native North Africa.  And because
the young girl to whom he was engaged was not yet old enough to marry him,
Augustine got himself yet another lover in the meantime’someone who he thought
could provide a ‘quick fix’ by driving away his lust, loneliness, and pain.

 

This was the situation
Augustine found himself in at the age of thirty-two.  Yet at that time, while going about the duties of his ostensibly
important and successful life, Augustine happened upon someone who, in God’s
providence, would help change the course of his life.  Ironically, that person was a lowly beggar, happily asking
passers by for coins.  Augustine was
undone.  Not by the beggar’s poverty,
and not by his request for money, but by
his mere happiness
.  Augustine
wondered how this beggar could possibly be happy in his impoverished state.  But more importantly, the beggar’s happiness
powerfully brought home to Augustine the fact that, though he had much going
for him by the world’s standards, he was internally confused, lonely, wounded,
and miserable!  He had set out to find
his identity in sex, money, knowledge, and power, but those things had not
delivered; they had instead shown themselves to be impotent and empty.  Looking back on this encounter years later
as a spiritually mature Christian, Augustine prayed: ‘I aspired to honours, money,
[socially advantageous] marriage, and you [God] laughed at me.  In those ambitions I suffered the bitterest
difficulties; that was by your mercy.’

 

Thankfully, the older,
spiritually-wiser Augustine came to realize that his youthful quest to
understand his identity was not wrong, but rather wrong-headed, or better,
wrong-hearted.  You see, a person’s core
identity is not something he or she manufactures; nor is it something
determined by the world.  Instead, a
person’s core identity comes from having been created in the image of God by
God himself.  And though that identity
has been marred by sin, it can be restored by Jesus Christ, who saves sinners
and graciously reconciles them to the One who made them, defines them, and thus
holds the key to the real fulfillment and satisfaction.  By God’s grace, Augustine came to realize
that he had been on a fool’s errand, and that God had used the severe mercy of
a chronically broken, restless heart to give Augustine ears for the
gospel. 

 

Augustine once prayed, ‘Our
heart is restless, until it finds rest in you.’  This prayer described not only the truth of Augustine’s own life,
but a fundamental truth for all human beings. 
We are made by God for God.  And
that means that we will never be fulfilled until we are at peace with him. 

 

I encourage you to spend some
time reflecting on this brief but profound prayer.  How do Augustine’s words describe your past, or perhaps your
present situation?  How do these words
speak to the problems and decisions that you are currently facing, and the
course that you believe your future should take?

 

        

For more help see please join us at our next New Life Weekend.
Also, see our New Life Devotionals and Bibles.

A Fatal Case of Mistaken Identity

Steve Arterburn

Much like the unfortunate humpback whale calf in Australia who mistook a large boat for his mother, each of us feels the need–and it’s a very real need–to be saved; that is, to be nourished, protected, comforted, and led both powerfully and safely through a life filled with the potential for peril. And again, just like the whale calf, each of us stands in danger of following the wrong savior; that is, someone or something that seems to possess the ability to deliver us, but in fact cannot. Just think about it for a moment.

Our world is full of competing voices, all clamoring for our trust and allegiance. ‘Invest here, vote for me, trust in this, here’s a hope you can really believe in,’ they all say.

But amidst this din, one voice distinguishes itself from the rest. It’s the voice of Jesus Christ. Listen to what he says: ‘My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. I and the Father are one’ (John 10:27-30).

My friends, the longing you feel deep within your heart–some
of you feel this need quite palpably, though others surely try to quell it–for a savior is a longing that only Jesus Christ can fulfill. Other voices call for your allegiance, but they make promises and create hopes that they cannot and will not deliver. It is Christ’s voice, and his voice alone, that you must tune your ear to. It is his voice that you can trust; it is his voice that you must hearken to and heed. Jesus Christ will lead you through the rough-and-tumble wilderness of this world, and he will never leave or forsake you. He is altogether worthy of your faith, your hope, and your love.


For more help see our Healing is a Choice resources. Also please prayerfully consider attending our next New Life Weekend.