Remembering the Reason for the Easter Season

Easter cross

A common aphorism at Christmas time is “Remember the Reason for the Season.” It’s a great reminder that Jesus, Our Savior, was born on Christmas day to come into the world as a baby to die as a man on a cross and resurrect three days later on Easter. So at Easter season, why don’t we say: “Remember the Reason for the Easter Season”?

I don’t recall ever hearing that slogan used at Easter. Do you? It’s not on flags, banners, buttons we wear, or even Easter cards or mentioned in Easter sermons. I wonder why not?

The “Easter season” has similar distractions as Christmas that can take our focus off Jesus and His sacrifice for you and for me. Easter commemorates the foundation of our Christian faith. Without Easter, there would be no hope. Easter is the reason we have forgiveness for our sins and the assurance of eternal life. As the apostle Paul reminded the Corinthians:

Let me now remind you, dear brothers and sisters of the Good News I preached to you before. You welcomed it then, and you still stand firm in it. It is this Good News that saves you if you continue to believe the message I told you—unless, of course, you believed something that was never true in the first place.

I passed on to you what was most important and what had also been passed on to me. Christ died for our sins, just as the Scriptures said. He was buried, and he was raised from the dead on the third day, just as the Scriptures said.—1 Cor. 15:1-4

In my new release, Forsaken God?:Remembering the Goodness of God Our Culture Has Forgotten, in the chapter on Remembering His Sacrifice, I wrote:

As Christians, we understand the extreme sacrifice God and Jesus endured: God gave his One and only Son who became the last sacrificial lamb dying in atonement for our sins. Jesus died a painful and horrific death on a cross for you and for me. At Easter, we celebrate Jesus’s resurrection three days later, and he lives today at the right hand of God—preparing a place for his followers who will someday join him in eternity. And he lives within the hearts of believers.

How could we ever forget such a sacrifice, but we do.

crucifixion

During the Easter Season, our focus can turn to church services, performances, cantatas, pageants, new clothes, brunch, family gatherings, special dinners, decorating, egg hunts, Easter baskets . . . all good things. But before we know it . . . one of the most meaningful days of the year is over. We probably went to church, said a prayer before meals, maybe even read some Bible passages about the Last Supper, Gethsemane, the Crucifixion, and the Resurrection. But did we take time to solemnly remember and praise God for…the ultimate sacrifice of Jesus . . .

39 lashes

A crown of thorns

Hands and feet nailed to a cross

The 10,000 angels he could have called to rescue him

The world’s sins he took on himself

Feeling forsaken

The torn veil

Shed blood

The final cry, “It is finished!” (Pg. 217, Forsaken God?)

I pray this Easter season finds you refreshed and renewed in your relationship with Christ, and the purpose He has given each of us to keep the memory of Easter alive and vibrant, every day in our hearts, speech, and actions. Let us never forget:

“You were dead because of your sins and because your sinful nature was not yet cut away. Then God made you alive with Christ, for he forgave all our sins. He canceled the record of the charges against us and took it away by nailing it to the cross.” Colossians 2:13-14 (NLT)

Hallelujah!

Happy Resurrection Day!

Janet

Other Easter Posts:

What Does the Moon Have to Do with Easter?

Share the Good News of Easter

How to Share the Easter Message with You Children and Grandchildren

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Grandparents Changing the Culture

A Million praying grandparentsIn the Generation to Generation section of Forsaken God?: Remembering the Goodness of God Our Culture Has Forgotten, I stress that the most important task for parents and grandparents is to pass down to future generations the goodness of our Great God, and help their children and grandchildren enjoy a personal relationship with Jesus.

Lillian Penner, National Prayer Director for Christian Grandparenting Network (CGN,) and an endorser of Forsaken God?, shares my passion for mentoring the next generation. Lillian has a dream of A Million Praying Grandparents committing to pray intentionally and regularly for grandchildren and their parents. I asked Lillian to share her dream/passion with you because I believe you share my concern for our grandchildren and children growing up in a broken world that has forsaken and forgotten God.

I joined the Million Praying Grandparents as a grandparent who prays Scripture daily for our eleven grandchildren. It’s part of my morning quiet time, and I have seen God do amazing things, which I write about in Grammie’s Corner in my monthly online newsletter. This month you can read how 7-year old Sienna surprised Grampa and me when she announced that she wanted us to pray with her to accept Jesus into her heart. That blessing was the answer to many morning prayers.

Sienna and KatelynI learned about praying God’s will by praying Scripture for Sienna’s mommy. I share more about this way of praying in Praying for Your Prodigal Daughter.

MESSAGE FROM LILLIAN PENNER

In a movement to unite grandparents to pray intentionally for the next generation, Christian Grandparenting Network is launching a globale prayer campaign for 2016: A Million Praying Grandparents. Can you imagine the impact of one million or more grandparents praying for their grandchildren?

The Mission Field

The mission of CGN is the mobilization of grandparents throughout the world to commit to pray daily for their grandchildren and their grandchildren’s parents. In Christian Living Today, Editor, Randy Swanson, wrote:

The role of Grandparenting is becoming more important than anyone would ever have imagined. The rescue of our culture may well rest on the shoulders of today’s grandparents.”

Perhaps at no time in history has the call been more urgent for intentional prayer.

If you grasp the urgency of our time, then I urge you to join the Million Praying Grandparents movement, linking arms in prayer for the next generation.

Our grandchildren are our primary mission field.

Sign Up Today to Be a Praying Grandparent

If you’re as worried as I am about the world our grandchildren are inheriting, I urge you to sign up for the Million Praying Grandparents Movement. By joining, you are declaring your commitment to pray regularly for your grandchildren.

In appreciation for making such a culture-changing commitment, you will receive a free printable copy of a Million Praying Grandparents Prayer Resource to guide in using God’s Word to pray for your grandchildren.

Now you must make a decision:

For the sake of the hearts, minds and souls of your grandchildren, will you say, “YES I will join the Million Praying Grandparents movement?”

Go to the Million Praying Grandparents website and follow the instructions to sign up!

Please also share the vision of a Million Praying Grandparents united in prayer for their grandchildren with your friends and family.

Together we can influence the next generation to know Christ and follow Him wholeheartedly! Together we can change the culture and a world that has forgotten and forsaken God. Don’t let that be your grandchildren’s future.

Excerpt from Forsaken God?: Remembering the Goodness of God Our Culture Has Forgotten.

Steve Green wrote a song with the chorus, “Oh may all who come behind us find us faithful.” Someday we’ll all just be a memory, but let’s make sure that memory is a good one. In your sphere of influence, starting with your own family and church family, “tell them” all you’ve seen God do and his unchanging truths. Influence the next generations to love and obey God with born-again, Holy Spirit filled hearts.

I pray my [Janet’s] legacy to my children and grandchildren will be—Mom/Grammie was a woman who loved Jesus and lived what she believed.

If you’re a grandparent, you’ll want to join this movement of a Million Praying Grandparents.

If you’re a parent, you’ll want to forward this blog to your children’s grandparents.

If you receive this blog my email, please comment here.

_MG_5006A LIL

Lillian Penner is the author of Grandparenting with a Purpose: Effective Ways to Pray for Your Grandchildren and is the National Prayer Coordinator for Christian Grandparenting Network. An avid blogger, Lillian will break into smiles if you ask about her twelve grandchildren and three great-grandchildren. She and her husband, John, live in Portland, Oregon, where they are active in church ministries.

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Left for College a Christian, Returned an Atheist

 

First RC College Pre Group of High Schoolers

First RC College Prep Group of High Schoolers

My new book Forsaken God?: Remembering the Goodness of God Our Culture Has Forgotten, releases February 9. I have a section on Generation to Generation where I discuss the tragedy of losing the next generation for God, especially college age kids, and what we can do to keep them sold out for Jesus. I also share in Praying for Your Prodigal Daughter how I ignored the warning signs when my daughter was taught about Darwinism and evolution in High School.

Then right before Christmas, I received this email from Sheryl Young asking if I would consider mentioning her ministry Ratio Christi. Sheryl didn’t know about my new book and I didn’t know about RC, but after I read her note, I knew why God had put us together. Sheryl wrote:

Ratio Christi has 150 chapters on college campuses teaching Christian apologetics – the history, philosophy and science which supports the Bible and the life, death & resurrection of Christ. This strengthens the students’ faith, helps to stem the tide of “youth flight” from church due to the secularization of our colleges, and makes our young people stronger witnesses. We have also now started doing high school apologetics and have a goal of being on all college campuses.

I knew I needed to hear more and I asked Sheryl to write a post for us to discuss. Sadly, what Sheryl talks about here doesn’t just happen in high school and on college campuses. My granddaughter was only in third grade when she was disciplined by a teacher for defending her Christian faith to two girls who were bullying her at school. My granddaughter was the one  called out, not the other two girls.

Her teacher told her not to talk about Jesus again at school, and I told my granddaughter that teacher was out of line and together we looked at the Scriptures:

“For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes.” Romans 1:16

“So do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord or of me his prisoner. Rather, join with me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God.” 2 Timothy 1:8

“Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.” 1 Peter 3:15

As we focus on January as National Mentoring Month, are your children, grandchildren, and mentees ready to defend their faith or will they succumb to teachers or other kids’ taunts? I pray my book encourages parents, grandparents, and mentors to equip their children to stand for their faith when under attack. Are your kids, grandkids, mentees ready? Are you ready?

What a Difference a College Class Makes in a Christian Kid’s Life

By Sheryl Young

“So how was your first semester of college?”

“Mom, dad, I’m an atheist now.”

This dreaded conversation took place in the home of a friend of mine, but it’s happening throughout the United States today. It’s no wonder, with kids from Christian homes hearing the following statements almost as soon as they reach the college campus:

“There is no good reason to believe in Christ.”

“There is no logic or reason to Christianity.”

“You will not mention God in my classroom.”

It should be no secret to any Christian family today that colleges and universities have become a bastion of secularism and atheism. The atheist movement in academia is trying at every turn to move students away from a firm faith in Christ.

God’s Not Dead may be a movie with fictional characters such as a bitter atheist professor and few students with the courage to stand against him, but it is based on real-life events.

Make no mistake. Christian parents and grandparents are doing their children a great disservice by telling them that Christianity is just “because the Bible says so” or “because the pastor says so” or “because I say so.” It’s like sending them straight from grade school to college. It simply doesn’t hold any water in today’s culture.

1 Peter 3:15 says: “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.” (NIV). We don’t show respect for nonbelievers, or ourselves, when we haven’t researched the reasons for our faith. Having “blind faith” may be good inside churched walls, but it won’t be understood by outsiders: it’s foolishness to them (1 Corinthians 2:14).

Josh McDowell, a foremost expert comparing Christian with secular youth, says in The Last Christian Generation: “The majority of our churched young people do not believe Christ is the Son of God, do not believe the Holy Spirit is a real entity, and think ‘doing good’ earns them a place in Heaven.”

What do we expect when they get one hour of Sunday school or youth group, and eight hours in school where they’re taught “there’s no absolute truth” and the Bible isn’t acceptable?

Are We Exaggerating the “youth exodus” from Church?

No. Statistics in various studies show that 50 to 70 percent of American youth drop out of church and leave their Christian beliefs between the ages of 18 and 22. For example, in David Kinnaman’s 2011 book You Lost Me: Why Young Christians Are Leaving Church . . . and Rethinking Faith, he cites research showing nearly three out of every five young Christians disconnect from their churches after the age of 15. That’s nearly 70 percent.

The increasing number of atheist professors on college campuses is a direct connection to students losing faith. A study at George Mason University revealed that the percentage of professing atheists and agnostics among college professors is 26 percent higher than the general U.S. population. In addition, 51 percent of professors describe the Bible as “an ancient book of fables, legends, history and moral precepts,” while only 6 percent of college professors say the Bible is “the actual word of God.”

We’ve all heard the stories of Christmas song censorship, valedictorians forbidden to mention God, and football teams not allowed to have student-led prayer. Many school districts do not understand – or choose to ignore – the freedom of religion guaranteed by the First Amendment on school property, especially when it comes to Christianity. Christian students and faculty are having their rights and viewpoints trampled.

“Political correctness” isn’t limited to public education. Many private schools, even some in Christian denominations, now support the “valuing diversity” theme that makes allowances for those who do not hold to biblical principles.

Let’s hear it from the young people – how do they feel?

I [Sheryl Young] work with a ministry called Ratio Christi, and I thank Janet Thompson for letting me write here about this issue. Ratio Christi (“Reason of Christ” in Latin) is a nonprofit international campus ministry with over 150 chapters, which exist to encourage and strengthen the faith of Christian students through the use of intellectual investigation called “Christian apologetics” – learning the historical, scientific and philosophical evidence that gives logic, reason and credibility to our Christian faith when presenting it to others.

Curtis Hrischuk, the chapter director for Ratio Christi at North Carolina State University, says: “Most of the students we get are confused when they arrive at college. They’re realizing that they don’t have a strong basis for their faith, and they’re looking for help.”

Ratio Christi’s chapter leaders often hear from their Christian students that even throughout high school they didn’t receive a strong basis of theology to prepare them to face the secular pressure once they got to college. Many felt their church youth groups were all fun and games to keep them occupied, or automatically supposed that kids who came to church were already grounded in the faith and didn’t need much help. Some felt they could speak about deep Christian issues with their parents, and others didn’t.

Grant, a student from the University of Alabama says, “My youth group studied the Bible but (the teachers) pre-supposed that we accepted it as truth.”

Or Bentley from the University of Mississippi: “I was missing the historical, foundation principles and background of Christianity.  I felt it was extremely important to understand who God is, why I believe what I believe, and understand how to defend my faith against those who might try to disrupt it.”

Going back to McDowell’s The Last Christian Generation, he writes of his surveys:

  • Only 33 percent of churched youth said church would be part of their lives when they leave home.
  • 63 percent of them don’t believe Jesus is the only true way to God.
  • Only 6 percent of publicly schooled children now come away with a true belief in the Bible.

It cannot continue to be a church mantra, or a mantra in Christian homes, that our blind faith is enough. Not if we want our kids to keep their faith intact and be persuasive witnesses for Christianity later in life.

 Ratio Christi Can Help

RC Large Logo.jpg Ratio Christi (RC) students learn to present factual and philosophical evidence for God in classrooms led by atheist professors or to other groups of nonbelievers – and they often end up getting that opportunity. RC students and leaders invite atheists, agnostics, skeptics, and adherents to any religion to attend sessions and investigate the claims of Christianity in friendly discussions.

The nonprofit ministry’s president, Corey Miller, says, “Students who identify themselves as Christians at the beginning of college, with the rest of their lives and careers ahead of them, are under fierce attack and are leaving the Christian faith in alarming numbers.”

A Ratio Christi club member from the University of Virginia, Caitlin says, “If it weren’t for Ratio Christi, I’m not sure I would still be a Christian.” CaitlinBentley adds, “Ratio Christi has taught me how to converse with others about Christianity. It has helped me become more comfortable about being an evangelist of Christ to others.”

Here’s a student named Blake from a Ratio Christi high school-aged group preparing for college:

“Apologetics has given me compelling evidence for the existence of God, the reliability of the Bible, and so much more! I strongly believe that if it wasn’t for apologetics, I would not be as effective a witness for Christ.”

Home school groups, school teachers, clergy, church members, parents, grandparents, and concerned citizens are welcome to get involved with RC at all levels, from prayer to becoming RC mentors. Individuals and churches can “adopt a college” to help start a RC chapter if there  isn’t one at their nearest college. Parents might want to learn apologetics along with their kids so that there are no blank stares across the dinner table if a teen comes home excited about what they are discovering.

Learn more about how you can get involved with Ratio Christi, or find a college chapter. If a student can’t find an existing chapter at a college of their choice, or wants to find out how to get involved at the high school level, Contact Us. Young people are our future. Helping them know their Lord is the most rewarding thing I’ve ever done.

Sheryl Young is the Media Outreach Coordinator for Ratio Christi, and interviews many chapter students and leaders for RC’s national newsletter.

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United We Prevail, Divided We Fail

Anita and me at Crouch Community Church Women's Retreat

Anita and me at Crouch Community Church Women’s Retreat 2013

God has been talking to me this week about the need for unity in the body of Christ, especially as we face these uncertain times. With the daily assaults of world events, and the diversity of reactions and responses from believers, we come face to face with how Satan is using disunity to invade not just the world, but also the church. How the God who wrote that a house divided against itself cannot stand must be heartbroken as He watches His creation, His church . . . His world . . . crumble. As a body, we are quick to point out the failings of the “world” and the liberal agenda, but how closely do we look at the failings in the earthly world of Christ?

Satan is using the very morals and values the church was built on, recorded and upheld in the Bible, to successfully divide the church. It’s no longer only about music and pews or chairs that divide churches—as ridiculous as those issues seem to me—it’s about moral issues and the definition of sin. How did we get here? How did we let Satan implode the church? It was subtle and sly as he always is, but today there are many churches where it’s hard to tell the difference between them and the world.

Through the Eyes of Our Children and Grandchildren

Last Monday was grandparent’s night at AWANA’s, so my husband and I proudly accompanied 10-year old granddaughter Katelyn. She asked me to help her with these study verses in Acts 2:44-47:

44 All the believers were together and had everything in common. 45 They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. 46 Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, 47 praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.

As we answered together the questions about these verses describing the early church, I thought: This must seem so strange to Katelyn. She doesn’t see this happening in the church today. The answer is right here why there are not more people saved daily today. All believers do not have everything in common and they don’t enjoy the favor of all people watching them. Instead, we are ridiculed and not taken seriously by the world because often it’s hard to get two Christians to agree on the same topic.

We may look at the early church as utopia: a community that we all crave, but don’t believe is possible today. During those early days, the power of God overcame the selfish individuality of people united in awe of God. What happened?

Chris Tiegreen answers that question in The One Year Devotional:

“Spirit-filled fellowships turn into institutions, with all the baggage institutions seem to require. Personal agendas and concerns begin to rival one another, and eventually fellowship is corrupted or even broken. The body of Christ becomes a collection of churchgoers, and instead of one heart and mind, there are many.”

His antidote:

“Drop the personal agenda. Fill your days and nights with overflowing praise, letting the character and work of God become your obsession. Encourage others to do the same. Churches unite when they can focus on a single goal.”

That single Goal: Jesus.

If we focus on our differences, our focus is on each other. If we focus on unity, our focus is on God!

This morning in my Quiet Time, as I studied John 13-17, the author of my Walk Thru the Bible Devotional asked: What’s the difference between union and unity? Take a dog and a cat, tie their tails together, and hang them over a clothesline. The result will be union, but not unity!

Christians too often experience union without unity in the body of Christ: church fights and splits prove that unity is not automatic in the church. Throw out a spiritual or moral question on Facebook and watch Christians differ.

I wrote an article for Crosswalk.com “What the Divorced Christian Wants You to Know” and I was appalled to read how churches have treated their own. One person even responded that Christians are the only ones who condemn their own. Another was from a former Muslim, who had converted to Christianity and was ostracized from her Christian church because she was divorced. I read the comments with tears for the many Christians who do not understand, or have not experienced, confession, repentance, forgiveness, and grace. This blog was reposted @ IBelieve.com and the comments there from hurting divorced Christian women broke my heart.

Today’s blog is not about divorce, but you can read my articles and the comments if you choose.

“When the Bible speaks about church unity, it speaks of unity not at the expense of truth, but on the basis of it.”—Daily Walk

How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity! Psalm 133:1

“It [unity] turns a common gathering into a priestly community, able to communicate God to humanity and vice versa. It [unity] points to His character for those who don’t know Him and it confirms His presence among those who do. Unity is the best evidence that God is living, active, and where the fellowship is.

God desires our unity because our unity shows the world who He is and how He works. If we don’t have it, they won’t know Him.—Chris Tiegreen

Do you still think unity is Utopian? I don’t. I witnessed unity among diverse faiths just yesterday. The Mormon Church in our little mountain community hosted a women’s Christmas luncheon and invited women of the community from all faiths, and those with no particular faith. For the fourth year, since I’ve lived here, I’ve attended at the invitation of my sweet Mormon neighbor, Anita, who also attends our church women’s retreats and events. As I looked around the room yesterday, I saw that over half the women there were from my church! The theme was Christmas from Different Cultures, and various women shared the traditions they grew up with, including a Dutch woman from my church.

We sang Silent Night together in different languages. We listened to “Mary Did You Know.” We prayed together. We ate amazing food from different cultures together. And we celebrated the birth of Jesus in united fellowship together. My Dutch Christian friend, along with a Mormon woman, each gave a testimony of how amazing and Christ-like this gathering was that even with different theologies, we could meet as women of the community in fellowship and unity. What a witness to any unbelievers!

Next Friday, our church will do the same with a Women’s Christmas Dinner inviting all the women of the community. There will be women from the Catholic Church, Calvary Church, Mormon Church, Seventh-Day Adventist Church, gay couples, unbelievers, unchurched neighbors, seekers, friends, and family. They’ll eat together, enjoy a gospel message, which I was honored to give my first year here and last year, talk, sing carols, watch a puppet presentation, and show the world that while we may have our differences, one unifying message will prevail: Christ was born on Christmas Day to offer forgiveness and salvation to a lost world!

How are you bringing unity into your community?

And how will it be a witness to the world?

How else will the world know Jesus?

Jesus prayed:

My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, 21 that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22 I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one— 23 I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.—John 17: 20-23

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As I was finishing this blog, I took a lunch break and was scrolling down on Facebook, and came across a post by Barbara Faber Kopitzke @ www.facebook.com/GodsWordinEverydayLife, which had been shared by one of my Facebook friends. I almost choked on my turkey sandwich as I saw that God had prompted Barbara, who I did not know, to write on the same topic I was writing on here. Yet another confirmation from God that in the face of the evil we see in the world, we must stand strong and united as one body in Christ. I asked Barbara if I could share her post and so I will leave you with her very well stated words and the picture she used. You will want to follow Barbara for more posts and articles.

Repairers of the Church Breach! By Barbara Faber Kopitzke

broken churchWe are so much better unified. The things that separate us are very often minor compared to the bigger issues we face in this world. The very thing that should bring us together, being the Church Body, is what separates us. Church walls aren’t meant to divide one segment of the Body from another, but they very often do.

Imagine the results if the physical church building we each attend was crumbled and scattered, the way the spiritual Church Body often is: one stone here, one brick there.

Refuse to be a separator: be the glue which unifies. One group prays this way, another prays that way, one worships this way, another worships that way. The important thing is not that we do it differently, but that we both believe there’s a need to lift prayer to God, and we do it!

One focuses on evangelism, the other on prophecy. One meets in a house, the other in a building. Thank you, God, that Your Body is fully operational, each specializing in the gifts You’ve given them to use for Your glory!

Forgive, let go of hurts, and know that many have been damaged and have damaged; you are not the only one. But God is the Restorer and Repairer, He is willing and able to close the gap and repair the breach! We are His instruments of repair and restoration – let Him use you for this purpose! If God can forgive them, so can you – this is the beginning of repairs and restoration!

Hold nothing against the Church down the road; love and be loved, there is power in this!

Amen!

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Love Your Body—Don’t Drink Alcohol

Love Your Body Like God Loves It

Love Your Body Like God Loves It

 

I know this isn’t going to be a popular post for some of you, but as Christians taking care of this temple of a body God has given us, I feel we need to talk about it on our Love Your Body Monday. If you start to get defensive while reading this blog, ask yourself: “Why can’t I give up alcohol?”

I don’t drink. There was a time in my backsliding years when I did drink, and I can tell you for certain no one could ever convince me to go back to those dark days. Alcohol is a “socially acceptable” drug that is high in calories, expensive, hard on your body, and results in distinct changes in your personality and actions, lowers your inhibitions, and is an inexcusably horrific and often deadly role model for the next generation.

When I read Wikipedia’s definition of alcohol, I have to ask myself why any Christian would want to spend their money, calories, reputation, brain cells, and witness on this drug—

An alcoholic beverage is a drink which contains a substantial amount of the psychoactive drug ethanol (informally called alcohol). As one of the most widely used recreational drugs in the world, such drinks have an important social role in most cultures. Because of their potential for abuse, almost all countries have laws regulating their production, sale, and consumption. Some countries ban such activities entirely. The global alcoholic beverages industry exceeded $1 trillion in 2014.

Let me further define psychoactive drugs. I don’t think it’s what God had in mind when he told us to purposely renew our minds and run from worldly pleasures:

A psychoactive drug, psychopharmaceutical, or psychotropic is any chemical substance that changes brain function and results in alterations in perception, mood, or consciousness. These substances may be used recreationally, to purposefully alter one’s consciousness.

Parents and Grandparents The Children in Your Family are Watching You!

I’m most concerned about the parents and grandparents who drink and role model—yes mentor—drinking alcohol to their children and grandchildren in what should be a safe place for children, their home. Children are drinking at earlier and earlier ages and where do they first see it consumed? 99% of the time, it’s in their own homes. If you’re a parent who drinks, you have to take full responsibility if your child starts drinking. I’m not saying they won’t drink if you don’t drink, but at least you’re not leading, enabling, and displaying to them that it’s acceptable.

Mariel Hemingway,, actress and granddaughter of Ernest Hemingway, said in an interview: “What I DO know is that my father drank, and when he drank he changed. And I watched it with both my parents. I watched it with my sisters. By the fourth glass of wine they were not the same people … there was a darkness that had sort of overcome them.”

Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. Then they can urge the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God. Titus 2:3-5

Here’s an alarming trend amongst mommies…It’s called…

Moms Who Need____________

How would you fill in that blank?

Whatever you put in the blank—a rest, a break, a nap, love, peace, quiet—if you fill it in with “Jesus” and His Word, He’ll help you with all He knows you need.

Moms Who Need The Lord and His Word would be the right answer.

But I was saddened to learn that over 707,872 moms fill in the blank, and fill-up their glasses, with “Wine.” Yes, the “Moms Who Need Wine” Facebook page has that many “likes”. They also have a website that sells T-shirts, sweatshirts, tote bags, and water bottles with their logo (picture below) and, of course, sell wine by the case.

drunk mommies

“Moms Who Need Wine” Facebook profile picture and logo

The premise of this group is that they can’t get through a day of mothering without drinking. Does that alarm you as much as it does me? These are moms who are responsible for infants, toddlers, kids, neighbor’s kids, your kids, carpools, driving with innocent children in the backseat. No one can dispute that alcohol impairs all your faculties, and yet, these moms laugh and cavort on Facebook about their drinking while mothering like a group of barroom drunks.

Kids Play, Mommies Drink

Playdate with wine

Play date “snacks” from the “Moms Who Need Wine” Facebook page

These wine-drinking mommies aren’t hanging out in bars…they’re changing diapers, vacuuming, cooking, driving cars, pushing strollers, helping at school, and meeting at play dates to share a bottle of wine, referred to as “mommy juice”. Maybe some of them are your friends or neighbors…maybe one is you….

Mommies Beware—You’re Being Targeted

Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour.”—1 Peter 5:8 NLT

A Times Magazine article titled “Mother’s Liquid Helper. Raising children? Raise a glass!” reported that wineries are marketing directly to moms of young kids. “Chateau Ste. Michelle in Washington has begun a Facebook campaign asking women to customize an equation to sum up what makes them want a glass. (“Me + a glass of wine – juice boxes + quiet time for 15 minutes = My Chateau.”) The ads tagline: ‘It’s where you become you again’—will run in places women go when they’re stressed out about taking care of their family, including Food Network Magazine, parents.com, and Rachael Ray’s website”.

Clos LaChance Winery has a “MommyJuice line, and another winery calls their mommy-targeted wine, “Mommy’s Time Out.

When I spoke on this alarming trend at a retreat recently, a young woman came up to me afterwards thanking me for taking on this challenging topic. She said she was an ER Nurse and had recently seen three young mothers die because of cirrhosis of the liver caused by alcoholism. Stefanie Wilder-Taylor, who championed this mommy-drinking trend with her blog and best sellers Naptime Is the New Happy Hour and Sippy Cups Are Not for Chardonnay, eventually had to admit she had a drinking problem, and quit.

Sobering Topic

I’m not judging whether someone chooses to drink alcohol, but if you care about your health, your body, your witness, your children, your grandchildren, your finances, possibly your life … I am questioning the when and the why.

“Wine is a mocker and beer a brawler; whoever is led astray by them is not wise.” Proverbs 20:21

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What’s Your Story?

Little girl praying

As many of you know, I’ve been writing the past three months on a new book which will be out March, 2016, How Good is God? I Can’t Remember … Creating a Culture of Memories.  I hope you’ve enjoyed all the guests who have enriched this blog with posts on many varied topics. I’m blessed to have so many talented and gifted author friends and I know you enjoy hearing from them.

I was surprised when several people asked me if I thought this would be my last book? I wasn’t sure why they would ask that except for the fact that we were under great spiritual attack and duress while I wrote on a topic that the enemy hates–remembering God in a culture that is quickly forgetting God.

But that would never stop me from writing and speaking for the Lord, until the day He decides to take me home. My ministry is About His Work Ministries and I plan on being about His work until my last breath. So it might not surprise you that I’m gearing up for the next book. I gave you a glimpse into it several months ago when I asked for stories, but I switched plans when the How Good is God? book had such a short deadline. So now I’m back to the mentoring book and I need your stories.

Do You Have a Mentoring Story?

If you follow me, you know that my passion is mentoring—Sharing Life’s Experiences and God’s faithfulness. Since I wrote Woman to Woman Mentoring: How to Start, Grow, and Maintain a Mentoring Ministry in 1997, God has been starting mentoring ministries in churches all over the world, and mentors and mentees (M&M’s) have been experiencing the blessings of mentoring.

Over the years, many ministry leaders have sent me stories about starting the Woman to Woman Mentoring Ministry, and many M&M’s have sent me their stories too; but I also know there are many untold stories that would bless my readers. Will you help me write this book?

I Need Your Help

The working title is Mentoring for All Seasons: Sharing Life’s Experiences and God’s Faithfulness. Here’s what I could use:

  1. What would you want to read about in a mentoring book about the seasons of a woman’s life?
  2. What would encourage you to be a mentor or mentee?
  3. If you’ve been in a mentoring relationship—either as a mentor or mentee or both—would you tell me your story? Even if it didn’t go like you planned.

If you would like to share your story, please leave a comment and how to contact you. Or go to the contact page on this website and leave me a message with your email address and I’ll give you more details.

Generation to Generation

FullSizeRender-2My 9-year-old granddaughter Katelyn asked if she could have one of my books for Easter, which made my heart swell with joy. I decided she was not too young for us to do a Bible study together, so I gave her Face-to-Face with Mary and Martha: Sisters in Christ.

An important aspect of remembering God, is helping the next generation know God. It’s our job description as Christian men and women!

Together we can reach, encourage, and teach what we’ve been taught to the next generation.

 Your job is to speak out on the things that make for solid doctrine. Guide older men into lives of temperance, dignity, and wisdom, into healthy faith, love, and endurance. Guide older women into lives of reverence so they end up as neither gossips nor drunks, but models of goodness. By looking at them, the younger women will know how to love their husbands and children, be virtuous and pure, keep a good house, be good wives. We don’t want anyone looking down on God’s Message because of their behavior. Also, guide the young men to live disciplined lives.

Titus 2:1-6. The Message

 

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Celebrate CHRISTmas with a Birthday Party for Jesus!

Christmas tree 2013

Our Christmas Tree

I posted the above picture on my Facebook timeline and received many questions about the Birthday Bag for Jesus in front of the Christmas tree. At our house, that Birthday Bag is a reminder that we are celebrating the birthday of Jesus.

A Christmas Party with Purpose

The tradition of celebrating Jesus’ birthday at Christmas started early in our marriage. Since our anniversary is December 19th (22 years this year!), it’s already a packed month for us, but we knew the Lord was prompting us to throw Jesus a party, and so we did. The first year, we invited a few family and friends and had the kids attending act out the manger scene which we set up in our backyard (you can do that in Southern California in December LOL). We had a birthday cake with candles and gave everyone a party favor that represented the true meaning of Christmas.

The highlight of the party was the Birthday Bag. We made “birthday” cards on the computer and gave everyone a card as they came through the front door. The heading on the card had the date, Happy Birthday Jesus, and “This year I give Jesus….” They were advised to think about what they would like to give Jesus as a gift . . . maybe more of their time, or energy, or money . . . and then write it on the card. Perhaps getting involved in a ministry, or spending more time with family and less time at work would be his or her gift.

They could sign the card or leave it anonymous and place it in the birthday bag. On Christmas Eve, our family read the gifts and prayed that each gift giver would stay true to their intent.

An Annual Event

As the years went by, the party grew larger and larger. People heard about it and wanted to come, and those who had attended in previous years started expecting it each year. It also became an outreach as we invited neighbors and unchurched friends. One year, we had someone offer to take pictures of guests in front of the manger scene and then we gave them a printed picture. Our Birthday Party for Jesus became the highlight of many people’s Christmas season.

We have since moved to a rural area, and while we don’t have the Birthday Party, we do have the Birthday Bag under the tree with the “birthday gift cards” and guests to our home are invited to give Jesus their gifts. We also have a manger scene that our grandkids enjoy acting out the first Christmas, and on Christmas Day, we have cupcakes or a birthday cake and sing Happy Birthday to Jesus.

Our Idaho Manger scene

Our Idaho Manger scene

Below are some tips for throwing your own Birthday Party for Jesus and setting up a simple manger scene in your home.

Throw A Birthday Party for Jesus!

Keep it simple so you don’t get overwhelmed and invite friends and family to help.

For the manger scene:

  •     Buy hay at an animal feed store
  •     Use a barrel, box, large pot, wash basin, basket…for the “bed” and cover it in hay
  •     Wrap a lifelike baby doll in a baby blanket and place on the hay
  •     You can add lights or small artificial Christmas trees
  •     Hang a paper star over the manager
  •     Put stuffed animal sheep and donkeys around the manger

Let the children act out the manger scene and Christmas story.

  •     Shepherds and Joseph: Use large bath towels and cloth ties to wrap on their head,
  •     Wise Men: Drape colorful pieces of material around their heads and adhere with cloth ties.
  •     Mary: Take an old sheet, cut a hole to go over her head, and cinch at waist with a tie. Drape another piece of sheet over her hair.
  •     Angel: Again a white sheet works great with gold ties.
  •     Have enough towels, ties, and pieces of material for every child who wants to participate.
  •     Have someone read the story from Luke 1:26-38 and 2:1-20 as the children act it out.
  •     Sing several Christmas carols the children will know.

Here is a short video of my grandchildren acting out the first Christmas. As we started having grandkids, I bought Christmas costumes for them. I highly recommend Little Adventures Nativity Costumes…they’ve lasted well through all my grandkids!

Keep Food simple!

Serve finger foods so you don’t need silverware (use plastic if you do use it). If people want to bring something simply say “Sweet or sour finger food please.” That way you get a variety.

  •     Can also purchase a 5-6 ft Subway sandwich
  •     Birthday Paper plates, cups, and napkins
  •     Punch and hot cider, hot chocolate, and coffee
  •     Put candles in cupcakes or have a decorated birthday cake

Invitations, Favors and Birthday Cards for Jesus

  • Use Birthday invitations or make your own on Christmas stationary, and mail or  send out online. Be sure to give your kids a stack to give to their friends.
  • I found Christian, inexpensive party favors at Oriental Trading Company or you can check at a party store or Christianbook.com. Be sure the favors relate to the theme of the party. One year we gave everyone a small battery operated “flame” with the theme of the light of the world being born on Christmas.
  • For the Birthday Cards to give a gift to Jesus, design them on the computer and then print four to a page on cardstock. Or use Christmas stationary or we’ve even found birthday cards with four to a page and we can print “Happy Birthday Jesus! My gift to you this year is:” and the guests write out their gift to Jesus. Be creative!

IMG_0413Gift to Jesus Birthday Cards

  • Decorate with birthday balloons and I found a flag to fly in front of our home.

IMG_20141206_115246

The most important thing about the party is to remember the Guest of Honor. Have a joyous fun time doing everything to the glory of God. Be ready because your guests are going to want you to do this again next year too!

Many people tell me they did similar things when their children were little, but we never grow too old to have a birthday party, right! I would love to hear about your Birthday Party for Jesus or creative ideas for the party. Please share in the comments for everyone to enjoy.

And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 18:3

 

 

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Calling all Grandparents!

Grandparents Day of Prayer September 7, 2014

Grandparents Day of Prayer September 7, 2014

 

 My husband and I are the proud grandparents of 11 grandchildren, who are spread all over the United States. We make the rounds at least once a year to see them all, but even though I can’t be with them face-to-face on a regular basis, I do come face-to-face with the Lord daily praying for these special gifts He has blessed us with as grandparents.

I can think of no better way to celebrate Grandparents Day, September 7, 2014, then to join other grandparents in the nation standing in the gap and devoting the day to praying for our grandchildren. Following is a guest post from my dear friend Lillian Penner, the National Prayer Coordinator for Christian Grandparenting Network.

By Lillian Penner–

If you believe in the power of prayer, join grandparents throughout the world in making National Grandparents Day on September 7, 2014 a Day of Prayer for our grandchildren.

Today our nation is under attack like never before educationally, socially, financially and spiritually. Christianity is under assault and parents and grandparents are involved in a tug of war for the hearts and minds of their children.

A Spiritual Battle for the Souls of Our Grandchildren

Our grandchildren live in a desperate moral and spiritual climate while navigating in a world hostile to truth. Satan has launched an aggressive attack on our families, schools, and our nation to desensitize our children to truth and righteousness. Perhaps at no other time in our history is a call to prayer more urgently needed than it is today.

Many years ago, Queen Esther stood in the gap for her people, the Jews, when their physical lives were threatened. In our day, grandparents can stand in the gap for the spiritual lives of their grandchildren just as Esther did.

Cavin Harper, Executive Director of Christian Grandparenting Network (CGN) says in his book, Courageous Grandparenting, “Builders and Boomer generations represent the majority of today’s grandparents. There are nearly eighty million of us. Yet on our watch we have stood by in silence and allowed the Father of lies to inject his venom into our culture, hardening men’s hearts to the truth.”

The Power of Prayer

However, grandparents who believe in the power of prayer can pray that their grandchildren will not become casualties of falling captive to the enemy’s deception. We are engaged in a spiritual battle that requires prayer as the weapon. As grandparents, we have an opportunity to imprint another generation with His love and faithfulness.

When Nehemiah faced opposition in building the wall in Jerusalem, he told the people, “Don’t be afraid of them, Remember the Lord, who is great and awesome, and fight for your brothers, sons, and your daughters, your wives and your homes” (Nehemiah 4:14). Just as Nehemiah asked the people to fight for their families, we as grandparents need to use our prayers to fight the opposition from the enemy our grandchildren face today.

Unite with Grandparents Around the World

Over the last three years, thousands of grandparents have united in prayer on the National Grandparents Day in September and made it a Day of Prayer for their families. Again, CGN invites you to be a part of this movement to intentionally pray for our grandchildren, our families, and our world making it a Grandparents’ Day of Prayer (GDOP).

In addition, we are also looking for volunteers who will take the lead to organize an event calling grandparents to join in prayer on September 7. This event could be in your church,  your home, a retirement complex, or any meeting location you choose. CGN will provide step-by-step guidelines, resources, and online tools to help you create a successful event that will engage grandparents in prayer for your event.

Will you accept the challenge to join grandparents throughout the world to unite in prayer on September 7 for their grandchildren?

Check out our website for blogs, endorsements, testimonials and promotional materials and free downloads.www.grandparentsdayofprayer.com

For additional information, contact Lillian Penner, Nat’l Prayer Coordinator for CGN lpenner@christiangrandparenting.net.

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What is Your Apology Language?

 Sienna's graduation day from Kindergarten

“I hear you, but I don’t know what you said . . .”

That was the response from 5-year-old granddaughter Sienna after I had given her and her two older siblings three things to remember about going to the pool that day. When I asked them each to repeat back to me what I said, Sienna couldn’t remember. Finally, she cried out the above statement.

An “ah ha” moment for me.

Flashing before my eyes were all the frustrated conversations I had had with my husband when he couldn’t remember something I had said. I would say, “You don’t listen to me.” To which he would respond, “I am listening to you. I hear you.” There we would be at a standstill . . . . if he heard me, why didn’t he know what I said?

Then little Sienna put it all in perspective—I wasn’t speaking his or her “language.” I wasn’t saying things in a way that resonated with them, so they had no idea what I said.

5 Love Languages

As I’ve said in earlier posts, Dr. Gary Chapman, author of the bestseller 5 Love Languages, was our speaker for the Love Song Couples Getaway. You are probably familiar with his conclusions that we all have a love language and we typically love others in the “language” that speaks to us. They are:
1. Words of affirmation
2. Gifts
3. Acts of service
4. Quality time
5. Physical touch

He commented that usually a husband and wife have different love languages or “dialects,” and it’s important we learn to speak the language of our spouse. My love language is acts of service, and my husband’s is physical touch. So if I hold his hand while we’re walking somewhere or when we’re sitting next to each other, he feels loved and happy. If he sees things that need fixing around the house and fixes them without me asking or reminding him, I feel loved and cherished.

Interestingly, our children and teenagers all have a love language too, and it’s vital that parents learn what makes their children feel loved. Not speaking their love language can lead to a rebellious teen.

For more information, and to take a test to determine your love language, go to Dr. Chapman’s website.

5 Apology Languages

New to me was Dr. Chapman’s discovery that people apologize five basic ways. We all have an “apology language” which makes us feel the apology is sincere. If you don’t apologize in the language that speaks to me, there’s a good chance I’ll have trouble believing that you really mean it.

Here they are:
1. Expressing regret: “I’m sorry that I . . . .” Note that just saying, “I’m sorry” is not enough. These people need to hear what you are sorry for, and for goodness sake, don’t follow it with “but . . . .”
2. Accepting responsibility: “I was wrong . . . .”
3. Offering to make restitution: “What can I do to make this right?”
4. Genuinely repenting or desire to change: “I don’t like what I just did. I don’t want it to keep happening.”
5. Requesting forgiveness: “Will you forgive me?” If you want to communicate a sincere apology that the other person receives well, you have to learn the other person’s apology language.

What is Your Apology Language?

If you don’t know what speaks to you as a sincere apology allowing you to forgive, Dr. Chapman said to ask yourself these three questions:
1. When I apologize, what do I typically say or do?
2. What hurts me most deeply about this situation? Why am I having trouble forgiving? This person needs #4, a repentance apology because they feel like someone is saying just they’re sorry, but keep on offending.
3. What could they say, or do, that would make it easier for me to forgive them?

If You’re Married . . .

Pastor Rick on couples forgivingPastor Rick Warren at Saddleback Church

In my Bible study, Face-to-Face with Euodia and Syntyche: From Conflict to Community, I discuss forgiveness myths that often keep us from receiving the peace that comes from forgiving someone, whether or not they apologize.

EuodiaSyntycheCover72dpi1-200x300

 

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Share the Good News of Easter

Cowboy Easter Breakfast

Traditionally, Christmas and Easter are the two occasions when people who don’t normally attend church will put on their best clothes and go to church. Or maybe a neighbor or family member has invited them to attend and they feel obligated. Whatever the reason, it’s always a good thing when people hear about the birth, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. For some, this might be the year the gospel message resonates in their hearts and minds—they stop resisting the call to become a follower of Jesus.

Invite Someone to Church on Easter

We don’t know when or where conversions will take place so that’s why we need to continue offering everyone an opportunity to receive Christ’s invitation. Maybe your heart has become hardened by the rejection of numerous invitations to attend church with you—don’t let that happen. Don’t give up. You never know when God has planned for them to say, “Yes”!

Plan an Outreach Event

How about having an outreach Easter breakfast, or picnic or brunch or street BBQ in your neighborhood! During conversations, be open with why you celebrate Easter and what it means to you. Be prepared to answer questions.

Our church hosts a Cowboy Easter Breakfast down by the river behind our church. People in the community attend from every walk-of-life and every faith. It’s a great time of eating breakfast and drinking coffee around the campfires and there’s always a gospel message and testimonies.

Two years ago, when we had only lived here a year, I was asked to be the Cowboy Breakfast speaker. I felt humbled, hesitant, and excited. I said I would have to pray and know that God really wanted me to do this.

The awesome thing about living the Christian life is that when we pray, God answers—maybe through reading the Bible, or a sermon, or song, or even movies or TV. This time He used the big screen. We were at our kids’ church, The Pursuit in Meridian, worshipping and singing when they put Acts 20:24 on the screen:

 But my life is worth nothing to me unless I use it for finishing the work assigned me by the Lord Jesus—the work of telling others the Good News about the wonderful grace of God. Acts 20:24 (NLT)

Since my writing and speaking ministry is About His Work Ministries, I knew this was a message from the Lord assuring me that my work was to tell the Gospel story and the Good News that JESUS IS ALIVE! I also knew that there would be many unbelievers at the breakfast and God was giving me an opportunity to be a bold evangelist.

Let Your Children Participate

Encourage your children and grandchildren to invited unchurched friends to go to Sunday School with them on Easter and to come to your outreach event.

When I spoke at the Cowboy Breakfast, my then 6-year-old granddaughter Katelyn shared the microphone with me to recite John 3:16. I was so proud of her! Just this week she told me, “Grammie, I want to share John 3:16 at the Cowboy Breakfast again.” Could we be grooming the next family evangelist? Grammie-Katelyn-Cowboy-642x250

God blessed Katelyn and me with a boldness that morning to share the Gospel. Here’s what one attendee remarked:

I wanted to let you know how much I appreciated your message at the Cowboy Breakfast. It was clearly presented and probably the best explanation that I have heard so that people are not confused about making a commitment to Christ. So often people are afraid to say what is needed because they are concerned about offending their audience. It was import that you were clear on what sin is and how to make a personal commitment. I also received feedback from members of our Vineyard Home Study Group that were pleased that the truth could be so clearly spoken.Thanks again for the time and effort that you put into preparation for those who needed to hear this message.

Share Your Testimony

Last year at the Cowboy Breakfast, my husband Dave shared his testimony of turning from a self-motivated man to a man solely motivated by Christ. IMG_4102

Who needs to hear this Easter what Christ has done for you and can do for them?

Cowboy Easter Sunday Mornin’—Rod Nichols

On an Easter Sunday mornin’
‘fore the sun has yet to rise,
the roundup crew will gather ’round
to await the newborn sky.

It’s a cowboy sunrise service
neath the purple, gray and gold,
in remem’brance of a story,
that’s the greatest ever told.


Someone may say a word or two
in a simple, cowboy prayer.
Another hand may lead a hymn
for the boys still kneelin’ there.


Then the sun will climb toward heaven
from below the eastern range,
like the Lord’s ascent in glory
as it lights the darkened  plain.

When the service, then, has ended,
and the day has been reborn,
each man will know the gift of life,
on an Easter Sunday morn.

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