Super Parent ... or By God's Grace?
By Tom and Sherry Bushnell
Including excerpts from "Becoming Heirs Together of the Grace of Life"
by Jeff and Marge Barth.
These are examples of genuine NATHHAN families.
A tired mother of 5 children wearily sat down on the couch, only to be Interrupted by Sean's continuous, IV warning beeper ... again. In addition to all she has to do today, a trip to town was in order to repair its malfunctioning.
Folks had told her that she was crazy to try and homeschool her other 4 children with Sean's worsening disability. She knew in her heart that it was truly only a matter of time before Sean went home to be with the Lord.
SUPER PARENT ... OR BY God'S GRACE?
Mom of 9 children turned around again to find all of the crayons dumped out, and the box of legos mixed in to boot. Their seventh girl, age 5, had autism and got a lot of joy from coloring. The baby, age one, enjoyed dumping boxes even more.
The phone jangled. She prayed that the person on the line would be a new customer. She wanted some good news to share with her husband when he woke up. Her husband, recently in a car accident, was recovering slowly and was taking a much needed morning nap.
Two years ago, they knew God had called them to homeschool all of their children and to begin a home business that would enable her husband to be home full time...but this was not exactly how they had planned it all. The accident left his right hand almost useless and he was greatly hindered emotionally and physically by pain.
SUPER PARENT ... OR BY God'S GRACE?
Parents of 5 adopted children with varying degrees of disability from severe to mild agreed that the Lord had blessed their home. In thankfulness, they knew He wanted them to do their very best in teaching and raising their family. They had been warned by medical and educational professionals that the only way to do a "good" job with their children was to take advantage of the local services provided by their hospital's therapy unit and their local school's excellent special needs program.
Together, they quietly agreed that they did not know all that they needed to, in order to do an adequate job of teaching academics and doing therapy. Yet they could not deny the prompting in their hearts from the Lord to raise their little ones differently than the status quo. They would have to educate themselves. It would take a lot of work and research.
SUPER PARENT ... OR BY God'S GRACE?
A single, heart rendering screech!! brought dad and mom from bed in a leap. Their son was having another seizure and this time was undoubtedly very frightening. They ran into the room and turned on the dim bedside lamp. There lay their son grinning from ear to ear.
Mom sat down wearily on the rocker. Dad got mad, biting his lip, turned from the room. Joey had found a new way to bring mom and dad on the run. He had tried this several times during the day lately, but this was the first night time production. How were they ever going to know the real thing?
As the months wore on, they grew more frustrated with Joey, age 6 (mentally 3), as he found more and more ways to gain attention, something he got plenty of during the day.
A friend gave them a booklet on character training, opening their eyes to the fact that Joey, although he was disabled, still could be held accountable for his naughtiness. After further talking with the family who helped them, they grew to realize that they had molded a tyrant. As Christians, they had assumed that God would car for them and their son. All they needed to do was attend church, make an effort at getting along, and spend time in the Word and prayer. And indeed God had, as they now saw. He had opened their eyes to their child training failure.
They were going to "start over." Joey was spoiled. In order to do this adequately, they had been warned by their friends to be very careful who came into their lives while the major change in attitude was taking place. Joey was a big boy, and they knew that a few small spankings would not do the job. It would take weeks of loving, consistent use of the rod, without fail, day after day, to transform their son into what they knew and had seen was possible.
They contacted their doctor who fully supported the idea of character transformation, but doubted their ability to do it themselves without intervention from professionals.
SUPER PARENT ... OR BY God'S GRACE?
All of these parents feel they were successful in the long run, but only by the grace of God.Are you in a situation that puts stress on your home?
Are there days you feel like what you are accomplishing is fruitless and too much of a burden to bear? You are not alone.
Let's look at God's grace. What is it? How do we get it when we need it the most?
1 Peter 1:2 states ...are chosen, according to the foreknowledge of God the father ( He knows what you are going through now and in the future), by the sanctifying work of the Spirit, that you may obey Jesus Christ and be sprinkled with His blood. May grace and peace be yours in full measure.
2 Peter 1:2-3 states: Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord, seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and Godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence.
In the Bushnell home, grace has come to mean a quiet understanding and calming comfort. As long as we know we are doing His will in our lives, we know, without a shadow of doubt, that He will give us what we need to get the job done.
This is an immense assurance to us. It has kept us from sheer panic in days of heavy work pressure and discouragement.
Any home faces discouragement and stress. Without these times, we would not grow spiritually. The real test comes when we are called upon, in the middle of stress, tiredness, tragedy, pressure and heavy work loads, to have a Godly attitude.
God's grace is not a magic pill to escape reality. It is simply a gift from the Holy Spirit, sent by God, allowing us to accomplish the job He has asked us to do with peace.
It would be a mistake for us to lead you to believe that appropriating God's grace in our lives when we are in a tight spot, is a clear, cool lake, to dive into and hide, without cost. There are ways that all of us can hinder God's grace in our lives.
Most often God is granting us His grace when we do not even realize it. In fact, the very act of salvation is an act of His grace in our lives.
But there are other times we are hindering this precious gift when we do not realize it!
2 Corinthians 6:1 says: And working together with Him, we also urge you not to receive the grace of God in vain -
In Galatians 2:21, Paul writes, "I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness comes through the Law, then Christ died needlessly."
There are ways to hinder God's grace in our lives.
Jeff and Marge Barth in their book Becoming Heirs Together of the Grace of Life, a Study on Christian Marriage, on pages 143 - 145, has a listing of ways we can do this, plus some eye-opening ways we may be forfeiting a calm and peaceful heart in the midst of turmoil.
Ways to Frustrate God's Grace
1. By not understanding or failing to realize that righteousness comes by the grace of God only and not by our own human efforts. "By the grace of God I am what I am" - quote of the Apostle Paul 1 Cor. 15:10.
. By self-condemnation for failure of sins. In a subtle way this is actually suggesting that we have a capacity to do good, but we failed. "For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing." Rom. 7:18
3. By dwelling on our sins or failures. Constantly reminding ourselves of our sins or praying about them continually, actually strengthens their presence. "likewise reckon (consider) ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord."
4. By pride caused by self-righteousness, personal position or achievements, intellectual abilities, or flattery from others, etc. "God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble." James 4:6
5. By not truly wanting righteousness or the grace that produces it. "Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness for they shall be filled." Mat. 5:6 Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? Rom. 6:1
6. By thinking that learning or intellectual knowledge will produce righteousness. "Be not carried about with divers (different) and strange doctrines (teachings). For it is a good thing that the heart be established with grace, not with meats (intake), which have not profited them that have been occupied therein." Heb. 13:9
7. By setting up traditions, laws, or standards of righteousness or performance which are based on the commandments of men and not truthful leadings and commands from God's Word and His Holy Spirit. "Why do ye also transgress (disobey) the commandment of God by your traditions?"
Mat. 15:3. "Thus have ye made the commandment of God none effect by your tradition" Mat. 15:6.
8. By setting up laws of performance or time limits on God's grace. "Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law: ye are fallen from grace." Gal 5:4
9. By resting or not yielding to the Holy Spirit but instead making provision for the flesh. "Neither yield your members as instruments of unrighteousness until sin; but yield yourselves unto God..." Rom. 6:3. "But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lust thereof." Rom. 13:14
10. By doing things which hinder God's transforming work. "All things are lawful unto me, but all things are not expedient." 1 Cor. 6:12; 10:23
What joy it was when my wife and I discovered this new way of grace in approaching the righteousness of God's Word. Before understanding this, I found that at times I was even cautious in studying certain Scriptures out of fear that I wouldn't be able to do them in my own strength. Now it is becoming clear to me that God didn't even really expect me to be able to do them in my own strength, but that He wanted to form the qualities of these Scriptures in my life by His divine power of grace.
Now with boldness and eagerness, we willingly approached not only the Scriptures related to marriage but all of God's Word realizing that His grace was sufficient for us. "Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need." Heb. 4:16
God's throne is not one of condemnation, judgment and wrath for the believer in Christ, but a throne of mercy, grace and help in time of need. God knows our human weaknesses. "For He (God) knoweth our frame; He remembers that we are dust." Psalm 103:14. How it must please the Lord when He sees us coming to His throne with a willingness to admit that His power alone is our only hope of righteousness.
Practical Suggestions By Jeff & Marge
One of the greatest threats to receiving grace in everyday life is pride. "God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble" James 4:6. Of course, we Christians are susceptible to the "pride of life," and this kind of pride will diminish the flow of grace in anyone's life, but there is a far more subtle and thus more dangerous form of pride for the Christian, and that is religious pride. This is pride that often comes with thinking we are part of the "right" group or organization, or that we have the "right" interpretation doctrinally, or we're following the "right" principles or teachings, or we're wearing the "right" Biblical apparel, or we're observing the "right" Biblical ordinances, and so forth. It is important that we live Biblically, but we must be careful with religious pride which sometimes grows out of our prescribed ways or convictions.
Often these convictions that begin to regulate our lives start out only
as teachings, sometimes called new "insights" or Biblical "principles;"
but gradually they become rules of conduct, and eventually yokes of
bondage. Generally they are not called "rules" but rather "teachings,"
and those who present them often make others feel guilty if they aren't
following these "teachings." Usually a false hope of more holiness and
Untangling from such yokes of bondage is not easy to do, because it often involves breaking away or pruning back from certain involvements and friendships, but this is vital for our families. We would encourage couples to search their lives together for these often pride-producing entanglements, traditions, and other forms of teaching that may have subtly become a yoke which will draw them away from grace and the true victory it brings.
One of the prominent signs of the near return of Christ is the proliferation of religion in the world. Just as the Sadducees, Pharisees, and Herodians in Christ's day argued over who was the most scriptural in their convictions, the same religious pride will prevail in the last days. The Apostle Paul said that the didn't want "mine own righteousness" that came from fulfilling the tenants of religion, but rather "the righteousness which is of God by faith." Phil. 3:9.
By Tom and Sherry Bushnell
It is important for us to remember that God does not keep His grace from His children who call upon His name in time of need.
However, as a family, we are constantly evaluating and rechecking our priorities, to be sure selfishness has not crept in and robbed us of the gift of God's grace.
If we are truly open to having the Holy Spirit teach us how to appropriate His grace, there will be areas the Lord will open our eyes to that stop His grace from being the blessing (gift) it was meant to be.
As life goes on, we are not guaranteed and easy ride. Let's face it, life on this side of heaven is full of tragedy, pain, hard work, and disappointment.
Are we really ready to accept the good times as well as the hard times
and spiritually dry times, as character development? His ultimate goal
for us is spiritual maturity, not physical comfort. We can face the
The parents at the beginning of this article have first hand experiences that life is not always easy. Yet because they know that God was behind them, although they felt hardship, pain and stress, they knew they were going to succeed. And they are!
None of us have a smooth sail. All of us can enjoy peace in the midst of the storm ... IF we are careful not to receive the Lord's grace in vain. Let's be obedient to Him and His word.
By Tom Bushnell
To learn more about not only the aspect of grace, but how you can experience the grace for all of life that comes from being one in heart and spirit with your spouse order Jeff and Marge Barth's excellent book on marriage "Becoming Heirs Together of the Grace of Life" a Study on Christian Marriage.
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