If you’re a parent, then this may sound familiar “You have all of these toys, why don’t you want to play with them?” Somehow we get thrown off when our busy toddlers want to climb up a table or run across the couch rather than play with their toys. Or for me lately, it’s when I may be trying to cook and both children would rather cram on top of the same stool to help me stir the food over playing together. I realize this is a season, and one day something else may capture their attention more than what I’m cooking for dinner so because of that I believe I need to soak up these moments: the moments where my presence is greater than any “present”.
I knew I would learn much more from my kids than expected. Sometimes so simple yet profound as I look down at 2 sets of beautiful eyes, one tiny tot tugging at my leg while the other asks me for the 3rd time to come check out her really cool princess party she has set up. The real need here isn’t for more of something else to fill the void, or another suggestion of what to play with or color, it’s for me. The need is for affirmation. The need is for my presence.
This same need parallels with our Heavenly Father. We may try to throw things at Him through out the day, a quick thought, request, prayer ... maybe we even present Him with a list of things we feel like we’ve done all in His honor, yet missing one of the most priceless forms of honor, our time.
There’s moments we try to prove with our busyness that we are accomplishing something for Him. But I think what He is really asking for is our presence. When we spend time with our Savior, we change. Maybe growing up you heard the saying “show me your friends, I’ll show you your future” or “you are who you hang out with”. If there’s any truth to these statements, I can’t think of a better person I’d want to be present with than God, someone who is “compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness,” (Exodus 34:6). I don’t know about you but during this pandemic and while being cooped in the house, I could use some extra compassion, patience, and kindness to extend to my family during this, sometimes trying, season of life. Sitting at the feet of the One who gives peace that exceeds anything we can understand, a peace that guards our hearts and minds vs sitting at the mercy of the news or my social media feed is going to benefit me much more.
“Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:7 NLT
There’s a key part or that verse, “as you live in Christ Jesus.” When we live in Him, learning our Savior more, we gain attributes that the world can’t give us. Supernatural peace (John 14:7) and wisdom (James 1:5) are a few attributes that we could all use while navigating through the current worldwide crisis we are facing.
Life may be tugging at you in a thousand different directions right now. During a season of quarantining and being socially distanced from friends, family, extra curricular activities, church etc. expectations are all over the place and plans have changed. Your load may be heavier than normal.
Today consider basking in His presence, leaving behind the assumption that you must have a completed checklist or an entertainment schedule for the day to be acceptable. Instead of asking, “what can I get done”, contemplate asking “what can wait?”. The gains we will receive from His presence will exceed any Earthly “present”.
Drew & Valerie Blackston with Special Guests Sonny & Cindy Zentmeyer
In this video podcast, Anchor Movement welcomes special guests Sonny & Cindy Zentmeyer with 2b1life.com to share tips on how marriages and families can become stronger in these uncertain times. During this global crisis, families and relationships can experience added stresses that come with excessive amounts of quality time, being creative with our children, and the challenges that come from economic upheaval. We can choose to turn these situations into faith building moments that make the family unit stronger instead of allowing fear and lack of control to destroy the blessing that GOD has designed family to be. Join us to learn tips that will benefit your marriage and family during this COIVD-19 pandemic and in the years to come. Below is a resource developed by Sonny and Cindy to help your family have a "Strategic Plan to Move Through Trials and Come Out Stronger on the Other Side."
Last week my wife and I moved our family from central Florida to the Tampa Bay area. In the process of moving we had to take apart pieces of furniture at our old home and then put them back together at our new home. One of these pieces of furniture is our daughter’s crib. Now, taking the crib apart is easy, but putting it back together is another story. I learned from our last move that keeping the directions handy is a must and you definitely need two people in order to hold some of the bigger pieces together. When I decided to embark on the process of putting the crib together at our new home, I was already in a bad mood. I’ve moved a few times in my life, but never with two kids, two dogs, and across the entire state of Florida. What seemed like an already daunting process turned into an on-edge, mood killing, stress filled experience. My wife, filled with the patience of GOD, always had a calming remark for me every time I tripped over a box or got irritated with one of the kids. This in turn made me more agitated. Ok, back to the crib. So, I got my tools, grabbed the directions, and sat down on my daughters floor, ALONE, to put together her crib. The first few pieces were easy, but as I started combining some of the bigger pieces together that hold the crib in place, I realized I was going to need a second set of hands. In my mind, I knew I needed help, but my attitude and pride refused to ask my wife for any. After about twenty minutes struggling with attaching the same two pieces, my wife walked into the room and calmly asked, “Do you want me to hold this side?” I grunted “no”, but she held it anyway and within about two minutes the entire crib was put together.
GOD showed me an amazing lesson in this story: We are built for relationships. Like it or not, you were not created to walk this world alone. Genesis 2:18 says, “Then the Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper who is just right for him.” This scripture gets quoted a lot in premarital classes and at weddings, but it is more than just a marriage scripture, it is a way of life. GOD never intended His children to do anything alone. Whether we are celebrating or grieving, life should be lived together. GOD even promises in the book of Hebrews that He “will never leave you nor forsake you.” Why else would Jesus right before He is to be crucified tell the disciples that He is sending the Holy Spirit to be our comforter, helper, and guide. We were built for relationships. Relationship with GOD the Father and relationships with those around us. We can’t successfully fulfill the destiny that GOD has put on our life if we don’t interact or embrace the people that GOD has put around us.
When you become a new Christian, or even if you’ve been a Christian for a long time, relationships are vital to your Christian development and growth. GOD designed each one of us with attributes that can only be grown through interactions with others. Some relationships grow us spiritually and lead us closer to GOD. Others relationships, GOD uses to thicken our skin. What I mean by this is some relationships nurture and push us closer to GOD. That might be through prayer or meaningful conversation or even just someone who helps keep you accountable spiritually. Then there are those relationships that are meant to grow the thickness of your skin. Some people are strategically placed in your life to teach you grace, mercy, and unconditional love. Both types of relationships are necessary, but not always fun.
When I look back on my crib experience, it would have been much easier if I would have just asked for help from the beginning. In my stubbornness I wasted time trying to do something alone when in reality the job required two people. We all need relationships to accomplish the purposes that GOD has put before us. Even Jesus needed the 12 disciples the help fulfill His purpose of coming and dying on the cross for the entire world. Don’t let stubbornness or timidity keep you from experiencing the fullness of your calling by keeping you alone. We are built for relationships.
Over the next several weeks and months, Anchor Movement is going to focus on a series called “Back to the Basics” where we answer and define what it actually means to be a Christian. We want to answer some of the questions that new and old believers have in their walk of faith. Some examples include, “How to study the Bible,” and “Why should I go to church.” If you have a question you’d like us to answer or explore on the blog, go to our connect page and leave your response or visit our Instagram page here and leave your response in the comments.
My wife and I are very different when it comes to our personalities. She is extremely patient, I am not. She will face confrontation if need be, I am passive aggressive. She is very systematic and organized, my methods can sometimes be inefficient and messy. What makes us different makes our marriage work, but what I see in my daughter Brooklyn is a mix of both our personalities. Brooklyn is very passive aggressive when she plays with other children, but she likes her toys and books organized and in a certain order. When she smiles I see her mom and her love for music evokes memories of my own childhood growing up and listening to music. Brooklyn has the very nature of her mom and dad. You can easily see it when you spend time with her. GOD’s desire for His children is to emulate His nature in every area of life. Sometimes that’s the hardest when we have been hurt. Jesus knew we would face many different hurts and pains, but through them all He taught that our nature should match that of the children of GOD. In Luke 6:27-35, Jesus is teaching what we now call “The Sermon on the Mount:”
“But I say to you who hear: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, and pray for those who spitefully use you. To him who strikes you on the one cheek, offer the other also. And from him who takes away your cloak, do not withhold your tunic either. Give to everyone who asks of you. And from him who takes away your goods do not ask them back. And just as you want men to do to you, you also do to them likewise."
“But if you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. And if you lend to those from whom you hope to receive back, what credit is that to you? For even sinners lend to sinners to receive as much back. But love your enemies, do good, and lend, hoping for nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High. For He is kind to the unthankful and evil. Therefore be merciful, just as your Father also is merciful."
Did you see what Jesus said at the very end? He said your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High. Check out how The Passion Translation puts it:
"You will receive a rich reward and you will be known as true children of the Most High God, having his same nature. For your Father is famous for his kindness to heal even the thankless and cruel. Show mercy and compassion for others, just as your heavenly Father overflows with mercy and compassion for all.”
The Greek word for reward is misthos and the literal definition is “pay for service or wages.” Jesus is saying if you take care of those who curse you, if you are generous without looking for anything in return, GOD will reward you. GOD will make sure that you are taken care of. I know it sounds counterintuitive to how we are feeling in the moment: In the moment we want to lash out, scream, punch, or tell someone how we really feel, but that is not what Jesus is calling us to do. When someone is mistreating us, or hurting us, our first thought is how can I get payback or justice, but Jesus blows those thoughts up. He says, “You go be generous to them. You find a way to bless them.” Maybe it’s a parent or a spouse who has caused deep pain and the thought of doing something nice can’t make it past the unforgiveness still locked in your heart. Maybe its a friend or sibling who left you when you needed them most and now they need a friend. Its your chance to reach out and be there for them when they weren’t there for you, but the memory and hurt is too fresh. We can either let that pain and hurt keep us locked in or we can step out and show others what true children of GOD look like. The characteristic of GOD is unconditional love and forgiveness and that same nature lives in each one of us. We have the ability to show others that even through our pain, disappointment, and grief we can still display the awesome love of GOD. The same hands that reached down to comfort us can now reach out to those who hurt us and comfort them. Our prayer is that GOD’s children will be so full of the goodness, love, and the favor of GOD that others around us will not be able to deny that we are the true children of GOD.
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For many, Mother’s day is a holiday filled with deep emotions, some wonderful and some heartbreaking. On July 20, 2015, my mom unexpectedly passed away and unfortunately, I remember that day perfectly. In my sudden grief, I fell to the floor in pain when my Grandma called my husband that day to deliver the news. I was 25, and never imagined living life without my mom. Losing her was, and still is, hard. I felt robbed. Robbed of time, robbed of memories, robbed of everything that could have been had she not died.
After going to multiple doctors and having various tests done - all to find out I had succumb to grief induced health issues - I knew this was going to be a long road ahead to recover from what should have been a joyous time in our lives. Drew and I were newly married, 2 months in, when our vows were standing the test of tragic loss and pain. Drew was my rock. Day in and day out he walked with me through my nightmare and never gave up on me. As time went on, I had to move forward as well. Time doesn’t stop and sometimes it seems like people are forgotten but thankfully the loss hasn’t been left behind. God see’s and doesn’t forget. He lifts us up even in the pit of despair to bring the comfort only He can.
John 14:27 NIV
“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”
I can attest to not being healed by the peace the world gives because nothing anyone said seemed to make me feel better. I had to find that peace only Christ could give me to heal from such a loss. I had to surrender the grief, fear, pain and despair and trade it for a new joy. I felt guilty moving forward..would my happiness mean she’s forgotten? Would my mom think I didn’t love her any more? No, it meant scripture was being fulfilled and I could put on a garment of praise and thank God for the life I still had left to live despite my loss. I could continue to honor her by moving forward with my life.
I want to encourage those of you who’ve known loss in the same way, there’s so much ahead of you...so much you can’t see yet. God has a beautiful story He is writing and maybe yours can help someone else. If you’ve lost a loved one, I can guarantee they wouldn’t want you to trade in your life to be “dead” here on Earth. They would want you to prosper and find joy again. Your life is a beautiful gift that only you can choose to live. Dear son or daughter, no one else can be you. The world needs more of you. Sometimes we have to lay down our pain to take hold of His peace because it was never meant to be carried alone. It doesn’t mean you don’t still feel sad, it just means you can allow yourself to live again.
Matthew 11:28-30 NIV
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
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