Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Who Am I?

I remember a time in my life where I thought I knew I had everything planned out to the end of my life. When  I would graduate from High School, move out of my parents house,  I would go to college, I would marry John Stamos, and we would live happily ever after. I thought we would go on to be a famous couple saving the world, him acting and singing and me with the Dolphins, in the field of marine biology and joining Him to sing along on the weekends and when I could along the way. Sounded like a great dream, I even carried a picture around of him to confirm "our love." Sounds so funny to me now, a silly notion from a 12 yr old little girl who didn't know what she was even thinking about at the time, much less sure about love. The only think I know for sure is that I WAS SO WRONG, even then.

I got older and tried again to figure out my life, deciding the Military would be the right place for me, then college later, no plans of marriage or kids, since I didn't like the thought of either one by this time. I wanted to live alone, be alone, and have peace and quiet for a lifetime. Oh man, that even sounded better than a life with John Stamos, but was still farther from anything that really happened to me. I remember my struggles in my life to figure out who I was, what was my real identity. I was from a family of seven, five siblings, everyone of them fighting for the attention of my parents and each other. All I wanted was peace and quiet. I wanted a life of my own, without hearing, "Oh, you are Jeanne's Sister, Jimmy's Sister, Oh you are that preacher's kid, aren't you?" Then later, after High School, when my life started veering far from my plan, I became "Bob's wife," "T.J.'s Mommy," and in my college, I was quickly becoming, "Jinny's Daughter." Then adding two daughters to the mix just sent my world into a tail spin.

Never once did anyone say, "Oh there's Janet!" It was so hard to not know who I was. I kept praying that God would reveal to me who I was, where I was going or why I couldn't see me in this whole mess we called, "My Life" and I was getting pretty fed up with it all. I loved being a mom, that surprisingly was the ONLY THING about my life I was loving at the time. Then one day I had, ENOUGH! I wanted everything to stop, I wanted to scream, hit something, throw something, or just give up. I couldn't stand it anymore and I was just, DONE! I didn't know how it was going to happen, but I was going to find myself, I was going to figure out who this Janet everyone else knew really was, and whether or not I really liked her at all or not.

I was reading the scriptures, it talked about how I was "fearfully and wonderfully made" (Ps 149:14), that God in all His goodness, "KNEW ME," (Ps 139:1) that He knew me before the world ever was, before I was ever in the womb, and that He called me out, from my mother's womb and anointed me for His purpose (Jer. 1:5, Isa. 44:1, Isa. 49:1,5). He had a special job for me, and all I needed to know was that I was, "Janet Clausen, Daughter of the Almighty God and King, the Everlasting Father and Prince of Peace." Wow, that made me a princess. I am the princess, heir to the Kingdom of God. He chose me, brought me out, saved my soul, and gave me a new name, a new life, and a new since of being and purpose. "Oh I am still Mommy, Daughter, Wife, and Pastor, but I never again have to ask, "Who Am I?" because, I am known by the Lord God Himself, I now know, I am the child of the Almighty God, and I know beyond a shadow of a doubt, who I am.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Who Do Men Say That I Am?

I remember one of my favorite verses in the bible, Christ had asked His disciples who the crowds thought that Christ was, who or what, they identified Him as, when He was out on the road preaching and teaching. Each one of them were saying things like, "they think you are John the Baptist, Elias, or one of the other prophets..." and so on. Then He asked them the most important question ever, "Who do you say that I am..." I can just see them all now, looking around, waiting on one of the others to answer, not really sure what He would want to hear. Then Peter popped up, "Thou art Christ the Son of the LIVING GOD..."

Christ looked at him and said, "Flesh and bone did not tell you this, the only way you would know that is if my Father in Heaven has, your eyes already to this truth." Peter got it right? Peter? The one who was going to deny Christ three times in just a short while. Although, He still knew who Christ was. He knew that he, himself was standing in the middle of a great God, creator of all and Savior of the world. He didn't understand all that was to come, but He knew what the Holy Spirit revealed to Him at that moment.

So now, when people look at you, do you ever ask yourself, "Who does men say that I am?" Do they say, "Man that person looks and acts like Christ, looks like Jesus."  Do they notice a difference in you, or do they look at you and you are just like everyone else they know? Do they see Jesus in you? Do you know that the word "Christian" means "Christ-Like" in the Greek, it is defined as an "adherent of Jesus," which is one who has submitted and accepted Christ as their Savior, who have committed to (adhere to a life in the doctrine, lifestyle, and beliefs of Christ) live for Him, committed to show others His way and to share the gospel of Jesus, which is the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus.

Are they seeing in you the Christ you say is there in your heart, or do they see someone who is a pretender? Someone who talks about Jesus in one breath, then turns around talk about the party they went to and how many "hook-ups" they got that weekend. Do they hear you talk about your spouse or significant other as if they were dirt under your feet, instead of the one you should honor and respect? Do they see Jesus in you when they are having a hard time and need to feel compassion from another, or do you just blow it off and say, "hey we all have bad days, get over it, suck it up and get back to work?" How do you show others the Love of the Lord? How do you show it to your family at home? Do you show it at home?

When you get saved, the bible says that you become a "new creation, old things are passed away, behold all things are become new." II Cor 5:17 So you are supposed to take off that old flesh, that old person and let the Love of the Lord create a new heart, a new mind, and a new, righteous spirit in you. When you pray and repent, truly repent, you are supposed to turn and go a different way. Be a new creation. Be a new man, in Christ Jesus. It takes work, it takes renewing your mind everyday, it takes giving God your day, every morning and saying, "you have the control of my life, let this day be for you, to use as you would have me today." Not just once but everyday.

I work from home now, I am not in a business setting, I was telling my husband today, it is so easy to talk about being able to give my heart and mind over to God every morning, to do all the things I am "supposed" to do as a Christian, and it is very hard to sin when you are all alone. One would think that anyway, but it isn't true. No matter how much of a hermit I think I am, no matter how alone I am during the day and how little outside influence I have, I still miss the mark everyday.

There are things we are supposed to do each day, tasks of commission, things God have commanded each of us to do on a daily basis, and then there are tasks of omission, things we don't do, not because we don't want to, but because there just isn't enough time during the day, things that we don't "think about" all the time, that we are to do as Christians, and when we fail to do those things, we sin. Not that I try to sin, or I try to ignore those things, but that, no one can do every single one of those tasks every day. NO ONE can be perfect ALL the time, no matter how much some of us think we are perfect.

We all fail the Lord in some way or another, fail to pray or fellowship with Him, fail to give God the day, fail to witness to someone we met on the streets, helped a fellow brother or sister who needed it today, or even things that we fail to do because our flesh got in the way, keep our words pure today, joked around with someone in an off color way, let our mind wander to the cute delivery man, the things that the bible says, when you have done them in your heart, you have done them already.

We know we can't live up to everything that God has for us to do, that is what the Grace of God is all about. He gave us mercy, knowing we would never be perfect, we would never be sinless, and He sent His son to die for us, to make a perfect way of escape from Hell, damnation and sin. His Grace keeps us everyday, no matter how far we fall, no matter how short from the mark of His perfection we came today. God's loving kindness brought us grace to cover our multitude of sins, it brought us to a place where our sins are remembered no more and we can let them go, let God have control of our lives.

In order to share God's Grace with others, we need to be that witness to them, to show them His love and favor on our lives. To show His blessings, how He brings us through our hard times, trials and temptations. It takes renewing your mind, it takes consciously deciding everyday that you want to live for the Lord, resetting your mind to the mind of Christ, and letting Him help you through your day, to be the witness, the testimony others need to see, to know that living a life in Christ IS different than living a life in the world, HOPING for the best.

So examine yourself, "Who do men say that you are?" "Who do you want them to see in you?"
I want them to see, Jesus In Me! His Love, Mercy and Forgiveness. How about it? DO YOU?

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Letting Go and Letting God, the Hardest Thing to Do In Our Children's Lives

You know, I was thinking today about all the times we go through or go over and over the same things in our lives. You think that you have made it past a certain point in the conversation where you believe you are actually going to move on or grow from what the issue was, to what it could be, and then you find out, OH NO! It has started all over again. You go back around again, thinking this time it will all be different, things will change and that you have this all under control. Then one day you realize, you have no control at all, if you did, your life would be completely different. When you are a child of God though, you have a way to make those choices that make your life different. You choose to submit to God, to His will, give Him the control and allow Him to face the tempters snares, allow Him to carry you through your trials, and then you find out, that if you had just given Him that control along time ago, your trials, that mountain you kept circling would have been smaller and probably less visits from the start.

You see, as we live and move and have our being, we have ways as Children of God that we are supposed to be living, and we know that the Word of God gives us clear guidelines how to live as a child of God, the decisions we are to make and the path we are to follow. It is up to us, as His children to read, study that word and submit to His call on your life, no matter what our own will wants us to do instead. It is like raising children…

When my children were small, I talked to them, gave them strict rules and guidelines, and told them how things were going to be while they lived in my home. They, as children had to submit to the authority of the home and obey the rules and follow the teachings that I chose to teach them as they grew. Then there is a day, I don't know exactly when that day is for most, but I remember, I just had felt this unctioning, heard a still small voice, almost a feeling in my spirit that said, "mom, it is time to let them figure some things out for themselves, DON’T walk away or leave them alone in this quest, but to let them start figuring out their own values, beliefs, and core life codes for themselves." They still had to obey the rules of the house and obey Bob and I while they live here at home, but for their spiritual walk and direction, it was time for each of them to start deciding for themselves, what God has for their lives, what God expects from them as children, teenagers, students, employees, and also as Christians.

I remember that day between me and my own parents, I felt a sense of pride and excitement when my parents told me that "it was time to start figuring out where I stand and what I believe for my self." I was twelve and mom handed me my very first Scolfield Bible Study Bible, they wanted me to have it, cherish it, and to use it to begin deciding in my own heart what God had for me, what He was saying to me, and how I was going to live my life as I grew up. I remember so many emotions and feelings going into that moment and that day, how I was so excited to have such a grown up bible to have on my own. Not that it made my path any easier nor did I have less further to travel in my own journeys to get to where I am now, but I remember thinking, "Wow, if I am going to be grown up, I guess it is time to figure it out for myself." It was a scary task I had to undertake, but it was one I carried seriously in my heart and life, and felt a sense of being grown up for myself. 

Now I am grown with three kids of my own, having already passed down this tradition to them, and along with a new study bible of their own, to use and meditate on, to figure out their next steps and where they stand on the word of God. I still pray everyday that God will lead and guide each of them along the way. I am still very much involved and am responsible to oversee their spiritual walk for their lives and hearts, according to God, but instead of forcing them to read their bibles, memorize scripture and pray everyday, which they would come to resent, I encourage them to seek God for answers, I offer them nuggets of wisdom and help with deeper meaning of scriptures along the way as they read and study for themselves. I don’t push my way in to a situation, I wait to be invited, I wait for God to show me how to lead into a situation, so that they feel as if they are the ones making these decisions with God, and NOT MOMMY forcing them to make a decision that God may not have for them at the time to do, because He may be leading them in a different direction than I would have them to go. It is His decision, not mine.

Is this a perfect way of giving up the reigns of their spiritual lives and walk as children? Well, I don’t know for every family, but I know for our family, that God showed me that giving them the responsibility would allow them a chance to seek Him for themselves, it would give them a sense of authority in their own spiritual lives and they are not being forced to believe something or do something that they would resent later on down the road. He showed me that the reason I didn't run from God totally, didn't give up on living as a Christian was because, I was allowed to decide for myself what I believed or what I didn't believe and was allowed to seek my “own salvation with fear and trembling,” as the Bible says to do for ourselves.

I asked my daughter how doing this for them made her feel at such a  young age, and she told me today… “It gave me a sense of trust, that you trusted me, and allowed me to make my own decisions based on the values and standards from God, that you instilled on my life, and it showed me that you believed in me enough to make certain decisions for myself with God’s help, and that you would support me in my quest for knowledge and truth with God on my own.”

 My son told me once that when I gave him this time alone, “it showed me mom that you saw me as a growing young man, and not your little boy anymore. That you could see a future adult in me and that I would need to know what to stand on and how to stand for God on my own, without my mommy “telling me what to do.”

You see, giving them this responsibility for themselves was a HUGE STEP for ME, and the scariest thing I had ever done. I am a control freak, and I want to control every aspect of our lives to make sure all goes according to plan, that everything turns out great and no one gets hurt in any way, because mommy can “fix anything…” Right? WRONG!!! I felt like, God had given me such an awesome responsibility in raising these children, even though it was an honor, and I am so proud to have these three as my own, I just never wanted to mess things up, I never wanted them to see the bad in any person or in any situation, so I wanted to shield them from all of that until they were old enough to handle it on their own.

But God… the scriptures say that in so many places, But God, who knows all, who sees all, and knows my good intentions, knew that this was not a reality for them, that they had to be able to know how to face life and life’s challenges on their own, because mommy won’t be around all the time. He also knows, that mommy is human, and even though she tries to do her best to follow His will at all times, that even Mommies don’t always do everything according to God’s will. So He needed mommy to get out of the way. To let go of the reigns and let God take control of these precious ones He entrusted me with for the time.

It is easy to say we give God everything, until we have to let go of something really special to us, and for me it was my children. Letting go of my control, my ways and let God show them a clearer, more excellent way. That they had to transfer their faith and trust that was in mommy into their God, in to the God of all gods. They had to learn that when the chips were down, not even mommy could help, ONLY GOD, could come to their rescue. Not that mommy is entirely worthless anymore, but that I had to learn how to get out of my own way, and let God in to control their lives, to let them learn how to put their faith in God and to submit to His will and His power in their lives. That He has a plan for each of them, and in order for Him to be able to reveal that plan, He had to be the one they were listening to and looking to for answers.

God entrusted me to teach them love, honor, and respect, communication and conflict management in our home, between all of us, and how to build relationships with family and others through these attributes, so that they would be able to understand and learn how to build their one-on-on relationship with God, almighty. I have not been, nor will I ever be teaching my children religion or cramming church down their throats, I was introducing them to God, their Heavenly Father, and they needed to know how to dig deep into a real relationship, in order to be able to know Him as intimately as they knew one another, and even as deep or deeper than they knew me, as their mother. We started when they were small, pointing their way to God, then I had the pleasure of leading them each, individually, in their own time, to God as their personal savior.

Now that I have given them the ability and the reigns on their own personal walk with God, teaching them personal integrity and honoring their word to others, I am not done by any means. They are still my responsibility until they are grown and out of my home, and they know that as well. I am still here to oversee their lives, to train them up in the Lord, how to be a productive and honest member of society, and how to treat others as well as submit to the authority over them, no matter the situation. I just take a smaller role in this aspect of their lives now that God is in control. As an overseer, I have to understand that they need help with gaining knowledge, getting wisdom and understanding, as stated in Proverbs 4:7, but that I wait for them to call on me when they need deeper meaning or help in the scriptures. That I have to be patient in their trials to not jump in and fix it for them, but wait for them to ask me for advice, prayer or insight. It isn't for me to over run God’s will for them, but to help them along the way, when called upon to do so. I can pray for them, stand in the gap when I see there is a trial along the way, but I have to stand back and let them Stand on God’s word, to lean on Him for all understanding and Trust in the Lord for all He has for them to do. They need to know how to call on the Lord when they are in trouble, NOT MOMMY. They need to know that God, who has performed a good work in them, will be faithful to complete it, over time, with them, NOT with me.

Pray for your children, Bless them, give them the blessing on their lives to overcome evil with God, and to prosper, be a success in all they set out to do, with God on their side, and pray that they will continue to allow God to run their lives, that they will seek Him in all they do, and all their lives. Be the example they need, and when God allows you to be, ask Him to let you be the Lighthouse pointing the way to God, when they come to the rocky times in their lives and can’t find their way through on their own. Can you do that for them? I know you can. Ask God to give you a peace to be able to let go and let Him take over in your place. To comfort you in this letting go process, because it can seem so hard, but God will encourage you, lift you up, and when you let Him in to control your life as well as theirs, He will send angels to minister to your heart and show you a more excellent way too.