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Thursday, September 17, 2015

Preach the Gospel to Yourself as a Parent

I recently had the joy and privilege of sharing a devotional at a friend's baby shower. My theme was "parenting gives you daily opportunities to preach the Gospel to yourself." (Tweet that!)

That phrase may not be familiar to you: "preach the Gospel to yourself." I only began to be aware of that particular wording several years ago. Although I knew what the Gospel is and about "witnessing" (which is telling others about the Gospel), I hadn't heard the idea of "preaching it to myself." 

I could have benefited from the idea when I was a mom with kids at home. As it was, I was a very angry and depressed mom when our daughter was two and our son a newborn. Even though I knew Jesus forgave my sins, somehow I didn't think the "Gospel" was applicable to me on a daily basis during that time. After all, I'd already responded to the Gospel and received Christ as my Lord and Savior. I knew I was a Christian but that seemed to be as far as the Gospel needed to cover. 

But the Gospel should be rehearsed by Christians every day, sometimes every moment, and parenting is an especially ripe area for needing to do that. 

Let's rehearse the message of the Gospel:
Because Jesus died for our sins, rose from the grave, ascended into heaven, and reigns forever, we can be assured of forgiveness, cleansing, power, and hope. 

That is a message we can apply to every day of our lives. Here's a description of not preaching the Gospel on one of my bad days of parenting. 

I yell at Darcy and feel horrible. I rehearse how I yelled the day before and feel so ashamed that I don't ask God to forgive me. Instead I tell myself, "Now I've done it again and certainly God is frustrated with me because I told Him I wouldn't do it again yet I did! Why didn't I use the Holy Spirit's power? Because I didn't, I've ruined Darcy's life and there's no way she can grow up to be a normal person and we'll certainly never have a good relationship."  Only when I'm about to fall asleep has my shame and embarrassment dissipated enough that I pray and ask God to forgive all my sins from the day. 

STOP! That's not the Gospel! That's believing Satan's lies. And rehearsing his lies brought me to the point of almost committing suicide because I was convinced I would eventually kill my daughter in one of my rages and there was no hope.


Here's how I could have preached the Gospel to myself:

After I yell at Darcy, I remind myself that Jesus died on the cross for this very sin, not just to "save" me but to forgive me for every single sinful choice I make. Right then, I can ask God to forgive me and based upon what Jesus did on the cross, and though not deserving it, I can receive forgiveness.

Then I could remind myself that I am cleansed. God cleans the slate each time and He never says "you did it again." He doesn't keep a record of wrongs and I can claim my cleansing. I don't have to beat myself up but instead believe God's promise. Isaiah 43:12 says, "I, even I, am the one who wipes out your transgressions for My own sake, and I will not remember your sins."

Then I could rehearse the fact that the Holy Spirit's power is now available to help me the next time I'm tempted. That's why He wants to forgive and cleanse me. I'm a fresh receptacle for the Spirit's help which will bring Him glory. That's why I shouldn't wait until all my sins have piled up and take them to Him before bed. I can preach the Gospel to myself moment by moment as I need it and be empowered for righteousness.

Finally, I have hope because the sovereign God has a plan for my child that can't be thwarted even by my anger. Jesus is in heaven reigning in realms beyond our understanding and He knows how He's going to redeem every mistake and sin I make. He promises to use everything, even my sin, for my good and His glory--and that applies to my child. And besides, I can't be a perfect parent (though I'll try as much as possible), so that my child will need God. (Tweet that!) If I'm perfect, my child will need me because I would then be all he needs. But he needs to preach the Gospel to himself every day.

Psalm 127:3 tells us, "Behold, children are a gift of the Lord, the fruit of the womb is a reward."

The next time you think of that verse, let it remind you that our children are a gift and a reward for many reasons including giving us plenty of opportunities to preach the Gospel to ourselves.

And by the way, God delivered me from my anger and today my daughter and I have a wonderful relationship and she loves God!


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