The Ministry of Motherhood.

Parenting is one of the most difficult jobs ever and being a single parent can seem four times as hard. With that being said, motherhood is one of life’s highest callings; many women long for a child and never have that prayer answered and then there are those who put no thought into the tremendous responsibility of bringing a life into this world and produce many children.

There are many noteworthy mothers in the Bible. Sarah, wife of Abraham, mother of the nation of Israel, was barren and knew what it meant to wait on God to act.  Rebekah, like her mother-in-law Sarah was also barren.  Isaac her husband prayed for her and God opened her womb and she conceived twins.  Jochebed, mother of Moses, is one of the underappreciated mothers in the Bible.  Very little is written about her story.  To avoid her son being slaughtered, she set him adrift in the Nile River.  God so worked it that Moses was found by Pharaoh’s daughter and Jochebed became her own son’s nurse. Hannah is one of the most touching stories of a mother in the Bible.  She also suffered long years of barrenness.  Although cruelly taunted by her husband’s other wife, Hannah never gave up on God.  After God blessed her with Samuel, she acted selflessly and honored her vow to God and God favored her with five more children. Bathsheba was known for having been the one whose husband was put on the front lines by King David to be killed to cover their affair and the impending birth of their unborn child. After their child died, God favored Bathsheba with another son, Solomon. The first story we read of Solomon’s reign as king is after he requested wisdom from God as to how to rule over His people — the story revolves around two harlots birthing male sons three days apart. Elizabeth, mother of John the Baptist (who we know to be the forerunner of the Savior of the world), was yet another barren in her old age who, like Hannah, decided to give her son to God. Mary, the mother of Jesus is probably the most honored mother in the Bible.  Mary accepted God’s will for her life and suffered enormous shame, but yet was a shining example of obedience and submission to the Father’s will.

Parents can appear to be as gods in the eyes of their little children, but in all actuality, parents are ministers.  A minister is one who listens and counsels, guides and supports in the development of the spiritual nature of those in his or her care.  A minister aids the needy by providing sustenance and basic needs.  A minister acts as an agent of teaching for those in his or her family.  A minister is an ambassador, lending aid and support in matters of a delicate or personal nature.  Finally, a minister is a servant.  He or she serves for the good of those in his or her care selflessly.  The goal of each of these activities is salvation, meaning preserving for the highest good the mind, body and spirit, which is the concern of most ministers and should be for all parents.  Parents as ministers should serve their children by giving them their best and expecting the best from them.  If you have read some of my earlier posts, you will recall that I was basically born and raised in the church. My mother was a teacher, a choir member and eventually a minister; yet, I suffered tremendously as a child in every way possible (body, mind and soul). I always thought it strange that she could comfort and encourage those in the church, but I never received her comfort or encouragement. I noticed how gentle her voice was with them, how she provided a comforting hug or a shoulder to cry on, but I never received the same. She dosed out advice (wisdom) to others for living, but shared none with her own child. I longed for my mother’s attention, I craved a touch, a smiling glance, a hug; I longed to be ministered to. One instance in particular, I recall inquiring of my mother what I needed to know about coming into “womanhood.” Kids can say some dumb stuff and by the sixth grade, it seemed as though most kids knew things I had never even heard of. I eventually received at her hands a black book and when I opened the cover it read “Women’s Encyclopedia.” At thirteen, too many of those words were either vague, ambiguous, over my head and just plain clinical. The next book I was given when it came to search out answers for womanhood and life was The Color Purple and, if you’ve read that book, that was a wee bit too much information going on in there for a youngster of my age. Later on in my teenage years, that black book eventually became my source of information for all things physical.

I always felt invisible to my mother as if I didn’t matter. Because of the abuse I suffered and the lack of positive attention, I grew up trying to control every aspect of my life. I excelled in school, always on the A honor roll, perfect attendance, anything to try and feel a sense of worth. I learned pretty much every lesson in life either through sheer embarrassment or the hard way because I had never been ministered to. After becoming an adult and relocating back to Dallas, I had the occasion to hear many women speak so highly of my mother and all the things she taught and shared with them during a 70th birthday party I organized for her. Sometimes as parents we learn things after the fact and do to others what we neglected to do with or for our own. However, these groups of women that I heard sharing stories of all the wisdom and knowledge she poured into them were mostly older than me, some younger than me and quite a few the same age. And yet I had no similar story to share.

As parents, we have to understand that by serving our children, we are serving God — the child is simply the recipient of the service.  I fought motherhood for years. As children we always have in the back of our minds the things we believe we’ll not do, do differently or better than our parents. During my marriage, my husband longed for children and secretly I did as well (in my heart) but would not allow myself to give in to it or him. I had dreams of my children often; however, being that I had never been ministered to, being that I didn’t know a mother’s love, I feared even the possibility of being neglectful, cold or unloving towards my own. Isn’t it ironic that the things we fear are often the things which come upon us. As a result of the unresolved pain of my childhood and the deceitfulness of sin, a mother was eventually birthed in me. However, it had the total opposite effect of what I expected. From the moment my daughter was laid upon my chest, I then knew not only a mother’s love but also how much God loved me — and continues to love me — through this experience. My trials as a single mother have been a strategic path to my healing, maturity and peace. Now, only time will tell what my ministry of motherhood will produce. But, by the grace of God, through prayer and a healed heart, I can say I’m trusting this legacy to God’s care and it will be good! Not that I will do everything right, but I’ve given back to him the ministry He’s given to me!

Mothers, love your children!  Give to them what’s most important in life, LOVE! Love for God, Love for self, Love for others, respect, discipline, self-worth and value.  Children are gifts. They are not ours for the breaking. They are His for the making. No matter my beginning, I’ve come to realize I’ve always been in God’s hand and today say, “thank you mother for your ministry of motherhood.”

Belinda Powell, copyright February 2014

Revival . . .

I love the fragrance and beauty of certain flowers such as peonies, lilies, roses and hydrangeas; however, I have to purchase them as I never acquired the patience or “green thumb” it takes to nurture and grow them. So, as I sit here typing, I’m taking inventory of the actual “living” plants I have in my home — two peace lily plants and one ivy. First question, is that by accident or design?

As a child, one thing I noticed about my mother was she had that knack for growing plants. I can recall one of the first times I observed her going into a place and, when the opportunity presented itself, tore off a piece of someone’s plant, wrapped it in tissue and stored it in her purse. Once she returned home, she immediately got a mason jar or any old glass, put water it in, placed the piece of plant that she acquired in it and sat the jar on the kitchen window-sill to bask in the sun. Periodically, she would change the water as needed. Eventually, the stem would begin to produce roots. The plant stem would remain in the container — for a time she seemed to know best — and then would then be transplanted to a flower pot to allow the roots to come into deeper union with what will now help sustain it — the soil. Oh, but let me not forget to mention another part of her process. There was this old plastic gallon milk jug that she kept underneath the cabinet filled with crushed egg shells. She would make sure she kept water added to that jug of egg shells from which she would “feed” the plants. Once she had a mature plant, she would then repeat this process of tearing, rooting and transplanting and eventually plants were all over the house!

So, back to the state of my three plants. It takes a considerable amount of care and time to grow and sustain plants. You begin to know when it needs water or has had too much water. You determine the best location in the house that’s most advantageous for it getting the proper amount of light. You periodically observe the soil levels and determine if it’s best to add more or whether it’s time to transplant it to a larger container allowing it more room to thrive and grow. My first plant is a small ivy in a large container. The planter actually contained a large palm plant and the ivy was meant to be a filler plant at the base, purely for decoration. However, I have to admit, palm trees and I don’t fare so well. So, when the palm tree died, I removed almost all evidence that it was ever in the planter and the plant that was meant to act as decoration only, the ivy, now remains. My second plant is a mid-sized lily that’s been in my daughter’s room for over 8 years. Instead of taking the risk and shocking the plant, or worse killing it, I’ve allowed it to remain in the same planter for years, and will prune it — which means I cut it back to keep it from growing beyond its present container. My third plant, a luscious, vibrantly green large peace lily sits so lovely in my family room. I’m amazed at how beautiful this plant yet is. You see, I didn’t grow it to its current state, I purchased it that way and hope to prune it as I do the mid-size to keep it from growing beyond its present container (wish me luck). If you’re reading spiritually, as I trust you are, I’ve said some very important things here. The three plants I have are not by accident, but by design. You see, ivy plants are one of the best plants to have for someone who lacks that proverbial “green thumb” — you can neglect them with a lack of water and/or inappropriate sunlight and still it can be brought back to life no matter how badly you’ve cared for it. As for my peace lilies, I’ve learned that if I go too long and forget when I’ve watered it, I can wait until I see signs of the leaves drooping to know it’s time to revive them with appropriate watering.

Revive: to impart new health or vigor or spirit to, to restore the effectiveness of, to renew in the mind, to bring back to consciousness. What good is the salt if it has lost its usefulness or the light if it’s not being turned on? When we see the state of our world — our homes, churches, schools, our cities and states — it makes one wonder, just how concerned are we? The signs of complacency in the church have been evident for quite some time. In some cases the soil is being allowed to harden. In others, the plants have been intentionally cut back so much so that their growth has been stunted. In other cases, the plants have been neglected altogether; they have dried out and died, or where plucked from their place of origin as if they were never there — as if it’s all by design; but whose? The current state of the church is not by accident.

Why aren’t we seeing a revival in the land? Simple, because it’s not wanted. Not that the plants aren’t showing visible signs — they’re thirsty, malnourished, they need appropriate lighting and right conditions to grow and thrive. It reads in 2 Timothy 3:1-5 (ESV), But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people.” 2 Timothy 4:3-4 (ESV) says, “For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.”

Revival will happen when the people of God earnestly pray for it, not because pastors bring in evangelists for a week. True revival is a sovereign work of God. Christ so loved the church and gave Himself for it that He might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the Word. So, “revival” means “to bring to life again.” You can’t bring those to life again who have never been alive before. To be revived, you must have been alive once before. The enemy has sowed weeds among the wheat. Let the church’s prayer be thus today: “Lord, wash me thoroughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin. (Psalm 51:2).” Once the Holy Spirit cleans up the Body of Christ, then He will start drawing the unsaved in.

James 4:8-10: Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded. Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep: let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to heaviness. Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He shall lift you up. Romans 12 exhorts us to be transformed by the renewing of our minds. Let’s pray for revival and come back to consciousness!

Belinda Powell, ©February 2014

Take, Eat … This IS My Body

While they were eating, Jesus took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to his disciples, saying, “Take and eat; this is my body.” Then he took the cup, gave thanks and offered it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you. This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.” Matthew 26:26-28 (NIV)

 When God delivered the Israelites after four hundred years of oppressive slavery in Egypt, millions of Israelites and a “mixed multitude” of others were miraculously led through the Red Sea on their way to the Promised Land.  God provided for their every need on the journey, even feeding them bread from heaven daily.  This manna provided such a perfectly balanced diet that there was not one sick or feeble person among them for forty years.  It filled their bellies and kept their bodies healthy and strong.  However, the mixed multitude who were among them yielded to intense craving; so the children of Israel also wept again and said:  “who will give us meat to eat?  We remember the fish which we ate freely in Egypt, the cucumbers, the melons, the leeks, the onions, and the garlic; but now our whole being is dried up; there is nothing at all except this manna before our eyes.”  (Numbers 11:4-7)

God heard their murmuring and complaining.  God said, “The Lord will give you meat, and you shall eat.  You shall eat, not one day, nor two days, nor five days, nor ten days, nor twenty days, but for a whole month, until it comes out of your nostrils and becomes loathsome to you, because you have despised the Lord.  God sent them quail in such a great abundance they stacked it two and a half feet dep.  And they ate and ate, and while the meat was still between their teeth, before it could be consumed, thousands of them died and were buried there.  And, according to verse 34, that place became known as KibrothHattaavah, which means “The Graves of Lusters,” as a memorial to those who ate themselves right out of the Promised Land.

The Old Testament was a foreshadow of the One who was and did come.  Unlike baptism, which is a one-time event, Communion is a practice that is meant to be observed over and over throughout the life of a Christian.  It is a holy time of worship when we corporately come together as one body to remember and celebrate what Christ did for us.  So why do we observe Communion?

First, we observe Communion because the Lord told us to.  We are to obey His commands:

And when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.” 1 Corinthians 11:24 (NIV)

In observing Communion we are remembering Christ and all that He has done for us in His life, death and resurrection.  The bread and wine are used as symbols representing Christ’s body and blood, in remembrance of his enduring sacrifice.  Also, when observing Communion we are to take time to examine ourselves:

A man ought to examine himself before he eats of the bread and drinks of the cup. 1 Corinthians 11:28 (NIV)

When we observe Communion we show our participation in the body of Christ.  His life becomes our life and we become members of each other:

Is not the cup of thanksgiving for which we give thanks a participation in the blood of Christ?  And is not the bread that we break a participation in the body of Christ?  Because there is one loaf, we, who are many, are one body, for we all partake of the one loaf.  1 Corinthians 10:16-17 (NIV)

There is only one loaf, and we who are many, make up one body.  Ephesians 4:4-6 says, “There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling;  One Lord, one faith, one baptism, One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.”

God sustained the Children of Israel for forty years with manna – bread from heaven and none was sick among them.  It was when they heard the complaining of the mixed multitude that they began to lust for the things they had during their years of bondage.  Are you still feasting on the bread of life?  Is that enough to sustain you or have you given in and gone along with the cries of the mixed multitude?  We have to watch our company.  You see the mixed multitude were not God’s people and God didn’t become incensed when they complained, only when HIS children complained.  You see that mixed multitude was undoubtedly tired of being oppressed in Egypt and while they probably had not come to believe in the God of Israel, what they did come to know was God had shown Himself more powerful than the gods of the Egyptians.  They wanted the benefit of the things of the Children of Israel’s God, but lusted for more than the Bread of Life.  They had all been delivered out of Egypt, but Egypt was still in them.

What are you desiring; what are you lusting after?  Are you satisfied with the Bread of Life?  All that is in the world is lust of the flesh, lust of the eyes and pride of life and those things are not of our Heavenly Father.  The manna — that heavenly bread — which kept the Children contented, filled and healthy, was no longer enough?  Let’s be careful to examine ourselves and not follow in the path of the Children of Israel who lusted, murmured and complained like the mixed multitude.  This is one reason why observing Communion – and doing so often — is vitally important for God’s children.  I Corinthians 11:27-29 says, “Therefore whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner, shall be guilty of the body and the blood of the Lord.  But a man must examine himself, and in so doing he is to eat of the bread and drink of the cup.  For he who eats and drinks, eats and drinks judgment to himself if he does not judge the body rightly.”  The Word says this is why many are weak and ill, and some have died.  God gave the Children of Israel what they lusted after.  All those who died, the Children of Israel and the mixed multitude, ate themselves out of the Promise Land; let’s not do likewise.  Jesus says in John 6:35:  “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.

Lord, it is the pure in heart that shall see God.  I ask that You create in us a clean heart and renew a right spirit within us.  Give us this day our daily bread.  Amen.  Amen!

Belinda Powell, © February 2014