A Mr. Rogers Approach to Homeschooling

A Mr. Rogers Approach to Homeschooling

I watched the movie A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood about Mr. Rogers and his relationship with a journalist who was sent to interview him. It is rated PG and is a drama that is not fast-paced. For that reason, I think young children would be bored. However, I highly recommend it for you as a homeschooler.

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Mr. Rogers wasn’t a homeschooler and, as far as I know, had nothing to say about homeschooling. But I think his life and the way he lived it had a lot to say about it. I’m going to share with you six approaches to homeschooling that we can take from Mr. Rogers’s life. I believe these approaches could be transformative to your homeschooling and especially to your family.

Delight in your child.

The first approach we can take in homeschooling that is derived from Mr. Rogers’s life and work is to delight in your child.

In the opening scene of Mr. Rogers on set, we see him meeting with a child and his family. He is on his knee and commenting on a sword the child is holding. He does not ask the child a number of questions. Instead, he makes observations about the sword, allowing the child to correct him. This is standard procedure in play therapy. Making observations rather then asking questions makes children feel comfortable with us. Children have to answer multiple questions a day and grow weary of them. (I know. Moms do too, but hang with me here.) The final observation Mr. Rogers makes of the child and his sword is positive. He expresses wonder at the child’s strength. The child’s response is to hug Mr. Rogers.

How can we express delight in our own children? Let’s consider a child’s writing. Rather then asking what a child was trying to say in a piece of writing, we can make observations. It looks like you put a lot of thought into this. It seems like you really love this subject. If we are observing a child’s artwork, we might talk about the movement or emotion of the piece. We might comment on the beautiful colors.

Mr. Rogers also expressed delight in having the opportunity to get to know the journalist. In the same way, we can express our joy when her children wake up in the morning, or when they assemble for morning basket time, or when our teens come home from work. That leads me to Mr. Rogers’s principal number two.

Relationships come first.

While Mr. Rogers met with the child and his parents, the journalist asked his staff how often he did that. The staff sighed and and answered, “Every day.” They expressed their chagrin at the delays that these interactions caused their production crew.

When we have a needy toddler, teen, or spouse, we have a tendency to react the way Mr. Rogers’s production team did. We can become frustrated as we see these relationship issues as an interruption to our real work. Mr. Rogers would say that people are our real work. They should always come first, even if that means the math, the handwriting, or the history has to come later.

We can apply this principle by reminding ourselves every day that we are first and foremost about relationship building. As a homeschooling mom of six, I can say unequivocally that my relationships with my children are the greatest blessing of teaching them at home and not their superior education.

EQ is just as important as IQ.

The third Mr. Rogers principle that can apply to homeschooling is that EQ or emotional intelligence is just as important as IQ.

Mr. Rogers started his television program to address children’s emotional and social skills as opposed to the intellectual skills that were being addressed on Sesame Street. We see the importance of EQ in some gifted children who struggle. They can feel lonely, irritable, or depressed if they haven’t been taught emotional and social skills. We are not providing a whole education if we only focus on academics.

If we want to apply Mr. Rogers’s principle to our homeschooling, we have to take time to address sibling conflict. We have to teach our children how to manage grief. We have to teach our children how to make friends, how to handle teasing, how to handle disappointment, and so much more. We can use books and movies to teach these skills, and we can also use life experiences to prompt us. Again, we can do this, even if it means we get behind on our lesson plans.

Listen more and talk less.

The fourth Mr. Rogers’s principle that we can apply to our homeschooling is to listen more and talk less. James 1:19 says “Be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry.” Mr. Rogers appeared to be the embodiment of this verse. In fact, at some points the movie creates significant discomfort because nothing is being said. Mr. Rogers waits for his journalist friend to speak, and when he does, the words are powerful. Silence can prompt true expression.

We can apply this principle in our homeschools by spending less time lecturing and even reading and more time listening to what our children have to say. If we make an observation or ask a question and our children don’t immediately respond or say ‘I don’t know,’ we can practice productive silence. We can wait for our kids to be ready to share. Our children will talk more as they come to trust that our relationship with them comes first. Using observations rather than questions is more likely to allow our children to talk. Rather then correcting or directing, we can model Mr. Rogers in thanking them for sharing, even if they share something we don’t like.

Spend time in the Word and prayer.

The next principle of Mr. Rogers’s life that we can apply to our homeschooling is praying. Mr. Rogers spent time in the Word and in prayer daily. He prayed for those in his life who obviously needed help and even those who didn’t.

We can apply this to our homeschooling by praying for each of our children. We can pray that they would grow in faith and that they would grow physically, emotionally, and socially. Of course, we can and should pray for ourselves as well. Near the end of the movie, Mr. Rogers asks a dying man to pray for him. We can and should ask others to pray for us as we do the incredibly important job of homeschooling our children.

Tell children they’re loved as they are.

The final principle I want to share from Mr. Rogers’s life that we can apply to homeschooling is showing our children that they’re loved as they are.

Mr. Rogers frequently told his viewers that they were wonderful just as they were. We may object to that when we’re dealing with a child who is sinful and disruptive. But the truth is that children who are struggling won’t have the will to change until they know they are loved just as they are.

We can apply this principle to our homeschooling by reminding our children that even if they never get better at math, reading, or keeping their rooms clean, we couldn’t possibly love them any more. They’re loved just as they are. This was Jesus’ message for us. While we were still sinners, Jesus came to set us free from the wages of that sin.

That message is for you too. You’re loved just as you are. Even if you never get more organized, never understand algebra, never have an Instagram-worthy homeschool day, you’re wonderful just as you are. Your family loves you so very much. God does, too.

Conclusion

Thank you so much for giving me the honor of listening to this podcast. I’m amazed by the sacrifice you make for your family week after week.

I watched another movie this week and there is a quote from it that applies here. The movie is Fighting with My Family. It’s a true story about a professional wrestling family. The sister is chosen to go pro over the brother. The sister tells her brother, “Just because you don’t have millions of people applauding doesn’t means that your work isn’t important.” Homeschool mom, your work is so important.

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How to Trust God with the World

How to Trust God with the World

Trusting God with all the scary things going on in the world right now can be challenging, but that’s our focus this month with the Trust Project.

How can we trust God with a potential pandemic, a stock market crash, climate change, and politics? The short answer is we have to decide that our God is in control of even these worldly threats.

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Why should we trust God with the world?

We begin as we always do with asking ourselves why we should trust God in this area? What are the benefits? What will we start doing and what will we stop doing?

The benefits for me are not having to worry, get angry, or try to convince others that I’m right and they’re wrong. One thing I have started doing is to pray regularly about world events and crises. Something I have stopped doing is regularly reading and watching the news. The news just makes it more difficult for me to have peace. I also unfollow people on social media who say things that upset me.

Now let’s use our TRUST acronym.

The T in trust is for truth.

Our Scripture to meditate on this month is Psalm 18:2:

The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.

He protects us and shields us more than any medical mask, health care plan, or mutual fund could.

Our Bible account is from Daniel Chapter 3 — the story of Shadrach, Meschach, and Abednego refusing to bow down and worship the gold statue king Nebuchadnezzar erected. Despite being thrown into the fiery furnace, the men had Jesus in the fire with them. They emerged from the furnace without even the faintest smell of smoke on them.

Jesus is in the fire with us too. There is no reason to fear, though the heat is being turned up and we can feel it.

More believers are facing persecution in today’s world than ever before. Increasingly, even in the Western world, we are asked to compromise our beliefs or face the consequences. But we can trust God to deliver us from every terror and tyrant the world can throw at us. And if He doesn’t deliver us on earth, He will deliver us safely to heaven.

The R in trust is for remembering.

When I was a girl, I learned that the greatest threats we faced were the second ice age and nuclear holocaust. New Year’s Eve 1999, I was at the top of a tall building looking out over the city, waiting for the lights to go out. In 2001, the US experienced the 9/11 terror attacks and immediately thereafter anthrax in our mail. In 2008 we experienced a significant economic downturn. Housing values plummeted and family members lost their jobs or had their income cut in half. Our retirement declined in an alarming fashion.

Thanks be to God, we are still here. I know that nothing can touch us without the loving, wise permissive will of our heavenly father. How has God delivered you from worldly threats in the past?

The U in trust is for understanding.

God gives us wisdom we can use to protect ourselves in the world. On New Year’s Eve 1999, we had stored water and food at our house in case of a shutdown. After 2008, we know to diversify our investments. To prevent illness, we know to wash our hands frequently. We know better than ever how to be good stewards of our environment. We know that one vote makes a difference. And we know that God is in control of it all. What wisdom has God given you for worldly threats?

The S in trust is for supplication.

When it comes to worldly threats, there is very little we can do. That is why we pray. We pray for our leaders to be blessed, whether or not we agree with them. We pray that they would rely on God and His wisdom. We pray for our brothers and sisters in Christ around the world who are being persecuted. We pray in repentance for ways in which we have mistreated our world and more importantly, the people in it. We pray for mercy, and we trust that God will answer. If we are anxious, it’s a sign that we are trying to be God. In response, we must return to praying that God would be God.

The second T in trust is for Thanksgiving.

We thank God for all the ways He has provided for us, not just in our lifetimes, but for centuries. We thank God for our nations and for those who sacrificed to give us the freedoms we enjoy. And we thank God that He will not leave us orphans. We thank God that He is in control of diseases, of seasons, of the nations, and even of our economies. He determines who is in power and for how long. We express our gratitude that He will continue to care for us. We thank Him that we are not running the world and He is.

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6 Reasons to Include Audiobooks in Your Homeschool

6 Reasons to Include Audiobooks in Your Homeschool

If you’ve ever wondered if using an audiobook was a bad replacement for reading, wonder no more! There are at least six reasons to include audiobooks in your homeschool.

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#1 Audiobooks grow kids’ vocabulary

Reason #1 to use audiobooks in your homeschool is because it grows your kids’ vocabulary. Vocabulary is not only the best predictor of academic success but the best predictor of life success. That is just stunning to me.

If you have a child who is dyslexic or has another reading challenge, don’t let that discourage you. When my son was a four-year-old prereader, a workman was at our house and commented on my son’s large vocabulary. He said, “He talks like an eight-year-old!” That is likely because he was exposed to high-level vocabulary in our conversation and in books read to him by me or a narrator.

Audiobooks can present high-level vocabulary to students in a way they can benefit from. There is more than just the unknown words to tell the story. What we want is lots of exposure to new words, more than workbook drills. Audiobooks are a great vehicle for vocabulary exposure.

#2 Audiobooks teach pronunciation

Reason #2 to use audiobooks in your homeschool is because they teach correct pronunciation. Even advanced students who read voraciously can benefit from listening to audiobooks. Typically, students will not look up pronunciation of new words, leading my daughter to pronounce archives as arCHIVEs.

Even we as parents may not know how to properly pronounce a word when we are reading. It took me a while to learn that facade wasn’t pronounced facade. A professionally narrated audiobook provides valuable education in pronunctiation that doesn’t take your or your student’s time to look up the words.

#3 Audiobooks improve reading fluency

Reason #3 to use audiobooks is improved reading fluency. Having your child read along in the print book while listening to the audio will improve your child’s ability to read and read quickly. Have your child read out loud with the narrator. But even if your child isn’t looking at the book, the narrator’s reading cadence will help your child learn appropriate phrasing, proper pausing, and changes in tone required when reading aloud.

And if your child can read fluently, you’ll have a more confident child who will benefit greatly from reading more.

#4 Audiobooks engage readers

Reason #4 to use audiobooks in your homeschool is to engage readers. Whether you have a reluctant reader or a child who isn’t interested in a particular genre, using professionally produced audiobooks is a way to hook your child. Unless you’re a trained reader, your child will have better attention listening to a narrator’s characters in fiction or to a narrator’s commanding voice in nonfiction than to you. Reluctant readers are often happy to listen to a book, without realizing that the benefits of audiobooks are almost as great as reading a print book.

Audiobooks are fantastic for evoking emotion in listeners–something we know aids learning. Humor in particular is enhanced in audiobooks. The librarian’s voice in Grammar Galaxy Nebula cracks me up. Because she is funny, I remember her talking about tall tales. Your kids will remember too.

#5 Audiobooks are an incentive

Reason #5 to use audiobook is as an incentive. I talk with homeschool parents about how to motivate their students. It can be confusing to determine what to use as reinforcers. We can feel good about using educational materials as rewards, and audiobooks are the perfect option.

Have your child read the book first if you have a reluctant reader. Then play the audiobook. Or use the audiobook as a reward for completing chores or less desirable work. The more we present the audio as a treat, the more willing our kids will be to use it. They’ll have no idea that you want them to listen to the audiobook as much as you want them to complete the other tasks.

#6 Audiobooks save time

Reason #6 to use audiobooks is your time. Reading aloud is so valuable, but our voice only lasts so long. In some cases, we can’t read from a book. I can’t read in the car because of motion sickness. Audiobooks make long drives or even short commutes much more pleasant. They also allow Dad to be involved in what the kids are learning if he isn’t already.

You can use an audiobook for some children while you’re working with others. You can listen to an audiobook while you eat or do chores. You can play it at bedtime to keep kids quiet or for when they don’t have the energy to read themselves, if reading is a challenge. Audiobooks expand your educational time significantly.

Grammar Galaxy Nebula, the first volume of the elementary language arts curriculum kids love is now available as an audiobook! Listen to a sample and add it to your homeschool.

Conclusion

Audiobooks should be a part of your homeschool because they grow vocabulary, teach pronunciation, improve reading fluency, engage readers, motivate, and save time.

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Trusting God with a Loved One’s Salvation

Trusting God with a Loved One’s Salvation

This month for the Trust Project, we are going to trust God for our children’s and other loved ones’ salvation.

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Why we should trust God with a loved one’s salvation

As always, we’ll begin with why we should trust God in this area. What will we stop doing, start doing, and how will we know we’re trusting God with it?

When we trust God with our loved ones’ salvation, we will have peace. We won’t worry about what to say or do because we will know that God has a plan. How silly would it be for God to place anyone’s eternal destiny squarely in our hands? I used to believe that my children’s salvation was entirely my responsibility. The curriculum I chose, the church we attended, and how much time we spent reading Scripture, together with my own capacity for sin carried so much weight. When my first child began asking challenging questions about the faith, I was a nervous wreck. But so was he. My son worried that we wouldn’t love him if he didn’t believe exactly the same way that we did, and I worried that he would reject God and our family. That fear caused a lot of conflict.

So for me, trusting God with my loved ones’ salvation means that I will stop believing that it’s all my responsibility. I will start loving people in my life and believing that God will give me the words and actions that He will use in His plan to bring people to faith. I’ll know that I’m trusting God in this area when I don’t worry about the choices people I love make and I pray instead.

Let’s work through our TRUST acronym for this area.

T is for TRUTH.

Our Scripture to meditate on is Matthew 19:25-26:

When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished and asked, “Who then can be saved?”

Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”

If our loved ones’ salvation depends on us, it’s impossible for them to be saved. But with God, even the most unlikely person can receive Jesus Christ as his Savior and enjoy eternity with Him.

Our Bible account is the parable of the lost son from Luke Chapter 15. We don’t know when our lost loved ones will return, but we don’t have to chase them down. We can prayerfully wait for God to work in their hearts and minds.

The R in TRUST is for Remembering.

When I am tempted to worry about family and friends who don’t know Jesus, I remember my friend Sarah. I met Sarah at a homeschool activity. She was very nice but she had different views from me on almost everything. I wanted to challenge her views, her reading material, and her parenting practices. In my flesh, this is what I thought was the answer to her salvation. But the Lord restrained me. Instead, I befriended her, invited her to my church and home, and mostly listened.

She told me of her plans to quit homeschooling and to move out of state with her new boyfriend, and I was sure that she would be lost forever. Months later she contacted me when our mutual friend was hospitalized. She was still in town. She said she would pray, but I figured she didn’t mean that literally. A few days later she called me to ask me questions about the Christian faith. She told me, “I wasn’t looking for Jesus, but He came looking for me.”

Sarah had received Jesus, and in no time her views that I so wanted to challenge were aligned with mine. She is now a dear sister in Christ.

Remember God’s faithfulness in bringing you to faith or growing your faith. Remember others you know whom Jesus made His own. Your trust in God with the salvation of others you love will grow.

The U in TRUST is for Understanding.

What wisdom has God already given for you to obey in this area? I read an excellent book with my church called Joining Jesus On His Mission by Greg Finke. It helped me to see that building relationships as I did with Sarah, without pushing theology, is exactly what Jesus would have us do with some of the people in our lives. Love is the greatest theology there is and it’s powerful in the Lord’s hands.

The S in TRUST is for Supplication.

Add those who don’t yet have a relationship with Christ and those who need a closer relationship with Him to your prayer list. I use an app to make these prayers regular. I include all my family on a rotating basis. I didn’t believe that God would answer my prayer for Sarah, and look what He did.

The last T in TRUST is for Thanksgiving.

We can thank God for our salvation, and for the salvation of those whom we already know are in the family of faith. We can also thank Him in advance for our loved ones whose name are in the Book of Life yet haven’t been revealed to us. What a privilege that He allows us to play a role in their salvation.

Conclusion

When we trust God with the entire process, we can enjoy our relationships without fear of our mistakes or theirs. Join me next month as we discuss how to trust God with the world.

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Help for the Anxious Homeschool Mom

Help for the Anxious Homeschool Mom

Homeschool mom, what are you anxious about?

I can tell you what I was anxious about as a new homeschooling mom. I was afraid I would fail at teaching my kids. I wasn’t a trained teacher, after all.

But even though I’m a psychologist, I was also afraid I would fail as a mom. I thought my kids might grow up to write a tell-all book about my failings: Mommy Dearest II.

Those are two big fears, but I had many more. I was afraid for my health. I was afraid that pesticides and GMOs were killing me. I was afraid my fillings were giving me MS. I was afraid I was becoming allergic to every food.

I was afraid for my family too. I was afraid my son had MD when he started limping as a toddler. On a grand scale, I was afraid my kids would grow up to reject God and our family. I was afraid in my relationships. I was afraid I wouldn’t have any friends when a friend rejected me or moved away. I was afraid we were in the wrong church that was on the wrong path.

I was afraid of little things as well. I had a tightness in my gut every time we were running late. I was terrified of forgetting appointments and making people mad. You name it. I was afraid of it.

At one point my anxiety was so bad that my physical and mental health were in shambles. So I am not just speaking to you as a psychologist. I understand where you are if anxiety is a problem.

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Where Anxiety Comes From

Before I tell you how to deal with your anxiety, let’s talk about where it comes from.

Anxiety has a biological component. You may have inherited a predisposition for it. Your idle may be set too fast. Or you may have a physical condition that is contributing to your anxiety. A poorly functioning thyroid gland or hormonal shifts are common culprits.

Caffeine and other stimulants worsen anxiety. I am sensitive to caffeine. I had a frappe one morning and later that day I couldn’t figure out what I was feeling so anxious about.

Depression and anxiety often co-occur. If you suffer from depression, getting help for it can improve your anxiety as well.

Anxiety can be environmental. If you live or work in a place that is unpredictable and threatening, anxiety is a normal response. Until you feel safe physically, emotionally, and even financially, getting past your anxiety will be difficult. Recent research demonstrates that living in a cluttered environment raises your cortisol level, a marker for stress.

Finally, anxiety can be mental and spiritual. Specifically, anxiety is related to what you believe. These types of beliefs can produce anxiety that becomes dysfunctional. For example:

I have no options. Feeling that we can’t do anything to change our situation leads to feelings of helplessness and hopelessness.

God helps those who help themselves. This unScriptural notion leads us to want to solve our own problems, even though God wants us to leave it to Him.

I can’t trust anyone. We refuse to accept help because we don’t trust that God can work through others for our benefit.

If it is to be, it’s up to me. We carry the weight of the world on our shoulders. We bear all the responsibility and the blame for everything.

Satan is in control of this world. We forget that Satan can only do what our loving God permits. He is not even close to being God’s equal. Jesus and His body, the church, isn’t on the run.

The Prescription for the Anxious Homeschool Mom

All this talk may be making you anxious! I get it. But I have a prescription that should calm you down. Ready?

First, take care of your body.

If you are anxious, schedule a physical and mention your anxiety symptoms. Your thyroid or hormones may be contributing to the problem. Let your doctor know about any medications or supplements you are taking as these may also contribute to anxiety.

Cut back on caffeine. You don’t need anything revving your engine, right?

Cut back on or eliminate alcohol. Anxious people often medicate with alcohol. While alcohol can decrease anxiety temporarily, it also interferes with sleep and can destroy brain and liver tissue as well as relationships–even if you never work or drive while under the influence.

Practice good sleep hygience. Keep your room dark and cool enough for you to sleep. Don’t use screens right before bed. Go to sleep and get up at the same times, even if you aren’t sleeping well.

Exercise vigorously. Exercise is critical for getting anxiety under control. You must get your heartrate up consistently and I recommend daily exercise. I’d prefer that you are sweating and fatigued after working out or it won’t be as effective in managing anxiety. High intensity interval training is an excellent choice. When you exercise to fatigue, your system won’t be able to overreact to your thoughts.

Consider medication if your doctor recommends it for the short-term. If your anxiety is severe enough that it is wreaking havoc on your physical health, consider taking something to help you do the mental and spiritual work that needs to be done for the long-term. If you don’t like it, you don’t have to keep taking it. In most cases, the risk of side effects is lower than the risk of a weak immune system from high anxiety.

Address the mental and spiritual side of anxiety.

After you’ve taken care of your body, you can address the mental and spiritual side of anxiety.

The first task at hand is to change the way you think. Our thoughts produce anxiety. Changing the way that we think changes our emotions and even our brain chemistry.

If you have a mild problem with anxiety, I recommend listening to How to Stop Worrying and Start Living by Dale Carnegie. I highly recommend the audiobook version. I also recommend The Anxiety & Worry Workbook by Clark & Beck. These books will help you to think differently, thereby reducing your anxiety.

If you have a moderate to severe problem with anxiety, I recommend seeking out a cognitive-behavioral therapist for help. A CBT therapist will not analyze your childhood but will give you proven tools for changing the way you think and respond in anxiety-provoking situations. An ethical therapist will not contradict your faith, even if he or she doesn’t share it.

Changing the way we think is also fundamental to our spiritual health. If we think that God isn’t really good, doesn’t really love us, and won’t help us, we will experience profound anxiety. This is where I was spiritually. If you had asked me whether I believed those things about God, I would have said no. But I didn’t truly trust Him.

I believe we all have to make a choice once we know Christ. Do we choose to believe that God is good, that He loves us, and will work all things together for our good? Or do we believe that we’re on our own because God doesn’t care? When you’ve decided to believe God no matter what, it makes life so much easier. It means that even when the unthinkable happens and we are grieving without an explanation, we know that God is there, loving us, and working everything together for our good.

Renew Your Mind

The final way to manage our anxiety that I’m going to discuss in this episode is to renew your mind. We have allowed unhealthy thoughts to flood our system day after day. Now we have to marinate our minds in the truth. Reading the word and Christian books daily can help strengthen our faith. The Christian biographies the Benges have written are a great option for you.

Another way we can renew our minds is by spending time with mature Christians. These men and women who have been refined in the fire will continue to speak truth to you and will demonstrate God’s faithfulness in their lives. I have friends who have lost children and spouses, and they all praise God for sustaining and blessing them.

Conclusion

I want you to know that neither climate change nor a new strain of the flu can take you out of God’s hands. He has numbered our days and no one and nothing can change that. I wish you His peace, my friend, and pray that He relieves you of the oppression of anxiety.

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How to Trust God to Overcome Sin

How to Trust God to Overcome Sin

Trusting God to overcome the sin in our lives is one of the tougher areas to trust. I know from experience! I’m talking about the besetting sins, the sins that feel like addictions because no matter what you do, you can’t seem to change. But we can learn to trust Him in this way, just as we have with our health.

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Why should we trust God with our sin?

What are the benefits of trusting God with our sin? What would you stop doing if you trusted God with it? And what would you start doing if you really trusted God in this area? Imagine not having to think about your problem with overeating, your gossip issue, your anger, or your procrastination again! Imagine not having to buy more books or programs. Imagine being free to focus on what God has already prepared for you to do. Imagine the impact being free of this sin would have on your family, your health, your happiness, and your witness!

How would you know you were trusting God in this area? For me, it would mean having peace knowing that He has it under control. He is doing the work, so I can focus on what He would have me do each day. I would be liberated!

Let’s go through our TRUST acronym for sin.

The T in TRUST is for Truth.

Our Scripture to meditate on is Romans 6:14. For sin shall no longer be your master, because you are not under the law, but under grace.

Does it feel like sin is your master? That is an illusion that we choose to believe. God has set us free from this horrible master. Do you believe that?

Our biblical account is from Luke 19. It is the story of Jesus and Zacchaeus. Zacchaeus is a tax collector. As you may know, tax collectors were despised for one, because they often took more than was owed and kept it for themselves.

Imagine that you, and not Zacchaeus, are in that tree when Jesus arrives. Does Jesus call up and say, “Hey, sinful tax collector. Come down here and repent and return what you’ve stolen.” No. But we often behave as if this is how Jesus deals with us.

We expect Him to say to us, “Hey, glutton. Hey, gossip. Hey, rager. Hey, slothful one. Come down here and straighten up and then you and I can spend time together.” If this is what we believe He will say, why would we want to fellowship with Him? Instead, we want to solve the problem ourselves and THEN go to Him. We won’t feel so guilty then.

But Jesus is calling to us to say, “Come out of hiding and have time with me.” As a result of that time, we will find ourselves NOT WANTING TO SIN. It isn’t that we will have to use our willpower to resist the overeating, the gossipping, the rage, or the procrastination. We simply won’t want those things when we have Jesus. This is what we see in Zacchaeus and it isn’t an unusual response to having a relationship with Christ.

The R in TRUST is for Remembering.

How has God helped you overcome sin in the past? You’ve heard me talk about the chaos I once lived in. I am a changed woman. I no longer want to live in a mess, eat out of my emotions, or yell at my kids. I’ve read wonderful books and listened to talks on these subjects, but God changed my heart, allowing the truths I learned to take root in my life.

The U in TRUST is for Understanding.

What wisdom has God already given you that you can implement? I know I am more likely to be disorganized if I stay up late at night. I am more likely to overeat if I stand up or watch TV as I eat. And I am more likely to talk about others if I spend time with gossips. I can act on these principles as I trust God to change my heart’s desires.

The S in TRUST is for Supplication.

We can pray for deliverance from the sin that has taken root in our lives. But more important than praying that we wouldn’t behave in a certain way, we pray for a heart change. Rather than praying we can follow a diet to the letter, we ask God to take away the desire for too much food. Rather than asking God to keep us from saying anything unkind, we ask Him for the desire to speak only uplifting words. Instead of asking Him not to let us procrastinate, we ask Him for the desire to do the work He’s called us to do and to have joy in it. Why wouldn’t He answer this prayer? He will! I know it because He promises us He will and because I’ve experienced it.

When we behave in a way that is not in line with who we are in Christ, we confess it, we admit that our flesh has no power over sin, and we believe again that Christ in us is conforming us to His image.

The T in TRUST is for Thanksgiving.

We thank God that He has overcome the sin in our lives–even as we wait for the full evidence of that. We thank Him for His love and mercy. We thank Him for the gifts that we have loved more than our relationship with Him, and we repent of setting up false gods of food and stuff and approval and getting our way.

I am praying for you as you seek to trust the Lord with the sin you haven’t been able to overcome in your own strength.

Do you struggle to trust God to overcome sin in your life? Let me know in the comments.

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