Posts Tagged ‘children’

It is no big secret that the kids of today are faced with a far more threatening society than a generation ago. Christian parents today are assigned the task of not only protecting their children, but also teaching them to navigate the challenges to their faith. Today in my women’s Bible study class, we questioned a panel of teens about their walk, challenges to their faith and how they cope. It was obvious early on that the small panel was populated by kids raised in Christian homes with both parents present and were protected within a Christian community. None of them seem to have tarried far from home spiritually.

The teens were transparent and honest as the mothers in the room questioned them about dating, cell phones and peer pressure. As I listened to their answers, I was encouraged by their tendency to return to the values and biblical training they had received in the home. I was struck by how confident they seemed that ultimately whether they stand or fall depends more on the health of their own personal relationship with Christ, and less on what their parents did or did not do. Although, they did recognize that their parents’ lifestyle shaped their own beliefs and the strength thereof.

What concerned me was something one of the teenage boys, Darrin, said (and the others agreed) in that what helped them to remain steadfast was that there was always a friend close by to say “no” with them if the occasion called for it. Given the “Christian bubble” (their words, not mine) in which they are being raised, there is no shortage of kids ready to do “the right thing.” If just one takes the first step, there is a healthy supply of teens wanting to be one of the “good kids” especially when it is cool to be Christian. Not so in the real world. How well will these kids survive in a culture that accuses them of being intolerant, uneducated, and hateful? Will they have the courage to be faithful when it will cost them community? How can we as parents prepare our kids to stand alone and to remain standing alone if it is required of them?

I think the answer lies in something else Darrin shared (and the others concurred.) Repeatedly as the kids answered the questions, they voiced how invaluable experience is to them in preparation for adulthood, whether it was practice driving a car or communicating with unbelievers at work. They recognized the value of testing their skills within the shelter of their parents’ guidance before their skills were tested by life. Sharron expressed quite honestly how ill-equipped she felt when confronted by a co-worker regarding her faith. Tamara shared how excited she was to be taking a class on apologetics next year at school to help prepare her to meet those challenges. Todd added that he felt blessed to have knowledgeable parents who could answer his questions. Darrin stressed how necessary it was for him to live his testimony, otherwise his words (arguments) were meaningless. I am sure their mothers sitting in the audience were proud of the young men and women of God that their children were becoming.

Everyone on the panel seemed solid in what they believed; however, it was obvious that the challenges to their belief systems were closely monitored and therefore minimal as compared to what they will face when they move away from home and enter college soon. At that time they will experience a full blown assault on their beliefs. Will they withstand the purposeful unraveling of their worldview having not experienced such assaults while in the home? Statistically only 2 of the five will remain faithful; the rest will embrace a relativistic view of truth and therefore reject the absolute claims of Christianity.

At the conclusion of the panel, I was encouraged to continue speaking the truth of scripture into my children’s lives while remaining steadfast myself as I demonstrate a lifestyle of faithfulness. But I also felt the urgency to allow my children opportunities to test their own walk. I think as parents we can err too far on the side of caution, fiercely protecting our children from evil and rob them of the opportunities to develop skills necessary to meet the very real challenges they are destined to face. Like Lot, we are raising our children in a cultural Sodom and we are challenged with raising morally and spiritually pure hearts and minds in a morally bankrupt society. A mature faith can withstand the temptations to compromise our beliefs. And maturity comes only through the testing of our faith. As the old adage says, “Practice makes perfect.”

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”  James 1:2–4

If God allows the testing of His children’s faith, perhaps there is wisdom in my getting out of Gods’ way and allowing my children the same. There seems to exist somewhere between protecting a child’s innocence and exposing him to the elements an elusive balance for which we must strive. Where that balance lies, depends on the child himself. How successfully we as parents prepare that child to navigate life ultimately lies not only in how well we know Christ and live a life without compromise, but also how well we know our child. Freedom without boundaries is bondage (consider the lawless societies of South Africa). As a child matures and begins to self-impose boundaries that honor God, we can begin to trust the investment we have made in them. We discover that fine balance and allow our teen to live freely as they persevere with Christ so that they will be complete and not lacking anything.

(Names have been changed because, frankly, I don’t remember them.)

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“What is truth?” –Pontius Pilate (~33BC)

Ideas have consequences. It only takes a brief scan of the front page of your local paper or a 60 second sound bite on CNN to confirm this reality. What determines whether our beliefs have ultimately positive or negative consequences? Could it be whether or not our beliefs correspond with reality?

As my children grew older, their insatiable desire for answers grew with their stature. I recalled at 8 years old my own persistent questions drove my mother to schedule weekly sessions for me with the pastor so I could quiz him… and give her a break. The sad thing was that he was ill equipped to answer my simplest questions. “Who made God? How do we know God is real? Why does God send people to hell who never heard of Him?” What is even more tragic is that 30 years later as my children began to ask these same questions, I realized that the church was still grossly ill-equipped to grapple with these issues. So where is a mother to go to find the answers?

 My journey to find answers led me to a study of Christian apologetics and I in turn invested that knowledge into my children. But I am still grieved by the failure of the church to equip members to defend their faith and give a reason for the hope they have. I think things are changing with the emergence of wise men and women welcoming challenges to their faith on the public stage. Conferences are popping up all over the country to educate and equip the faithful, but do conferences effect real change especially for women?

I know that for me as an external student separated from the camaraderie of my peers, my motivation is challenged in the absence of community. Conferences are good for me in that I can mingle with like minded people who are as passionate about equipping the church as I am. But that connection soon fades as everyone goes about the business of building the Kingdom. We are each islands to ourselves, lacking unity and ultimately effecting little change. One challenge I hear repeated by those in the field of apologetics is that it is an uphill battle, not for the faint of heart. But what if we all banned together creating a unified network focused on meeting the challenge at the grass roots level?

 The effort to equip the church with the tools to defend the faith has up to now been largely a top to bottom effort. We offer conferences, write books, speak to large audiences to get the information in the hands of the church, but is real discipleship accomplished in mass or in person? If those involved in the Christian Apologetics movement are really serious about equipping mothers raising up the next generation, they needs to offer community and one-on-one (or one-on-few) discipleship. When the church successfully equips moms such that they know what they believe and why, then our children will have a faith built on rock.

 The latest studies are showing that children raised in Christian homes are not losing their faith in college as previously believed; they are losing their faith in 7th and 8th grade when they are still in our homes. Our children need to know that the Christian faith corresponds with reality so that, when they do leave our homes, they know what they believe and why. It is the mother who speaks truth into her children everyday who will one day see her children “rise up and call her blessed.” Proverbs 31:28  When the women of the church are well prepared to answer the tough challenges to their faith, we can change the world.

Holocaust survivor Viktor Frankl said, “Despair is suffering without meaning.”

The problem of evil. Atheists and Theists alike seek resolution to human suffering. Does any one group hold the secret salve that eliminates meaningless suffering?  If you are an atheist and you don’t mind my inquisitive mind, where do you find hope in the midst of suffering?  I am not asking to be facetious, I truly want to understand your viewpoint. So if you don’t mind taking a few minutes of your time, please post a response. I learn so much about life from my atheist friends, many have had very thoughtful insights and I would love to hear from you, too.

Philip Yancey wrote a book originally printed in 1977 called Where is God When It Hurts?  In it he examined human suffering and interviewed many people who had experienced horrific trauma. What I learned from these precious souls is that life hurts…a lot, but they insisted suffering is bearable when it has meaning. Those who have suffered the most understand this truth to an extent that most of us can never appreciate.

Is suffering necessary? I don’t think so, I don’t think that we were designed for suffering, we were designed to love and to be loved. Much of human suffering seems to be caused by other humans, and sometimes it is self-inflicted. And what about all those innocent children suffering form disease, poverty and crime? In many dark corners of this world, love seems to be absent. So how can suffering have meaning?

I want to share a story with you.

One sunny afternoon, I was pushing my precious, brown-eyed baby boy in his swing in the courtyard. It was one of those days when I woke up and thought, “Life is good! God is good!” The sky was such a bright clear blue that the purity of it caused me to immediately take in a deep thankful breath. Joshua giggled at some playful squirrels near the oak. It was one of those moments when my heart could not contain the emotions swelling inside, and I spontaneously laughed out loud.

And then a still small voice whispered in my ear.

“Nancy, will you give your son up for suffering?”

Startled at the cruel intrusion, I froze. What mother in her right mind would agree to such a request? “Absolutely not! And I’ll fight anyone who tries to hurt my baby! I’ll make them wish they were dead!”  I trembled as a mixture of fear and anger bubbled in my gut. I felt nauseous, my head pounded with a whirlwind of thoughts–horrific terrifying thoughts. My eyes graced my son’s trusting cherub face and in desperation disguised as defiance I shouted, “God, you cannot have my son!”

What was I saying? Didn’t I trust God? He created my baby, He knew better than anyone what would be best for him, right? That is what the preacher said on Sunday. And defying God is not a very “Christian” thing to do. Where was my belief? But how could a good God allow my child to suffer? How can Joshua’s suffering be good? No, I didn’t trust Him. God wanted to hurt my beautiful perfect son.

Every mother wants a better life for her child. I had to protect him from the prowling lion seeking to devour him, to shield him from torrential storm threatening to snatch him out of my loving arms. Like most women, I have known loss, sickness, loneliness and rejection. I pride myself on being a survivor, an overcomer, a fighter. As I contemplated all of the life lessons I planned to endow upon my son, I suddenly realized that it wasn’t the tranquil times in my life that created my strength of character. 

Was I the strong woman I am today inspite of the suffering I have endured? No, because of it. The abundance of priceless life lessons that I impart to Josh, I only have to give because I have known suffering. His inheritance is a string of pearls cultured with my pain.

“I will never leave Joshua nor forsake him. He will trust Me because he will know Me and recognize my voice. My words will encourage him daily. He will walk with Me and I will comfort him. When he is weary from the journey, I will carry him. He will lean on My promises and live in My grace.  Many will be encouraged by the strength of his character and the depth of his faith.  He will become a conduit of My love and His life will bring hope to many hurting people. Nancy, I have begun a good work in Joshua and I promise to carry it on to completion. Do you trust me?”

I felt an overwhelming peace that I could not explain as I sensed the loving arms of my Creator embrace me. I swept up my little gift from God and with grateful tears flowing from my healed heart I surrendered all.

Romans 5:1-5  “Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. 3 Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4 perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5 And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.”

1 Cor. 13:13 “And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”

 

Continue praying for the salvation of the middle east and all of those suffering in bondage to lies. The dawn is breaking, there is hope.

Isaiah 9:2

The people walking in darkness
have seen a great light;
on those living in the land of the shadow of death
a light has dawned.

Top Hamas Leader’s Son Converts to Christianity
By Ethan Cole

The son of a top Hamas leader has converted to Christianity and prays someday his family will also accept Jesus Christ as their savior, an Israeli newspaper reported.

Masab Yousef, son of West Bank Hamas leader Sheik Hassan Yousef, revealed for the first time in an exclusive interview with Haaretz newspaper that he has left Islam and is now a Christian. Prior to the interview’s publication last Thursday, Yousef’s family did not know of his faith conversion even though he is in regular contact with them.

“[T]his interview will open many people’s eyes, it will shake Islam from the roots, and I’m not exaggerating,” Yousef, who now resides in the United States, said. “What other case do you know where a son of a Hamas leader, who was raised on the tenets of extremist Islam, comes out against it?”

Yousef, who is now 30-years-old, was first exposed to Christianity eight years ago while in Jerusalem where out of curiosity he accepted an invitation to hear about Christianity. Afterwards, he became “enthusiastic” about what he heard and would secretly read the Bible every day. . . .

For his part, Yousef says he hopes to “open the eyes” of Muslims and “reveal the truth” to them about Islam and Christianity with the goal to “take them out of the darkness and the prison of Islam.” . . .

http://www.christianpost.com/article/20080804/top-hamas-leader-s-son-converts-to-christianity.htm

 

John 3:16-21

16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. 19 This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. 20 Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. 21 But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God.”

Believers who live by the truth of the light draw the lost out of darkness. Loving the unlovable, forgiving the unforgivable and granting mercy to the unmerciful. Grace is not the cost of salvation it is a privilege for those who have received it to share it. Today pray for those who are blinded by the darkness and that our light will shine so brightly and consistently that those in bondage will be drawn to it and find true freedom at the cross. 

 On a personal note, I especially want to lift up my evolutionist friends at Florida Citizens for Science. One need only read the comments made on their blog to recognize the fear and the hate perpetrated by such “citizen” groups existing for the sole purpose of stripping our freedoms and silencing the truth. I posted a dissenting opinion on their blog and it did not take long for them to beautifully illustrate my point. It is good to be a “lunatic” for Christ.

Job 21:14-15

 
14     Yet they say to God, ‘Leave us alone!
We have no desire to know your ways.
15     Who is the Almighty, that we should serve him?
What would we gain by praying to him?’

 

  

The focus of planning according to the Lord’s will is not trying to decipher the details of your life such as who you will marry, what job you will get, or where you will live as if consulting a fortune teller. Planning according to the Lord’s will is about ensuring that the plans you make are in align with His precepts. 

 

 

Does your potential mate have a growing faith in Christ and is your relationship pure?  Does the job you are considering still allow you to put God and family first?  Is the home you want to purchase affordable and still allow you to give generously?  We sometimes fret over details trying to figure out what God wants us to do, when if we examine our desires and plans in light of scripture His truth always reigns. 

 

 

God’s word is black and white; the gray only exists in man’s heart.  Are you struggling with a decision right now?  Is it possible that you know the answer, but it is not what you want to hear?  Most of the time our problem lies in a failure to obey not in a failure to know God’s will. 

 

 Deut. 30:19-20  19 This day I call heaven and earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live 20 and that you may love the Lord your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him. For the Lord is your life, and he will give you many years in the land he swore to give to your fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

 

 

Today commit to choose life – a life that honors God, so that you will love Him well, listen to His voice and hold fast to Him.