What do you worry about?

I should ask, what don’t you worry about? It seems like everyone of us, from kids to retired people, are on an out-of-control merry-go-round, or a treadmill that’s moving too fast. Just the sheer amount of what we must accomplish on any given day can lead us to become overwhelmed.

I think that one of the biggest problems Christians have is the difficulty in giving up control. When it comes right down to it, there are times we think we are in control and “life is good,” but as a Christian, we really have to consider, did I make everything turn out right, or did God?

No matter what is going on, both in the world and in our lives, God is in control. Your spouse leaves you. God is in control. Your house is robbed. God is in control. Your best friend has a terminal illness. God is in control. Your child is rebelling against God. God is in control. No matter what, we have to wrap our brains around the idea that unless we trust Him, we really aren’t doing what God has instructed us to do, and we are sinning.

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7.

Pray about everything. Worry about nothing. (When it comes right down to it, worrying never fixed anything. Worrying doesn’t help!) Talk to and teach your children to trust the Lord with every decision, even the little ones. Share the answers you get from God with your kids, and vice versa. (“And the peace of God…will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.”)  Amen!

Are you a buddy to your kids?

Imagine having to play a game, but no one tells you the rules. Every once in a while your team gets mad at you for not doing something right, and sends you off the field. After some time passes they let you back on, only to send you off again because you aren’t following rules that you don’t know. Wow, would that be frustrating!!

I know this is a strange analogy, but I would compare a parent trying to be a “buddy” or “best friend” to their kids, to not teaching them the rules of life. I know too many former students who told me they “hated” their parent(s). When I asked them why, or if their parents were “strict,” the kids who seemed to hate their parents the most were the ones who had no rules, or limits, and could do whatever they wanted.

Now, I know that kids will be prone to exaggerate, especially in front of their peers, but I have also known these kids well enough to believe what they were saying.

Parents can not afford to be a buddy or best friend to their kids. They must be the ones to set and enforce the limits, and especially when those limits are pushed or ignored by their kids.

Kids need limits. They need rules. They will try to break them, yes, but that is because they want to make sure those rules are really the rules. I have read child psychologist’ statements that knowing the rules actually makes it easier for a child to be happier, because they don’t need to constantly test to find the guidelines.

The Bible has a lot to say about raising up our kids. In most verses about child rearing, the Bible uses the term “rod.” I know not everyone believes in spanking, (although it is not illegal, contrary to popular opinion). I believe that if you replace that word with “discipline,” the verses still make sense. I could go on about this for far too long, so I wanted to put in one set of verses.

Ephesians 6: 1-4, Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. “Honor your father and mother” – which is the first commandment with a promise – “so that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.” Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.

 

What does it mean to “be angry, and do not sin?”

Parents/grandparents, this is primarily for you today.   I use Facebook as a means of spreading my blog posts and connecting to more people. Because of that, I am on Facebook a few times a week. Everytime I look to see what my friends and family are up to, I inevitably have to pass posts that are ranting about how good or bad Trump is, and/or, how good/bad past Presidents have been. I realize this does not seem like the Christ centered topics that I usually talk about, but most of the people I get these “rants” from, are Christians!

It is time for Christians to wake up, and see what they are doing from a Christian perspective. It is ok to be angry with the way things are going in our government, it is not ok to sin while you are angry.  Believe it or not, God is STILL in control, not any one person. In Ephesians 4:26-27 it states, “Be angry, and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil.”

Well, how can you tell someone they are an “idiot” for liking/not liking a certain leader?!!    Bottom line…you can’t!   They have just as much right to like someone, as you do NOT to like the same person.  I, too, have strong feelings about our government leaders right now. But the Holy Spirit convicted me to see this from His perspective.  We are sitting in JUDGMENT of someone, by ranting about them, or “sharing” someone else’s rant!

What the Holy Spirit told me to do, instead, is to start adding comments that suggest the person sending the post think about their Christian walk, keeping things in perspective, praying for change if that is what they want, praying for our leaders (always!), and putting Bible verses into the comment section. Believe it or not, thinking and praying about how I should comment deflates any frustration I feel about these posts coming from Christians!

Also, this “ranting” makes Satan very happy, because it takes our minds off of Jesus. I was part of the problem, and I don’t want to be a part of the problem anymore.

Matthew 7:1-4a,  Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?

The world isn’t THAT bad, is it?

I have a difficult time when someone tells me they are a strong Christian, but just don’t go to church. If Christ says we need to “assemble together,” we need to be in church!

I recently read Day 173: Evening, of my Sonrise Daily Devotional Bible, written by our founding Pastor, Tony Foglio, Sr. It touched my heart, so I thought I would share it with you.

“Once a week is not enough. A one hour worship service is not a good balance between the onslaught of the world and the teaching and preaching of the gospel. Compare the number of hours spent watching television (or being on electronics) with the combined time spent in fellowship, worship, praying, Bible study, and service. Unfortunately, statistics say that TV (and electronics) win. I am not advocating a boycott of television; I am, however, advocating that a greater amount of time be given to that which brings eternal dividends. May I encourage you to not only attend a weekly worship service, but also a Sunday school class, a mid-week prayer service, and a small group fellowship. These combined equate to no more than the amount of television (or electronics) many folks watch in one day. I can promise that your life will be richer for it. Will it be easy? No, it will at first take a fair amount of discipline.There will have to be some priority changes. It will require some sacrifice. However, the fruit that will be produced will be more than worthwhile.”   (Parentheses are mine.)

Hebrews 10:24-25, And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day approaching.

Ways to Bring Jesus Home (Compilation)

Ways to Bring Jesus Home   

 Bringingjesushome.com

(This post is a combination of the previous three posts. It is intended for those who might want to print it out and keep it. Right click to print)

This compilation of information from my blog, “Bringing Jesus Home (from Church),” is in no way complete. The information I am sharing is from my Biblical studies, and years of involvement in church and school, working with kids. I have a passion for raising this next generation with a love of Christ in their hearts, and the reality I see is our churches dying, because the younger generation no longer sees the need for Jesus Christ in their lives. My heart’s prayer is that you will prayerfully consider the information presented and have God guide you, in how you use it.

(There are a lot of suggestions here. Don’t think you have to add or change as much as possible!! Find ONE thing you want to add or change, and make only one change at a time.)  God bless you!

A. With your family…

Make sure your kids are Christian.

  1. I know this seems silly, but many kids believe that people are born into whatever religion their parents are.
  2. Help your kids realize that being a Christian means having a relationship with Jesus, and that it is much more than just a “religion”.
  3. If your child is not sure, or you are not sure they have accepted Jesus into their heart as their Savior, share the gospel with them, and ask them if they want to ask Jesus into their heart.

Trust your kids into God’s hands.

  1. Let Him control what you do and say to them about Him.
  2. Believe that God will have a hand in how you raise them, if you want Him to.

Pray, pray, pray!

  1. Discuss with your kids on when during the day you should pray, both as a family, and individually.
  2. Share with them the things you are praying about (unless it shouldn’t be shared, of course).
  3. Create a prayer journal, and review it to show your kids how Jesus has answered their prayers.  (Remember, “wait” and “no” are also answers to prayer!)
  4. Encourage your kids to pray for the Holy Spirit to take away their desire to get mad, or get even with other kids, and also, to take away temptations to gossip, and complain.
  5. Have your kids hold you accountable to pray everyday, as you hold them accountable as well.

Work consistently to build up your kids’ faith 

  1. Do devotions with them several times a week
  2. Find a time that works, and stick with it!                                                                      (Morning, evening, right after dinner, right before bedtime)
  3. Memorize, memorize, memorize! Besides prayer, this is an activity that will “arm” our kids with the necessary gospel that will help them when they are being challenged by their friends and circumstances. (Get “armed and dangerous” in God’s word!)
  4. Discuss biblical topics with your kids; salvation, God’s love, His intimate interest in them, control, anxiety, patience, honoring Mom and Dad, etc.
  5. Use Jesus as a positive role model for your kids, not a judgmental authoritarian figure ready to pounce on them when they mess up.
  6. Discuss the hard topics; why God lets bad things happen, why people do bad things, how God feels about sex, drugs, gay lifestyle, etc                                          A.  (Obviously, this needs to be at the time when kids are ready for these topics, not before)
  7. Go to church!  This seems like it shouldn’t need to be stated, but I believe there are a lot of people who are so busy, they don’t have time for church.  I also believe that God will honor the time you spend with Him, and bless you for it.
  8. Guide your kids with their spare time: Use electronics wisely, set time limits and keep to them!                                                                                                                      A. Play board games as a family.                                                                                    B. Have a family night out and do something together.                                              C. Play outdoors together, or at least have your kids play outside.                      D. Have your kids get involved in church clubs and groups (AWANA, Youth group, choir, drama), and/or school extracurricular activities like clubs or sports.
  9. Celebrate the Christian aspect of big holidays, such as Christmas and Easter.       A. It’s ok to acknowledge the secular parts of these holidays, but they get so much of it at school that participating in Christ honoring traditions at home is not necessarily “leaving out” the secular aspect.
  10. Challenge your kids to accomplish something in keeping with God’s word.         A. For example, can they demonstrate in real life an example of following the Golden Rule?
  11. Eat dinner together!!! If not every night, at least several times a week. Get off all the electronics and talk to one another. Get to know each other all over again!  If you need to, come up with a topic for discussion before dinner, so you know what you want to discuss.

B. For parents/grandparents:

For the last segment of my compilation, I have separated out the things I think parents/grandparents need to do for themselves. I know you know that raising kids is a full time job…which, if you already have a full time job outside the home, means that you have two full time jobs!  Whew!! Even though we have the “head knowledge” of having many jobs, we rarely treat ourselves as if we did. In other words, we are like the Energizer Bunny that just keeps going, and going, and going.

As I started to write this, with the above information in mind, my next thought was that parents don’t need more things to do in their day. I get it! Really! But, I think the time that you do have can be used differently, and still not add “things” to your day. For example, prayer. To increase your prayer time, pray before meals. Pray when you are having “cuddle time” with your child, pray after devotions. It takes time to change habits, but if you decide you want to pray with your kids, write yourself notes, or put the activity on your planner until it becomes habit.

To me, the best things you can do for yourself, are pray, and read your Bible.  In the online article “Prayer 101: How Do I Talk to God?,” it states that prayer is talking with God, and it helps us develop a deeper relationship to Him. We need prayer, because we need to talk to God about what is going on in our hearts and lives. In Hebrews 4:16 it says we can, “…approach the throne of grace with confidence, so we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need,” (https://billygraham.org). And, we need to know what God wants us to do, in terms of raising our kids. Not praying could be compared to not talking to your very best friend, or spouse, when you really need to talk to them. Would you do that? God loves hearing from us, both good and bad things.

I don’t believe that we can raise Godly, Christian kids without prayer. We need to ask God to help us get through our jam-packed days, and still be able to reflect our relationship with Jesus to our kids. “With God ALL things are possible,”(Matthew 19:26b).  I believe it!

The second (and equally important) thing parents/grandparents should do, is read their Bible. It is hard to defend your faith, if you really don’t know what you believe. There are many “read the Bible in one year” devotionals, that can break down the Bible into doable parts. But you don’t have to read the entire Bible, if you don’t have time. Please choose a good devotional, one that touches your heart, and read the verses that are referenced for each day. Even a few verses a day will start you on the road to getting more familiar with God’s word.

One last thing I think is important is to have a Christian friend and/or spouse, who can walk with you down the road of raising Christian kids. You need someone to bounce ideas off of, share carpooling to church and activities, and even to vent to when things are difficult.

The job of raising Christian kids is tough, but ETERNALLY rewarding.

(Right click to print document)

 

Do you know the ways to bring Jesus home?

Over the past seven months or so, I have been posting about things that parents might want to make a priority, when raising Christian kids. Last week I went over all the posts I have written so far, collected and prioritized these, in order to have one “document” that lists what I think God has given me as important things that help families incorporate Jesus into their everyday lives.

I am going to make this a downloadable document, so it can be printed out and won’t look like a blog post, but it doesn’t exist yet. I’ll let you know when it is available.

I have sub-divided this list into things to can do for yourself, and things to do with your family.

With your family…

A. Make sure your kids are Christian.

  1. I know this seems silly, but many kids believe that people are born into whatever religion their parents are.
  2. Help your kids realize that being a Christian means having a relationship with Jesus, and that it is much more than just a “religion”.
  3. If your child is not sure, or you are not sure they have accepting Jesus into their heart as their Savior, share the gospel with them, and ask them if they want to ask Jesus into their heart.

B. Trust your kids into God’s hands.

  1. Let Him control what you do and say to them about Him.
  2. Believe that God will have a hand in how you raise them, if you want Him to.

C. Pray, pray, pray!

  1. Discuss with your kids on when during the day you should pray, both as a family, and individually.
  2. Share with them the things you are praying about (unless it shouldn’t be shared, of course).
  3. Create a prayer journal, and review it to show your kids how Jesus has answered their prayers.
    1. (Remember, “wait” and “no” are also answers to prayer!)
  4. Encourage your kids to pray for the Holy Spirit to take away their desire to get mad, or get even with other kids, and also, to take away temptations to gossip, and complain.
  5. Have your kids hold you accountable to pray everyday, as you hold them accountable as well.

 

Do you have the map?

It is normal for us to want to have control of our lives. The problem is, we don’t see or know the future. All we can do is make what we believe is the best choice for our family and ourselves, and hope and pray for the best outcome.

There is a better way, however. God knows our future. According to Jeremiah 29:11 God tells us, “I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

The best way I have found to explain to kids, and even adults, about how God knows what is best for us, is to compare His plans for us to Him having a “map” of our lives. Now, I know God doesn’t need a map. But I love the picture it makes in my head of many different plans and goals, and ways to get there.

If you love Jesus Christ, and trust Him as Lord, think of Him holding a map of your life. He knows where you are, and where He wants you to go, as well as the best way to get there. He sees both the beginning and end of your life, as well as everything in-between. When we set goals and plan without God, it is a little like driving at night with the headlights off an an unfamiliar road. Very difficult! But when you give over control of your life to Him, He will take you the best way to get there, and chances are you will be less frustrated, and get to your destination sooner.

Let go, and let God…drive!

Proverbs 3:5-6, Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to Him, and he will make your paths straight.

Romans 8:28, And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.

Matthew 19:26b, …With God all things are possible.

Is your child the “1 in 5”?

I pray your child is not the 1 in 5, but according to the news report this week, one in five kids in the U.S. is at risk of attempting suicide. What is going on here?! Why are our kids feeling so hopeless that they see no future for themselves, and see death as an acceptable alternative?

I know this is controversial, but I believe one of the biggest contributors to our kids’ hopelessness is that they are growing up today in a world without Jesus Christ; without hope; without any sense of purpose.

It has been proven through several studies that kids in Christian homes have a more stable view of life, and a sense of self-purpose. They are more ready to handle the tough events they encounter, and tend to be more grounded.

Is your child/grandchild one of these? As a Christian parent, are you consistently working on building up your child’s faith? If not, your child is one of those at risk, because they don’t see the point of being Christian.

PLEASE share this with your kids: Christianity is more than a belief, it is a relationship with Jesus Christ Himself, who loves you and died for you so you would be able to be in Heaven with Him. Not only to be in Heaven, but to live with you today, and help you get through the tough times in life.

Romans 3:23, For all have sinned and fall short of the Glory of God.

Romans 5:8, But God shows His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

John 14:6, I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.

John 11:25, Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die.”

John 3:16, For God so loved the world that He gave His only son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.

 

 

 

What are your top priorities?

God, family, others.  Our priorities are to be: God first, family next, and finally, others. We all have things in our life that are competing for priority. Where exactly is “life” supposed to come in on this list? Do we come home from work, collapse on the couch and veg in front of the TV, (or smart phone), or do we sit and cuddle with our kids and ask them about their day? The bottom line is that we tend to make time for the things that are important to us, even if we will tell someone that we don’t have time for some other activity that isn’t as important.

Sadly, there are many times when we forget just what our priorities should be.  Take the time right now – with your kids, if they are old enough – to reset your priorities.  Make a list of the top 10 priorities in your life. Have your kids do the same. Before sharing your lists with each other, eliminate 6-7 of those top 10, leaving only 3-4 of the very top priorities in your life. Now share them with your spouse and kids. Are any of yours similar to your kids’? Discuss ways to help your kids, and have them help you, to maintain the most important priorities in your lives. And remember, if you put God first, He will help you have enough time for other priorities.

Matthew 6:33, Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added unto you. (KJV)

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8, 11a, To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven: 2) A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted; 3) A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; 4)  A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn and a time to dance; 5) A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; 6) A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away; 7) A time to rend and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; 8) A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war and a time of peace.  11a) God has made everything beautiful in His time…   (KJV)

Luke 12:34, For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

How do your kids learn to trust you?

How do your kids learn about trust? Studies on this subject indicate that children learn to trust, when their parents come through for them in their time of need. When they are babies and hungry, all they can do is cry, in order to get fed. You, their parent, feed them. And this happens over and over again.  Your child is learning that they can trust you to feed them when they are hungry.

I know this is obvious, especially if you are a parent, but this is exactly the same way we, as Christians learn to trust Jesus. It is a simple analogy…we go to Jesus in our time of need, pray for help, and He will help us. We may need Christ to help us see the answer, but it is there.

Many times the last person we go to when we need help is Jesus. We want to  tackle the issue ourselves; or we don’t even think about going to Jesus as a way to solve the problem.  This is human nature, and very much a part of the American culture. The problem with trying to solve the problem ourselves is that Jesus wants us to come to Him. He wants to be a part of the solution. Not only that, He knows our lives from the beginning to the end, and knows the path that is the best for us.

The best way to learn to trust Jesus, is to trust Jesus. Sounds simple, and it is, but it is also very difficult. Giving over an issue to Jesus has to be an act of our will. We don’t know the path our life will take, Jesus does. He also has our best interest in mind, knows us better than we know ourselves, and loves us like crazy.

We can trust Jesus, because He IS trustworthy.  If we need to take small steps to learn to trust Him, let’s do it that way.

Another benefit of learning to trust Jesus, our kids will learn that we trust Him, and we will be teaching them to learn to trust Him as well.  In this world in which we live, our kids are going to need to trust Jesus with all the problems they will face.  We can leave our kids in good hands, with Jesus.

Psalm 9:10, Those who know your name trust in you, for you, Lord, have never forsaken those who seek you.

Proverbs 3:5-6, Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding, in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.