Earlier this week, I shared with you the first part of an incredible interview I was honored to do with Sis. Doretha Jones. The response to that post was beyond belief. Her thoughts on developing contentment, living thankfully, and spiritual ambition hit home for all of us! It is a must read!
I’m so excited to share Part 2 of that conversation with you! This one is beyond worth the wait!
Godliness with Contentment -Part 2
As a pastor’s wife and in some of our travels, I’ve seen a trend across the country that deeply troubles my spirit. It’s this attitude that says, “If you experience God’s presence once as a kid, that is all you’ll ever need.” And it’s a lie.
We don’t follow this line of thought in any other relationship.
- The kiss on the wedding day is not expected to carry a life of love and affection all on its own.
- A friendship that is forged over only one interaction doesn’t grow to a level of deep, unspoken understanding.
- If we plan to keep a pet, we plan to feed it more than once!
But the current climate of Christianity wants to establish an entire eternal relationship with Jesus on one moment. That’s not a relationship. That’s an encounter.
And an encounter with Jesus absolutely will be the most powerful event of your life. I cannot understate how important it is for us and for our kids to experience that initial moment of meeting Him.
But relationships are not developed on a single moment alone.
This is why I see people in the church struggling with foundation issues like contentment, thankfulness, and spiritual success. Our old, ragged acquaintance with God is dull and boring in comparison to the shiny, fleeting passions of society. And suddenly, we’re seeking to fill that absent intimacy with created things instead of with the Creator of all things.
The key to contentment is finding fulfillment in something greater than all the “stuff” in life. Because it’s all just stuff. Our houses, our cars, our clothes, and all those other signals of status are just filler in the space between here and Heaven.
If we lack a meaningful relationship with the Creator, we will pursue meaning in relationships with the created.If we lack a meaningful relationship with the Creator, we will pursue meaning in relationships with the created. Click To Tweet
Seek Ye First the Kingdom
In response to our hunger for things, we are often told:
But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.
We focus on the “all these things” part, thinking about our physical needs and wants.
But my husband, Bro. Jones, did a study on this passage that opened my eyes to it in a new way.
“Seek ye first” does not only mean the first thing in the sequence of our day. While daily devotions are a part of developing an intimate relationship with God, the call to seek His kingdom first isn’t fulfilled by an early morning version of “Now I lay me down to sleep.”
“First” also refers to first in order of significance or priority. His Kingdom must come first in sequence and in importance in all that we pursue.
And he said unto them, When ye pray, say, Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, as in heaven, so in earth.
How can we achieve contentment?
By praying first for His Kingdom to come and His will to be done in our lives on earth just as He ordained it in heavenly places. Pursuing His kingdom before and above all other things we could want and need in life is God’s path to fulfillment.
Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith?
Finding “God’s Will”
God’s will “as in Heaven,” outside the influences of man’s sinful nature, is perfect. His will goes hand in hand with His kingdom coming.
“I just need to follow my heart!”
The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?
If you want God’s perfect will in your life, following your heart, one you don’t even know, is a four-lane highway to anywhere but there. Every time I hear the phrase, “Well, I just want God’s will…” I ask, “Well, are you doing His will?”
Guess what?! You already know His will. We all do.
When you’re trying to find God’s will, start where you know His will is: prayer, reading His word, fasting, faithfulness. Following God’s will won’t ever route you away from the things you already know.
Guess what else? His will also won’t lead you out from under the protection of a man of God.
There is a chain of headship, and it is a beautiful and God-ordained flow of anointing. Pursuing relationship with God and His will won’t ever lead outside of that flow.
If we only understood how big a deal submission is in the kingdom, how much anointing we could access if we laid aside our pride and aligned with His will in headship, we’d blow the gates of Hell wide open.
Train Up a Child
Brittany’s Note: Throughout Legacy, I noticed that Sis. Jones’s children JoAnna and Bricen were always in the forefront of worship. One night in particular, their willingness to get out front even before other young people stepped out was a catalyst in the service breaking. My boys, as y’all know, are still little, but I so want them to demonstrate the same unabashed desire to praise Jesus. So I asked Sis. Jones about raising worshipping kids.
Honestly, the way we raise our kids to make good choices is to make the bad ones not an option!
On church nights, we’re going to church. On youth nights, we’re going to youth. And when we’re there, we’re participating! There’s no dilly dally, “Oh, are we going, or are we staying–no! We’re gonna be there, and we’re not gonna waste our time!”
At the same time, the Bible says,
Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.
Train up, not discipline up. Not badger, beat, and bribe up. Train up a child.
Brittany here again! I’m sorry, but I found this when I was writing up this interview, and I couldn’t leave it out for a later post!
I looked up the word “train” in Proverbs 22:6 and got this:
II. חִָנִךְ verb train up, dedicate (compare Arabic apparently denominative from rub palate of child with chewed dates, Lane659a, of midwiferub palate of new-born child with oil, etc., before it begins to suck.
Curious, I delved into Google’s archive of scholarly publications (not being facetious, that’s actually a thing if you want to skip all the possibly less than reputable info out there). And I found that it was, and in some places still is, a practice to rub babies’ mouths with sweet oil to encourage them to nurse! And as children were weaned, it was common to use honey, chewed dates, or other sweet fruits rubbed onto the palate to introduce new food.
My piggy back takeaway:
If I want my babies to be worshipers, I gotta make worship sweet. If I want my boys to be prayer warriors, I gotta make prayer sweet.
Make ministry sweet. Make holiness sweet. Make dedication and faithfulness look so delicious to your babies that they’re just dying for a taste!
Train up a child!
Now, back to Sis. Jones!
Dillon was in the back of the truck one day in a little t-shirt and piped up, “Mommy, my sleeves are up.”
It took me a minute, but I realized that he was referring to being in a short sleeved shirt!
Some years later, Bricen was just transitioning out of toddlerhood when he told me “I can’t wear this shirt! My arms are sticking out”
We changed their shirts.
This might seem like a small thing to you. But I firmly believe that if God is dealing with my children and putting convictions in their heart, I had better be sensitive to that.
Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings hast thou ordained strength […]
It doesn’t have to make sense to everyone. You were appointed the spiritual guardian of your child’s heart. It is up to you to guide them in identifying the voice of the Lord, finding where He is ordaining strength, like Samuel running to Eli when the Lord spoke to him for the first time.
Eli could’ve brushed it off or downplayed the encounter. So can we. But if we want our children to go beyond casual encounter to develop intimate relationship with God, we have to teach them to hear His voice.
When JoAnna was a little older, we were given some clothes that were very nice, but the fit wasn’t in line with our standards of modesty. When she came out, I asked her “Are you wearing that? We don’t dress like that.”
She replied, “Well they do.”
“But we don’t.”
This was one of the moments where I helped her make a good choice by removing the bad option!
At the same time, this can’t just be about “rules.” It’s got to be in your heart as a mother. This is our home. These are our boundaries. This is a safe place for my children’s souls. We women are the spiritual and emotional thermostats for our families. If it’s more than rules and laws to you, it will be more than arbitrary lines to be leaped over to your children.
My home, my boundaries.
And in church, it’s not different. I had a rule that my children stayed with me in church. When we evangelized, Dillon knew he had to hang on to Mama’s skirt. I would be worshiping or playing, and I knew my baby was right there because of the weight on my skirt.
I kept my babies with me during preaching too. If they needed to go out, we took care of business and came right back. It wasn’t about trying to train them beyond their capabilities (like expecting a 6 month old to sit still and be quiet for 45 minutes). I knew that if I wanted my children to love house of God, they had to see me love it. I had to lead my children by example. And that’s how I teach them to worship and engage in service now.
They are still kids, and they do kid things. But they understand that, “Having church is everybody’s business!” –Rev. Martyn Ballestero
It is their responsibility, their business, to engage in praise and worship. And it’s our responsibility as mamas to lead them.
There are studies that show how the experience, that first encounter, dilutes from generation to generation. The first generation coming out of a lost and dying world is on fire and never going to look back. The second knows the stories of the first, maybe even remembers times from their early childhood, and a similar passion is ignited in them.
But by the 5th generation, church is part of the culture of the family. The traditions of heritage replace the passion of encounter. It’s worship by rote instead of relationship. Many of the 5th generation don’t stick around long.
My husband and I determined that we would not participate in generational dilution. We would not be copies of what came before us, passing down a watered down, passionless experience to our children.
Worship is my life. It just is. It’s all that I want to do. This is all that I am. And I have to live that every day. My kids have to see that fire in us if we want it to spark in their hearts.
I refuse generational dilution.
I’m determined to have this experience, to have a relationship with God, just as deep and as passionately as the first generation did.
And I want my children to have that too.
If this blessed you, please comment below and share this post with other women of faith! We will continue to host women of inspiring faith and experience on Grace Spoken Here. Our other guest contributors and coauthors can be found on our About Us page!
And don’t miss Part 1 of this interview!