A Mom’s Potential: What Will I Do With My Mind? – Part 1

On an almost daily basis, I hear from moms who are excited about the direction their home life is taking, but also from those who are greatly discouraged with it. The potential we have as mothers, within the small boundaries of our homes, to impact and influence those we love the most, plus future generations, is staggering. However, we also hold within our hands the choice to fritter away that potential and, later, look back on these years with regret.

In Titus 2, verses 4 and 5, the older women are admonished to teach the younger women to “be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed.” As I read both types of e-mails I receive, I am coming to wonder if it might not be that those who are experiencing excitement are choosing to yield, learn, and grow in these areas of priority given to us as women. Perhaps those who are discouraged are choosing to give in to their negative thoughts—to feel sorry for themselves, their failures, and the situations that cause them.

It appears that two main areas are critical to the success or defeat we experience in these critical responsibilities the Lord Jesus has given to us as wives and mothers. The first is “what will I do with my mind?” and the second is “what will I do with my time?” Since it starts with our thoughts and moves to our actions, I want to begin by considering what we do with our minds and how that impacts not only our lives but also our children’s lives.

Here is the reality of what often happens in the daily life that we so much desire to be picture perfect.

“Sometimes it is just so hard with the young ones. My oldest is eight years, and my youngest is almost a year. I have become very easily frustrated with them lately. This is something that I really need to pray about. It is time for me to make some changes. I do spend too much of my time on the computer. Some days I just feel as though I just cannot do it so I pop in a video or send the children outside, and I sit on the couch staring at the computer. I have just given up. How sad for me to be that way. I do not want to give up.” A Discouraged Mom (used with permission)

You can probably relate to “A Discouraged Mom,” if not with her exact struggles then with ones that are similar. As these situations occur, pile up, and continue, “A Discouraged Mom” retreats to her negative thoughts of defeat and finds refuge in the computer. The problem is that this simply fuels the vicious cycle of discouragement in which she lives, but as she indicates, she does not want it to be this way.

Romans 6 gives us direction out of the cycle of discouragement. As you read these verses, pay particular attention to the word “yield.” “Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God” (Romans 6:13). “Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?” (Romans 6:16) “I speak after the manner of men because of the infirmity of your flesh: for as ye have yielded your members servants to uncleanness and to iniquity unto iniquity; even so now yield your members servants to righteousness unto holiness” (Romans 6:19).

I have a choice set before me concerning that to which I will yield. As long as I allow the negative, it’s-too-hard, poor-me thoughts, God doesn’t “zap” me with peace, joy, and contentment. I must yield myself to righteousness—to the truth of His Word. When I yield to righteousness, these are the kinds of thoughts I will think, and the result is peace, joy, and contentment: “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me” (Philippians 4:13). “Rejoice evermore. Pray without ceasing. In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18). “My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing” (James 1:2-4).

“There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it” (1 Corinthians 10:13). This verse tells me that God does not remove the temptation from my life. In this case, the temptation is to dwell on the problems and negative thoughts. Rather than keeping temptation away, He gives a way of escape. I decide whether I will take the way of escape or not. Personally, I believe the way of escape for this temptation is in choosing to think right thoughts—thoughts of the truth of God’s Word.

When I take the way of escape, when I yield to righteousness, then I provide my children with a pleasant mommy, one who is characterized by the fruit of the Spirit: “. . . love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance” (Galatians 5:22-23). When I dwell on my negative thoughts, I become more discouraged and more unhappy with my bad attitudes, which affect not only me but also my family. The example I am setting for my children influences how they will respond to the difficulties and trials they experience now as children and later in their adult lives. They can observe me in stressful daily situations either dealing with them by yielding to righteousness or yielding to my “comfort” activities, food, or environment.

What will I do with my mind? Will I yield to righteousness? Will I take the way of escape? Will I be focused on myself and how hard it is to do whatever I am supposed to be doing? Will I dwell on how it doesn’t come naturally to me? Will I think about how I don’t feel like doing it? Will I be focused on the Lord Jesus and obedience to His Word? The choice is mine, and the choice is yours. I expect those moms who write to me and are excited about their home life have determined what they are doing with their minds—yielding to righteousness.

Do Your Children Have Beautiful Feet? – Part 2

(You can read last month’s here.) This month we are continuing our discussion of the importance of discipling our children by helping them have a heart for evangelism and the tools to be effective in it. Jesus’ last command as He left this earth was: “. . . Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature” (Mark 16:15).

Until the more recent years, I thought I cared about seeing lost souls saved, but the evidence of my life didn’t indicate that this was a reality. I was content to live my personal life wholeheartedly for the Lord Jesus, striking up conversations when I could, and waiting for others to initiate questions about my faith that might lead to the opportunity to share Christ with them.

Lifestyle evangelism is a term I often hear associated with this kind of witnessing. The truth of those years was that I wasn’t being asked by those around me to tell them about Christ, and my family wasn’t developing a passion for witnessing. I am excited now by the changes in my heart and my children’s hearts as the Lord is leading us down a path of forthright evangelism.

Most people consider themselves to be good people; therefore, they believe they are able to get to heaven based on their own merit. Yet the Bible tells us differently. “But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags . . .” (Isaiah 64:6). “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). And: “Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me” (John 14:6). That is why it is vitally important for people to realize that without Christ they will spend eternity in hell and for us to be actively telling them about Jesus Christ.

Since Jesus commanded us to “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature” (Mark 16:15) and the world needs Christ, why is it that believers of today are not witnessing? I’m sure there are numerous reasons, but I wonder if there are several very common ones for not witnessing. I will list a few in no particular order and what Scripture says in comparison.

First, some don’t know how to witness. This can be a hindrance, but should it be? If Jesus gave a direct command to someone, wouldn’t you expect him to obey it? Would Jesus give a command that couldn’t be obeyed? Of course not. If we don’t know how to witness, then we need to learn how. “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15). We don’t want to be disobedient to the Lord’s command to witness just because we don’t know how to do it. We learn how, and then we obey.

Second, some don’t want to offend people. That is fully understandable because we should not want to offend. To get in someone’s face and passionately tell him he is going to hell will likely be offensive. However, if our motive is love and we are deeply concerned for where they are going to spend eternity, they are much less likely to react negatively. “If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men” (Romans 12:18). If a person is unaware that he has a serious illness from which he will die unless treated, he will be grateful if you care enough to tell him of his disease. If our motive is viewed as selfishly trying to get someone to come to our church, the person is far more likely to react negatively than if we are seen as striving to introduce the person to a relationship with the only true God of the universe. Often, after I have shared Christ with someone, I will ask whether I have offended him in any way. Most people will not only say that I haven’t offended them, but many will also add that they are grateful for what was said.

Third, some are embarrassed to tell others openly about Jesus and don’t want them to think they are extreme. “Whosoever therefore shall be ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation; of him also shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he cometh in the glory of his Father with the holy angels” (Mark 8:38). I think Paul’s position on whether he cared if others thought him foolish is the one to take. “We are fools for Christ’s sake, but ye are wise in Christ; we are weak, but ye are strong; ye are honourable, but we are despised” (1 Corinthians 4:10). It doesn’t matter if others think of us as fools as long as our Lord says, “Well done thou good and faithful servant.” Amen?

Fourth, perhaps some think they are too busy, and witnessing takes too much time. Can you imagine yourself on the way to an important appointment when you notice a baby stroller rolling out into the street? You know that soon a car will hit it, killing the child inside. Do you stop, putting yourself at some risk, to rescue the baby? In addition, you know that you will miss your appointment because after pulling the child from danger, it will take time to contact the authorities and find the parents. Certainly, we would put our agenda aside and do what needed to be done for the sake of the child. “. . . he that winneth souls is wise” (Proverbs 11:30). I have realized that I may regret not speaking to a person about his soul, but I won’t regret doing it.

Fifth, sadly, there are many whose faith is not anything worth sharing. I’m convinced this is true quite often. When a person has something he is excited about, you can’t stop him from telling others. In the following passage we see that the Samaritan woman hurriedly left to tell others in the city about Jesus. “The woman then left her waterpot, and went her way into the city, and saith to the men, Come, see a man, which told me all things that ever I did: is not this the Christ? . . . And many of the Samaritans of that city believed on him for the saying of the woman, which testified, He told me all that ever I did” (John 4:28-29, 39). If we have a vibrant relationship with Jesus, we will want to tell others about Him.

Sixth, is that so very many—like we were—are satisfied with lifestyle evangelism. “I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing” (John 15:5). Abiding in Jesus makes us fitting instruments to be used by the Lord to reach others. Abide means to rest, to remain, and to dwell. This has to do with our relationship with Jesus. It is the basis for all that He enables us to accomplish. If we wrongly interpret abiding to mean we may be content to physically rest, remain, and dwell within the comfort zones of our homes and our churches—lifestyle evangelism—then we miss the aspect of abiding in Christ that allows us to move into the area of trusting Jesus to equip us to “go and preach.”

For many of those reasons why others don’t witness, I, too, have wanted my abiding in Christ to mean only that I read my Bible, pray, and live a “righteous” life. However, I have come to see that the ultimate of abiding is relying on Jesus Christ to give me boldness, gracious words, a loving heart, and the power of His Word in sharing the Gospel—not simply lifestyle evangelism but rather purposeful evangelism. We speak the Word; God brings the harvest. My responsibility is to be obedient; God’s responsibility is to bring the increase. “I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase. So then neither is he that planteth any thing, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase. Now he that planteth and he that watereth are one: and every man shall receive his own reward according to his own labour” (1 Corinthians 3:6-8).

As a further emphasis that we are to actively share our faith, we can look at who was initially in favor of believers sharing their faith by the lifestyle only. “And they called them, and commanded them not to speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus” (Acts 4:18). Peter and John were told by Annas the high priest, Caiaphas, and the council not to speak about Jesus. The Greek word for speak means to proclaim. They weren’t forbidden from living a “Christian” life. That wasn’t a threat to the high priest and the council. It was speaking and teaching in the name of Jesus that was the problem. Satan wants believers to be silent and disobey Jesus’ command to “go and preach the gospel.”

The question of “lifestyle evangelism” versus Jesus’ command to “go and preach the gospel” can best be addressed by Peter and John’s reply to the council. “But Peter and John answered and said unto them, Whether it be right in the sight of God to hearken unto you more than unto God, judge ye. For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard” (Acts 4:19-20).

I hope this helps make it very clear the sort of evangelism Jesus has asked us to practice. As we disciple our children, we should not neglect this important area. We want to encourage our children that telling others about Jesus and their need of Him is one way to show our love for them. What friend would sit back quietly while someone he cared about was headed for disaster? When Jesus said we are to “go and preach the gospel,” He meant exactly that. We want our children to understand the importance of this in a Christian’s life.

What is the fruit of these past few years of our learning to be overt in witnessing out of a desire to be obedient to Jesus’ command to go and preach? My younger children are growing in their desire to give away Gospel tracts when they are out and leave them in public places. My older children want to receive telemarketing calls and make business-related calls such as ordering things and asking product questions. This gives them the opportunity to practice witnessing. They have also begun to share Christ face to face with those they come in contact with.

We try to have a monthly prayer night usually with an emphasis on outreach. We have had the extreme privilege of leading several to the Lord Jesus Christ in just these few years—more than we had in the previous twenty-five years or so since my salvation. We have encouraged others in their relationship with Jesus Christ and in the importance of spending time every day in the Word. Many others, who have not made a decision for Christ, have indicated an interest in reading the book of John and considering salvation.

Maybe the greatest benefit of evangelism in discipling my children, which I alluded to last month, is that I have observed overtly sharing my faith with others strengthens my children’s faith. First they see Dad who is so in love with his Savior that he wants to tell others. They know that Dad’s faith is real and precious. What is important to a child’s father is impressed on the life of that child, and his desire for Jesus will grow. The children are also drawn to want to do what their dad does, and if Dad is sharing Jesus, they will want to as well.

Not only is the witnessing of Jesus a command, but there are so many benefits from it that we can’t be remiss in this important aspect of discipling our children. My heart is thrilled with the changes in my family concerning the reality of sharing Jesus Christ with lost and dying souls. Is it your desire for your children to be strong in their faith and dynamic soul winners? Are you stuck in the lifestyle evangelism rut, lacking the fruit of seeing changed lives for Christ? Do you have beautiful feet? Do your children have beautiful feet? “. . . How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!” (Romans 10:15). Could I encourage you to start with your own life, and then lead your children to follow you? “And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand” (Matthew 7:26).

In the next part of this series, I will address exact ways our family has been learning to witness and how that has worked out in reality.