Monday, October 31, 2011

Good News {Day 31} What I have learned

Ok, so my 31 days of good news was really 29 days. Even so, my heart has been so touched this month. I hope yours has as well.

I am encouraged and excited to start sharing my faith on a regular basis.

I have ordered my pocket-sized New Testament.

I have the Romans Road highlighted and ready to go.

I have some gospel tracts in my purse. I even ordered some extras to give to the kids tonight at our Harvest Party (Lord – please let these be delivered today so we can hand them out).

 I realize that I am a missionary in my own neighborhood.

God has opened my eyes and softened my heart to the lost and hurting around me.

I have been praying earnestly for God to let me be a light for Him and to
give me opportunities to share Jesus.

I want my life to glorify God and look different to those around me (in a good way). I want people to describe our family with words like, “love, grace, truth”. 

We know the answer to the meaning of life – and so many are in search of that answer. We need to be ready and willing to share it with all who have ears to hear!

Up next month –

A Month of Thankfulness.

Thanksgiving is one of my very favorite holidays. Not because of the food, but for the focus on thankfulness. I want to spend the entire month reflecting on all the blessings we have and give all the glory to God.
We are assembling our thankful calendar today (pictures coming tomorrow - Lord willing).

How about you? What Thanksgiving traditions do you have that focus on thankfulness? I’d love it if you shared.

Don’t forget about our current giveaway!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Good News {Day 29} Lifestyle Evangelism

One way that people say they are sharing the Good News is by their lifestyle. They say that people will see that they are different than others in this world and then inquire about what is the reason for the difference.

This should be true for all of us.

Is your lifestyle different than others in your neighborhood? Is it obvious that you are a follower of Christ?

When I think about this, these verses come to mind about how I might be very obviously different than others around me.

Pray without ceasing
1 Thessalonians 5:17

But I say to you, love your enemies,
bless those who curse you,
do good to those who hate you,
and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you.
Matthew 5:44

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace,
longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,
gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.
Galatians 5:22-23

Therefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober,
and rest your hope fully upon the grace that is to be brought to you
at the revelation of Jesus Christ; as obedient children,
not conforming yourselves to the former lusts,
as in your ignorance;
but as He who called you is holy,
you also be holy in all your conduct,
because it is written, “Be holy, for I am holy.”
 1 Peter 1:13-16

I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God,
that you present your bodies
a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God,
which is your reasonable service.
And do not be conformed to this world,
but be transformed by the renewing of your mind,
that you may prove what is that good
and acceptable and perfect will of God.
Romans 12:1-2

Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good.
Romans 12:9

Speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs,
singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord,
giving thanks always for all things to God the Father
in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ,
submitting to one another in the fear of God.
Ephesians 5:19-21

Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord.
Ephesians 5:22

If our lives were a picture of just these few choice scriptures each and every day - we would all look totally different than the world and people would wonder why.

So does anyone ask you why your life is different? Does your live LOOK differently than others around you (unsaved)?

Things that make you go hmmmmm....

Friday, October 28, 2011

Good News {Day 28} Presenting Scriptures

For the Word of God is living and active.
Sharper than any double-edged sword,
it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit,
joints and marrow;
it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.
Hebrews 4:12

The key to helping lead someone to Christ is to let the scriptures do the work. Hebrews tells us that the Word of God is powerful!

So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. Romans 10:17

This tells us that there is power in hearing the word of God. So when you are guiding someone down the Roman Road, you should have them read the verses out loud so they can hear God's Word. Faith comes by hearing.

I have heard of the Romans road but I have never heard of it presented in the way that the Share Jesus Without Fear book discusses. It says to have the person read each scripture and then to ask them, "What does this say to you?" If they start to argue or just proclaim that they do not believe it - then you simply ask them to read the passage again and then ask, "What does this say to you?" It is difficult to argue with the black and white lettering in the Bible.

Oh, and did I mention that God's Word is powerful?

A more detailed listing of the scripture listing can be found at a previous post from this month, The Roman Road to Salvation. Here are the references:

Romans 3:23
Romans 6:23
John 3:3
John 14:6
Romans 10:9-11
2 Corinthians 5:15
Revelation 3:20

It is a fantastic idea to have this list written in the front cover of your Bible so that you are "always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect" (2 Peter 3:15).

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Good News {Day 27} Sharing Jesus

So you are talking to someone, maybe a friend or just an acquaintance, and you feel the prompting from the Holy Spirit to share Jesus with this person. So when you are at the park with your kiddos talking to that other Mom, how do you get the conversation from "toddlers putting remotes in the toilet" to "do you love the Lord?"

Again, from the book Share Jesus Without Fear (can you tell I love this book?), it says that you can start a conversation with someone using one of these 5 questions (below). You can choose to start with number one and go through them in order, or if you already know something about the person's spiritual beliefs, you can begin farther down the list.

Now before we get to the questions, we need to talk about how you will respond. First, think about what you say when your husband declares he is going to take down that big tree in the yard by himself. 


 That's right - basically a non-opinionated response but it still lets the person know you are listening.

So keep your trap shut and just listen. Remember we said it is the work of the Holy Spirit that does the work - so let the Holy Spirit work. It is much harder with you blabbing at the same time. :) This will be ESPECIALLY important as we move on to the scriptures (you'll have to wait until tomorrow for that).

One primer before you get to question one might be, "do you go to church anywhere?" That might help ease the conversation a bit.

1. Do you have any kind of spiritual beliefs? This may get the person rambling on about all the different flavors of religion they have tried in their lifetime, or it might be a simple yes or now response. Just remember to not ask about God, because (for some odd reason) that might offend someone.

2. To you, who is Jesus Christ? Now if the person responds, "My Lord and Savior" - you know they are a brother or sister in the faith - Praise be to God!!  But if they respond, "A good man who lived long ago and taught people the golden rule" respond, "Hmmmmm" and move onto the next question. :)

3. Do you believe in heaven or hell? Even if the person responds absolutely not, still move onto the next question.

4. If you died, where would you go? Inevitably, even if the person doesn't believe in heaven or hell, they still think they will go to heaven when they die. They really just don't want believe in hell.  A follow up question to this one might be, "would God let you into heaven?"

5. If what you are believing is not true, would you want to know? This is great because people fear missing opportunities of not knowing the right information. If the person says 'no', you can stop here and know that it is not the right time to share the Bible with them. If they respond 'yes', then you have their permission to move onto the next phase. The author of the book says he has never had someone say no (except in jest).  So, have your Bible ready.

Tomorrow, I will write out the Scriptures and how to mark them in your Bible so that it is easy to present the gospel to anyone.

If you enjoy these posts, I'd be honored if you decided to follow this blog. Then you can be entered in for the giveaway - a brand new Thirty-one Fold and Go organizer!

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Wednesday, October 26, 2011

31 Days of Good News - Reasons for not sharing

Why don't we share our faith? The day that the Lord called us to Himself and we surrendered all was the best day of our lives, right? So why are we keeping that a secret?

Life just does not make sense until we are reconciled to God. We are surrounded by people who are struggling with this very issue. So why don't we tell them about Jesus?

According to the book Share Jesus Without Fear, the main reasons for not sharing our faith are:

1. I'm afraid of being rejected. With this, we need to remember that the work is all done by the Holy Spirit. We cannot convert anyone - that is God's job. We just need to be faithful and obey His command to share the good news. The only thing God cannot use is our silence.

2. I'm afraid of what my friends will think. The key to remember with this one is, "Either you can share your faith, or you can say nothing and in your silence love your friends into hell." The Bible tells us that we will be persecuted for our faith. It warns us that the gospel can divide families and friends. We need to risk persecution in order to share the gospel with our friends and family. "How many of your friends know you are a Christian but don't understand the gospel? The reason many of your friends have not received the gospel is because they are waiting for you to explain it to them."

3. I don't think I can share with my coworkers. The book reminds us that God puts all people in our paths for a reason. We need to share our faith with all who we come into contact with. The advice is given to not take time away at work to share the gospel. It might be better to invite the person to lunch in order to walk through the Bible verses (which I will post later this week).

4. I don't know enough. This usually comes from people who have been a Christian for ten years or more. The book says the problem is that they have been sitting around accumulating information for so long that they are spiritually constipated. You need to get rid of some of this information!

5. I'm afraid of losing my friends and relatives. Jesus said, "Do you think I came to bring peace on earth? No, I tell you, but division. From now on there will be five in one family divided against each other, three against two and two against three. They will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law." (Luke 12:51-53). When you surrender your life to Christ, it may cost you every relationship you have. You truly have to die to yourself, follow Christ, and leave your loved ones behind. One man said, "I can either stay in the sin of silence and say nothing, watching my parents stay condemned because they never heard the gospel, or I can choose to risk being permanently rejected by them forever."

6. I don't know how....we will get to that tomorrow. Please come back to find out how easy it is to share your faith and lead someone to the Lord for salvation.

The end of this chapter has an excellent paragraph that I'd like to share:

"Drop Those Excuses

If you wish to experience the level of joy so many others have found, you will have to drop those excuses for not sharing your faith. You will have to practice obedience to the Great Commission. Not only will this impact the lives of your loved ones, giving the Holy Spirit the opportunity to draw them to Christ, but you will also experience a new depth in your relationship with God that you never experienced before. After all, God promised, "I will be with you" (Exodus 3:12).

Wait until you see what God will do with an ordinary person, like you, who is obedient in sharing her faith."

Share Jesus Without Fear is an excellent resource for learning practical ways to share your Jesus with everyone you meet. I highly recommend it!

Monday, October 24, 2011

31 Days of Good News - The Rock

“One night I had a dream. A woman clutched a little girl, struggling to hold her child’s head above the water. Nearby, a wave plunged a man into its salty depths. He choked for air as he thrashed his arms against a ceiling of water. All around, the ocean churned with drowning people, gasping for air and desperately trying to push their heads above the surface. Their screams were doused by the roar of the relentless waves. Their cries caught the wind, but only in vain. They were alone in their terror, with no help in sight.

Then a huge rock appeared, and a voice called into the darkness. People began crawling up the rock’s craggy sides to safety.

But when they got to safety, something happened that drove me almost goofy. The people who emerged from the waves got busy. They got involved in building rock gardens, rock lives, rock jobs, listening to their rock music, and going to rock meetings where they talked about the people who were still drowning in the ocean. But nobody went back to the water’s edge to help.

Have you ever tried to run or yell in a dream? In my dreams, I can do neither. Yet I tried to run; I tried to yell at the top of my lungs, “How could you have forgotten you were once in the sea?”

As I watched the “saved” scurry about their rock work and as I listened to their rock talk, I realized the rock was the cross of Calvary. The voice hey heard was Jesus, calling by the power of the Holy Spirit, inviting them to come join Him. He’s never high up on the rock where it’s safe; He’s calling from the ocean’s edge, where the dead, the diseased, and the lost are found, and as you might recall, that’s where He found you.

Did you know that as few as 5-10 percent of the people in an average church have shared their faith in the past year? That means 90% of us have chosen the sin of silence. Just like in my dream, those who were drowning have gotten so busy and involved with the safety of “The Rock”, they’ve forgotten to reach out to those who are still drowning. *“ 
This week, I'll be sharing bits and pieces from different books about sharing Christ with the lost. We will talk about the most common reasons people do not share (and tell why those reasons just are not good enough). I will also share easy conversation starters and guides that will hopefully help lead someone to the Truth.
Of course,  the real work is done by the Holy Spirit, not a specific methodology. We share our faith with the lost and dying out of obedience and the Holy Spirit does the work. "Even if the way you share the message is tactless or unloving, God can use it. What He can't use is your sin of silence.*"

*Excerpt from “Share Jesus Without Fear” by William Fay and Linda Evans Shepherd - emphasis added

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Anyone ? and New Series

So when you think about evangelizing, does anyone come to mind? Do you think God has put that person on your heart so that you will share the most important truth with them that they will ever hear.

If no one comes to mind, pray. Pray that God would bring people to you who need to hear the gospel. Pray that He would give you the courage to share when He does bring you opportunities (because He will deliver).

So who is that person? Friend, relative, neighbor?


I have decided to start a new series starting this week! Are you excited? I am!

It is called......

drum roll please...

What I learned at church this week.

Each Sunday afternoon (or maybe Monday morning depending how crazy the Sunday is) I am going to start writing about something that I learned at church - and I don't mean the latest bit of juicy prayer gossip. I mean a wonderful truth from God's word that I think others would enjoy learning as well.

This week, the sermon was on the 3rd of the 10 Commandments. Do you know which one that one is? Can you name all 10 commandments?

“You shall not take the
name of the LORD your God in vain,
for the LORD will not hold him guiltless
who takes His name in vain." 
Exodus 20:7

Now I am sure the first thing that comes to mind is someone using the Lord's name as a profanity. That's the obvious answer. But our pastor gave 2 others ways that might hit home...

1. Trite or thoughtless prayer and worship. Do you have words and phrases - Christian-ese verbiage - that you say when you are praying? Do you pray to God as if you are talking with a buddy? He is the holy Creator of the universe and He is worthy of our sincere, thoughtful, honoring and respectful worship and prayers. Since He takes time to listen to our prayers, we need to treat that precious time with respect.

2. Worldly behavior. You see, if you are a believer and claim that you are a "Christian" then you are a living example of the name of God. Your character, lifestyle choices, entertainment choices, speech, conduct, and reputation either honors or takes His name in vain. If you are a Christian, then you need to act like one or just stop calling yourself a Christian. Choose sides and stop straddling the fence. Do not make light of the Christian walk or my Savior.

So that is what I learned at church this week (aka - conviction point).
I'd love it if you wanted to share something YOU learned or have input on the topic of taking the Lord's name in vain.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

31 Days of Good News - Neighbors

Do you ever feel God actually change your heart towards something? I mean, you start off feeling a certain way and then God uses His Spirit dwelling within and His holy Word to change how you feel?

That has happened to me in regards to our neighbors. I grew up in a home where there was a lot of drama (to say the least). One thing I learned very early in life was to be leery of the neighbors. They are usually nosey, gossips, opinionated, and want nothing more than to judge our family.
So now that I am grown, I have lived in three different locations (two houses and one apartment) and I have never been friendly with my neighbors. Well, we currently have one set that we talk to when we are in the yard, but we are not “friends”.
In reading the book ‘Radical’ and with the study that has happened to write this 31 Days of Good News blog series…God has changed my heart towards my neighbors.  Just look how many times this phrase “love your neighbor” appears in the Bible, starting all the way back in Leviticus.

You shall not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the children of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the LORD. Leviticus 19:18
Let none of you think evil in your heart against your neighbor; And do not love a false oath. For all these are things that I hate,’ Says the LORD.” Zechariah 8:17

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, Matthew 5:43-44
‘Honor your father and your mother,’ and, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’” Matthew 19:19

Jesus said to him, “‘You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’  This is the first and great commandment.  And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ Matthew 22:37-39
‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” Mark 12:31

So he answered and said, “‘You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind,’ and ‘your neighbor as yourself.’” Luke 10:27

For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not bear false witness,” “You shall not covet,” and if there is any other commandment, are all summed up in this saying, namely, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Romans 13:9

For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Galatians 5:14

So I have decided, with a not-so-gentle nudge to pray for our neighbors. Sounds easy enough, right? However, in reading and writing so much about spreading the Good News, I would also love an opportunity to share the gospel. So here is what God has put on my heart.

I am going to let my neighbors know that we are praying for them. Last night I was torn between going door to door and actually talk with them (we do not live in a neighborhood, but on a pretty busy street which makes it logistically more difficult – but still) or just send them something in the mail.

This morning, while lying in bed (usually when the Holy Spirit takes gives me a lot of prompting) I felt like going door to door would be the best option and to hand deliver the letter.  Saves postage, right? This will actually give me the opportunity to meet them in person (if they are home), be an example to our daughter (who I will take with me) and give them a letter that tells a little about our family and that we are going to start to pray for them. Maybe I'll even take them some cookies to sweeten the deal.

We will pray for their families in a general way at first unless they tell us of a specific need (which I am hoping they will share).

In our small group discussion last night, we talked about what it would look like if we were missionaries living in another country. Picture it with me. Your “occupation” would be missionary. You would look and act differently than others in the area that you are living. Because you would be so different, the locals would be curious. They would learn they could come to you when they need help, prayer and even to hear about the Bible and its power.

We are missionaries in our own neighborhoods. We need to look and act so differently from “the world” that our neighbors know we are different – and spark their curiosity.  There are hurting people all around us. Do they know they can come to you for help, prayer and to hear about the Bible and its power? We worry too much about what others think. We need to worry about what God thinks.

Speaking of the people named in the “Hall of Faith” in the book of Hebrews, the author describes them as strangers and pilgrims on the Earth. As Christians, we are all pilgrims on the Earth. Our home is in heaven. Therefore, we should not worry if we “fit in” with the world. We should worry more if we do fit in when Christ as called us to be different.

These all died in faith, not having received the promises,
but having seen them afar off were assured of them,
embraced them and confessed that
they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.
Hebrews 11:13
Do not love the world or the things in the world.
If anyone loves the world,
the love of the Father is not in him.
1 John 2:15

Friday, October 21, 2011

Sucat and Link-Up

In England around the year 400 there lived a very happy boy. His name was Patricius Sucatus, but for short he was called Sucat.

Sucat had parents who loved him and who were Christians. They had a lovely home. There were large fields and a wooded area where Sucat could play and do whatever he liked.

Often Sucat sat under a there and dreamed about what he would do when he was grown up. Would he be a farmer, a hunter, or should he perhaps become a businessman?

But one day when Sucat was sixteen years old, something happened to change his whole life. It started as a very ordinary day. Sucat told his mother and father after breakfast that he was going hunting in the woods behind their house. He took his bow and arrow and ran lightly down the trail into the forest.

All was quiet. He stopped and listened. He looked at the ground to see if he could find footprints of a deer.

Suddenly, someone from behind grabbed him. Sucat was a strong, healthy boy, but he could not free himself. Several men held him as in a vise. Sucat did not know them. No matter how hard he struggled, they would not let him go.

The men were pirates from the east coast of Ireland who had come to England to look for boys whom they could sell as slaves.

As a slave in Ireland "Patrick"(as he was now being called) realized how different the God he knew was from the gods of the people around him believed in. He thought of Jesus, God's Son, who had compassion with people and healed the sick and fed the hungry. He thought of Jesus who had loved everybody so much that He was willing to die for them. Patrick felt Jesus' love suddenly surrounding him in such a real way that from then on he talked to Jesus as his Friend. He learned to love Jesus more and more.

As he learned to know Jesus, Patrick was also more concerned about the people around him. He talked with the other servants. He became friends with them and with his other neighbors. Now when he saw how afraid they were of their gods he wished with all his heart that they could learn to know Jesus

Six years went by. Finally one night Patrick had a perfect chance to escape. He grabbed his jacket and ran out of the house. He walked and walked. When morning dawned he saw the harbor. A ship was in the harbor with its sails up ready to leave. Patrick ran as fast as he could. Gasping for breath, he finally reached the ship and found out it was leaving for England. Patrick came home at last and was reunited with his parents.

However, Patrick did not forget his friends in Ireland. He did not forget his dream of telling them about the God of love and compassion. Now he knew what he wanted to do with his life. He went to school to study the Bible and after several years he went back to Ireland as a missionary.

Patrick stayed in Ireland all the rest of his life and when he died many people believed in Christ. The Irish people loved Patrick so much that to this day throughout the whole world, they honor him when they celebrate Saint Patrick's Day on March 17th.

Condensed excerpt from I Heard Good News Today, PatrickGoes to Ireland 

I hope you were as surprised and inspired by Sucat / Patrick's story as I was. What a fantastic story of how God can use even a kidnapped 16 year old boy for His Glory! Praise the Lord!

Now, time to link up and share your own story.
The only rule is to link back (grab the code on the right sidebar) so we can get the word out!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

31 Days of Good News - Children

Jesus loves kids. Even when the disciples tried to keep them out of His way, He wanted to spend time with the little children.

Then little children were brought to Him that He might put His hands on them and pray, but the disciples rebuked them. But Jesus said, “Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 19:13-14

I love kids! I love my own girls. I love my nephews. I love my cousins' kids. I love the kids at our church. I love the kids at the park. I love the orphans and children who are living in under-developed nations; when I see their saddened faces on TV, my heart melts.

But sometimes, I love myself more than I love the kids.

Yes, I said it out loud and now I am so convicted!

Sometimes I am so much like the disciples - too busy with my own 'adult' activities to have time to encourage and mentor children.  I am selfish with my time, my stuff, and my schedule. I am not speaking about my own daughters, but the other children the Lord has in my sphere of influence. You know, all those kids I mentioned above; the ones I love.

Die to self. Die to self.

So I have been thinking and praying about how I can be a godly influence on these kids and be a picture of Jesus. I need to look for opportunities to share the Good News of Jesus with children other than my own.

Here is a list of ideas for both you and I to influence and mentor the youth that Christ has brought into our lives - and even some ways to bring more youngsters into our lives. The more the better, eh?

Mommy's Helper
If you have a baby in your house and you take that baby to church, I am sure the tween and teen girls flock to your side. Babies are a magnet to these girls. God has given women (in general) the instinct to care for babies. Have you considered asking one or two of these ladies to be "Mommy's Helpers"? I hadn't heard of this until I had our last baby. Unfortunately, she was a sick, unhappy, fussy baby, or else I would have been all over it! You can ask a tween or teen to spend time with you one day a week for a few hours and they care for the baby.

This has so many benefits. It allows some time for you to do other things around the house and gives them time to love on your child. It also creates a bond between the baby and the girl. God could use this bond as your child grows and this young girl also grows into a young woman. It also creates a fantastic opportunity for you to get to know this girl and be a mentor. If she is not saved, it is an opportunity to share the gospel.

Sponsoring a Child
Compassion International (and other impoverished child organizations may be the same way, I just chose this one to talk about) is a way of not only providing physical needs for a child in an underdeveloped nation, they also will hear the Good News of Jesus. From their website, it says, "Compassion focuses on the spiritual, physical, economic and social needs of children in poverty. Our Christian holistic child development program is:
  • Christ Centered. Jesus is at the heart of Compassion's ministry and each child has the opportunity to hear the gospel in an age-appropriate and culturally relevant way.
  • Child Focused. Compassion focuses on the individual child and his or her development. A transformed child will inevitably change his or her environment.
  • Church Based. The Church is God's chosen instrument to bring hope and deliver justice to the poor and oppressed. Compassion partners with local Christian churches to equip them for ministry to children.
  • Committed to Integrity. We're dedicated to delivering excellent programs with complete integrity.
Children's Ministry
I think every church has a need for more volunteers in their Children's Ministry department - that could be the nursery, toddler room, preK, Elementary age, or even helping with the Teens.  I love getting to know the children at our church better by serving them on Sunday mornings and Wednesday evenings. This is a great way to find out if they have a heart for the Lord and to share Jesus. If you already serve in children's ministry, I would encourage you to also pray for each child that attends on a regular basis. This will help your love grow for each individual girl and boy.

Your Child's Friends
This is just an area of life that is starting to open up for our family (our children are pretty young), but it is definitely something I desire to have. The fun house. I want our home to be the place where kids feel comfortable hanging out. I want it to be filled with laughter and love. I also want to use this opportunity to get to know the kids - all of them - better and be able to share our faith with them. Making our home inviting will allow more opportunity for this.

Help a friend
A great way to get to know children and help their mother (especially if she is single) out is to offer to watch the kids for her. There are so many different errands or doctor appointments that are just easier when you do not have the kids in tow. Or maybe she would like just to have some time at home alone - silence is golden! While she is enjoying some time to herself for chores, errands, doctor appts or just being silent with God, you can be investing in her children's lives.

Have a fun activity planned, like baking cookies or playing a board game. This will help the kids feel comfortable and have fun - which means they will want to come back. The bigger the investment you make in their lives, the more likely you will have the chance to not only share Jesus with the kids, but give them examples of how He has worked in your own life.

These are just a few different ways that you can invest in children's lives. Studies show that most Christians began their walk with the King when they were a child.

Get your tools ready, God has lots of work.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

31 Days of Good News - Resources

...Bring them up in the training
and admonition of the Lord.
Ephesians 6:4b

I have a strong desire to train our children to love, honor and respect God and also to realize their own heart condition. I earnestly pray for their salvation and to break the cycles of sin and heartache that seems to plague my family. Yes, there are a few that love the Lord, but there is also a lot of sorrow, pain, and self-indulgence (it makes my heart hurt). I pray that our girls (and any future children) can see the folly in choosing to life for self instead of the Lord. I pray they would want to serve the King of Kings with their whole heart, mind, soul and strength.

Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one!
You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart,
with all your soul, and with all your strength. 
And these words which I command you today
shall be in your heart.
You shall teach them diligently to your children,
and shall talk of them when you sit in your house,
when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and
when you rise up.
You shall bind them as a sign on your hand,
and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes.
You shall write them on the
doorposts of your house and on your gates.
Deuteronomy 6:4-9

I have learned in Deuteronomy 6, that we are to teach our children when we sit in our house, walk by the way, lie down and rise up - ok, nearly all the time.

But I also need to pay attention to what comes just before verse 7. First, I am commanded to love the Lord our God with all MY OWN heart, soul and strength. This is a great reminder that my children will learn from my actions. I can teach them all the correct Christian answers, but they will actually learn by watching how I live my own life. They will see what faith looks like as I live it out.

Do I pray? Do I call upon the Lord for strength? Do I read my Bible? What shows am I watching on TV? Do I grumble and complain? Do I gossip about people? Do I think of myself more highly than I ought?

So seeing is believing. What do your children see?

I also wanted to share some of my
favorite resources for teaching our children about God.

The first is a daily, online devotional that has scripture, a life lesson and application that kids can easily understand. It is CBH Ministries' Keys for Kids. My daughter LOVES this! She chooses sometimes to read it on her own, but other times, she likes "Uncle Charlie" to read it to her.

The Picture Bible is a great learning tool. This takes the stories from the Bible and puts it into a comic book type illustration and story. My daughter LOVES to read each character and change her "voice" as she is playacting out the scenes. We have read through our Picture Bible many times. This was also a favorite of mine when I was a little girl.

The Jesus Storybook Bible is also fantastic. This is a book with beautiful illustrations and also comes with a CD Audio recording of the stories. Each of these stories are wonderful because at the end, they point out how the story is a foreshadowing of Jesus Christ. The subtitle is "Every story whispers His Name". This is a must have for any family with children 10 and under.

I Heard Good News Today was a book that came with our Sonlight curriculum last year and it was wonderful! It contains many different stories about missionaries all over the world. It tells how God used these people spread His Kingdom to other nations. This book sparked my 5 year old to begin thinking about being a missionary. When she told me she wanted to be a missionary, I started weeping out of joy. What better way to serve our Lord than by telling others about His Good News.

Shepherding a Child's Heart is a book for parents. This helps train parents to look at the heart issues when it comes to bad behavior that our kids display and to use these as teachable moments. Our job is not to focus on behavior modification, but rather on the underlying sins. If we only focus on the behavior, we run into the danger of creating small Pharisees that are "clean" on the outside but ugly and dirty on the inside.

Everyday Talk, Talking Freely and Naturally about God with your Children is another resource for parents. This book contains wonderful ways that we can include God in our everyday talk. God is not supposed to be compartmentalized to church and Sunday mornings. He desires to be included in our entire lives and in the lives of our children.

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Tuesday, October 18, 2011

31 Days of Good News - Our children

When you look at your children, do you see saints or sinners? When you look at those cute cherub faces, do you think about how they were born with sinful, black hearts?

When you look at your own condition before a Holy God, you recognize that without Christ, you are a completely helpless, vile sinner, right? Our children are in the same state. They need a Savior, THE Savior, and the sooner they realize this, the better.

John MacArthur (and he says it all much more eloquently than I can so I'll just quote him), explains it this way in his book, What The Bible Says About Parenting Biblical Principle For Raising Godly Children,

"Every child comes into the world with an insatiable capacity for evil. Even before birth, the human heart is already programmed for sin and selfishness. Humanity's relentless penchant for every kid of depravity is such that, given free reign, every baby has the potential to become a monster.

Although the outworking of the sin nature does not necessarily attain full expression in every person's behavior, it is nonetheless called total depravity because there is no aspect of the human personality, character, mind, emotions, or will that is free form the corruption of sin or immune to sin's enticements."

In the New Testament, Paul writes,

"Through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned" Romans 5:12

MacArthur goes on to say, "Left to themselves, they will pursue a course of sin. And left entirely to themselves, there is no evil of which they are incapable. "

Psalm 58:3 says, "The wicked are estranged from the womb; they go astray as soon as they are born, speaking lies."

Wow - does that paint a vivid picture of our children's hearts or what? I know that it is hard to think of our children as depraved, but they are. It is our job as their parents to make them aware of this sinful condition, show them that there is nothing they can do about it, and direct them to the cross.

Do you do that? Are you teaching your children that they are sinners?

When a child is getting into trouble for the umpteenth time for the same thing, they seem just as frustrated as we are about it? Use this opportunity. Tell them about their heart condition. Tell them they cannot "fix it" by themselves. Direct them to the cross. Tell them about Jesus and how He has the power to free them from their sinful condition.

Further in the chapter, John MacArthur says,

"Your top priority job as a parent, then, is to be an evangelist in your home. You need to teach your children the law of God; teach them the gospel of divine grace; show them their need for a Savior; and point them to Jesus Christ as the only One who can save them. If they grow up without a keen awareness of their need for salvation, you as a parent will have failed in your primary task as their spiritual leader.

Note this, however: Regeneration is not something you can do for them. Parents who force, coerce, or manipulate their kids may pressure them into a false profession, but genuine faith is something only divine grace can prompt. "

Paul in the New Testament says,

"How shall they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher?" Romans 10:14

MacArthur goes on to say

"As believing parents, you are the first and most important preachers God has given them.

They [your children] will observe your lives up close, to see if you seriously believe what you are teaching them. They will weigh what you teach them about these matters from the earliest time they can understand anything. You have a better opportunity than anyone to help frame what they know about Christ.

Every moment of their lives is a teaching opportunity (Deuteronomy 6:6-7), and you should use those opportunities to the best advantage for your kids' sake." [emphasis added]

So let's embrace each opportunity of diobedience as an opportunity to show them the grace and forgiveness they can receive at the cross.