Caught in the Snare – Part 1: The Lure of Pleasure

When we think of snares, the first thing we think about is traps.  The hunters that lay the snares, position them in two different ways:  1.  Hdden, so well you can’t really see or notice the snare.  2.  Positioned in plain sight.  Merriam-Webster Dictionary gives some definitions that I find so interesting.  It states:

  • A device that has a loop (called a noose) which gets smaller when the end of it is pulled and that is used to catch animals : a kind of trap
  • A position or situation from which it is difficult to escape:
    • (a) something by which one is entangled, involved in difficulties, or impeded
    • (b) something deceptively attractive

One may be asking, why are they speaking about snares for animals?  The parallel we want to draw is this, can we as God’s professed people especially our families  be so caught up in the cares and affairs of this life (career, friends, family, relationships, fun, entertainment, money, houses, gain, worldly ambition, success, grades, acknowledgement, etc.) , that we unknowingly, carelessly, or even intentionally walk right into the snares that Satan has set for us?  The answer is YES!

If our families are not diligent “to make your calling and election sure” – 2 Peter 1:10  Studying “to shew thyself approved unto God,” being “a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” – 2 Timothy 2:15  It can and will be so easy for any one of our family members to fall into any snare that Satan has set in our path. How do we get caught up in the snare of Satan?  The lure of pleasure.

The truth of the matter is, if sin didn’t look appealing no one would want to take part.  Satan has set up innumerable devices to lure and entice us, especially our children.  He appeal to our carnal natures to get us to slip and fall right into his traps.  The first step may be the hardest, finally dismissing the Holy Spirit’s promptings, then giving into that sin that may seem small and innocent in the beginning.  However, if we do not submit ourselves unto God, resisting the devil, he will not rest until we have gone down the extremely slippery slope of immorality and pure wickedness.

As long as our family members keep creeping so close to the edge of temptations, much like the animals who in their curiosity sniff and try the snare, one wrong choice can get the” loop” of sin caught around our necks.  Then when we, by ourselves, try to escape the the “noose” of sin, it in turn gets smaller tightening around us not wanting to let go.  Our loving Savior, however, doesn’t even desire for any one in our family to reach that point of being captured.

In God’s word it states “Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” – Matthew 26:41 We may think ourselves to be strong, that we can break apart the snare at any time if we fall captive.  We may think we have the best intentions as to why we were playing around with the snare to begin with.  But God’s word is sure, as a family we must watch and pray!  If our families were diligently doing our part, we would at once notice the snare, and by submitting to God turn the other way.  Our spirit is always willing to obey and follow Christ, but we are weak, helpless and hopeless without His help.

While the rest of the world is in bondage to Satan’s devices, it may seem, especially to our children, that everyone else is enjoying the pleasures of this world.  Our children may be confused and even upset that we as a family are taking a stand to not partake of the “seemingly” innocent worldly pleasures of today.  However, God’s word is sure that we should be “choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season;” – Hebrews 11:25 We must explain to our families that we are raising and molding our sacred circle to be fit for Heaven above, and we cannot be ready for Heaven if we are lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God (2 Timothy 3:5).  The snare of the lure of pleasure may seem strong, but God’s love and power to overcome and obtain victory is much stronger because the devil is already a defeated foe.

This hymn states it best, on how we can avoid any snares of Satan:

“Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face,
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,
In the light of His glory and grace.”

God Bless,

The Family Blueprint

The All-Important Consideration—Let none begin to believe that amusements are essential and that a careless disregard of the Holy Spirit during hours of selfish pleasure is to be looked upon as a light matter. God will not be mocked. Let every young man, every young woman, consider: “Am I prepared today for my life to close? Have I the heart preparation that fits me to do the work which the Lord has given me to do?” – The Youth’s Instructor, August 14, 1906.

Race Problems, Sin Problems

When it comes to race/cultural issues in the world, which are many and are not limited to black vs. white, I have my opinions which I discuss with my family but never publicly.  Does that make me an accomplice to the problem?  I think not.

You see, growing up I never really felt accepted by people of my own ethnicity.  In fact I was told many times that I “don’t ‘act’ black” and I “wasn’t black enough”.  I was teased, sometimes tormented, and made to feel inferior by those who I thought would accept me because they “looked” like me.  While I eventually attempted to change my behavior to fit in, in my pre-teen years I became accepted by a nice group, but I felt somewhat battered and defeated for previously being who I was.

I attended a very culturally diverse school from kindergarten through high school, my bestest friends (and still are to this day) became those of the Caucasian and Asian persuasion.  They have always had nothing but acceptance and unconditional love for me, even when it seemed like I was  “trying to find myself” and began distancing myself from them in an attempt to assimilate to a more ethnic group of people that seemed like they didn’t want me.

My whole life I felt as though I lived on both sides of the fence, teetering between “not black enough” and “too ethnic”.  Even though growing up I felt unaccepted by my own culture/race I experienced racism by those who knew I was indeed black.  In kindergarten a girl told me I couldn’t pet her hamster because it “didn’t like black people”.  In high school when visiting a local mall, the girl watching the dressing rooms allowed all my school friends to go in, and even girls behind me, but never served me.  I know what it’s like to be in the car with a black male, my brother, and we get pulled over in a “not so good” neighborhood by a cop of a different ethnic persuasion for no real reason.  I witnessed my brother getting patted down while he was holding his bible wearing a t-shirt, basketball shorts and flip flops as we were on our way home from prayer meeting.

My purpose of saying all of this was to point out one thing.  The reason why all this happens is because of a three letter word…S-I-N.  Sin is the reason people feel unaccepted, sin is the reason why people are gunned down and murdered due to their skin color, sin is the reason why people experience abuse of all kinds, sin is the reason why we have people living in tent cities, sin is the reason why a person can work 2 to 3 jobs and still barely manage to put food on the table, sin is the reason why sex trafficking is a booming billion dollar industry, sin is the reason why people lie to cover up their heinous crimes and inexcusable actions.  Sin!  SIn!!  SIN!!!  When are we, as professed followers of God, finally going to put the wickedness of this world in its proper context?

As long as we live in this SINFUL world we will unfortunately have all these horrible, gut wrenching and heinous crimes coming up in our lives and in the news.  This by no means is to be dismissive to the families who are having to live through the horror of these unfortunate events, nor encourageable to those committing such acts.  However, as a Christian, my first reaction is always “I pray he knew the Lord when he breathed his last breath.”  While by no means am I saying he didn’t, but what have we as Christians been doing to spread the message of God and His love?

This post is by no means dismissing the racial, cultural and financial disparity that exists ALL OVER THE WORLD.  However, as long as people are unconverted, unsanctified, unholy and God-less we will continue to have all this heartbreaking wickedness in this world.  What are we as Christians doing to put a stop to it?  Are we showing others by our ACTIONS and THEN OUR WORDS, that the only way to have a reformation is by having a heart transformation?  No rules, rebellion, outcry, social media outlet, petition, nor legislation can change the heart of a person.  With that as the reality, are we making our calling and election sure with God our Maker, Jesus our Savior?  God forbid, if we become the next #murdervictim will the next voice we hear be Christ welcoming us into those pearly gates?  These are the questions we should all be asking ourselves as professed followers of Christ.  Will we be ready to meet our Lord when He comes?  Lastly, have we helped others, including our enemies, be ready as well?

[10] For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad. [11] Therefore, knowing the fear of the Lord, we persuade men, but we are made manifest to God; and I hope that we are made manifest also in your consciences.

2 Corinthians 5:10-11

God Bless,

Family Blueprint

A Parent’s Weapon of Warfare

As Christian parents, it seems like we wait to train our kids to turn to God in prayer and depend upon Him and His help in situations.  I’ve always wondered why we wait until our children are tweens/teenagers before we start asking them “Have you prayed about your situation/decision first?”  Why don’t we train them from young, babyhood even, to always turn to God in prayer first?

One thing my husband and I have been trying to consistently implement recently with our children is “ALWAYS pray first”.  When the child(ren) are being obstinate, instead of getting frustrated as the parent and possibly being reactive, PRAY FIRST.  When that almost two year old is having that fit because they want cake instead of vegetables (my situation yesterday), PRAY FIRST.  When the child(ren) are fighting or being argumentative, instead of engaging the battle with your own weapons of warfare (i.e. visible frustration, discipline, yelling, arguing, etc.) use God’s weapon and PRAY FIRST.

Don’t walk away from the situation thinking it will resolve itself (unless you can’t control your own self, which is another issue).  Don’t engage the situation with anger or visible frustration but engage it with prayer.  When it comes to your children, pray with them, pray for them & allow them to do it themselves, repeating after you if possible/necessary.  If we believe that prayer can change our situations as adults (whether employment, financial, relationships, etc.) why do we not believe that SAME God can fix this emotional roller coaster/tirade with our children?  Will the battle be vehement?  YES!! When is a battle not?  Will it require patience and effort?  YES!!  When do situations not?  Will the warfare require consistency and endurance?  YES!!  When do wars not?  Will the engagements be many?  POSSIBLY!!!  How many wars have you seen end in one battle/engagement alone?

Many times as Christan parents we pray “I need patience God”, “help me with forgiveness Jesus”, “increase my faith Lord”, and I can go down the list but when the trials come to help us learn to depend upon God’s strength and help, we result to our old measures of self instead of prayer first, dependence, then walking by faith.  Then we wonder why our children don’t depend on Jesus and turn to Him first either. (God just hit me over the head with that sentence…man!)  James 1:3-6 says “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.  If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed.”

One day we were at a park with some friends, this was in the beginning of our “ALWAYS pray first” journey.  One of our friends’ daughters ran off and wasn’t listening to anyone when told to come back.  My husband said he would go after her.  We watched the scene unfold, but he later told us she had ran up some stairs and was standing their with her arms folded refusing to come down (the battle).  He said he was arguing with her to obey and come down (his own weapon of warfare).  Of course she refused as a typical 2/3 year old child would. My husband he said he could see her visibly getting more obstinate by the minute.  He then remembered our newly formed implementation.  So he told her that he was going to pray for her to allow Jesus in her heart (God’s weapon of choice), and he did out loud.  By the time he was finished she was smiling, coming down the stairs, then grabbed his hand and skipped all the way back to our group.  The power of prayer!

Last night we were at a dinner after a funeral, my kids were happily eating their food when my husband brought over what everyone thought was cake.  The battle then ensued.  While my 6 and 3.5 year old both knew food first then dessert, my almost 2 year old wanted it right then.  She then let everyone know her distaste for our choice to make her eat her vegetables first.  I attempted to speak to her calmly and rationally (my weapon of warfare), which didn’t accomplish much.  I then removed her from the situation (the cake), and began to pray for myself that God would give me the patience and fortitude to deal with the over emotional, loud tirad.  After I prayed for myself first, silently,then I prayed for her in her hearing (God’s weapon of choice).  Did she immediately change?  Not quite, after prayer she was still upset and asking for comfort items to get me distracted.  I calmly repeated to her that she would not have cake and was going to eat her vegetables.  Then in faith, claiming the promise that God would work on her, I went back to my seat, sat her in my lap and began to feed her.  She ate every last one of her vegetables AND some of her brothers food…The power of prayer!

People may be saying, why are you relating parenting to a battle/warfare?  Because we, with God’s help, are battling against Satan for the souls of our children.  Who will win?  Who’s side will our children eventually take allegiance with due to our efforts and example?  2 Corinthians 10:4-6 says [4] (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) [5] Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ; [6] And having in a readiness to revenge all disobedience, when your obedience is fulfilled.  That text to me sums up parenting.  We cannot use our own weapons (anger, hostility, yelling, harsh words & tones, etc) when trying to save our children, we must “ALWAYS pray first”.  We have to put our thoughts/imagination and self aside and stop thinking we can do better than God or know more than Him in parenting.  We need to raise the white flag and surrender our will (what we THINK should happen to/with our child(ren)) to God.  When all that is said and done, we can and will revenge (meaning defeat) all disobedience, using God’s method, but only once our obedience to Him is fulfilled.

God Bless,

The Family Blueprint

In this generation

Raising children in this day and age is difficult; especially when society is swiftly changing to go against everything you stand for as a parent.  Most parents don’t want their children being gangsters or murderers, however, much music and television of today glorifies the lifestyle.

I’m not only speaking about music like “gangster” rap, I’m also speaking about music like death metal, yes that is classified as a music genre.  Most parents want their daughters to have self-respect and honor their bodies in dress and deportment, as it is a precious temple (1 Corinthians 6:19-20) not to be taken advantage of.  However, when their innocent daughters look at TV, magazines and in clothing stores and even in coloring books, being “lady-like” and/or childlike seems like a thing of the past, and old fashioned.  While as a parent you may desire your children to be good and amazing citizens, they are being bombarded with just the opposite.

in this generation

We live in a society that “call[s] evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!” – Isaiah 5:20 KJV  We live in a society in which a little girl could get ridiculed for covering her body with clothing, because society is saying “be free” which equates to “expose yourself to the limit and no one better say anything”.  We live in a society in which speaking clearly and correctly is deemed as  distancing yourself from your “culture”.  We live in a society that preaches no rules, and if you live your life with self-control/self-restraint your in deemed as being in bondage or suppressed.

The real prevailing issue with our society is the same issue that happened in the days of old, found in the book of Judges in the bible.  The crux of the matter is this “In those days there was no king in Israel: every man did that which was right in his own eyes.” – Judges 21:25 KJV.  While Israel didn’t have an “official” human king, God was desiring to be their King and lead them.  However, due to their unbelief and doubt they didn’t allow God to rule.  Same with society today, in this generation there is so much doubt and unbelief in God that people don’t desire Him to lead them in their lives.  Therefore people are just “following their hearts” or “doing what is right in their own eyes”, or “being free”.  Yet everyone wants to condemn the thief, the pedophile, the homosexual, the drunkard, the abuser, the fornicator, and the adulterer, but fail to realize they are just “following their hearts” and desires like everyone else.  The issue with everyone following their hearts is they are not realizing that everyone’s “heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it? – Jeremiah 17:9  

The only way as Christian parents to live and raise children in this generation is to “be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.”  – Romans 12:2 KJV.  As Christian parents, you yourself must “love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. […].” – 1 John 2:15  By our example we must show our children how to stand for the right, for what God desires of them, living in this generation even though it seems like they are going against the grain.

If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you. John 15:19

For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul? – Matthew 16:26

God Bless,

Family Blueprint

One of the biggest influences in this world is…

When you think about the biggest influences in the world, what comes to mind?  Presidents, prime ministers, pastors, people, religion or lack their of, governments, belief systems, faith, morals, the pope…so many things come to mind, right?  However, the most influential part of our society is composed of a six letter word…FAMILY.

family walking away

How is it, that a family can be the most influential part of society?  Easy…where do people learn love, dependability, trust, relation, honor, respect, financial stability, boundaries, speech, beliefs, morals, proper & improper behavior, etc.?  THE HOME!!!  I can’t say this any louder than I can type it.

Everyone’s first encounter with the “real world”  and how to conduct oneself is all learned inside of the home.  How we react and cope, the decisions we make are all based off of a “belief system” that stems from our first household.  Whether or not we have the same belief system we did as children growing up, our adulthood and the way we view life, and deal with it, is dependent upon our first influence in the home.  For example, in some instances a person who was abused in the home may have a hard time relating to others in the area of trust.  Another example could be a person who grew up in a financially stable environment, they could make the conscience effort to follow in their parents footsteps to ensure the same for themselves or their own family…

Take a look at this quote:  

Home Is the Heart of All Activity—Society is composed of families, and is what the heads of families make it. Out of the heart are “the issues of life”; and the heart of the community, of the church, and of the nation is the household. The well-being of society, the success of the church, the prosperity of the nation, depend upon home influences{AH 15.1}

Even with our heads of government, the decisions they make for our nations, states/parishes, cities and neighborhoods are influenced by their first environment, the home, that their parents/guardians provided and then by the culture of today.

If only every parent realized the effect of their home influence on how it impacts our society, and pray to change their course for the better, the world could be a different place…all the turmoil we see in the world today:  kidnapping, murders, indecency, selfishness, thieving, greed, cruelty, abuse, hate, and all the like could be diminished if parents took up their God given duty and actually parent-ed their offspring.

holding home

I know I am far from the most perfect parent.  God had revealed so many things to me in reference to my parenting that I have had to do many “revamps”.  Transforming the way my husband and I run our household and the way we interact with our children.  A few years ago we used to rule our household with an “iron fist” due to other people’s “encouragement”/suggestions.  You know how you receive so much “advice”, or better yet people’s personal opinions, either wanted or unwanted and you attempt to put it into practice…well not everything is meant for everyone nor is it always true.

On one hand our “iron fist” approach was bringing about obedience, but we came to realize it wasn’t driven by love for one another.  Jesus stated in John 14:15If ye love me, keep my commandments.”  That same concept of love bringing about obedience shouldn’t only be for our relationship with Christ but should extend to our households.  It wasn’t until an incident happened at worship that God was able to speak to me.

One day while having family worship, I had asked my daughter who was around 3 years old at the time “Baby, don’t you want to go to heaven?”  Her response rocked me to the core:  “No mommy, God is scary…”.  In that instance God was able to speak to me and let me know, something has got to give.  Parents WE are our children’s first perception to whom God is.  How are we treating our children?  How are we raising our precious little ones?  Do we speak in kind, loving tones or are we abrupt and harsh?  Are we gentle and loving or are we rough?  As many times as I have heard  we are our children’s first experience of Christ, it wasn’t until my little girl said that to me, that I realized I needed a serious change in my own life.

Over the last three years since that conversation happened between my daughter and I, the Lord has moved some pretty serious obstacles that I thought would never be removed in our mother-daughter relationship.  I will speak about those obstacles in a future blog (and link it here).  However, I laid hold on that promise found in Luke 1:37 “For with God nothing shall be impossible” and God was able to mold and fashion me into a new creature and old things are being passed away as I type (2 Corinthians 5:17).  I am so grateful to God for His mercy and this revelation, that I was able to redeem the time, and allow Him to help me turn things around for the better.  Praise God He made kids so forgiving and resilient!!  I see why the bible says we must be like little children if we want to inherit the kingdom of God (Matthew 18:3).

I gave that little testimony to show, our families – what happens in our homes dictate how our children relate to everything in their sphere.  Are we raising them to be a positive change in this world and a perfect fit for Heaven above?  Lets pray that we allow God to mold our characters, as parents, so we can by example mold our children’s character to one that Christ desires.

God Bless

Moral and Spiritual Guidance Must Be Given—Parents need to be impressed with their obligation to give to the world children having well-developed character—children who will have moral power to resist temptation, and whose life will be an honor to God and a blessing to their fellow men. Those who enter upon active life with firm principles will be prepared to stand unsullied amid the moral pollutions of this corrupt age. {CG 189.3}