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!

Can you identify “fake” news?

Have you ever had your child come home at the end of a day, make a statement to you that they believe is true, and you can’t help but respond, “Where did you hear that?”

Having been an English teacher, I have spent time trying to teach students how  to tell good information from bad information when doing research. But, because of the prevalence of highly biased information these days, I actually went to an expert I just happened to work with at El Cajon Valley High School (ECVHS), to find out how he teaches kids to identify false from real information.

Before Mr. Trump ran for President, I didn’t realize there was any such thing as “fake” news. Sounds rather naive, now, doesn’t it? But since he became President, I have found more and more information that wants you to believe it is real, when it is more often than not either partially or completely false.  (Doesn’t this sound rather biased? It is. I am blaming Trump for the increase in “fake” news, and he really can’t be blamed for it. I am also not showing other possible reasons for “fake” news.)

Anthony Devine is the librarian at ECVHS. He has also spent much time learning about how information can be presented to make people want to believe it.  I asked him to show me what he teaches students about how to tell a good source from a bad source (good information from bad).  It really comes down to a few die hard rules.

  • Read the information. Does it balance one side with the “other” side, or just give one side of the story?
  • Who wrote what you are reading? Could they be part of a political group? Does the writer have an “agenda?”  Is it written by a trained journalist?
  • Are the claims the article or post makes backed up with evidence?
  • All information has a bias, BUT…it must also be willing to discuss opposing views on the subject.

What you see above is just a small part of what kids are taught at ECV. Kids must be able to discern good from bad information, because they will make life decisions based on what they believe to be true!  As a parent and grandparent, we can help our schools teach this to our kids. I am sure Anthony, as well as hundreds of teachers and librarians, would be quite happy if we could reinforce what they try to teach at school.

Look at this link for an interesting and informative article on identifying good from bad information, and why we are drawn to certain information:

http://time.com/5362183/the-real-fake-news-crisis/.

Proverbs 22:6, Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old, he will not depart from it.

Do we have freedom of speech?

Yes, in this country, we have freedom of speech. But with freedom of speech comes responsibility. Some people might disagree, but we do not have absolute freedom of speech. Freedom of speech is a God given right in this country, but there are people sharing made-up information on social media as though it was fact.  Even my Christian brothers and sisters are sharing it, and believing it.

Absolute freedom of speech destroys people, and ruins lives, because it maintains we can say anything we want to about anyone, especially if we don’t like them, or don’t agree with their views.

How is this Christian? We can not believe everything we see or read in social media! If information sounds silly, ridiculous, or even odd, it is probably a lie. If you aren’t sure if it is true or not – take the time to find out before you share it with others!

Jesus said we are to “Love one another” (John 13:34), and, “We love because He first loved us.” He did not say make sure our side wins. He is in control. In this crazy world, Christians need to be mindful that our job is to be ready to give a reason for the faith that we have,  not to share false information that makes one side sound better than the other.

I Peter 3:15, In your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect.” (Bolding mine)

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.

 

 

 

God did WHAT?

Unless they are in church or a Christian atmosphere, many Christians don’t know how to respond when they hear someone start talking about how God is working intimately in their life. I know, because I was one of those who felt awkward when a Christian would share an experience they had with Christ, in a secular atmosphere. Especially if we were in a group of people who were not Christians.

However, unless you decide to make Christ an intimate part of your everyday life, you are just living on the fringes of Christianity. And you and your family really are missing a lot of God’s blessings. What IS God doing in your everyday life? If you are tempted to say “nothing,” something is wrong with your relationship to Him.

Jesus loves us like crazy, and He really does want to “bless our socks off.” Don’t be afraid to tell people what God is doing in your life. Tell your kids/grandkids especially. They don’t just need to hear that God is real, they need to see Him working in your life.

Start a prayer journal with your kids, and record how God answers those prayers. It will amaze your kids, and probably you, as well.

TIME SPENT WITH CHRIST, IS TIME WELL SPENT.

Acts 1:8, But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.

Mark 16:15, And he said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation.

Romans 1:16, For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.

I Peter 3:15, But in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect.

Why does God let bad things happen?

One of the most difficult issues people struggle with and parents struggle to explain to their kids, is why bad things happen to good people. Older Christian kids, in particular, can be faced with peers who state that they won’t believe in God because “a loving God” wouldn’t let bad things happen to people. How can a Christian teen respond to this? How can we, as parents/grandparents help our kids with their responses to this?

Churchleaders.com published an article written by Lee Strobel on this subject, entitled, “Lee Strobel: Why Does God Allow Tragedy and Suffering?” It is much more in depth, and much better than what I can write here.   Click on this link: https://churchleaders.com to get to the article, which was written just after the mass shooting in a movie theater in 2012.

I sat down with my grandkids a few days ago and had a ‘chat’ with them on this subject. We decided that kids need to know a couple of things about why there is evil in the world. First, evil exists in our world, and evil’s name is Satan. Because Satan is still on the Earth, bad things are going to happen. Second, Jesus will one day return to Earth and get rid of Satan forever. We decided we don’t know why God hasn’t banished Satan yet, but that if we lived in a world with no problems at all, we wouldn’t learn to rely on Jesus, and be able to see how He takes care of us. Satan doesn’t want people to believe in Jesus, but the reason for evil is not God or Jesus, it is Satan’s work. Finally, being a Christian means you are saved forever with Christ, and He will guard and protect you. He’s on your side, and wants what is best for you. That is what Christian kids need to remember, and share with their friends when this subject of ‘bad things happening’ comes up, because it will.

John 16:33, I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.

2 Peter 3:9, The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.

 

Is God’s arm shortened? Part 2

The founding pastor of Sonrise Community Church, Tony Foglio Sr., actually wrote the following paragraph for Day 66, Morning, of his Sonrise Daily Devotional Bible. I asked him if I could use it for this post, because it is a powerful reminder of God’s love for us. Bold words are my emphasis.

God is not dead, nor is He growing old. We in our carnality grow weary and weak, but God in His holiness never tires nor weakens. He may be silent, but He is never out of control. We can never take God by surprise. We will never catch Him off guard. Our problems are not out of His reach. We may be attempting to avoid Him, but His arm is not short. Usually when God seems out of reach it is because we are running from Him instead of running to Him. Like a loving parent who plays chase with his or her child, He will catch us whenever He desires. Therefore, when trials and problems come, run to Him, not from Him. When God seems distant, check your location. He will be there where you left Him. One sure place we will find Him is with His people in a place He calls His house.

We need the Lord Jesus like we need air. Our kids need Him in the same way. The more you trust Him, the more peace you will have. That’s a promise from God.

Philippians 4:6-7, 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. (NIV)

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.

“Has the Lord’s arm been shortened?”

Look around you. How many of your neighbors attend church regularly? Why do you think people don’t go to church anymore? I talk a lot about “bringing Jesus home” and incorporating Him into our daily lives, but when we look at society in general, most people don’t even attend church anymore. Have you ever considered why that is?

All I can deduce is that maybe they don’t think they need Jesus. Maybe life is better without the Lord Jesus Christ in their lives. They can do just fine on their own. They don’t need what they see as the Bible’s “rules” for living to guide them, and see church as “old fashioned.”

If you know someone like this, (and we all do),  are their lives worry free? Are they without care, and do they have perfect peace? Or do they live their lives complaining about how things are going wrong in their lives and they don’t know what to do about it?  Chances are that the people who reject Jesus are in the second group. They want better lives, but don’t want to give up “control” of their lives, thinking that Jesus and church are old fashioned ways to control people.

I could see someone not wanting to give up “control” of their life if it is completely happy, content, peaceful and stress free, but not under any other circumstances. WHO has a life that is perfect?? No one! Why are we so bound and determined to have “control” of our lives when we can’t even control our heartbeat?  We actually have control over very, very little in our lives. But we use this excuse not to attend church, not to pray, not to live for Christ. We don’t want Him in control.

Ask someone you know to go to church with you this Sunday. That person may be the one who fights the hardest to be in control of their life, but also the one who needs Jesus the most.

Jesus loves even the most die hard “control freak”. He understands, and wants to help that person let go and let God, so to speak. It makes the difference between frustration and peace, worry and joy, unhappiness and contentment, feeling unfulfilled, and total fulfillment.  And all the person has to do is ask Jesus into their heart and be willing to be loved by Him. Send me a comment if this is you, and you want to know more about Jesus, and what He can do for you.

Luke 12:22-26, Do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. Life is more than food, and the body more than clothes. Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds! Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?

How much do you trust Jesus?

Do you trust Jesus enough to give him your “to do” list, and then not worry about all the things you have to do today?

Do you trust Jesus enough to make a new commitment to Him, and let Him have every part of your life? Or are there some parts you need to have control over, because you aren’t sure that Jesus will let you do what you think needs to get done?

Sound familiar? It does to me. Giving Jesus all of our life, completely and without reservation, is difficult. I’m not sure why, but we seem to think we can do a better job of controlling how our lives are run than Jesus can.

Can you commit to allowing the Holy Spirit to help you be the person He wants you to be?

I want to take some thoughts from our Connect Groups Pastor, Tabitha Stein, for today’s post. She preached about how being Christian really is a way of life, not just a title. That Christians meeting together is a way to stay healthy as a Christian, and it is also Biblical. It keeps us accountable for how we live our lives. A lot of people these days think accountability has gone the way of the dinosaur, but all through the Bible, Jesus speaks of our responsibility to God, so having accountability to others is just a branch that shoots off of that idea.

The important fact that Tabitha stressed wasn’t going to Church, either. It was connecting at home, with our neighbors and other Christians throughout the week, to do anything from verse to verse study of the Bible, to martial arts classes taught by a Godly Christian man, who incorporates Jesus into the lessons.

It means bringing Jesus home (I think I’ve heard that phrase somewhere before!!!), and building a time into your schedule when you can teach and reach each other, both Christian and non-Christian, for the Lord Jesus Christ.  Although Tabitha’s emphasis was on getting together with other adults, it applies just as much to families. Allow your children to hold you accountable; for Bible verses read, for keeping to a prayer time every night, and many other ways. Kids usually think holding their parents accountable is pretty fun, too. (Just remind them that accountability works both ways!)

Hebrews 10:24, Let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.

Matthew 18:20, For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.

Hebrews 10:25, …not forsaking  our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.