20 items tagged "Faith"

  • "Upward" habits for 2017

    The beginning of the year is always a great time to evaluate how far we’ve traveled and grown in the past 365 days; hopefully we’re moving in the right direction and ready to take on 2017! John Maxwell states that we often have “uphill hopes with downward habits.” Here are few tips to make sure we’re developing the right spiritual “habits” this year, to continue deepening our relationship with Jesus.

    1. Get back into the Bible.

    "But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory, both now and forever, Amen." (2 Pet. 3:18) Peter’s call to the early church is just as important for us today: “Grow!” God’s will for every Christian is to grow, increase, and be fruitful. This happens by deepening our relationship with Him through reading and knowing the Word! You need the Bible like you need food. Stop over thinking it. Ask the Holy Spirit to light up the verses you need to hear, and be ready to receive.

    2. Pray. Pray. Pray.

    "As well could you expect a plant to grow without air and water as to expect your heart to grow without prayer and faith." - Charles Spurgeon

    Draw close to the Lord and He is faithful to draw close to you. Pray with faith, passion, expectation, and perseverance. Make a lifestyle of prayer this year!

    3. Connect with the church.

    You won’t make it very far without a community of people (the Church) who will encourage, bless, and hold you accountable. Start this year by forgiving all those in the church who have hurt you. Holding offenses is a self-inflicting wound to your heart. Forgive and ask for forgiveness. Then, find your place in the Church. There is a place in which you are needed and only you can fill!

    4. Break sinful habits.

    “No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.” (1 Cor. 10:13)

    Have you been stuck in a spiritual rut? Have the same personal and relational issues been reappearing? Are you addicted to your anger, shame, and lust? It’s time to break free. Sinful habits and ruts are not to be your destiny. Jesus has paid the cost of freedom in full. Walk in it! Repent and experience what it means to be saved by His grace! Don’t walk this out alone any more. Ask for help! Bring whatever is hidden in the darkness into the light, and be free!

    What other spiritual habits are you starting this year?

  • "What's in the Bible?" VBS coming soon!

     

    Things you need to know:

    -A FREE family friendly dinner is at 5:30, Monday-Thursday.
    -The event starts at 6pm and will end at 7:30PM.
    -This is a FULL family event! When we say family, we mean it. Bring everyone! There will be nursery options for the little ones, worship and lesson is ALL together, and then parent/family small groups that meet while the kids are participating in their own groups.
    -Pre-registration begins July 10th (online & at VBS booth)  To register online, click here
    -Quick little video on the curriculum:

    Check out below what you and your kids will gain from being apart of our VBS:

    For Kids:

    Elementary-aged children will experience an exciting rotational model VBS and walk away from the week knowing the BIG story of the Bible – God’s Great Rescue Plan! – and what it means to live as a Christian.

    For Parents:

    Parents will walk away with a new understanding of the Bible, how to lead their families through the tricky parts of the Bible, and how to engage their family in God’s redemptive mission in the world. Parents will also be receiving several take home resources that can help you keep the experience alive while at home!

    This is a great way for you to wrap up your summer to move into the school year with momentum and excitement!

  • Attitude of Gratitude

    Betsie and Corrie ten Boom spent time in the notorious Ravensbrück Concentration Camp, north of Berlin, for hiding Jews in their home during the Nazi occupation of Holland. The ten Boom family of Haarlem, Holland were watchmakers by trade. They also lived as devout Christians. Corrie was raised to understand that honoring God included respecting the Jewish people. In Corrie’s book The Hiding Place, she tells of the story when she and Betsie arrived at the concentration camp and the encounters she had with fleas!

    Corrie was in a panic when she woke up one night when bitten by fleas, the entire dorm was infested! Corrie shouted that she couldn’t live like this anymore, but Betsie said God gave her the answer for their problems. It was to give thanks. Corrie pulled out her Bible, they had snuck in the camp, and read 1 Thessalonians 5:15. “Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” It was hard for Corrie to imagine that this was a time or place to think about what they can be thankful for, but Betsie urged her to at least, give it a try. So they did, and realized they had much to be thankful for, starting with being with each other, having a Bible, and even for the fleas! The fleas kept the guards from ever entering into their barracks, allowing them to read the Bible with the other prisoners without threat of being caught!

    You never know what can happen by simply having a thankful heart! You may feel overwhelmed and think things will never improve, but in light of Bestie and Corrie’s story, I think we can at least give it a try.

    Go ahead and try it, what are a few things you are grateful for today?

  • Bold As Lions

     "The wicked flee though no one pursues, but the righteous are as bold as a lion." Proverbs 28:1

     

    Whatever difficulty the righteous meet, they will not be daunted. They will not be intimidated by fear.  They will not give up ground. The righteous are those that are relentlessly pursuing Jesus Christ, no matter the cost.  The line has been drawn and there will be no turning back!  For many during this time of fasting have faced difficulty and opposition like never before; the devil comes to only kill, steal, and destroy.  These are the moments in which spiritual "grit" is developed.  Press in! Dont give up!  Remind yourself that greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world (1 John 4:4).  Connect this truth to every facet of your life this week!

    "The cross before me, the world behind me, no turning back..no turning back."

  • Come Out of Hiding

    “When the men of Israel saw that they were in danger (for the people were distressed), then the people hid in caves, in thickets, in rocks, in holes, and in pits.” 1 Samuel 13:6

     

    Saul had a lot to learn of what it meant to be a king. Two years into his reign, things were not looking very good. Jonathan, his son, attacked a Philistine garrison, in hopes it would deter their great enemy from attacking them in the future. To say the least, the plan backfired. Though it was a technical victory for Saul, the Philistines quickly responded with the largest army Israel has ever seen. Thousands of chariots, horses, and more soldiers then one can count showed up for battle. Clearly, their great enemy was waiting for an opportunity to strike.

    Tragically, the mere sight of such a force sent God’s people, not just on the run, but into hiding. Caves, thickets, rocks, holes, and pits… These are not appropriate dwellings for people who know the one true God! However, we read they were distressed, trembling, desperate, and cowardice. Though they had enormous success against the Ammonites, they lost heart by simply seeing this enemy approach. Past victories of God’s faithfulness were long forgotten. Fear swept them away.

    This isn’t just an Israel issue. It’s everybody’s issue. When fear reins unchecked and runs wild, our view of God shrinks, and we quickly forget that all His promises are ‘yes and amen.’

    Paul says the following in Romans 8:15, “For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father.” Evangelize yourself! When the enemy appears to be greater than you can face, don’t take up the yoke of fear. As sons and daughters of the Father, he has called you out of the cave. Hiding is never an option. Your marriage needs you to come out of the cave. Your kids need you to venture out of the thickets. Your church needs you to rise out of the rocks and holes. Climb out from the pit. Take hold of what God has promised you (Ephesians 1:3), and contend again!

    Persuade yourself again, that nothing can separate you from the love of Christ. Fan that gift back into flame. Pray with passion. Move with courage. You are more than a conqueror through Jesus Christ!

  • Do our kids see grace?

    How come some parents are more successful at nurturing a long-term faith in their kids? Our research has shown that one of the key variables is how kids are raised to understand the Gospel.Too many young people today live by what philosopher Dallas Willard calls the “gospel of sin management.” This truncates the Gospel to the belief that we have to adhere to a bunch of good behaviors in order to have a relationship with Jesus. When young people don’t live up to these behaviors, guilt causes them to think that the relationship itself is over. They end up running from God and the church, just when they need both the most.

    But grace is the heart of Christianity, and it needs to be the primary understanding of faith in our homes. Through the Incarnation, God pursues us, offering a gift of salvation that isn’t dependent upon our actions or our ability to clean ourselves up. It’s a gift we simply receive. And continue to receive every day.

    Kids make mistakes. They’ll choose to sin. I frequently tell my children that Jesus is bigger than any mistake we can make. He can handle it all — all our little accidental mistakes, all our big intentional sins.

    Grace doesn’t mean we live without boundaries. Kids need parents to clearly establish behavioral guidelines and then discipline them when they step across those lines. But we must strive for a way to sprinkle grace even into our discipline — perhaps especially in our discipline. Sometimes, it’s the tone of voice we use when taking away privileges. Other times, it’s how we empathize with a child’s frustration — the frustration he feels over a poor choice. Or, (more likely) the frustration he feels with his parents for imposing discipline.

    Kids also need to see their parents relying on the same grace that we want them to experience. If we want our homes to shine with a complete picture of grace, we as parents need to be quick to apologize. Confessing our mistakes to our kids not only builds closer family relationships, but it also helps our kids recognize everyone’s need for God’s tender mercies. Indeed, you’re more likely to have children repent if you have made “I’m sorry” a regular part of your vocabulary.

     

    Excerpt from A Faith That Sticks by Kara Powell

  • Fiery Prayers

    "Prayer, without fervor, stakes nothing on the issue, because it has nothing to stake.  It comes with empty hands.  Hands, too, which are listless, as well as empty, which have never learned the lesson of clinging to the cross...Prayers must be red hot.  It is the fervent prayer that is effectual and that availeth.  Coldness of spirit hinders praying; prayer cannot live in a wintry atmosphere.  Chilly surroundings freeze out petitioning; and dry up the springs of supplication.  It takes fire to make prayers go...Yet fire is not fuss, nor heat, noise.  Heat is intensity--something that glows and burns.  Heaven is a mighty poor market for ice."--E.M. Bounds

    What is the atmosphere of your heart?  We're careless when it comes to being watchful of what season we've allowed our hearts to enter.  For the one who follows Jesus, shouldn't our hearts and the way we pray, always be in the season of summer?  Winter is dreary, cold, and dead.  Let that never be a condition of our lives! 

    We have a new spirit, let us approach God with a passion and confidence that nothing is impossible for Him!  Nothing.  Leave your doubts in winterand let your prayers begin to take fire!

     

     

     

     

  • Helping Faith Stick

     

    While grace represents the core of our theology, our research identified a number of other factors that are common among parents who raise kids with a lasting faith. Although there are no guarantees, the following principles can take some of the guesswork out of instilling faith in children:

    “Sticky faith” parents . . .

    . . . discuss their own faith journeys. They frequently share organically about their own faith journey; how it continues to impact and influence their life.  Tell your ongoingstory.  Share how you became a Christian, and include what God is currenlty doing in your life. 

    . . . give their kids space to wrestle with tough faith questions — and help them find resources that can provide answers. Doubt, by itself, isn’t toxic. Doubt becomes toxic when it goes unexpressed. Giving permission for independent thought leads to a stronger faith.

    . . . connect their children to caring adults. Kids need to develop a strong personal identity for faith to stick, and community helps accomplish this. When kids know adults who are “on their team,” they have a web of support to catch them when they fall. What’s more, these adults are often able to speak to them in ways parents can’t.

    . . . involve their kids in service. Kids must see that faith inspires action. Our research found that family service was a key builder of lasting faith. Sometimes the local church was the catalyst for this service. Other times, parents took the lead in making family service a priority.

    . . . prepare teens for a future that includes faith. As part of practical discussions on issues such as managing money and time, wise parents help young people plan their schedules and lives to include church.

    Like any parenting priority, our children’s long-term spiritual growth stands a better chance of success if we think in advance about what is important — and how we can make time for those priorities. But while families that adopt certain practices tend to raise kids who have a lasting faith, there is no magic formula. Every child has a free will. Still, spiritual roots don’t grow deep by accident. God is the ultimate gardener, and He often works through parents to prepare the soil, remove creeping weeds and make sure kids have the spiritual nutrients they need to flourish.

    It's never too late to begin impressing spiritual truth on your children.  Don't allow the enemy to determine your level of influence as a parent.  No matter what season of life you are in, your children and grandchildren will need you. 

    (Excerpt from Kara Powell"A Faith that Sticks")

  • How will you respond?

    The moment when hardship comes, where does our mind then go?

    Hardships, storms, trials, whatever we want to call them are always one moment away. Life will be cruising along and then out of nowhere we receive a bad phone call, a business deal goes south, a relationship comes to an end, etc. Difficulty is promised. At these moments, one’s character, resolve, and faith is tested. How will you respond? Are we drawn into our circumstances or are we taking these moments to allow Jesus to become our peace, strength, and joy in the midst of the storm?

    It’s at these moments our mind and heart can be crippled with worry, fear, and what seems impossible. But then Jesus enters into the scene! We must allow our mind to daily marinate in the truth that nothing is impossible with God (Matt.19:26). Nothing. No matter how dark or hopeless the report may be, we are promised that our God is able to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think!

     

  • Jumping to Conclusions

    And he answered and said to Him, “Teacher, all these things I have kept from my youth.” Then Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, “One thing you lack: Go your way, sell whatever you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, take up the cross, and follow Me.”

    But he was sad at this word, and went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.” Mark 10:20-22

     

    We meet this young man who appears to be very well off, certainly financially, and possibly spiritually. He desires to please and love God, as evidenced by keeping God’s commandments. But as we read, there is a problem this young man has been unable to address. His heart is following another treasure…money. Jesus easily identifies the man’s heart-issue and gives him a solution; get rid of the wealth, and you’ll finally receive a treasure your heart yearns for. This is not what the young man expects to hear, and he departs in sorrow.

    Abandoning our treasure, however each of us defines it, is painful. We don’t all follow after money, but let’s not fool ourselves, our hearts are mesmerized by false treasures. It can be difficult to let go of these things, and we can quickly establish patterns in our lives that protect these counterfeit riches. This is what occurred for this young ruler. The pattern of loving money became so strong, that escaping it appeared to be impossible for him. Here is the issue for the young ruler: It wasn’t that his possessions were too much or that he couldn’t donate a portion. Worse, he felt it would be impossible to be free. He thought it impossible to be the type of person that can live without this false treasure. He believed, “It’s impossible for God to make a heart-change in me.” When you, like this young man, live in a place of “impossibilities,” you will always walk away in sorrow.

    Ultimately, the young ruler in the story made the wrong conclusion. He concluded not even God could set his heart free from the lure of his treasure. Bottom line: He determined it’s impossible to live free. But Jesus declares, what is impossible for man, is not impossible for God (Mark 10:27)! Jesus didn’t intend to leave the man in sorrow. Jesus wanted him to see, though it may be impossible for you to break free, it is certainly possible for God to supply the grace and power you need. This is the hope of Jesus Christ! We don’t have to walk away in sorrow, when our hearts are stuck in the muck of sin. We now have hope and are promised victory, because of the work of Jesus Christ!

    If you find yourself walking away in sorrow, stop right there. Don’t draw the wrong conclusion about your fate and about the goodness of God. For with man it’s impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God. This is the conclusion we can all live in!

  • Launching Battleships

    Deuteronomy 6:4-9 (NIV)

    Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.[a] 5 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. 6 These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. 7 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. 8 Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. 9 Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.

    The passage shares God’s command, not suggestion. God intended it to describe an educational process for families to disciple each generation. These few verses shaped the lineage of Israel, significantly impacting each generation. For them, every generation plays a role and is just as significant. Putting it simply, God has a plan for each generation to know and love Him. The key piece to this plan is through the family!

    When it comes to raising your children, are you “skipping stones” or launching “battleships”? No matter how hard you throw a stone and no matter how many “skips” you get, that stone is always going to sink. Many young people today will identify with the “skipping stones”. Sure, they start off great, moving with a lot of speed, but they eventually lose power and sink right to the bottom, never to emerge again.

    When following the commands of Deut. 6 we are not preparing our kids like skipping stones, we are slowly but surely building up battleships. Though battleships take time to build and are obviously much heavier than rocks, they will not easily sink! Battleships cruise through the water and waves with ease and are not afraid to take on what is ahead of them. They are built to last and move in power. Generational discipleship is not dumping sermon after sermon on your kids, it’s intentionally investing in them in everyday scenarios. It’s living genuine and passionate lifes for Jesus Christ every day! When you’re at home, it’s about Jesus. When you’re at the store, it’s about Jesus. When you’re on vacation, it’s still about Jesus. Our kids are learning how to live for Jesus by watching you. Don’t spend too much time lamenting over mistakes, let’s correct what needs to be corrected and begin living the D6 (Deuteronomy 6) lifestyle!

    Go Deeper:

    http://d6family.com/

    The DNA of D6

     

     

     

     

     

     

  • Make Your Move

    “Perhaps the Lord will work for us.  For nothing restrains the Lord from saving by many or be few."

    1 Sam. 14:6

     

    The story of Jonathan has always inspired me.  There is guts, grit, courage, and adventure!  For the past month or so I've been wondering about his intimacy he must of had with God.  We don't know a lot about Jonathan's time with God, how he prayed, studied, worshiped, etc. But there must have been depth to his faith to say, "Perhaps the Lord will work for us, for nothing can restrain the Lord."  Certainly Jonathan heard as a boy the stories of old on how God rescued His people and delivered them from their enemies on countless occasions.  Jonathan is not a boy any more and he is about to attack an enemy that greatly outnumbers them and he has no plan of retreat or reinforcements.  In our human perspective, it's a terrible battle plan. 

    There is a difference between believing something and actually knowing it.  Perhaps the majority of Jonathan's life he merely believed the stories of the great I AM, but now as a young man he needed to make his move.  Belief was about to transform into known experience.  He would no longer believe that God is a mighty warrior, he would experience it first hand.  Regardless of how the battle would turn out though, Jonathan was going to make his gutsy move with the confidence that the Lord can come through in any circumstances.  Nothing restrains the Lord.

    There are times in all of our lives in which we need to make a move.  You've heard the stories and you sing the songs, but a gutsy decision, a step of faith, needs to occur.  "For nothing restrains the Lord..." Do you know this to be true? To know is to have first hand experience of it.  To have that first hand experience, you at times, like Jonathan, need to climb a couple mountains and address the enemy that's been holding you down.  Do you really believe that anxiety, depression, bitterness, hate, and evil can restrain the Lord?  Then make your move.  You need joy again?  Get your worship back.  Need healing in your marriage and other relationships? Ask for forgiveness and give it freely. Get out of the shade (1 Sam. 14:2), address the issues, and start living like we say we believe.  Is it risky? Yes.  But it's in these bold moves of faith that we can begin to knowthat nothing restrains the Lord.

     

     

  • Pioneer Spirit

    “Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.” Eph. 3:20

     

    How do you keep a fresh hunger for God? How do you continue to elevate your vision for your life at church, home, and the marketplace? Start by convincing yourself of the fact that God can do more! He is not done in you yet!

    Ephesians 3:20 should stir you up again, out of your comfort, and get you moving out of ruts! It’s time to cultivate the Pioneer Spirit! Here are five choices a pioneer will make:

    1. Have a Decided Heart

    · Get your clear YES in your life, so you can eliminate the fluff!

    · Have a passion for the future!

    2. No Plan B

    · Once you have a clear ‘yes’ you are passionate about, this is the path you will follow. No exit strategies. No reinforcements are coming. You’re wholly trusting God!

    · Have courage in the pain. Obey God, even when it hurts. Choose courage!

    3. Optimism

    · Pioneers choose optimism. It will not be a fleeting feeling. No, they constantly make the decision to eliminate toxic attitudes from their thoughts and vocabulary.

    · If you find yourself in a wilderness—check your attitude! Pessimistic attitudes are a sure sign that the wilderness is near.

    4. No Settling

    · Stick to your clear YES. Don’t ever give up. Even when it hurts, and others are turning back, choose to press forward. Hold onto the promise, “if you don’t grow weary while doing good, at the right time you will reap a harvest (Gal. 6:9).”

    · Pioneers are invested in others. Taking risks and enduring pain is not merely for the benefit of the here and now. The choices and accomplishments made today, are the foundation for the next generation to stand and build upon!

    5. Be a Person of Action

    · Refuse to be defeated! No matter the circumstances, or what the cynics may say, pioneers don’t retreat or stay down forever! People with a Pioneer Spirit know, when they’re weak, God’s power can then be made perfect! There is much confidence to gain, when understanding God is for you, and has given you the gifts and power needed to overcome, whatever comes your way.

     

    God is already doing more than you could ever ask or think. Cultivate the Pioneer Spirit, and refuse to stay behind!

  • Praying with your children

    No matter how old your children are, it’s never too late to begin praying with them. Here are a few
    ideas to help you get started.


    Newspaper prayer: Have each family member take a portion of the newspaper and circle items that he
    or she feels need to be prayer for. Then ask family members to pray for the things they circled.


    Sentence Prayer: You can help your children pray aloud by giving them a sentence to complete, such as:


    “Lord, I thank you for…”
    “Lord, forgive me for…”
    “Lord, help my friend…”
    “Lord, help me to let go…”


    Highs and Lows: Ask your children what their “highs” were from the day, and then ask them about their
    “lows” from the day. Share your highs and lows as well, and than pray about them together.


    Prayer Journal: Share your prayer requests with the other members of your family, and then record
    them in a prayer journal. One person can pray for all the requests you’ve listed for the day. The next
    time you pray together, look over the requests you listed previously, and update any changes and
    answers. This is a good way to see how God has been active in your prayer lives.


    Remember that prayer is just a conversation with God. Let your children hear you talking with God
    about your day, your concerns, and your joys, and then ask them to do the same.


    Adapted from Faith Begins at Home by Mark Holmen

  • Raise the Bar

    “And because you are sons, God has set forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts crying out, “Abba,
    Father!”. Therefore, you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son, than an heir of God through Christ.” Galatians 4:6-7

    Whoa. Read that again and allow it to sink in and become food for you. God’s Spirit is living in you. The
    most powerful living being in existence has made your heart His dwelling place. Incredible! It’s the
    checkmate to every fear, worry, disappointment, and hurt that you’ve experienced. The Spirit of Jesus
    Christ, the same Spirit that raised Him from the dead and set the early church on fire, is burning now in
    you…in each of us! Since this is a fact, how in the world can we ever view life, work, parenting, and
    church the same? Why would we settle for anything less than the adventure of the kingdom mission?
    Why are we constantly lowering the bar of what it means to be a Christian? Why be merely consumers,
    when we’ve been given the opportunity to be so much more?


    The baptism of the Holy Spirit came with both power and ability for us to live a more victorious life in
    Jesus Christ. Here are some thoughts on what this can mean for you…


    1. Let go of your hurts. The consequence of having the Holy Spirit living in you is there will be
    fruit. But, the fruits of offense and bitterness are not of God’s Spirit. Once you’ve recognized
    that fruit, take it off the vine and throw it away. You have what you need. Now, raise the bar.


    2. You have what it takes to finish. Don’t step back from what you believe God has called you to
    do because of disappointment. Stop allowing people to talk you out of your convictions. With
    the Holy Spirit living in you, you have what it takes to finish the job. Raise the bar.


    3. Put aside your strategies. Things don’t always work out the way we think they will. Stop
    stressing out. Give your cares to God and trust Him! Raise the bar.


    4. Stop being a consumer. You’re equipped for mission, adventure, and battle! Share the gospel.
    Lead your family and pray with them. Repent of apathy, offenses, and anything else God reveals
    in your heart, that is rooted in selfishness. Serve with a grateful heart. Raise the bar.

    Let it sink in…You have God’s living, active, and powerful Spirit living in you. Let us raise the bar again of
    what it means to be a Christian!

  • Seize the Moment

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    “These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts.  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.” -- Deuteronomy 6:6-7

    “We will not hide them from their descendants, we will tell the next generation, the praiseworthy deeds of the Lord, his power, and the wonders he has done.” –Psalm 78:4

     

     

    Scripture clearly articulates the duty of parents, grandparents, and invested adults to instruct children in the things of the Lord. Every generation of Christians bears the responsibility of handing down what they have received—the testimony of who God is and what He has done—to the next generation. When it comes to passing on this precious story, we don’t need to over-complicate it. In Deuteronomy 6, Moses doesn’t give us a program, manual, or an overcooked strategy for discipleship. Moses simply encourages us to seize the moment.

    Life is busy. The thought of adding something else to your already full schedule generates more anxiety than anticipation. Here’s how you keep your priority to impress truth upon the hearts of your kids. Your greatest mission will be best accomplished through this simple, daily practice. Just seize the moment.

    Here is what this can look like…

    • As you drive your kids to school, turn the radio off and pray for them. It’s probably going to be short and simple, but it opens the opportunity for them to share their concerns with you. Seize the moment to impress their hearts that God cares about our daily struggles.
    • It’s time for dinner and you finally get a chance to sit down together…Put the phones away and seize the moment. Let them know what you read in the Bible today or how you handled a conflict with patience.
    • It’s Sunday morning at church, and you notice a couple of teens in service. Seize the moment! Introduce yourself, get to know them, and ask how you can pray for them.
    • It’s been a long day. You left work, cooked dinner, brought your kid to practice, picked them up, convinced them to finish their homework, and now you made it…it’s bed-time. Before you turn off the lights, seize the moment. Ask your children (no matter their ages), “What is God doing in your life?” “Do you have anything you would like to talk about?” Pray for them and let them know that God is good and always near.

    These verses bring tremendous encouragement. Reaching and discipling the next generation doesn’t have to be complicated. Just seize the moment. Read scripture together, play your family’s favorite worship music at home, and share how much you love Jesus. Kids will always catch what we project!

     

     

  • Spiritual Grit

    Let’s go across to the outpost of those pagans,” Jonathan said to his armor bearer. “Perhaps the lord will help us, for nothing can hinder the lord. He can win a battle whether he has many warriors or only a few!”

    1 Sam. 14:6

     

    I love stories that require some grit.  Grit can be defined as someone who displays courage, guts, resolve, and a backbonewhen the stakes are high.  Jonathan was a man that had grit.  The story above tells us how Jonathan and his armor bearer, though the odds were against them and defeat looked evident, charged the enemy anyways with a gutsy faith!  "Perhaps the Lord will help us, for nothing can hinder the Lord..." 

    That's a pretty gutsy thing to say.  Perhaps. Was Jonathan doubting God's ability?  I dont believe so.  He was confident that God can do anything and the battle was His.  Jonathan was just tired of doing nothing.  His father, Saul (the King), was comfortable sitting in the shade of the trees while an enemy approached.  Not for Jonathan.  Someone in this army needed spiritual grit. Someone needed to finally reject passivity and actually behave like God can do mighty things...impossible things!

    Another man that had grit is found not to long ago at the battle of Iwo Jima, his name is Jack Lucas.  Jack talked his way into the Marines at fourteen years old, fooling the recruits with his muscled physique.  While stationed in Hawaii he was assigned to drive a truck around the island, but had grown frustrated; he wanted to fight.  D-Day for Iwo Jima was about to begin, so he stowed away on a transport departing from Honolulu heading towards one of the bloodiest battles in WWII. He was only 17 at this point. He landed on Iwo Jima without a rifle, but charged anyways towards the enemy.  Once finding a rifle from a fallen comrad he fought his way inland.  While crawling through the trenches with a few other soldiers the enemy sprang up on them and tossed two grenades landing right by Jack.  Jack instinctively covered up both of the grenades with his body to protect the other soldiers.  Jack remembers thinking to himself "I'm about to die."  One of the grenades explodes tossing the badly wounded Jack through the air, but sparing his comrad's lives.  Jack miraculously survives the injury (after 21 operations) and becomes the youngest person ever to receive the Medal of Honor--The only high school freshman to do so.  Jack had over 200 peices of shrapnel in his body for the rest of his life.  Not only that, Jack joined the Army later in life to become a paratrooper...just to conquer his fear of heights.

     

    So what's our excuse again for not having a gritty type of faith?  As we move forward from the comfort of the shade, let us not forget that Perhaps the Lord will help us, for nothing hinders the Lord. Nothing.

     

  • The Importance of Warmth

    The first emotional bonds we form are with our parents, and the nature of these bonds influences us throughout our lives. For many young adults, parents have been the primary influence on their spiritual and religious development, and relations with parents are linked to their first conceptions of God. Instilling Christian truths into our children and inspiring them to pursue their own relationships with God is of the upmost importance for Christian parents. But what exactly promotes or hinders this spiritual transmission to the next generation?

    Research collected by Vern L. Bengtson in the book, Families and Faith: How Religion is Passed Down Across Generations, states that the quality of parent-child relationships, is strongly associated with the passing on of the faith from generation to generation. Vern identifies four different parenting styles that help promote or hinder spiritual transmission:

    #1- Warm, affirming parenting: This is perceived by the child as a consistently close relationship with one or usually both parents. This type of parenting can be described as loving, supportive, and respectful. The methods in this parenting style for religious socialization involves teaching, modeling, and living in a community that affirms their faith. This isn’t perfect parenting, and it is not without some bumps and bruises. Bengstons’s research shows though, that these parents are living consistent, Christian lifestyles. Throughout the research, it reveals the better the relationship one has with their children, the better the likelihood of their children embracing their faith as adults.

    #2- Authoritarian Parenting: The other extreme of warm parenting would be a parenting style perceived by the child as cold, distant, or authoritarian. With this style, even the most dedicated efforts by parents, to pass on their faith, can be undone. Many young adults in Bengston’s findings report they no longer adhere to any religious affiliation due to their parents, and other well-meaning adults, being highly critical and having fractured relationships.

    #3-Mixed Message Parenting: Sometimes a parent, usually a father, appears to shift between criticism and nurturance, creating an ambiguous image in the child’s eye. The child can also perceive parents occupying two extremes, one being very excited about their faith and the other more ambivalent. In Bengston’s research, they’ve found when there is “mixed-message parenting,” there is less intergenerational continuity of faith.

    #4- Preoccupied Parenting: This type of parenting refers to parents who are distracted by marital, financial, or health problems, occasionally even substance abuse. These parents mean well, but when preoccupied for a long period of time, in which the children are not near the center of the parents’ attention, the research shows that it does not typically lead to a successful passing on of the faith.

    In summary, in families of faith, warmth matters. The quality of the parent-child relationship directly affects how much influence mothers and fathers have on their children’s spiritual temperature in adulthood. The young adults in Bengston’s study who felt particularly close to one or both parents not only continued in the faith, but have many positive experiences of their own too!

    If interested to learn more about this study, check out the book Families and Faith: How Religion is Passed Down Across Generations

  • Unwavering Faith

    Proverbs 17:22 “A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.”

    There are moments, perhaps even seasons of life, when your faith feels unstoppable. Your spirit is alive. It’s burning with anticipation, optimism, and courage. You’re ready for whatever comes your way! Nothing in this world is comparable to these experiences, and they help strengthen every facet of your life (i.e. marriage, parenting, work). My prayer is that this type of faith becomes more common and richer for us all, rather than momentary. It’s interesting though, that you can experience these great seasons, or even victories, but then moments later, find yourself drained, discouraged, or, as Proverbs 17:22 describes, broken.

    Proverbs 17:22 is more relatable than most of us are willing to admit. We all go through times where we feel like we’re out of resources, and addressing another valley or giant seems impossible. We have little desire to sign up for another trial. We don’t have the energy to fight any more battles. What do we do then? What do we do when sorrow and discouragement have gripped our hearts? There is nothing more painful than a broken spirit.

    I know it can be painful, confusing, and frustrating to walk with dry bones. You can be sure, the promise you have from God will pass through some things. It’s at these times a decision must be made. Will your faith rest in your subjective experiences or in God’s Word? Will you make the decision, regardless of feelings, waiting time, or opposition, that you’re going to love God with all your heart, soul, strength, and mind? Here is what that means….

    Your decisions…your daily self-talk will look like this:

    · “Even though I’m not currently experiencing peace, I will not make the conclusion that peace is not for me.”

    · “Although I’m feeling discouraged, I will not make the conclusion that hope and joy are not for me.”

    · “Even though I’m still not healed, I will not make the conclusion that God is not the healer.”

    · “I will never question His love. I will trust in His promises. I will trust in His Word, that He is good, and He cares for me.”

    Never allow a difficult season to steal what God has promised you. That’s exactly what the devil wants to do. To break you down and steal your worship. But you cannot trust the feelings those experiences produce. Instead, you will grow resilient and deep as you trust in what His word says. You’re not an orphan. You’ll never be alone. You have overcome the enemy by the blood of the Lamb and the word of your testimony! Your testimony, regardless of current experience, always begins with your freedom to choose to make a bold declaration that He is still good, faithful, and mighty! Watch what begins to happen in your heart when your focus shifts from your experience to Jesus Christ!

  • Weary In Battle

    “And after him was Eleazar the son of Dodo, the Ahohite, one of the three mighty men with David when they defied the Philistines who were gathered there for battle, and the men of Israel had retreated. He arose and attacked the Philistines until his hand was weary, and his hand stuck to the sword. The Lord brought about a great victory that day…”
    2 Samuel 23:9-10


    David’s soldiers would’ve been quite the sight to see! These were not your normal, run-of-the-mill soldiers. These were men of valor, courage, faith. They were risk takers, and they had an appetite for battle. There is a grouping of David’s army named, “The Thirty.” These were the toughest military warriors and are credited for many heroic feats. From among these heroes, there was “The Three,” Josheb, Eleazar, and Shammah. The exact roles of this elite group are not clear, but they were certainly seen as ‘stand-outs’ among David’s Mighty Men.


    The scripture above tells us one of Eleazar’s defining moments and shows us a couple of important spiritual lessons.


    #1: “until his hand was weary…” These are the moments that give you the right to be called a Mighty Man. Israel sees the enemy, evaluates the situation through their human perspective, and then runs for it! I’m sure they had many rational reasons for their retreat, but Eleazar, for whatever reason, decided that he wouldn’t be defined as a man that would flee from his enemy. So, when everyone else turned and ran, Eleazar stood his ground and fought, until his hand became weary. This is important to see. He wasn’t weary of the battle. He was weary in it. Eleazar wasn’t regretting his choice to fight. He was not second guessing his decision to stand his ground. The enemy had to be addressed, and he knew if the Lord was in it, then victory was assured. Don’t retreat because you fear of becoming weary. Know that the Lord will strengthen you in the battle!


    #2: “…his hand stuck to the sword.” This is wild to even imagine! How long does one need to fight until the hand muscles literally freeze in place? Perhaps to get an idea of how intense the battle was, compare it with another battle fought by Josheb. In verse eight, it states that on another occasion, Josheb fought and killed 800 men at one time. Yet, with no mention of his hand freezing to his weapon. No one knows what this battle for Eleazar must have been like, but we do know this. He was not about to give up. If he was going to die, he would die with his sword in hand and his enemies falling with him. When in battle, never let go of the sword! Let the Word of God become the sharp weapon it was always meant to be! Hold on and keep fighting until the victory is won!


    The enemy is always roaring and will want you to tuck tail and run. When you’re in that battle, take some cues from Eleazar. Don’t retreat! Grip your sword, and know that the battle is won by the Lord.

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