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)

Can you keep a secret?

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When you are a parent, you hope and pray that the secrets your kids keep from you are minor issues, not major ones, right? And we, as our kids’ parents/grandparents, try to be the role models for how we want our kids to behave and live as adults, correct?

That doesn’t mean we tell our kids every detail of our lives though. There will be things we have done, and that have happened in our lives, that we may never tell them, or not until they are mature enough to handle or understand the information.

Someone we can’t keep a secret from, however, even though we may want to, is Jesus Christ. In Ephesians 4:13 it states, “Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of Him to whom we must give account.”

Just as we need to be “real” to our kids, which means sharing some of our weaknesses with them, we need to be completely real to our Lord Jesus. It doesn’t matter if we feel like we want to hide secrets from Him or not, He knows everything about us, and loves us anyway. Continuing with Ephesians 4:14, “For we do not have a high priest (Jesus) who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are, yet He did not sin.”

Jesus knows, really knows, you. We hide things from friends, coworkers, even our spouse once in awhile, but we can’t hide anything, from what we think, to what we do, from Christ. He knows us better than we know ourselves.

Our best role model is Jesus Christ. He is also our kids best role model, but they are going to look to you to lead them and help them grow as Christians. Be the role model your kids need, by closely following your ultimate role model, Jesus. He loves us despite our doubts and weaknesses. His love for us is unending and complete.

Keep the secrets that must be kept from your kids; hide nothing from Jesus.

Psalm 136:26 – “Give thanks to the God of Heaven, for His steadfast love endures forever.”

What is “faith?”

To you, what is faith? I think a lot of people struggle with what faith is, and how to have it. In the past, when a pastor would preach about faith, I felt like they presumed if they said I needed more faith, it would just happen.  In Luke 17:6  Jesus stated, “If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it will obey you.” I figured I must have the faith of an amoeba, because I honestly knew I wasn’t going to be moving any trees!

I asked two of my grandkids about faith. My 9 year old stated that “Faith is when you are brave, and you are sure you can do something.”  My 11 year old stated that it is “believing in someone or something, trust. When you have faith in God, you trust Him.”  I thought that was pretty good, but wanted to see what the dictionary said.  Dictionary.com defines (specifically regarding religion) faith as, “the trust in God and His promises as made though Christ and the scriptures by which humans are justified or saved.”

The google dictionary defines faith as: 1) Complete trust or confidence in something or someone, and 2) A strong belief in God… based on spiritual apprehension. (No one convinces you to believe, you believe of your own accord, or understanding).

Finally, the Bible, in Hebrews 11:1 states that faith is: The assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.”

Just knowing what faith is, doesn’t give you more faith. So what does give you more faith? Faith and trust are synonyms. You really can’t have one without the other (as far as I am concerned). What it amounts to, as far as I believe (you may disagree, that’s ok) is that faith begins with trust. Small babies learn to trust their mothers when they cry, and Mother responds. They develop faith in their mothers based on the fact that they can trust them.

Building faith in Jesus Christ can happen the same way. Faith is built on trust. The more you learn to trust that Jesus is who He says He is, and is there for you no matter what, the more you will trust Him. The more He comes through when you need Him, the more faith you will have that you can trust Him, no matter what. This doesn’t mean He will give you everything you want! Jesus is not a “Sugar Daddy.” But praying to see God’s will in all circumstances will help you see Him working in your life. And seeing Him work is definitely a faith builder.

Hebrews 11:6, Without faith it is impossible to please Him, (God), for whoever would draw near to God must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who seek Him.

More activities for week three!

Hard to believe we are already several weeks into summer! I have some challenging activities for this week. I like “challenges” because I think having competitions between family members, or having activities that family members have to share, makes them more accountable. Plus, it’s FUN!

Mind: Research:

  • What is a “Segway?” Have you ever ridden one? Find out all about them (Google it).
  • When were they created? Why? What are they used for mostly?
  • Also, would you try to ride one if you haven’t done so before?
  • SMALL KIDS: Draw a picture of your family riding segways on vacation.
  • OLDER KIDS: Create a newspaper article on segways, answering the above questions.  (Who, what, when, where, why and how).
  • ALL: Share the results of your investigations.

Body: Crunches:

  • (Remember, be careful if you are very out of shape or have a health condition. Check with your doctor first, and follow his/her advise.) This should be fun, not fatal!
  • How many crunches can your family members do?
  • Give your family a one or two minute time limit to do as many crunches as possible.
  • Must follow good form (hands under head, raise head and shoulders only, not trunk, face must be looking at the ceiling).
  • Alternate activity: Push ups! Can be “knee” or traditional, but all family members must do them the same way.

Soul: Memorizing a verse:

  • Agree on one verse to memorize
  • Must be able to say it without reading it after two days,  to call it “memorized.”
  • Younger kids: Choose a very short verse
  • Older kids: Choose a verse that has at least 10 words in it.
  • Who can remember their verse after a week?!

 

What can we do together this week?

Here we are at the second week of activities for your family. It is short and sweet, and doesn’t have to be what you actually do, but is a list of suggestions if you need them.

Mind: Electronics Challenge:  

  • Challenge your family to limit or completely stop using social media for one week.
  • If you would rather, pick something you and your kids do everyday to limit or stop, such as; playing computer games, looking at Facebook, etc.
  • If you have a hard time with “completely” stopping, limit time to maybe 2 hours a day or less.

Body:  Work out challenge:

  • Set a challenge for your family to work out at least 4-5 times this week
  • Can be something simple, such as dancing to your favorite music
    • Very young kids love dancing!
  • Walking or swimming are other great ways to exercise during the summer
  • Whatever it is, do it for at least 20-25 minutes each time, unless you are very out of shape or have a health condition, then check with your doctor first, and follow his/her advise.

Soul:  Prayer journal:

  • Start a prayer journal your entire family can contribute to
  • It can be just printer or notebook paper, if need be
  • Encourage each person to add one or two things or people they want to pray for
  • Use the list to pray several times during the week and beyond
  • Pay attention and mark on the journal when you or they see answers to their prayer requests

PLEASE, make time during the summer to spend quality time with your kids/grandkids. I can almost guarantee they will remember it.

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.

More ways to bring Jesus home? Part 2

This is a continuation of the list I posted last time. It is a compilation of ways to “bring Jesus home.” Next time, I will have a list focused on parents/grandparents.

D. Work consistently to build up your kids’ faith

  1. Do devotions with them several times a week
    1. Find a time that works, and stick with it! (Morning, evening, right after dinner, right before bedtime)
  2.  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!)
  3. Discuss biblical topics with your kids; salvation, God’s love, His intimate interest in them, control, anxiety, patience, honoring Mom and Dad, etc.
  4. Use Jesus as a positive role model for your kids, not a judgmental authoritarian figure ready to pounce on them when they mess up.
  5. Discuss the hard topics; why God lets bad things happen, why people do bad things, how God feels about sex, drugs, gay lifestyle, etc.
    1. (Obviously, this needs to be at the time when kids are ready for these topics, not before)
  6. 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.
  7. Guide your kids with their spare time: Use electronics wisely, set time limits and keep to them!
    1. Play board games as a family.
    2. Have a family night out and do something together.
    3. Play outdoors together, or at least have your kids play outside.
    4. Have your kids get involved in church clubs and groups (AWANA, Youth group, choir, drama), and/or school extracurricular activities like clubs or sports.
    5. Celebrate the Christian aspect of big holidays, such as Christmas and Easter.
      1. 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.
    6. Challenge your kids to accomplish something in keeping with God’s word.
      1. For example, can they demonstrate in real life an example of following the Golden Rule?
    7. 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.