Mentoring Can Change the World: Starting with Our Children

Last week, my eleven-year-old granddaughter and her friend were here to participate in a kids’ Drama Camp at our local outdoor theater. Both girls are baptized Christian tweens, at a perfect age for mentoring as they enter into middle school this year. We’ve been doing my Bible study Face-to-Face with Mary and Martha: Sisters in Christ together via SKYPE, or in person, for quite a while. We’ve had lots of discussions where I help them use Scripture from their Bibles to apply to their young lives. They have so many questions and are at a crossroads between not little girls, but not grown ups either. As tweens, they’re soon going to have more freedoms to make decisions—but not the wisdom that comes with maturity.

Every parent has heard the excuse, “But everyone else is doing it.” I remember my parents saying something like, “If everyone jumped off a cliff would you too?” Sadly, today many kids and adults are jumping off the moral and spiritual cliff to fit in with the culture, or they’re afraid to express beliefs that differ from the worldview.

Even children are bullied for supporting America’s president when their accosters usually don’t even understand why they’re reacting so violently. Where do these young bullies learn this reaction? Television, the internet . . . perhaps parents, grandparents, or even teachers?

I watched an interview of high school kids encouraged by their teachers to ditch school and participate in a protest march. Those kids had no clue why they were marching or what they were protesting?! They weren’t trying to change the world; they were being changed by a worldview they didn’t really understand.

We may want to pull the covers over our head and ignore the unrest in the world. But the parting words Jesus gave to His disciples regarding Christians’ place in the world, the Great Commission, reminds us there’s work to do, starting with our children.

Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matthew 28:18-20

However, the last page in the Bible also foretells that the world will always have good and evil.

Let the one who does wrong continue to do wrong; let the vile person continue to be vile; let the one who does right continue to do right; and let the holy person continue to be holy.” Revelations 22:11

We all want our children and grandchildren knowing and doing what is right and holy, even when their peers encourage them to do wrong and vile acts! Parents and grandparents are the ones responsible for teaching and instilling these virtues. We cannot rely on the schools, and sometimes not even our churches.

The important thing is to help them not grow weary or discouraged doing good. Some things have helped me be a world change agent, while not letting the world change me. Maybe these will help you too in guiding and mentoring your children or young mentees.

Use the Word of God and Help Your Children Learn Scripture from Their Own Bible

For the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires. Hebrews 4:12 NLT

Teach them to paraphrase if they need to, but God’s Word applies to every area of life in every century (Heb. 13:8). Jesus used Scripture when tempted by Satan in the desert and taught the disciples to pray “And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one” (Matt. 6:13). Help them memorize Scriptures to resist temptation. My granddaughter’s friend said her Dad is teaching her Psalm 23 for when she’s afraid.

Stay Civil and Polite But Stay Firm in Your Convictions

But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. 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, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander. 1 Peter 3:15-16

Satan is the ruler of this world, so those caught up in the world’s cults, atheism, alternate belief systems or lifestyles, feel compelled to challenge us for our faith in Christ, and they have devised a myriad of unkind words to call us. The hurt runs deep when it’s aimed at our Lord and Savior. So our first impulse is to engage in a debate. If you’ve ever tried arguing or reasoning with someone blinded by the world’s belief system, you know it’s usually futile. I mentor my granddaughter that her best answer is “This is what I believe because the Bible (or God or Jesus) tells me so.”

Other times, believers fall into the same trap the serpent used with Eve when someone asks them, “Did God really say…?” Simply say, “Yes He did, and I’ll find the Scripture for you.” Jesus didn’t come to sanctify the world’s ways, He came to save the world from its ways.

The World is In Darkness So Let Your Light Shine

Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. John 3:18-20

In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven. Matthew 5:16

The world loves darkness. Yet into this dark world came Jesus, the Light of the world, and He has hidden His light in each believer’s heart. Our light must shine brightly, no flickering. When we enter a room, a social media conversation, a family or friendly gathering, work, play, school, as parents, grandparents, employers, employees, kids . . . wherever life takes us . . . our light shines, even if we’re the only light for Jesus. “This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine!”

“If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you.” John 15:18-19

We are living in a lost world that is loudly anti-God and anti-Christian and influencing the next generation. We can’t be quiet. Our job as Christians is to be world-changers for Christ. We must worry more about what God thinks about us than what the world thinks. Our job is to put God back in the public square and reach the world with the love of Christ. It may be hard for kids to get this point, but they do need to know that there will be people who won’t like you for not agreeing to do the wrong thing. They may try to bully, dare, entice, make you feel bad, but that’s just because you doing the right thing convicts them for doing the wrong thing.

Don’t Give Up!

My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world. For them I sanctify myself, that they too may be truly sanctified. “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. John 17:15-21

We’ll never have a perfect world until Jesus returns, but as long as we have breath, we’re saved to make a difference in the world. Start your children young believing this means them too! Maybe it’s their friends, sports coaches, unsaved relatives…teach them to pray. Here’s a prayer to start with:

Dear Lord, though the world does not know you, I___________ know you, and I pray that you will let the world know that you have sent me as your servant. Help me make you known to a lost world and I will continue to make you known where you put me so that the love you have for me may be in them also. Thank you for sending your Son Jesus to live in my heart. Amen. John 17:25-26 personalized and paraphrased as a prayer.

Just a reminder that my new release Mentoring for All Seasons: Sharing Life Experiences and God’s Faithfulness has helps, tips, encouragement from Scripture for mentors and mentees from tweens to twilight seasons. It’s available for sale now. If you would like to participate in the Prayer and Launch Team to help spread the message of this book from coast to coast, woman to woman, contact Janet ASAP.

Look for in Christian Bookstore and on

Amazon or Kindle

Or

Signed by the Author

Author Bio

Janet Thompson is an international speaker, freelance editor, and award-winning author of 19 books. Her latest release is Mentoring for All Seasons: Sharing Life Experiences and God’s Faithfulness. (September 12, 2017)

She is also the author of Forsaken God?: Remembering the Goodness of God Our Culture Has Forgotten; The Team That Jesus Built; Dear God, Why Can’t I Have a Baby?; Dear God They Say It’s Cancer; Dear God, He’s Home!; Praying for Your Prodigal Daughter; Face-to-Face Bible study Series; and Woman to Woman Mentoring: How to Start, Grow, & Maintain a Mentoring Ministry Resources.

She is the founder of Woman to Woman Mentoring and About His Work Ministries.

Visit Janet and sign up for her Monday Morning blog and online newsletter at womantowomanmentoring.com

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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.

Visit Lillian

Left for College a Christian, Returned an Atheist

 

First RC College Pre Group of High Schoolers

First RC College Prep Group of High Schoolers

  In my book Forsaken God?: Remembering the Goodness of God Our Culture Has Forgotten, 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.

With the influx of liberal professors on college campuses, it’s vital that parents know about the mentioning ministry Ratio Christi.

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.

 Sadly, this 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

In my new book releasing September 12, Mentoring for All Seasons: Sharing Life Experiences and God’s Faithfulness I stress the importance of tweens and college age children and young adults having a mentor so they are ready to defend their faith and not succumb to teachers or other kids’ pressure when their faith is under attack. Statistics are alarming of the number of kids who went to church faithfully while home, but stopped going to church once they went to college.

Sheryl Young is one of the national leaders of Ration Christi and she shares with you what parents can do to help their children stay strong in their faith.

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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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.

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.

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How to Share the Easter Message with Your Children & Grandchildren

 Kathy Howard Easter 1969

Kathy Howard with her father and brother, Easter 1969

In preparation for Easter, I’m sharing this post written by my dear friend and fellow author, Kathy Howard. She has some great ideas and projects for helping our families remember the real reason for Easter, beyond the Easter baskets and brunch…

Easter Memories

Rich memories of childhood Easters keep popping up in my mind. I can still feel the cold metal of the folding chair as I sat with my family in the church parking lot waiting for the first rays of the sun to make their appearance. And with the sun, the somber notes of “low in the grave He lay…” became the joyous thunder of “up from the grave He arose (He arose), with a mighty triumph o’er His foes.” After prayer and singing, everyone escaped the chilly air and enjoyed pancakes and sausage in the church fellowship hall.

Recently, I’ve been thinking about the impact Easter had on me as a child. I also have wonderful memories of Christmas, but Easter took root in my soul from an early age. Even then, I must have sensed the eternal significance of Christ’s death and resurrection. As parents and grandparents, we have a great opportunity – and God-given responsibility – to make sure our children understand the great truth and power of Easter.

5 Ways to Celebrate a Meaningful Easter

Below are five easy, but memorable, ways to help your children understand the Easter story. Make sure you check out the links for details and more information:

1.     Make a Set of Resurrection EggsThis is a fun way to “concretely” share the Easter story with your kids. You can purchase a ready-made set, but putting them together with your kids is part of the fun. Here are the instructions for making your own Resurrection Eggs.

Resurrection Eggs

2.     Watch a Movie Together – One great way to start a conversation with your children about the Easter is by watching a movie that portrays the Easter story or illustrates its truths. Several great ones are available. Just choose one that is age-appropriate for the kids in your life. Here are a few suggestions:

3.     Attend a Good Friday Service or Event – Many churches have services on Good Friday to help us remember Christ’s sacrifice on our behalf. This is a great opportunity to talk about Jesus’ death and what it accomplished for us. Cochrane, the small town where we lived in Canada, had a “Cross Walk.” Members from all areas of the community met downtown and prayerfully followed the cross as a volunteer carried it through the streets.

 
4.     Make Resurrection CookiesUse this tasty object lesson to teach your kids about the empty tomb. Make them on Saturday night and enjoy them first thing Sunday. Here’s the recipe and how-to’s for Resurrection Cookies.

 
5.     Experience the Easter Sunrise – Like the women who went to the tomb, be up and ready to greet the first light of Sunday morning. You can do this at an official sunrise service or in your own backyard. Friday was somber. Sunday is a celebration! (And don’t forget the pancake breakfast!)

I’d love to hear about your childhood Easter memories! Also, please share ways you celebrate Easter with your kids and grandkids.

Because We’re Better Together

I’m so excited to be a part of The M.O.M Initiative’s First National Conference and I wanted to share all the details with you. I will be keynoting and presenting four workshops along with many gifted speakers, authors, moms, and grandmas! Following is all the information and please let me know if you’re attending.

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Need to know you’re NOT ALONE? Ready for a fun weekend GETAWAY with your GIRLFRIENDS? Need to be REFRESHED & REFUELED?

Join us at BETTER TOGETHER where 19 authors & speakers CONVERGE in ONE PLACE to minister to YOU with over 40 WORKSHOPS to meet you where you are!

BETTER TOGETHER is a conference by The M.O.M. Initiative, for women of ALL ages and in ALL stages of life!

SOMETIMES…we just need a weekend to laugh together, cry together, and discover you’re not alone in your journey. BETTER TOGETHER is a weekend to connect with women just like you….moms, wives, single moms, moms in blended families, divorced moms, moms of teens, moms of toddlers, grandmas, working moms, stay at home moms, mentors and ministry leaders.

With powerful keynotes from moms and ministry leaders just like you, and over 40 breakout sessions that are taught by experienced leaders and include a wide range of topics such as:

  • When Motherhood Should Come with a Training Manual
  • You Can’t Be 1/2 a Mom (for moms in blended families)
  • Walking Beside Your Child with Special Needs
  • The God Who Sees You
  • Bully Proof
  • Balancing Life and Ministry
  • Fight for Your Family
  • The Making of a Mom
  • Lord, Help My Marriage
  • Building a Top Notch Team
  • Reaching the Hard to Reach Child
  • Nothing Too Broken (Find hope & healing for even the deepest wounds)
  • Godly Girlfriends: The Sprinkles on the Cupcakes of Life
  • Praying for Your Prodigal
  • Lifegiving Hospitality ~ Start Simply but Simply Start (Hands on cooking class)

And MANY MORE BREAKOUTS that will meet you right where you are!

You’ll experience an amazing time of worship with The Journey Worship Band, you’ll learn, you’ll share, you’ll grow in Christ… and as a woman… and as a mother… and as a mentor… and as a ministry leader.

Expect to have fun, meet other moms, find hope and encouragement, and laugh…a lot!

  • Great worship with the live band
  • Lots of giveaways!
  • Late Night Bash with the M.O.M.s on Friday night!
  • Lots of opportunities to shop in the Exhibit Hall!
  • 15 Minutes w/M.O.M. appointments where you can meet a M.O.M.
  • Lots of workshops (over 40) to help you in practical, personal & powerful ways
  • Panel Talk on Saturday with some of YOUR questions answered by the M.O.M. team!

Here are the details:

When: July 31st – August 2nd, 2014

Where: Trinity Baptist Church, Jacksonville, Florida

How Much: Only $49 ($39 for groups of 10 or more)

How: To register or find out more information, visit www.themominitiative.com and go to “Conferences”

Seating is limited so you will want to get your tickets now and invite your friends!

You’ll be empowered, encouraged, refreshed and refueled…ready to fulfill your God-given calling with the confidence of knowing you don’t have to take your mom journey alone.

Don’t miss THE Southeast’s MOM conference of the year, BETTER TOGETHER by The M.O.M. Initiative…

Because we are ALL better together!

So come, BRING A FRIEND and make it a CONFERENCE EVENT FOR THE WOMEN IN YOUR CHURCH or MINISTRY!

CAN’T WAIT TO SEE YOU THERE!

 

Special Blessings of Grandparenting a Special Needs Child by Kate Thomas

Our guest today is Kate Thomas, author of Grandparenting a Child with Autism, who shares the blessings of being a grandparent and the special blessings of Grandparenting a special needs Grandchild.

Grandparenting

“Being a grandparent is the only experience in life that can’t be overrated.”

These were the words from a friend who is a grandparent like me. Maybe I wouldn’t go quite that far, but grand-parenting has been, and is, one of the greatest joys of my life.

God has blessed my husband and me with four wonderful grandchildren: two boys and two girls. I pray for each of them every day…throughout the day. Today was the first day of school for Luke, John Paul and Mary Esther. Last night, John Paul asked his dad to have a prayer with him for the new school year ahead. His daddy would have done this anyway before bedtime, but John Paul needed some extra prayer time.

All of us have special needs of one kind or another. But our Katie, the oldest grandchild, has a greater need than my other grandchildren. At the age of four, Katie was diagnosed with autism. It would be difficult to describe the blow this was to our family. She was such a bright and beautiful little girl, but the characteristics of autism were evident.

 One of the many special memories I recall of Katie’s childhood was at a worship service at our church. We were singing “O How I Love Jesus.” Katie sang along for a few seconds, and then, with four small fingers on my cheek, she began to turn my face toward her. I whispered more than once “Katie, you know this song. Sing with me.” The fourth time she turned my face toward her, I bent over to hear what was on her heart. She said, “I love Jesus, too!” It would be difficult to over rate that experience!

I often think what if I had never listened to her heart and heard those beautiful words. National Grandparents Day is coming September 8th. Let’s listen to our grandchildren’s hearts as well as their voices.  

_________________________

Grandparents day

 September 8, 2013 is National Grandparents Day. To read more about how grandparents can celebrate and pray for our grand children read the Monday Morning Blog Post: Celebrating National Grandparents Day.

About the Author

Grandparenting a Child with Autism

Kate Radford Thomas’ books include New Every Morning A Daily Touch of God’s Faithfulness, Grand-parenting A Child with Autism A Search for Help and Hope, and Mother Duck Knows the Way. Kate is the mother of two and the proud grandmother of four. Her oldest grandchild, Katie, has autism, and Kate has spent much time trying to help Katie reach her full potential. Kate is the founder of the Kentucky Christian Writers Conference, where she has served for 18 years. She also helped found a camp for children with autism. Along with writing, Kate continues to speak throughout Kentucky. Most of all, she loves her family, friends, and wonderful Lord!

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