A Secure Walk

The character trait for the month of July is Integrity.  I especially like the Proverb given on July 19.

The man of integrity walks securely,

but he who takes crooked paths will be found out.

 Proverbs 10:9

The first question I ask, however, is what does a person of integrity look like?  Certainly honesty or truth telling is involved, but it is so much more than that.  I like one of the definitions given by Webster’s–the quality of being complete; unbroken condition; entirety.  It suggests a well-rounded wholeness, a soundness lacking nothing.  A person of integrity is like a boulder, solid, weighty.   It can not be moved no matter what the circumstance surrounding it.

Wouldn’t we all like to be people of integrity?  Walking securely without any distractions to divert us from the true path?  Unfortunately, this is not the way I walk many times.  I allow my emotions or circumstances to lead me along crooked paths which are not secure.  Rather than a boulder as my footing, it is sand that shifts this way and that.

This is why I must look to the only person with perfect integrity–the Lord Jesus Himself.  He, alone, has the power I need to walk with wholeness on a secure path.  He really is the Rock that cannot be moved, no matter what my circumstance.

This is the prayer for my granddaughters today.  That they would look to the Perfect man of integrity, and allow Him to keep them on a secure path.

Blessings to you and may your path this week be secure in Jesus,

Pam

Resting in Righteousness

The character trait we are praying for our grandchildren for the month of November is righteousness.   Jesus made an interesting observation about righteousness in Matthew 5:20.   “Unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and the Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven.”

Why would Jesus say this about these good moral people of His day?  After all, the scribes and the Pharisees were the teachers and authority of the law.  They were the outstanding religious leaders of the nation of Israel.  Unfortunately these good moral people had “drawn up rules and regulations for life and conduct which in their stringency went far beyond anything God required.  Their teaching was false and hollow, and Jesus had to present to the people the true teaching on righteousness.  (D. Martin Lloyd Jones).

How easy it would be for me to criticize these religious leaders.  The truth is, I am also guilty of this.  How often do I set up standards to define a “real” Christian—theological bent, church affiliation, dress, music, political party, etc.?  Whether I realize it or not, this is a type of “works righteousness”.  Trying to fulfill these self-imposed requirements to make me “right” with God, my fellow man, and even myself.  There is a line in the song, Come Ye Sinners, I just love—

 If you tarry til you’re bettter, you will never come at all. 

Not the righteous, not the righteous, Jesus came to call.

 That is the answer the scribes and Pharisees missed, and I often forget.  We will NEVER be better!!  We can never “clean-up” our act enough.  That is the point!  We can never fulfill the law perfectly as is required.  But Jesus has on our behalf.  Don’t you get weary of trying to merit approval?  First from God, then from people?

 This is the prayer for my granddaughters today.  That they would understand the great gift that is theirs in Jesus, His righteousness.  And then as they experience the freedom this brings, they could learn how to rest in His righteousness.

A very happy and “restful” Thanksgiving to you,

Pam

Too Much of a Good Thing May Be a Bad Thing

In our book, My Grandmother Is. . . praying for me, the month of August is devoted to the character trait of self-control.  As my friend, Kathy, said last week in her blog, there are many aspects of  self-control–speech, behavior, thoughts, etc.  I particularly resonated with Proverbs 25:16, given on August 22.

     If you find honey, eat just enough–too much of it, and you will vomit.

This seems like such a simple command.  As sweet and delicious as honey is, do not eat too much of it.  Eat just enough or you will become sick.  It reminds me of a comment I heard years ago when a very tall, thin friend was chastising our very chubby overweight friend.  “What’s the big deal?  said our thin friend.  “Just don’t overeat!”

How easy to pontificate about temptations that are not our own!  Well, all I can say is our thin friend may not understand, but I do, and so does my little overstuffed literary friend, Winnie the Pooh.  That little stuffed bear goes to all kinds of extremes when it comes to securing honey– soaring to the tree tops disguised as a cloud, enduring the attack of killer bees, as well as the humiliation of being “a Wedged Bear in Great Tightness” for over a week.  All in the name of honey!

In today’s therapeutic vernacular , Piglet’s best friend is a “honey addict” with no self-control.   Perhaps that is why I love this little bear!  I, too, love food, especially sweets, and do not always control myself as I should.  Perhaps Pooh is like me in that eating sweets somehow transports me back to the simpler more peaceful time of my childhood.  More and more “honey” promises comfort to all the stresses I feel in this adult life.  Unfortunately, such promises are empty lies, and instead of providing lasting comfort, only provide a stomach ache or, if continued over a long period of time, a serious illness.

Because he is a bear of “very little brain,” Pooh may not realize there is a much deeper issue involved than merely craving honey.  Our obsession is not really about honey, but a “savior” who will help us make life work.  A lack of self-control in any area of life–food, money, sex, work, etc. is a symptom of a deeper need.

Sooooooo, how shall I pray for those sweet granddaughters when it comes to self-control?  My prayer for them, as for myself, is that when the Holy Spirit reveals this inability to control myself, I will not despair that I have failed again.   Instead, I pray that His prompting will cause me to run to the One who had, who has, and who will always have, perfect self-control, the Lord Jesus.  He is the real Savior who brings lasting comfort and peace.

Grace to you (especially when you have no self-control) 🙂

Pam

 

 

It’s All About Self Control

During the month of August, Self-Control is the topic of the prayers in our book, My Grandmother is… praying for me.  So, each morning as I am praying for this trait to be developed in my grandchildren, I’m thinking, “what about me?”  I know that I need prayers for this character trait as much as anyone!  Many of the verses in Proverbs about self-control are directed towards the tongue.  James 3 indicates that the tongue is almost impossible to control, and implies that if we could control our tongue, we could better direct the course of our lives.

My Own Experience

Picture of son and his family

Stephen, Emily and our granddaughter Abby

In the past month, I have had the opportunity to be with my son and his family who live in China, but were visiting here in the States.   I am sure you would not be surprised to find out that they live their lives quite differently than I do mine.  My life is quite orderly – I like plans, schedules, routines and deadlines.  At my house, we eat dinner at about the same time each night, I exercise regularly, go to bed early, and keep a planner that directs my daytime activities.  Their lives, however, are much more flexible – they are more spontaneous, adventurous and, dare I say, FUN!  They are relational and easily serve the needs of others because of their adaptability.  The difficulty is that I often want them to function just like me.  I want them to be aware of the details of their days, the plans they need to make, and the particular commitments they may be obligated to meet.  And, I want to tell them that they should live life my way, to convince them of the benefits of structure.  But, that is all about me trying to control them and not expressing love and affirmation for who they are. Now, I know that we all may need to change a bit – sometimes they may have to be more scheduled, and there are definitely times when I need to “loosen up.”  But, I also recognize that God has created each of us uniquely to serve how and where He has called us and that it is His business to change us into His image.  He doesn’t need my help through nagging, confrontation, begging or subtle jabs.  He just needs me to loosen my control and trust that His work is being completed in each of us as He deems best.

Check out the month of August for more about prayers for Self-Control in My Grandmother is…praying for me!

Have a great week!

Kathy

A Gracious Winner

In our book, My Grandmother Is. . . praying for me, we pray for certain character traits each month for our grandchildren.  The title page for the month of April reads, May My Grandchild Possess Graciousness.  Through the grid of the Book of Proverbs we are praying the Lord will develop in each of our grandchildren a mind and heart full of grace.

What do you think of when you hear the words grace, gracious, or graciousness?  For me they conjure up thoughts of beauty, loveliness, kindness, compassion.  I think of a ballerina pirouetting through the air with elegance and grace.  Or a delicious dinner lovingly prepared and beautifully served for friends or family.  Or a big sister as she tenderly kisses her baby sister after she has suffered a fall.

Recently I had an unexpected experience of grace from a complete stranger.  It was in the parking lot of my church where I was busying loading my car with bags and boxes for an upcoming  teacher appreciation luncheon at a nearby public school.  As I carefully maneuvered the cart to and fro holding all my packages, I failed to see a young man walk up to me.   “May I help you?” he asked.  “Oh, I am fine, thank you,” I responded.  “No, please, I am going your way and would be glad to help.” he countered.

As he took the cart and I carried more bags, we chatted along the way.  When we finally reached our destination, I introduced myself and said I was sorry, but did not think I had met him before.   He told me his name, and I immediately recognized it as the name of the basketball coach who had just won the high school state championship.  “Well, I have certainly heard your name before.  Congratulations!”  He smiled and said thank you.

As I drove away that day, I thought now there is the kind of character I would like to see in my grandchildren.   This young man who could have been full of himself with his recent state victory was gracious enough to notice a woman, a complete stranger, fumbling with boxes and bags as she loaded her car, and then insist on helping until the job was completed.  That is what I would call a Gracious Winner on and off the basketball court!!

May the Lord give you much grace this week,

Pam

Fearing the LORD is a Good Place to Be

 “The fear of the LORD teaches a man wisdom, and humility comes before honor.” Prov. 15:33.

January’s character trait is faithfulness, and this verse is given on January 9.  Have you ever wondered what it means to “fear” the Lord?  God’s people know it does not mean a cowering fear or terror, but an attitude of awe and reverence.  I really thought I understood at least a little bit of godly fear.  Every time I would go to the beach and see  the vastness of the ocean or take a hike in majestic mountain peaks, I would marvel at the Creator who could bring such things into being. It also made me realize how small and humble I was in comparison.

But I must confess it was last April, that I had a new appreciation for the power of God and what it means to fear Him.  I was supposed to stop and see a college friend in Meridian, Mississippi,  on my way to visit my family in Louisiana.  Unfortunately the day I was to leave was the day the tornadoes swept through Mississippi and  Alabama.  Before really listening to the news the next morning, I left early and headed toward Birmingham.

When I stopped just north of Huntsville to get gas, I found lines of cars at every service station.  It took me 30 minutes to get back on the interstate without gas.   Realizing I did not want to continue to Birmingham and Tuscaloosa, I headed across west Alabama to Tupelo, Mississippi, where I could get on the Natchez Trace.  About 8 to 10 miles before I was to get off the Trace and connect with interstate 55, I began to see the path of the tornadoes.  I began seeing trees on either side of the road cut in half like match sticks.  Huge age-old trees yanked up by the roots.   And the longer I drove the more devastation I saw!!   And before I knew it, I was speaking aloud in the car.  And I was saying things like ”What could do this?  What has the Power to do this?  Who did this?  And then I found myself saying, “Oh LORD, I am so sorry!  I am so sorry!  I have so underestimated your power!”  When I related this story to my friend, she said “Pam, don’t you know what was happening?  You were worshipping!”  And I had to acknowledge she was right.  I was worshipping in a way I had never done before, and with a humility that so vividly recognized, “He is God and I am not”.

Surely this must be a good place in which to find ourselves.  It is only in the fertile soil of a humility that confesses the sovereign power and majesty of God that allows wisdom to grow and flourish.

Have a good week.

Pam

A Lesson of Prayer on the Highway

A few weeks ago I had gone over to pick up my two oldest granddaughters, Mary Chase (6) and Kathryn (3) for the weekend.  My desire was to give our daughter a little break even though she still had Jane, our youngest granddaughter age 1.   Our daughter, Miriam, said having one child seemed like a “piece of cake” in comparison to juggling 3 little girls.  With the two safely strapped into the back seat, we struck out for what should have been about a 3 hour trip back to Nashville.

After traveling about 30 minutes the traffic came to a complete halt. I confess to some trepidation because not too many months previously I was stuck on this very same highway for 4 hours.  “What is it, Honey?” said Mary Chase. (“Honey” is my grandmother name.)  “I am not sure.  There may have been an accident.”  “I don’t like this, said Mary Chase, “I’m going to pray.”  How delighted I was to hear my little granddaughter’s first response to be that of prayer!  “That is a wonderful idea, Mary Chase.”

After about 10 minutes with no movement, I hear a small voice in the back seat ask, “Honey, why are we not moving?  God has not answered my prayer, and I have prayed 3 times!!”  “Well, Mary Chase, perhaps God HAS answered our prayers, but just not in the way we expected.  For all we know there might be an accident up ahead, with people needing help and that takes time and attention.  He might be teaching US to be patient.”  While she certainly did not completely understand my reasoning, I could tell she trusted me and seemed somewhat pacified with my answer.   After about 50 minutes the traffic began to move, and we did see evidence of  an accident, a car on a tow truck.  Within  a few more minutes we were on our way to Nashville with no more interruptions.

As I have reflected on this incident, I could not help but see myself in my little granddaughter’s anxiety and fear, and  her questioning God’s answer and timing to her prayers.  Just like my granddaughter did not have my broader perspective as an adult, I do not have God’s perfect eternal perspective.  Sometimes we are able to see why things happen like they do, i.e. the towed car, but many times we have no idea.   The bottom line with my little granddaughter was that she had to trust a grandmother who loves her and wants to protect her.   The bottom line for me is that I must trust a heavenly Father who loves me and wants to protect me as well.  And while I may not always  have explanations for the “why” in my life, I do always have explanations of  the “who”.

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son,  that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. John 3:16

Blessings,

Pam

A Three Hundred Year Old Lesson

Recently I had to obtain a tetanus shot for an upcoming mission’s trip out of the country.  My physician’s nurse told me to run by their office, and they could quickly work me in with no problem.  Being the dutiful patient, that is exactly what I did.  Unfortunately the young receptionist apparently forgot I was there.  After an hour and forty minutes I asked her if she had forgotten about my tetanus shot.  I watched and overheard as she called to a nurse who responded she did not know anything about me.  Quickly I was ushered in with no hint of an apology or a simple “so sorry”.

I so wish I could say my first impulse was to reflect the graciousness of Jesus, but it was not.  My first impulse was extreme irritation and a desire to angrily snap at these two young women about the preciousness of my time, and how they had caused me to miss my weekly Bible study.  A lecture about being gracious toward their patients was forming in my mind, but thankfully the Lord intervened and helped me respond in a way more pleasing to Him.

A few days after this episode occurred at the doctor’s office, I began reading a book called Susanna, Mother of the Wesleys. This is a biography of Susanna Wesley, the mother of John and Charles Wesley, the founders of Methodism.  Susanna was born in London in 1669 in an English parsonage, the youngest of twenty children.  The book goes on to describe the life of most people in England during the time in which Susanna Wesley lived.   Life was not easy.  Lack of good nutrition and proper medical care along with unsanitary methods accounted for an enormous death rate, exceeding the birthrate.   Smallpox was rampant, carrying off 1/13th of the population until Jenner’s vaccination discovery.

Susanna Wesley had nineteen children, nine of whom died in infancy or at a very young age.  She lost five babies in rapid succession from 1698 to 1701.  John Wesley in later life spoke of the serenity which his mother lived her life.  Three hundred years later I can only imagine the anguish this mother must have experienced with the death of each of her children.  Surely there are no words to describe the emotions felt by Susanna Wesley as she buried nine little babies.

As I read about Susanna Wesley’s life, I began to reflect on my little “episode” at the doctor’s office.  I wondered how she would have responded at having to wait for an hour and forty minutes?  Would she have become impatient at such an inconvenience?  Somehow I think she would not have minded.  In fact I suspect time would have been the last thing on her mind.  Gratefulness to God for medicine to prevent disease in her children might have been preeminent in her mind and heart.

What a different perspective Susanna Wesley’s life has given me!  Lord, help me to learn from the life of this faithful servant of Yours!  May our hearts and minds remain centered on the important things of life rather than momentary inconveniences.

Grace and Peace,

Pam

Jesus is the Perfect Love Who Casts Out Fear

 

By Pam Paxton Ferriss

Recently I was in Memphis visiting my daughter and her family.  My five-year old granddaughter was excited that I would be able to visit her classroom for the first time and meet her teacher.  Because I would be leaving from the school to return to our home in Nashville, I drove my car and followed my daughter.  This was also helpful because I did not know the location of the school and evidently it was quite a distance from my daughter’s home.

We left my daughter’s house bright and early around 7:30 a. m. and almost immediately drove onto the interstate full of early morning traffic.  As I followed closely behind my daughter’s car, I could see the three car seats crammed into the back seat and two little heads appearing just above the tops.  It was then that it hit me!  My daughter and my three little granddaughters, ages 5, 2, and 4 months, would be on this freeway everyday at one of the busiest times of the day.  I have never thought of myself as a fearful person, but at that moment, fear gripped my heart.  Fear for my only daughter!   Fear for my only grandchildren!  All together in one car!  A myriad of thoughts flooded my mind.  What if my daughter took her eyes off the road for a quick second to check on the girls in the back seat?  What if one of the girls choked on something?  What if one of those huge Mack trucks should veer into her lane?  What if?  What if?    Oh, Lord!  Please!  Please, I cannot handle this!!  It quickly became obvious to me what I was doing.  I was running ahead into the future without His grace.  Not a wise practice.   

 The good news is that on the heels of those fearful thoughts came the promises.  The Holy Spirit began to remind me that the Lord Jesus promised never to leave us nor forsake us.  He promised to be our God and the God of our children.  I realized once again that God loves all those precious girls in that car more than I will ever love them.  It was then I remembered Jesus is perfect love, and perfect love casts out fear.  As with so many times in the past, I had to open my hands of faith and release my children and grandchildren back to the Lord and His care.  Did all my fear disappear at that moment?  No, but I knew that as He conforms me in His perfect love over time that such fears would diminish and not have control over me.

 After I returned home I related this experience to the group of ladies in my small group Bible study.  One of them sweetly reminded me, “But, Pam, you wrote the book about praying for your grandchildren.”  “Yes, that is true,” I responded, “ which only goes to show that even people who write about God’s goodness and faithfulness also need to be constantly reminded of it.”

Pursuing the Word in a Culture of Images

 

We don’t have to remind you what a visual culture in which we live.

Images are everywhere. Your grandchildren will never remember a time when he or she did not experience flashing Internet pictures, hand-held video games, or 3-D films.

Think about your own life and how much technology has advanced since you were a little one on your own grandmother’s knee.

Would you have ever dreamed you would be connected to other people around the world through a box on your desk? That in a mere seconds you’d have tomes of information at your fingertips on any topic imaginable? We feel fairly certain that our grandchildren will continue to experience mind-blowing technological advances in their lifetimes.

And while technology has many wonderful benefits, we sometimes wonder—by living in an environment where images are so emphasized—how will our grandchildren regard the importance of words?

Specifically, how will the Word function in their lives?

We greatly desired that our book, My Grandmother Is … Praying for Me, would encourage grandmothers to be praying through God’s Word for their families.  We all believe that as we spend focused and consistent time reading Scripture that our prayers will be more specific, directed, and effective.  We also hope that through the prayers and example of grandmothers, our grandchildren will develop a love and devotion to the Scriptures.

We do know the importance and primacy of the Word in the hearts and minds of believers. We are convicted that as we ponder our desire that the next generation be “people of the Word,” we also know that—in many ways—it begins with us.

Grandmothers, we challenge you to immerse yourselves in the Word despite the allure of sometimes tempting images. When you do (when we do!), know that God is glorified as you continue to build on a Word-centered legacy for those who will follow you.

Kathy, Pam, and Susan
The Grandmothers

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