Category Archives: PFODH Challenge
Anyone who participated in the 21-day prayer challenge for our daughters earlier this year (or would like to go through it on their own), you can download all the posts in a PDF format right here:
Salvation: Deliverance from the power and penalty of sin; redemption.
The state of being saved or protected from harm and risk.
For the wages of sin is death,
but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith –
and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God –
not by works, so that no one can boast.
“The sinners to whom Jesus directed His messianic ministry were not those who skipped morning devotions or Sunday church. His ministry was to those whom society considered real sinners. They had done nothing to merit salvation. Yet they opened themselves to the gift that was offered them. On the other hand, the self-righteous placed their trust in the works of the Law and closed their hearts to the message of grace.” ~Brennan Manning, The Ragamuffin Gospel
Today is the last day of our prayer challenge. It’s amazing how quickly three weeks can go! I’d like to thank those of you that have stuck with it – I hope it brought you some encouragement and I KNOW that getting in the habit of praying daily for our daughters will only bring blessings! Thank you for putting up with my blog-style of writing, and my sometimes disjointed thoughts!
I wanted to save the most important day of prayer for last. We’ve spent the last 20 days praying about various character traits and values that are important…but, in my opinion, they are all empty without this last one – our daughters’ salvation. As much as I desire my daughter to be truthful, generous and wise, what I want more than anything else is for her to have her eternity secure in the hands of the Lord. I want Christ in her heart. I want her to walk through life next to her savior.
When I participated in the 21 days of prayer for our sons, one thing that frustrated me with the study was the approach to salvation – that as parents, we are powerless to help lead our children to Christ – that all we can do is get on our knees and beg God to make it happen. Don’t misunderstand – I pray for my daughter’s salvation often – but I believe that as her parent, I have a great amount of influence over my daughter! Pointing her to Christ on a daily basis, talking about the sacrifice that was made for her, reading her the Bible stories – those are all things I can do to lead her to Christ! Yes, in the end, she has to make the decision to accept Christ’s free gift – and some children don’t. But I will do everything in my power to get her there!
And if I can just encourage you on one more thing – please don’t withhold the good news of the gospel from your child because you don’t think she’s ready to understand it yet. I have literally heard parents say they won’t discuss it until their child is older. Why? Is there a limit on the amount of times we can talk about the gospel with our children? Of course not! Please remember that the gospel is designed for young children! Its simplicity is something so innate to children – adults have a tendency to muck it up with complexities that just aren’t there. What do children need to understand? That they are sinners, and that keeps them from God. But God sent his perfect son, Jesus Christ to be the sacrifice for our sins. He died on the cross, and rose from the dead 3 days later. He paid the price, and all we have to do to be saved is to believe in Him. It’s a free, immediate gift – it doesn’t require a baptism, or certain changes in your life. It’s a gift. Children can understand that. While your 2 year old may not be ready to grasp that, you don’t know the day that she will suddenly hit the ability to understand – so why not talk about it whenever you can? Deuteronomy 6:7 says “Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.” Make the gospel an integral part of your family’s life. This is so important, because I can’t think of a greater tragedy than a child who’s heart is soft, and ready to receive the gospel – only to be kept from it because she’s “not ready”.
So today, let’s pray that the Lord will faithfully prepare our daughters hearts for the gospel. Pray that the Lord will give us strength to weave the gospel into our daily lives. Let’s also pray that our daughters will listen to the wonderful message of the gospel and realize their own need for a savior. And since this is our last day, please take a little extra time and pray for the other mothers that have participated in this challenge – pray for them as they go through the daily challenges of being a mom, and pray for their daughters – that the Lord will work in their hearts.
Thanks, everybody! May the Lord bless you as you raise your daughters!
Justice: Taking personal responsibility to uphold what is pure, right and true.
Learn to do right; seek justice. Defend the oppressed.
Take up the cause of the fatherless; plead the case of the widow.
Do not pervert justice; do not show partiality to the poor
or favoritism to the great, but judge your neighbor fairly.
“Justice and power must be brought together,
so that whatever is just may be powerful,
and whatever is powerful may be just.”
I wanted justice to be one of the things we prayed for because I want my daughter to have a clear understanding of right and wrong in this world, and the confidence to uphold or enforce what is right. I don’t know what specific situations she will face where she has the opportunity to be just. It could be in the legal system, it may be with how she chooses to vote when she is old enough. It may simply be in her own life, within her own circles. It may be on the mission field. But wherever it is, I want her to feel a personal obligation to defend what is right and true. History shows us the importance of standing up for what is right – even if you are not the person suffering the injustice. Pastor Neimoller, a doctor in Nazi Germany, gave this quote after being freed by allied forces in 1945 from Dachau (a concentration camp). It has a message that we need to consider when thinking about justice:
In Germany they first came for the Communists,
And I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Communist.
Then they came for the Jews,
And I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Jew.
Then they came for the Trade Unionist,
And I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Catholics,
And I didn’t speak up because I was a Protestant.
Then they came for me….
And by that time there was no one left to speak up.
That is what the Lord calls us to do – stand up for others when injustice is being perpetrated against them. Permitting it, is accepting it – and that’s not justice.
Today, let’s pray for our daughters to be just. To know when injustice is occurring, and have the boldness to stand up and fight for justice. May she feel the responsibility to care about injustices that others face, and do everything within her power to help.
Gentleness: Learning to respond to needs with kindness, personal care and love.
Showing consideration and personal concern for others.
A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.
But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord.
Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason
for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.
~1 Peter 3:15
“When you encounter difficulties and contradictions,
do not try to break them, but bend them with gentleness and time.”
~Saint Francis de Sales
Truthfully, I cringe when I see gentleness as a character trait. My daughter has a book about virtues for little girls, and I couldn’t read the one on gentleness to her. For some reason, gentleness is taught as being “nice”, and frankly, weak. It is taught as the virtue of all good doormats – willing to be walked on over and over again. I don’t want to teach that to my daughter.
What I DO want to teach to my daughter is the gentleness that the Bible describes. Gentleness is not being a doormat and avoiding the chance to stand boldly – it is using tact, and consideration for others. It is a calm self-control that keeps one from stooping to a lower level. It is being willing to take personal attacks without responding in kind. No surprise – Jesus is an incredible example of gentleness. But when He was on earth, gentleness is not what the Jewish people wanted to see. When they talked of the Messiah, they envisioned an earthly king who would come with a sword, and free Israel from Roman rule. They didn’t get that with Jesus.
Jesus did not ride into Jerusalem on a white stallion, leading His forces against the Roman Empire. And He doesn’t work that way today, either. He comes in a spirit of gentleness.
And then He was arrested and dragged before the Sanhedrin and later before Pilate. He was falsely accused, mocked, beaten and humiliated. Yet through it all, He did nothing to protect Himself. Does this mean that He was cowardly or weak? Not at all! This was the same man who went into the Temple and who drove out all those who were dishonoring the house of God. This was the One who could halt a storm in its tracks with a single word.
This is gentleness. Never mistake gentleness with weakness. Gentleness stands up boldly to defend the cause of the Lord, but it suffers in silence when the attack is against self. That is because gentleness is more concerned with the welfare of others than it is with the welfare of self.
There you have it. Gentleness is not weak – it is more concerned with the welfare of others. Gentleness actually requires a lot of strength! I like the analogy of the soldier tasked with diffusing a bomb. Does he approach the bomb with anger and rage? Does he kick it, throw it, and hit it with rocks? Not unless he has a death wish. No, he approaches it with all the gentleness he possesses. He works carefully to diffuse the bomb – delicately dealing with the inner-workings of the bomb. All this in order to save lives.
When our daughters run into disagreements, they would do well to see it as a bomb. They have a choice – they can contribute to helping that bomb blow up, or they can use gentleness to help diffuse it if they can and walk away when they can’t.
Let’s pray for our daughters to practice gentleness in their relationships with others. Pray that the Lord will give her the strength to use gentleness even if she doesn’t feel like it. Pray that you will be an example of gentleness for your daughter.
Commitment: Devoting myself to following up on my words
(promises, pledges or vows) with action.
If a man vows a vow to the Lord, or swears an oath to bind himself by a pledge,
he shall not break his word.
He shall do according to all that proceeds out of his mouth.
Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If anyone wants to become my follower,
he must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me.
For whoever wants to save his life will lose it,
but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.
For what does it benefit a person if he gains the whole world but forfeits his life?
Or what can a person give in exchange for his life?
~Matthew 16: 24-26
“Unless commitment is made, there are only promises and hopes;
but no plans.” ~Peter F. Drucker
We hear a lot about commitment throughout life. We are taught the importance of staying committed to our education. We are rewarded for being committed to our career. We don’t hear as much about being committed to our spouse – that doesn’t seem to be wildly popular anymore. But in Christian circles, we are challenged to be 100% committed to our marriage, to going to church, and to serving the Lord. But why? Not only does it teach us to finish what we start and to be women of our word, but it also creates an excellent example for our children. What we do matters. What we don’t do matters. Our commitments to certain things will directly affect the commitment level our daughters have as well:
A study once disclosed that if both Mom and Dad attend church regularly, 72% of their children remain faithful. If only Dad, 55% remain faithful. If only Mom, 15%. If neither attended regularly, only 6% remain faithful. The statistics speak for themselves–the example of parents and adults is more important than all the efforts of the church and Sunday School.
See? Our girls are watching us. If we don’t show a commitment to something, how can we expect them to show it? She does what she sees. Attending church on Easter and Christmas is not showing a high level of commitment. It would be the same as signing your daughter up for dance class, and then only going a couple of times, because most of the time, she doesn’t feel like it, or has other things to do. Would you stand for that? I wouldn’t. I want my daughter to be committed to the things she chooses to do – whether she likes them or not. That’s why I would make her finish out a dance class, instead of quitting, or missing a bunch of classes.
So how can we, as moms, show our daughters what a committed Christian walk looks like? We need to make it visible in our everyday lives. We need to make it a point to pray before our meals, attend church as regularly as possible, include them in any service opportunities you can – even if that just means telling them about it. Let your daughter see you doing your devotions, or praying on your own. Talk about the importance of being committed to Christ, and the rewards that the Lord promises in Heaven for those that do “run the race”. As your daughter gets older, be more transparent with her on struggles in your Christian walk. Sometimes, admitting to your daughter that you’re tired and don’t really want to go to church – but then going anyway – can have a major impact. She learns that it’s not always easy, not always fun, but we are committed – and that’s the bottom line. Same in school, in work, in marriage. Such an important lesson.
Today, pray that your daughter will live her life with commitment. That when she decides to do something, she will see it through until it’s completed. Pray that you will be able to be an example of commitment for her. Ask the Lord to show you any areas of your life where you are lacking commitment.
Based on the statistics above, why do you think there is such a significant difference between two parents attending church regularly, and just mom attending church?
Boldness: Demonstrating the confidence and courage
that doing what is right will bring ultimate victory regardless of present opposition.
Confidence to say or do what is true, right, and just.
Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them,
for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.
The wicked run away when no one is chasing them,
but the godly are as bold as lions.
Freedom lies in being bold.
Do you consider yourself a cautious person? I don’t know about you but mom and dad always taught me to “look before you leap.” A cautious approach to things can keep you out of a lot of trouble in this life. Did you know that it can also keep you out of a lot of good as well?
Throwing caution to the wind is not a good idea no matter how you are presently living your life. No one needs to live out their days, Houdini-like, dangling upside down with just seconds to spare before what was once dangerous has suddenly become perilous. God created you and I with caution in mind. A careful approach to what we say, what we do, and how we do it is completely in line with what the Bible teaches. Nevertheless, the Bible also teaches that “doing” is a natural extension of being. Being over-cautious, unable to do anything because we fear the consequences of action over inaction, is hardly God-like. A disciple is a disciple not only based upon what he knows but what he does. If Bible class or Sunday school doesn’t translate into a Monday application, there is no learning, only listening. A Christian should commit to action every day of his or her life. When we don’t, not only are we denying others our help, we are denying ourselves a unique opportunity to watch God in action. That’s something no Christian should want to miss.
“The moment one definitely commits oneself, then providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one’s favor all manner of unforeseen incidents and meeting and material assistance which no man could have dreamed would have come his way. Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it. Begin it now.” (Commonly attributed to Goethe.)
The time to begin is always now. How true that is. Every day of our lives is an opportunity to begin something, to put into action the dreams that we have dreamed and watch the stream of events unfold before us as God takes our beginning and brings it to His end. Too many Christians are always on the defensive, ready to extinguish the arrows of the devil but never ready to take the Sword of the Spirit and boldly advance against the foe. They’re afraid, perhaps cautious to a fault.
Is there a dream in your life that needs doing? Do it today. God will always be there to catch you if you fail. Remember, the Bible tells us that “God is our refuge and our strength.” It does not tell us that He is our hotel and our excuse.
This was a portion of a sermon by Mark Brunner – and I thought he summed boldness up perfectly. As moms, we spend a lot of time begging demanding telling our daughters to be cautious. As well we should. But let’s not forget to remind them to be bold – bold in their Christian walk, bold when the truth needs to be spoken, bold to call evil what it is, and bold to follow God’s plan for their lives with abandon.
Today, pray for your daughter to be bold. Pray that she will learn when to be cautious, and when to be bold. Pray that the Lord will put wonderfully bold Christians into her life for her to look up to, and pray that you will be one of those people.
Sincerity: Being whole and complete in moral and ethical principles.
Eagerly doing what is right with transparent motives.
LORD, who may dwell in your sacred tent? Who may live on your holy mountain?
The one whose walk is blameless, who does what is righteous,
who speaks the truth from their heart; ~Psalm 15:1-2
Therefore let us keep the Festival,
not with the old bread leavened with malice and wickedness,
but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.
~1 Corinthians 5:8
“Sincerity makes the very least person to be of more value
than the most talented hypocrite.” ~Charles Spurgeon
As we’ll find with a few other character traits, sincerity is something that is much more meaningful when coupled with other traits like honesty or wisdom. Because sincerity alone can still be a problem:
What if your science professor announces that your first experiment will involve studying the properties of acids. She places a 500 ML Pyrex beaker containing clear liquid on the lab table and says, “This is sulfuric acid.” In response to her explanation, imagine your lab partner, Jim blurts out, “I don’t believe this is sulfuric acid. It looks like water to me.” Jim, you discover, is so sincere about his belief that the Pyrex beaker contains water, that he decides to drink it. What will happen to Jim? Despite his sincerity, Jim’s belief that the beaker contained water did not change the nature of its contents. He may believe with all of his heart that the beaker only contains water but the acid will still kill him. One may be sincere and yet sincerely wrong.
Just because someone is sincere in their belief, doesn’t make them right. That’s why it’s so important to strive for sincerity on top of a foundation of wisdom and honesty. We see what insincerity looks like all around us. This year is an election year – so we get a front row ticket to see politicians with their uncanny ability to feign sincerity. Not all politicians are insincere, but the majority of them are doing whatever they think is necessary to win the election, or keep their public office – their motives are not transparent. They will tell the public that these are their convictions – but they only became “convictions” once their focus group showed that it mattered to voters. That’s not living a life of principle and sincerity. But our world rewards it more often than not.
I want my daughter to be sincere in her relationships and her actions. I don’t want her to be suspected of having ulterior motives. But I also want her to constantly challenge her own ideas and plans to make sure that they are not based in error. I want her to study the Bible the same way – digging deep into the word to seek the accurate meaning of the text, and then forming a sincere belief based on that wisdom. So many people – young and old – don’t know why they believe what they believe. They may be sincere, but there’s nothing to anchor that sincerity to – no wisdom. And many of them are sincerely wrong.
Today, as we pray for our daughters, let’s revisit the traits of wisdom and honesty – and ask the Lord to wrap those traits in sincerity for our girls. Let’s pray that our girls will always strive to have the correct motives – remembering that the Lord looks at her heart. Let’s also pray that the Lord will help us be sincere in our parenting – as we raise these girls. That our motives will be pure, and that we will strive for the wisdom we need to be sincerely right.
Compassion: Investing whatever is necessary to heal the hurts of others.
Learn to do right! Seek justice, encourage the oppressed.
Defend the cause of the fatherless, plead the case of the widow.
This is what the LORD Almighty says:
Administer true justice; show mercy and compassion to one another.
Do not oppress the widow or the fatherless, the alien or the poor.
In your hearts do not think evil of each other.
“I would rather make mistakes in kindness and compassion
than work miracles in unkindness and hardness.”
I don’t know that there is any way to teach compassion to our children other than just demonstrating it. As they say – talk is cheap. We can talk about being compassionate until we’re blue in the face, but if we don’t put it into action, our girls will never fully grasp it.
We are trying to put compassion into action in our family right now. We are in the process of adopting from South Korea. It’s made for some interesting conversations with our kids! Even though adoption is a wonderful thing, it comes out of a tragic situation – if everything happened the way it was supposed to, adoption would never be necessary. That is why one adoptive parent referred to adoption as “a beautiful tragedy”. It was hard to explain to our children the reason there are children to adopt – having to explain that there are children in the world that don’t have mommies or daddies with them – it’s hard for young kids to grasp. And truthfully, there was a part of me that didn’t want to have to tell them that. Watching your children learn that the world is an imperfect, sinful and dark place sometimes is very difficult. But, at the same time, it’s necessary for them to know that if I want them to learn to be compassionate.
I hope that this adoption will teach our children the importance of being compassionate. I hope it encourages them to find their own ways to show compassion to those who need it. But this adoption is also showing me what true compassion is – our social worker told us that the most successful adoptions are those that are approached with the goal of simply meeting the adopted child’s needs. True compassion in this adoption will be doing whatever we can to meet this child’s needs, and help him to heal. Nothing expected in return. Of course I hope he will grow to love us and embrace our family, but even if he never does – we will focus on being compassionate. So compassion is not about what WE can get out of it – it’s about helping the other person.
Let’s pray that the Lord will give our daughters a compassionate heart – that He will gently show them ways to help and meet the needs of others. Pray that the Lord will help you see opportunities to be compassionate. The smallest acts can make a huge impact on your little girl. Pray that the Lord will open your heart to what He wants you to do, and then plan on it with your daughter by your side.
What is something compassionate that you can do this week?
Respect: Honoring and esteeming another person due to deep admiration.
Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed,
revenue to whom revenue is owed,
respect to whom respect is owed,
honor to whom honor is owed.
Honor your father and your mother,
that your days may be long in the land that the LORD your God is giving you.
“This is the first test of a gentleman:
his respect for those who can be of no possible value to him.”
~William Lyon Phelps
Respect, like many other things, begins at home. If you raise a child who has no respect for authority, it’s safe to expect them to lack respect as an adult. On the other hand, if you raise a child who does respect those in authority over her, the chances are good that she will be a respectful adult.
According to psychologist William Damon, respect for the parent who exercises proper authority leads to respect for legitimate social institutions and to respect for law. In his book The Moral Child, Damon writes, “The child’s respect for parental authority sets the direction for civilized participation in the social order when the child later begins assuming the rights and responsibilities of full citizenship.” Damon calls this respect “the single most important legacy that comes out of the child’s relations with the parent.” -Michael G. Moriarty, The Perfect 10: The Blessings of Following God’s Commandments in a Post Modern World, p. 112
As I pray for my daughter to have a respectful heart, I am going to focus on three kinds of respect: 1) Respect for the Lord, 2) Respect for parents and 3) Respect for those in authority over her (teachers, police, government, etc). Obviously, the first one is the most important. I want my daughter to always have the utmost respect for the Lord. Firmly grounding her in this one thing will help with the others, because the Lord is the one who commanded us to honor our parents and to respect those in authority over us.
We know that a respectful heart will be rewarding for our daughters throughout their life, but I think it also helps ensure a solid marriage for them as well! So many women today do not respect their husbands. It has become acceptable to look down on your husband with disdain. We see it in sitcoms on television – the husband is always stupid, always messing up, and the wife is the one who holds everything together and fixes everything. We hear it in our daily lives – many women love to complain about their husbands when they are out with friends. This all stems from a lack of respect. And they all contribute to the breakdown of a marriage. I want my daughter to practice respect and live it out now, so that she will understand the importance of respecting her husband. I want her to find a man that she CAN respect. I want it to come naturally to her – honoring her husband because she admires him.
So today, let’s pray for our daughters to be respectful. Let’s pray that the Lord will bring people into her life that she can admire and look up to, and keep her away from those who are disrespectful. And let’s pray that we will be mothers that daily EARN the respect of our family and that we can model, for our daughters, the respect that a wife should have for her husband.
Self-control: Bringing my thoughts, words, actions and attitudes into constant obedience in order to benefit others. Rejecting wrong desires and doing what is right.
A man without self-control is like a city broken into and left without walls.
For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.
~2 Timothy 1:7
“I choose self-control . . .I am a spiritual being. After this body is dead, my spirit will soar. I refuse to let what will rot, rule the eternal. I choose self-control. I will be drunk only by joy. I will be impassioned only by my faith. I will be influenced only by God. I will be taught only by Christ. I choose self-control.” ~Max Lucado
My daughter likes to scream when she is angry. It’s an ear-piercing screech that probably sets the neighbor’s nerves on edge. If it were just a little bit higher, it might be out of the human auditory spectrum – then only our dogs would suffer! Two facts about toddlers that collide on almost a daily basis for my daughter are 1) toddlers do not like to nap and 2) toddlers have very little to no self-control. Rebekah cries almost every single day when naptime rolls around. She doesn’t want to lie down in her bed – she wants to play. I’ve accepted the crying – but I don’t put up with the screaming. One particular afternoon, she was feeling extra “screamy” and I put my foot down. I told her that she could not scream, or she would be punished. Before I even got out of her room, she screamed at the top of her lungs. I punished her, then repeated my previous statement. This time, I barely had time to close her door before she screamed even louder. I punished her again and reminded her of the rule. This continued about 7 more times – seriously. She seemed to have no ability to control herself – she was angry, and she was going to scream. Just about the time I was starting to panic over the whole situation, I heard her take a deep breath to scream, and then there was a pause, then just some sobbing. She had stopped herself from screaming. Although it was WAY overdue, she had practiced self-control. It’s an incredibly hard lesson for toddlers, and one we’ll be repeating over and over again in the future.
Of course we desire self-control for our daughters – it is what helps keep them on the right track as they mature and walk through life. There are 3 major areas of life that self-control needs to regulate:
The first area is our thoughts. The Bible says that God doesn’t care about the outward appearance – He looks at the heart. My daughter could put on a great act of appearing to be a good person, but if her mind is full of immoral, ugly, and sinful thoughts, then she is not practicing self-control, and God is not glorified.
The second area of life that needs self-control is our speech. Does your daughter use vulgar language? Does she take the Lord’s name in vain? Does she gossip? These are all challenges to self-control. Controlling the tongue can be incredibly difficult, but the mouth is also linked to the mind – so if our daughters can start to take their thoughts captive, then their speech will be changed as well.
The final area is our actions. Self-control is what will help our girls treat their body with respect – not drinking too much, eating too much, having premarital sex, using drugs, etc. All these things can be tempting, and self-control is what steps in and says that it’s just not worth it.
Self-control will also help her stifle that angry scream when her mom is insisting she take a nap. 🙂
I’ll be praying today for my daughter to develop self-control. I know it’s not something she’ll acquire overnight, but we’ll get there. I’ll also CONTINUE to pray for the Lord to give me strength to control myself – when situations arise with my daughter where I am pushed to my limits, I don’t ever want to lose my temper with her. I want to be an example of self-control for her.
Which of the 3 areas do you find to be the most difficult to practice self-control? (For me, it’s definitely thoughts!)