Archives For Parenting

The Pastor’s Kid

Ben Reed —  March 25, 2014 — 1 Comment

I’m not a pastor’s kid, but I’m raising two of them. And I’m scared to death.

My prayer for my kids is often, “Lord, help them to not, because of me and the church where I serve, hate your bride.” It’s easy when daddy spends his work day, and many evenings, serving a local body of believers, for kids to grow bitter. Instead of seeing life transformation and community-building, grace-infusing work being done, they see a “job” that takes daddy away from home. They see a group of people that expects more out of them than they can give. They have unfair expectations thrust on them that they didn’t choose, but were chosen for them.

That’s why I’m pumped about Barnabas Piper’s new book, The Pastor’s Kid (releases July 2014). Because I don’t want my two children to grow up despising the church.

Check out this trailer.

 

 

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I had a little time off for the holidays. Oh, how nice it was. I mean, I love my job. I absolutely love it.

But being with my family for an extended amount of time? That’s hard to beat.

I built countless Lego sets with my son. TV binged with my wife. Changed…oh so many…poopy diapers. Took scooter rides around the neighborhood. Slept in. Stayed up late. Put together toys for Christmas morning. Read through, and colored through, the Advent. Worshipped with my family. And at the end of the day, I rested. I Sabbathed. And I needed it as much as the rest of my family.

I need to let you in on a little secret, though.

Tending to our home, and our 2 kids, was no small feat.

Yes, my wife was there. The whole time. But I tried to take a load off of her plate as much as I could. I changed every dirty diaper. Tended to every tear. Made peanut butter sandwiches. Disciplined the whines. Hugged the “injuries.” Cleaned the kitchen. Vacuumed the rug. Made the bed. And did whatever it took to give my wife a little break.

And through this, my respect level for my wife has gone through the roof.

The day-to-day operations of raising children, keeping the house straight, making meals, and keeping your sanity is more difficult than you could imagine, especially if you’ve never done it before. Or if you imagined it was a fairly easy job.

As soon as one kid is fed, the other needs help. Then the other is crying. Then you’re having someone over for dinner, so the house needs to be straightened up. And dinner needs to be started. And…oh wait, dirty diaper again.

If you’ve ever said thought that stay-at-home moms have it easier than working dads, I’m calling you out. Right here, right now.

Moms have the most difficult, rewarding, exhausting, frustrating, chaotic, never-finished, messy, no-book-can-tell-you-what-to-do, thankless, joy-inducing, tear-stained, God-ordained, grace-filled job in the world.

A mom’s thankless work is never done. [Tweet that]

To think otherwise is to think too little of the work that moms do. To think otherwise is to downplay a task you either

1. Have never done.

2. Are terrible at.

To be an excellent mom takes your heart, mind, and body. It takes Jesus working in you and through you to sustain you. And to keep you from losing it each and every moment of the day, which is a very real and present option. I felt myself teetering on the brink of going crazy many times.

Motherhood is a calling. In my opinion, it’s one of the most difficult.

Thank you, Laura Reed. I love you even more.

To my mom, for putting up with my brother and me…you’ve got crowns upon crowns in heaven coming your way.

To all moms: don’t give up on your children. They need your grace, love, correction, hope, hugs, and cookies, because sometimes only a freshly-baked batch of cookies will do the trick. [Tweet that] I know this first hand.

An excellent wife, who can find? For her worth is far above jewels. The heart of her husband trusts in her, and he will have no lack of gain. She does him good and not evil all the days of her life … Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she smiles at the future. She opens her mouth in wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue. She looks well to the ways of her household, and does not eat the bread of idleness. Her children rise up and bless her; her husband also, and he praises her, saying: ‘Many daughters have done nobly, but you excel them all.’ Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the LORD, she shall be praised. – Proverbs 31:10-12; 25-30

 

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I’m not a new dad. I guess I’m what you’d call a “new again” dad. It’s been 5 years since I had a newborn at the house, and in that time I forgot a thing or two.

There are a few things that I learned the first time around that I naturally, intuitively, do this time. Things that I think would’ve made life a lot easier the first time. Things that I had to learn the hard way on round one.

Now that round two’s here, things are a little more smooth-sailing.

Because here’s the honest truth: in the first few month’s of a baby’s life, dads aren’t essential. We don’t produce milk, which is essential for life. And that could cause us to disengage, and leave everything up to mom.

But there’s a better way. A way to be fully engaged, fully present, and fully helpful during this first season.

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11 Habits Every New Dad Needs to Learn

1. Learn how to change a diaper.

Come on, fellas. Plug your nose. Resist your gag reflex. And dive in. It’s not that difficult, and in the process, there’s a good bit of bonding that takes place. Talk to your baby, and look at this as another moment you can steal with them.

2. Learn to be full of grace.

Moms are operating on a lack of sleep. They’re emotionally frazzled. They’re giving of themselves in a more physical, spiritual, and emotional way than they ever have. As a dad, be full of grace. Overflowing with it. She’ll love you for it.

3. Learn to do your honey-do list. Now.

You’re living in a fog of little-to-no sleep. Of life being out of the normal flow. And you feel like life couldn’t get any more chaotic. But hear me when I say this: life doesn’t get less busy or less complicated. Plow through your check-list of chores now. Don’t put it off.

4. Learn how to make a great cup of coffee.

Use a chemex. Or a French Press. Or a v60 Hario. Just learn to make a good cup of coffee. It’s essential.

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5. Learn how to curb your tongue.

You can start a fire more quickly with your tongue than you can with a match. When emotions are high, sleep is low, and our physical bodies are out of their normal rhythm, our words are even more powerful.

Or take ships as an example. Although they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the pilot wants to go. Likewise, the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell. – James 3:3-6

6. Learn how to capture tiny moments.

Like going on a lunch date when your mother-in-law is in town. Or going to a movie in-between feedings. Or letting your spouse leave the house for a while as you watch the baby.

7. Learn how to do the dishes.

Performing menial-seeming tasks like washing the dishes, washing the clothes, and vacuuming the floor are huge helps to a mom that’s giving of herself to feed, nurture, and grow another human being.

8. Learn how to function on very little sleep.

…because you’re not going to get much. My secret? See #4, above.

9. Learn how to be on full-alert in a moment’s notice.

Even when you’re relaxed, even when you’d rather sit on the couch, even when you’d rather finish reading that page, even when you’d rather keep your eyes closed because you’re (not half-, but fully) asleep…hop up. Put your self-serving needs aside. And change that diaper. Put that pacifier in. Rock your baby. Talk to him/her. Clean the spit-up. Burp them. Do whatever it takes. In a split-second.

10. Learn how to talk with a baby that won’t talk back to you.

This one’s tough. And to be honest, it feels kinda weird. But I’ve found that a baby will listen no matter what you say. So talk about your day at work. Talk about what’s frustrating you. Talk about what you love. Talk about football. Baseball. Or your favorite band. Sing a song to them. They just want to hear your voice.

11. Learn to be at your wife’s beckon call.

She is growing a human being. With her body! Your problems are minor right now. Your convenience doesn’t matter. Your frustrations are miniscule. Your headaches are bushleague. Suck it up and love your wife with all you’ve got. Pour your heart and soul into serving her. And even after your child grows up…don’t stop this one.

To sum it up, at the end of the day, learn how to apply this verse in the context of your family:

Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. – Paul, Philippians 2:4

 

 

 

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10 things I forgot about newborns

Ben Reed —  September 27, 2013 — 8 Comments

My wife and I just had a little girl. It’s been nearly 5 years since we’ve had an infant in the house. And in that 5 years, I forgot a lot about what it was like to have a baby in your life.

 

I didn’t forget the sleepless nights. Or the crying for food. Or the dirty diapers. Or the sweet, teeny-tiny hands.

But I did forget a lot.

If it’s been a while since you’ve had an infant in the house, I bet you’ve forgotten some things, too.

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10 things I forgot about newborns

1. Bottles and such. Everywhere.

Everywhere I turn, there’s a bottle. Or a pacifier. Or some other kind of baby swag. It’s like a baby store exploded all over the house.
2. Germ aversion

Everywhere we go now, I’m on the lookout for germs. Every time I touch something other than my own hands, I’m reaching for the Purell to sanitize that junk right off of my hands. Can’t have germs getting on an infant. I’m working now to find a Purell body spray for everybody that comes to visit our house.
3. That car seat is heavy!

I forgot that lugging that car seat around gets heavy! Just a quick trip to the store leaves you with a sore arm. And a massive bicep.
4. Sweet baby squeaks 

Oh how I love these little sounds. They’re not quite “coos” yet…they’re just random squeaks and grunts. While they sleep, these happen a ton. And they melt your heart.
5. Leaving the house is an ordeal.

To leave the house, you’ve got to take enough supplies to take care of an army. From diaper bags to pack-n-plays to extra wipes and sleepers. And be sure to not forget the bottles. (see above)

6. When you put them in a spot, they stay.

Kinda forgot about this benefit. 5 year olds don’t really stay in one spot. But infants sure do!

7. Adrenaline.

At no other time in my life am I able to jump out of bed at the slightest sound of a grunt, and be on full-alert in less than 2 seconds. Never. Before my wife finishes, “Honey, can you check…” I’m out of the bed, from the middle of a deep sleep, huddled over the crib. Heart racing. Shallow breaths. Ready to check out my little girl, then run a marathon.

8. So. Many. Diapers.

We go through 8-10/day. And our doctor calls that “good.” And the more poopy they are, the better. I think.

9. What day is it?

I honestly have no idea what day it is anymore. I’m barely confident what month we’re in. I can judge that based on the fact that I know what month my baby was born. And I’m fully confident that it’s 2011. Right?

10. My heart? Melted. Instantly.

As difficult as the first few months of a newborn’s life can be,

  • one look
  • one squeak
  • one moment of her resting in my arms
  • one time knowing I helped satisfy her hunger
  • one sniff of her “baby smell”

melts my heart. And I’m wrapped tightly around her little finger once again. Every single day.

How long has it been since you’ve had a newborn at home? Anything here you’d forgotten?

 

 

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Feigning exhaustion

Ben Reed —  September 5, 2013 — 2 Comments

I love to run. That’s no secret. I’m among the <.03% of people that actually looks forward to long runs in oppressingly hot, humid weather. I look forward to my feet pounding the pavement, the the breeze (or lack thereof) whipping through the low spots, and the feeling at the end that, though I’m lying on the ground in a pool of my own sweat, I’ve done something significant. Though, in ultimate irony, I arrive at the same place I started.

My son’s developing this love as well. When he sees me getting ready for a run, he gets ready, too. He ties his shoes on extra tightly. Gets his bottle of water squared away. And queues up the songs he wants to hear as we run.

It’s simultaneously cute and manly.

He runs in ~.5 mile stretches. He’ll run ahead of me for a bit, taunting me as he looks back. Or he’ll run right beside me, talking about how much he loves being outside.

Then .5 mile hits, and he gets bored.

So he starts feigning exhaustion. Breathing hard. Retching his shoulders. Slowing down his words as if to catch his breath.

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Rex’s “I’m tired, but not really…” face

“I think…*big inhale, big exhale*…I want to ride in the stroller a while. I’m…*big inhale, big exhale*…getting…*pause for dramatic effect*…a little tired.”

So I strap him in the stroller as we trudge out a few more miles as he jabbers on about monsters, soccer practice, and one of his new-found friends at church.

He wasn’t tired at all! He wasn’t gassed. Wasn’t sore. Wasn’t out of energy.

He just wanted to quit for a while, and he knew what it looked like when daddy was tired. So he did that.

I wonder if we do the same thing in life?

We give up because we get bored. We want something new. Different. Shiny. And what we’ve been doing…well, we’re going to feign exhaustion so we can jump back in the jogging stroller.

And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith. – Paul, Galatians 6:9-10

You see what God’s called you to do. You’ve see it more clearly than you ever have.

  • The ministry he’s called you to start.
  • The small group he’s called you to launch.
  • The book He’s led you to write.
  • The person He’s called you to love.
  • The place He’s called you to go.
  • The job He’s told you to take.

Your “personal best” is way, way better than your perceived “best.” What you can do, who you can become, and the potential that you can accomplish is massively bigger than the expectations culture places on you. Or what your boss thinks you can do. Or who your spouse thinks you can become.

Because you serve a God that’s bigger than others’ expectations.

You have caught a vision for who God wants you to be. You’ve seen where that idea could lead. You’ve realized who it could impact.

But it’s not shiny anymore. It’s actually kind of boring, and the new smell has worn off. It used to give us energy, but now it feels more like a job.

Don’t. Quit. Now.

You’ll reap nothing if you quit now. They’ll reap nothing if you quit now.

Obedience is found in doing the right thing, even when it doesn’t feel right. Even when it feels boring, mundane, and work-like.

It’s time to keep running.

No jogging strollers allowed.

 

 

 

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While I still can

Ben Reed —  August 21, 2013 — 1 Comment

My buddy Devin McGlamery (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram) has just released a new album. You can pick it up HERE.

I was blown away by this song. And if you’ve got kids…I think you will be, too. Keep the tissues handy.

 

 

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A whole new level of gross

Ben Reed —  August 8, 2013 — 3 Comments
sweet-potato-fries

image credit: www.gimmesomeoven.com/

When we sat down for dinner, I assumed it was going to be a dinner just alike any other. Turns out it would be a dinner like no other.

Rex isn’t a particularly picky eater. He tends to eat whatever we put in front of him. Partly because of his taste buds. And partly because he knows that if he doesn’t eat the dinner my wife and I made, we’re not making him anything else.

This particular night, we were having sweet potato fries as a side. We’d sliced fresh sweet potatoes, drizzled them with olive oil, sprinkled with sea salt, and roasted them in the oven. The sweet aroma weaved its way through the house.

When we sat down to eat, Rex ate his meat, but didn’t want to eat the fries. I told him that he needed to eat at least a few of them. So he pushed them around on his plate, wrongly thinking I’d believe he’d eaten them. “I don’t like orange fries,” he said.

The battle began.

“Rex, you just have to eat 4.”

The battle continued.

Then I saw it happening, but I didn’t believe it. I thought he was faking it, because he’d done it before, trying one more time to get out of eating the sweet potato fries. He started retching a little, talking between heaves: “I really don’t like orange fries.”

“Buddy, you’re going to eat 4 before you leave this table.”

Retch.

Retch.

Then it happened. At the exact moment I’d decided to get on his level and remind him that he’s not getting anything else for dinner…no dessert…no…and I never finished that last sentence before I saw his supper again. He cried. And I wanted to.

I gently wiped his face and hands, and helped him change out of his clothes. I took his plate to the sink, and told him we’d probably had enough dinner tonight. Me, included.

Then I wiped my face off. My mouth out. My hands off. And I put on a fresh change of clothes, too.

Jesus’ Turn

That moment reminded how much Jesus loves me. He loves me enough to take on the mess of my sin. To bear it for me. Because even my best is like a “filthy rag.” (Isaiah 64:6)

He loves me enough to take on the shame of my sin. To look foolish so I don’t eternally have to. (Tweet that)

Every time I’m short with my son I’m reminded again of my stench.

Every time my pride rears it’s ugly head I’m given another glimpse into the dense layers of grace God offers us in Jesus. (Tweet that)

Every time I just care about myself, ignoring the needs of others, I see my stink one more time. Because Jesus doesn’t ignore me. (Tweet that)

Even when I commit the same stupid sin. Again.

Even when I’m less than the husband I should be. Again.

Every time I wallow in my guilt and shame, Jesus comes along and gently wipes my face off. Takes my plate to the sink. And gets me a new change of clothes. He sends me to the living room and says, “It’s ok. That’s enough for tonight. You’re all clean now.”

Once again He affirms His love for me. His love never fails. (Psalm 136:1)

Even when he wears your supper. (Tweet that)

 

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You want to be the dad that doesn’t ruin your kids’ lives. You do. I (probably) don’t know you personally, but I know this about you.

Because it’s the same desire I have.

I want my son (and future daughter) to look back on their childhood and say, “Daddy was a good dad. He didn’t mess me up or leave me damaged. And I love Jesus more because of my dad.”

If anyone has something to say about fatherhood, it should be the one who created fatherhood, right? God better have something to say about it if He’s going to be a good dad. Which we know He is. (1 John 3:1)

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image credits: mine

10 Commandments of Fatherhood

1. Do not provoke your children to anger. (Ephesians 6:4)

Don’t publicly humiliate your child. Don’t give them undue and unfair discipline. Don’t make fun of them, even privately, just you and them. Instead, actively play with them, love on them, be “present,” and look for ways to honor them.

2. Bring them up in the Lord. (Ephesians 6:4)

Consistently have them worshipping in a healthy church. You, the adult, lead the way in church attendance and in living life openly and honestly with others (in a small group). Live out your faith at home.

3. Do not provoke your children…they’ll become discouraged (Colossians 3:21)

Encourage your children! Show them you’re proud of them…even when they color outside of the lines. Or, maybe especially when they color outside of the lines. Knowing they’ve made Dad proud is a huge accomplishment. Let them know this constantly, and help your children curb discouragement. You don’t want them seeking their sense of approval and worth from the world. Trust me, you don’t.

4. Discipline your children. (Proverbs 3:12; Hebrews 12:10)

Discipline in the moment feels negative. But it’s for our children’s good. It helps create structure, learning right from wrong, and shapes our children’s hearts. It also helps them understand the loving discipline of God that works for our good. The dad that doesn’t discipline his child is an unloving, unkind, and foolish dad.

5. Don’t abuse verbally, physically, emotionally, or spiritually. (Colossians 3:8)

This is just outright sinful. Don’t ever resort to this. What they’ve done never necessitates this. Ever!

6. Have fun. (Proverbs 17:22)

Enjoy your kids! Don’t be boring. Go outside and play. Take ‘em to the park. Go to a ball game. Head out to the zoo. Play hide-and-seek. Figure out what they love, and do that with them. They’ll love you for it.

7. Give ‘em good gifts. (Luke 11:13)

Give them something that they’ll love. Study them, and know what they like. Maybe that’s a video game. Maybe that’s a new baseball glove. Maybe it’s a book or a CD or a special piece of candy. Go out of your way to know your kids and their interests. Then go get them something they’ll love.

8. Hug them. (Ecclesiastes 3:5; 2 Corinthians 1:3-4)

Embrace your children. Give them comfort. Let them know they’re safe and secure with you. God loves and comforts us…let’s do the same with our kids.

9. Tell them you love them. (*Zephaniah 3:17)

Tell them every single day. Let them never doubt you love them because you fail to say it. God speaks over us…let’s speak over, and to, our children.

10. Be present. (Deuteronomy 31:6)

You can abandon your children without leaving the room. You know that, right? You can escape into something other than what you’re surrounded with and who you’re surrounded by. So put the phone down. Turn the TV off. No iPads. Or text messages. Just be with your kids. Time’s too short, and they’re too precious, to be consumed every moment with something else.

Time for dads to be dads. Ravenously loving our kids and constantly pointing them to Jesus. I’m ready to have a counter-cultural relationship with my son. Are you?

Anything you’d add to the 10 commandments?

*it’s a stretch in application, but hang with me. God’s “rejoicing over us,” to me, can apply to fathers rejoicing in love over their children. Which HAS to include telling your kids you love them. Right?

 

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Our great news

Ben Reed —  April 29, 2013 — 116 Comments

You may have read a part of our story about our miscarriage. I shared my perspective, and my wife shared hers.

To be honest with you, it’s been painful. Questions like, “Is this your only child?” hurt. Surely they don’t mean anything by their questions, but they sure feels loaded with accusations.

“You should have more.”

“If you really valued children…”

Then there were the more pointed ones that cut deep. The things you should never say to a woman.

I’ve shared our story countless times. It felt raw, because it was. It felt painful, because it was. It felt unfinished, because it was.

And just at the moment where we were resigning ourselves to believing that our chance to have another biological child was complete, we got some pretty exciting news.

We are pregnant!

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Which is unbelievably exciting! I can’t tell you how much we’ve waited for this time.

But we’re battling our fears, even now. We’re in to the 2nd trimester (due October 11), but knowing how the last pregnancy ended, we know it could happen again. We know that we could lose this pregnancy like the last one. And we desperately don’t want to experience that again.

My wife and I have prayed more during this season than we ever have in our lives. It’s caused us to lean in to God and trust Him, because we honestly don’t know what else to do.

In fact, there’s nothing else we can do. It’s completely in God’s hands. Completely. There’s no medical procedure we can do, no precautions we can take, and no safety measures we can put in place. We’re doing everything we can…but it’s not enough.

Life is in God’s hands. We know that. We’ve always known it. But now, that truth feels palpable. Every time I look at my wife’s belly, I’m reminded that God is the author of life. He’s the one that knits us together (Psalm 139:13), and nothing happens outside of His plan.

We covet your prayers. More than anything, we’d beg you to plead to God on our behalf: preserve this young baby’s life.

If you’ll commit to praying, I’d love for you to leave a comment below. That would mean a lot to me and my wife.

 

 

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Stupid, Crazy Faith

Ben Reed —  April 17, 2013 — 4 Comments
17827

CreationSwap user Thomas Roberts

Me: How many days did it take God to create everything?

Rex (my 4 year old son): 3?

Me: No, 6.

Rex: Oh. That’s a lot of days.

See, my son fully believed that the God he’s been learning about could’ve made everything in 3 days. That God was big enough and powerful enough and quick enough to make everything his eyes have ever come in contact with…in just 3 days. Why would He need 6? Why would it take Him a whole 6 days to make the earth, the animals, the trees, and the water?

He’s so awesome, He could do it in 3 if He wanted.

I’m so encouraged by Rex’s faith. He believes that God is bigger than even I say He is.

About that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Who is greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven?”

Jesus called a little child to him and put the child among them. Then he said, “I tell you the truth, unless you turn from your sins and become like little children, you will never get into the Kingdom of Heaven. So anyone who becomes as humble as this little child is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven. – Matthew 18:1-4

The faith of an adult

Our faith, the faith of a rational, college-educated, enlightened adult is much less, isn’t it? It’s not quite as quick to believe. Not quite as quick to take that step of faith. A little more sluggish to accept the unacceptable, and grasp the miracles.

We’re a little slower than our kids are.

We struggle to believe

  • God can save our marriage
  • God can really change our dad’s heart
  • We will ever have a good relationship with our kids
  • We will ever be where we need to be spiritually
  • We can ever beat this addiction
  • She could ever forgive me
  • Our daughter could ever love me
  • Our life could ever count for something
  • God could actually be in control of our crazy lives
  • God could ever use him to minister Truth and Grace.
  • God could ever use me.
We rationalize our way out of miracles. We look for what we can see, touch, taste, feel…and base our belief on that. Rather than on the unchanging truth of who God has claimed to be, and what He has promised to us.

May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God. Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think. – Ephesians 3:19-20

Faith is believing in what we can’t see. It’s trusting God for what He’s promised rather than what we’ve seen come true.

God can change your marriage. God can use you. God can use her. He can forgive you. He can use your addiction, and the victory you’re going to enjoy, to serve others.

It’s time you stopped believing lies. Stop believing the haters in your life. Stop listening to the voices that beat you up.

Start trusting in the promises given to you in the Bible. Start trusting in the One who loves you on your worst days. (Romans 5:6) Start believing the One who wants to give you life. (John 10:10) Star believing the One who loved you first. (1 John 4:19)

Start having the faith of a child, instead of the faith of an adult.

 

 

 

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