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Author Archives: Jeff & Charmé

About Jeff & Charmé

My greatest passion is intentionally passing my faith in Christ down to the next generation, starting with our family. I’ve been married to Jeff since 1975. We have three adult children, two sons-in-law, and six grandchildren…our greatest joy in this life! I served alongside of my husband in pastoral ministry for twenty years. We currently offer resources and a speaking ministry to churches and families called Covenant Heirs. Our mission is to encourage and equip parents, grandparents, and others to intentionally live a life of faithfulness to God, with a family discipleship emphasis. Please contact us at covenantheirs@gmail.com if you are interested in learning more about us and our ministry. Holding His Hand blog (2016) is dedicated to my mom, Audrey Lewis, who learned to trust in Jesus during her battle with cancer. This blog testifies to God's amazing love and provision in our lives.

Raising Kids Who Serve

Taylor and kidsI want to introduce you to my guest blogger, Taylor Johnson. I met Taylor through the Internet as I was looking for a devotional resource to use with our family during our vacation. After discovering Taylor’s devotional: “Keeping God First While On Vacation,” I visited her website and quickly recognized Taylor’s exorbitant love for Jesus and her passion to instill a vibrant faith in Jesus into her children. In her own words: “He has grown a passion within me to sow seeds of faith into these precious kids living in my home. He has taught me that this is not just being a mother to my children, but a mother in Christ to them.” While Taylor intentionally disciples her children to love and serve Jesus, she also possesses a strong desire to come alongside of other parents by offering encouragement and resources that will help equip them to raise children to know and love God, reflect His character, and share His love with others. I hope that you will take time to learn more about this delightful and inspiring woman of faith and all the transformational-filled resources Taylor offers to parents through her website, Growing Kids for the Kingdom, growingkidsforthekingdom.com.

famdoorTaylor Johnson…

I have been married to my wonderful husband, Peter, for 16 years, and we have been blessed with an 8-year-old son and 10-year-old daughter. I enjoy serving in my church’s preschool ministry, writing children’s ministry curriculum, and leading a neighborhood Bible club outreach for kids and teens called Lighthouse Community Outreach. I also enjoy spending quality time with my family. My passion is to encourage my own kids as well as other children to know and love God, be like Him in character, and to share His love with others. I enjoy sharing encouragement and resources on these topics on my website at growingkidsforthekingdom.com.

“I believe that God is doing a mighty work in the coming generation.  He is raising up a remnant who will follow Him wholeheartedly. We need to raise this next generation not to be casual Christians that go to church occasionally and are halfhearted about God, but Christians whose hearts are steadfast in the Lord.”

Raising Kids Who Serve 

“But be very careful to keep the commandment and the law that Moses the servant of the LORD gave you: to love the LORD your God, to walk in obedience to him, to keep his commands, to hold fast to him and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul” (Joshua 22:5).

 As a very young mom, I remember feeling like I couldn’t serve because so much of my day was taken up by diapers, messes, and nap time rituals. Yet I deeply wanted to serve others and hoped that my kids would learn to serve others as well. As my kids grew a little older and more independent, I started finding ways to serve with them that wouldn’t conflict too much with our routine. One way was through a neighborhood Bible club I helped to start near our church. My 3-year-old daughter would join in with the kids and my 1-year-old son was usually on my hip while I led worship songs or taught the class. Serving in this way became a part of our lives, and I realized how thankful I was that they were learning to serve God at such a young age. Of course, there were times that they didn’t want to go, but they learned quickly that the world doesn’t revolve around them and their desires and that our family prioritizes serving others.

So why is it so important that we teach our kids to serve?

Serving is a huge part of becoming like Jesus. As the gospel of Mark states, “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45). Jesus also taught His disciples to serve by taking them with Him. In the same way, we can serve with our kids or grandkids to show them how to be like Jesus.

Serving others will help keep our young ones away from the world’s draw to consumerism and self-focus. Serving will help them live for God’s greatest commandments–to love Him and others!

Jesus said, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field” (Matthew 9:37-38). We live in such a hurting, broken world, and Jesus wants us to be His hands and feet to show love to those who are hurting. It is our calling as believers.

While serving others is a huge part of God’s plan, I believe it is one of the spiritual disciplines most lacking. Parents often read scripture, lead family devotions, and take their kids to church, but routinely serving with their kids is a lot less common.

There are many ways to teach our kids to have a servant’s heart. Here are some ideas to get you thinking in that direction.

How Can We Encourage Our Kids to Serve?

1. Serve family Members: One of the first ways to get our kids thinking about serving others is to have them practice serving their family. I have encouraged my kids to think of ways to serve each other, such as making a card for their brother’s birthday or doing a chore for a sibling. It’s a good habit to get our kids into and it builds strong friendships among siblings. “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others” (Philippians 2:3-4).

2. Serve Friends: Teach your kids to serve their friends. I encourage my kids to be on the lookout for a friend who does not have someone to play with on the playground or sit with at lunch and include them. We talk about coming up to a new kid at church and helping friends when they are feeling sad. “A friend loves at all times” (Proverbs 17:17).

Kids at door3. Serve Those in Need: Kids need to be taught how to help those in need with words and actions. Including your kids to bring a meal to a mom who just had a baby, visiting a sick church member, or even opening the door for an elderly woman at the store all create great opportunities to practice serving those in need. Some families may even like to take turns choosing a person they would like to all help as a family. Serving others in need allows for opportunities to talk about the importance of serving others and how we show God’s love and bring Him glory. “Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality” (Romans 12:13).

4. Use Their Gifts to Serve: God gives us all different gifts and talents, and it’s fun toMagic Tricks figure out what gifts your child might have as they grow and mature. My daughter likes little kids, so encouraging her to read to a younger child at our neighborhood ministry is a great way to encourage her in her natural gifting. My son is an entertainer, so we have him bring some of his magic tricks to our neighborhood Bible club so he can perform for the kids before we start. Helping your child discover her or his gifts and then talking about ways they can use them for God’s glory is another great way to encourage them to serve others. “Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms” (1 Peter 4:10).

5. Focus on the Gospel: More than meeting physical needs, we are called to meet people’s spiritual needs and share the hope we have in Jesus with others.

We can teach our children to be proud of the gospel–encouraging them to want to share about Jesus with others. We can model this by being bold ourselves when talking about Jesus to others. We can talk to people we meet at stores or with our waiters and ask how we can pray for them. Our family is trying to do this more, and it often surprises me how open people will be when they see you sincerely care to pray for them. “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).

“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).

Another way to share the gospel is to go on family mission trips together. This is something we plan to do as a family. It will cultivate a heart in the next generation to continue to bring the gospel to those around the world. He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation” (Mark 16:15).

Serving others is one of our greatest privileges as believers. When we take the time to do so, it fills us with lasting joy and stores up for ourselves treasures in Heaven. Serving with our children and grandchildren will reap even more blessings as we pass down the desire to share God’s love with the next generation.

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:19-21).

Taylor and kids race“Our family loves participating in walks for orphans and those in poverty. My daughter is a gifted runner, so it’s a great way for her to use that gift for God’s glory.”

 

setting up chairs                              Setting up chairs for our neighborhood Bible club.

GrowingKidsfortheKingdom_COLOREDgrowingkidsforthekingdom.com

 

 

 
 

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My Grandparents Taught Me The Lord’s Prayer

“Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name” (Matthew 6:9).

Every night when my grandparents tucked me into bed, they said the Lord’s prayer. I soon memorized the prayer and recited it with them. I began living with my paternal grandparents at age seven, following the death of my parents.

As I look back over my life, I recognize the many ways God looked after me. Learning the Lord’s prayer gave me great comfort and security as a young child, and as I grew up it became my go-to prayer, (my anchor), especially during anxious filled moments. Many a nights God stilled my soul and gave me rest. He still does.

National Grandparents Day is observed the second Sunday of September. This year  it is September 8, 2019. In 2010, author Lillian Penner suggested a day of prayer to coincide with National Grandparents Day. Thanks to Mrs. Penner’s efforts, churches around the world observe Grandparents Day of Prayer. They encourage grandparents to pray for their grandchildren, both in private and corporate settings.

My husband and I are blessed to have six grandchildren and it give us great joy to pray for them daily. Every September I ask our grandchildren to give me the names of their teachers so that I can pray for them throughout the school year. I keep a copy of their names in my Bible as a reminder.

Grandparents can bless their grandchildren in many ways, but I believe the most important is to faithfully pray for them and with them. I know that this was the greatest blessing I received from my grandparents. One that has remained steadfast in my heart and mind throughout the years.

To learn more about the National Grandparents Day of Prayer, please go to the following websites.

Grandparenting With A Purpose: http://www.grandparentingwithapurpose.com/2019/04/are-grandparents-day-of-prayer-and-national-grandparents-day-the-same-3/

Christian Grandparenting Network: https://christiangrandparenting.net/grandparents-day-of-prayer/

The Lord's Prayer -Arch Books - By: Robert Baden I found this book useful in teaching our grandchildren the Lord’s Prayer.

https://www.christianbook.com/the-lords-prayer-arch-books/robert-baden/9780758605900/pd/605902?en=google&event=SHOP&kw=childrens-books-0-20%7C605902&p=1179710&dv=c&gclid=Cj0KCQjwqs3rBRCdARIsADe1pfRlpBB4fn5CGuK-0b3OFQh_trwEUb3Dg4u-BJW54R7Wcdgs5V7DkxwaArx0EALw_wcB

 

 

 
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Posted by on September 7, 2019 7: 25 am - in Christian Grandparenting, Faith at Home

 

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Keeping God First While On Vacation

For the past three years our family has vacationed together in Hot Springs, Arkansas. Two grandparents –us (Pappy and Nana), our two daughters and their families, including our six grandchildren. Each year we’ve made many special memories. The grands all agree that tubing on the lake is their favorite. This year we had the opportunity to rent a boat for the week, so it was one big splash after another.

Each year Jeff and I intentionally prepare for the spiritual emphases. Since we are at the lake over a Sunday, Jeff (Pastor Pappy) shares a special message and serves our family Holy Communion. It is such a precious time. This year’s message was about David and how he was an unlikely candidate to take down Goliath (but he did…with just a slingshot and a stone), or to become a king, being a simple shepherd boy, the youngest of eight sons (but God chose David to reign over Israel for forty years).

Jeff told our grandchildren that God has a special plan for each of our lives, and that God wants to use our unique qualities and abilities to honor Him and to help build His eternal Kingdom. In conclusion, Jeff singled out our youngest and shortest grandchild (Jocelyn), illustrating how God looks at the heart and not our outward appearance. “So, whether young, old, short, or tall, when God calls us to serve Him, He also equips us and helps us overcome obstacles that attempt to thwart His plan and purpose in our lives.”

Desiring to keep our family God-focused throughout our vacation week, I thought it would be helpful to share devotions. Knowing I had only a couple weeks to prepare, I initially thought of grabbing a faithful devotional book from our library, but then God directed me to google the Internet. Sitting behind my computer I began the search and within minutes I landed on: Keeping God First While On Vacation. As I felt my heart resonate with this title, I opened the link and it took me to this site: Growing Kids For The Kingdom (https://www.growingkidsforthekingdom.com/keeping-god-first-while-on-vacation-a-family-vacation-devotional/) and to the post, Keeping God First While On Vacation: A Family Vacation Devotional.

I emailed the author, Taylor Johnson, requesting a copy of the devotional and she quickly replied, attaching a copy to the email. After reading through the devotional I knew it was for our us. The devotions are perfect in quantity and content. (A total of five, counting the preparation and follow-up devotions.) This is especially true when you have younger children in your family. More lengthy devotions may not hold their attention. Plus, there’s plenty of Scripture to read and elaborate on as the Holy Spirit directs.

Prior to our departure, I emailed copies of the first devotion to our family members and suggested that they go over The Before You Leave: Preparing Your Hearts section. Jeff and I read this section together and I asked Taylor to help us pray for God’s guidance. She eagerly agreed, and we are thankful for her prayers and for her vacation devotional.

Here’s how God answered our prayers!

Knowing everyone would be anxious to begin their play each day, I knew I must follow the Holy Spirit’s leading. He impressed upon me to be flexible with the time of day to share the devotions. (This goes totally against my nature, as I like to have all my ducks in a row). I’m so thankful I listened and heeded to the Holy Spirit’s instruction.

Monday morning arrived and several family members were already at the boat dock, leaving a few of us to begin eating breakfast. Unsure of when everyone would be together at the same time, I chose to share Vacation Day 1 – Loving God and His Creation. After reading the entirety of Psalm 104, I asked everyone to look for ways God shows His love through creation. Soon after, I brought the remaining family members up to speed on our devotion for the day. Later that evening our family all came together to celebrate my birthday. Following this very special time, I asked if there was anyone who would like to share our family devotion for Wednesday? Not expecting this at all, our ten-year-old grandson Jack immediately said, “I will!” With no reservations, I handed him a copy of the devotion.

After my sweet birthday celebration, we were visited by a four-legged fury friend…a small beady-eyed raccoon. Our grandkids affectionately named him Ronnie, and of course, they left a plate of goodies on the deck to ensure his return visits. Everyone agreed Ronnie showed us God’s love and vice versa.

Early Wednesday afternoon, I caught Jack sitting on the deck with my Bible opened. He had asked me the day before to use my Bible so he could begin preparing for our devotion and to mark the Scriptures. He didn’t know I spotted him on the deck, so I quickly snapped a photo of him for memory sake.

Wednesday evening our family gathered together while Jack led us in Vacation Day 2 – Being like Christ in Character. I was so blessed by his preparation and leadership. After reading the suggested Scripture, Jack instructed us to talk about the various character traits and challenged us to live these out during our vacation. Following our devotion, Jack’s sister, Julia, confidently said “I’d like to do the next devotion.” “Can I?” I said “Sure!” Julia’s parents reminded her that she would have to take time to prepare. No problem!

On Thursday, we visited the beautiful Garvan Woodland Gardens. This turned out to be a delight for all. We experienced so much of God’s marvelous creation. George, the resident male peacock greeted us at the entrance. George was thrilled when we fed him some almonds. We saw lizards, snakes, fish, bugs, waterfalls, and trails leading to a gigantic tree house, a crawdad waterhole with beach balls, and a wrong turn leading us to a beautiful lake view. Here we captured the beauty of the moment.

Friday quickly arrived and I thought maybe we should have our family devotions in the morning, but no, God had other plans. Again, trying hard to be flexible, I followed the Holy Spirit’s leading. After much play on the lake, fishing, boating, and just having fun together, my precious Julia (eight years old) approached me and asked if I would help her prepare for our devotion. My heart leapt with joy as I sat down with her at the table as she read through the suggested Scripture, and we talked through the discussion questions.

Knowing in advance we would face some opposition from the enemy to keep our family from having devotions together, I began to pray for the evening. God was honored when all family members and a family friend listened intently as Julia read the Scripture and led us in Vacation Day 3 – Sharing God’s Love With Others. It was such a tender and Spirit led time. After sharing how we had shown love towards each other during our vacation and ideas for sharing God’s love with others, Julia asked us all to pray. She specifically called out each of our names to let us know when it was our turn to pray. At the conclusion, Julia asked for prayer requests. There were several and as she closed our time in prayer, Julia recalled each request and prayed for them. I knew Jesus was in our midst. What a glorious moment! Our Julia has expressed interest in becoming a missionary. I’m sure God is pleased and will guide and direct her life, along with all our family, as they trust in Him and strive to keep Him first in their lives.

Throughout our vacation week, the Holy Spirit was faithful to remind us of our devotional time together. While trying to decide on where to eat lunch one day, several family members paused to allow differing ideas, demonstrating the Christlike Character of kindness. Another time, I overheard a grandchild say, “Let’s remember to show the love of Jesus.” And parents who praised God and thanked Him for the beauty of His creation; demonstrated by stopping to examine an unusual looking bug, and a dad taking his family on an intentionally planned hike by a creek.

The memories we’ve made on our family vacations are all very special and will remain in our hearts a lifetime. But by far, the greatest memories that I will cherish above all are those of our grandchildren growing closer to God through His love, His Word, and through His creation.

I personally want to thank Taylor Johnson for providing such a wonderful resource for our family to use while on our vacation. THANK YOU SO MUCH!

I highly recommend Keeping God First While On Vacation: A Family Vacation Devotional. To read about this devotional and to learn more about the Growing Kids for the Kingdom ministry, you may click on the following links:

Growing Kids For The Kingdom: https://www.growingkidsforthekingdom.com/

Keeping God First while on Vacation: A Family Vacation Devotional https://www.growingkidsforthekingdom.com/keeping-god-first-while-on-vacation-a-family-vacation-devotional/

Creation Vacation by Covenant Heirs: https://covenantheirs.org/2017/09/22/creation-vacation/

And for further study:

What does it mean that God looks at the heart (1 Samuel 16:7)?

But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7).

Article by Got Questions Ministry. https://www.gotquestions.org/God-looks-at-the-heart.html

Disclaimer: Covenant Heirs Ministry recommends this article but does not necessarily endorse all the content found on the God Questions website.

 

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Awakened Abruptly

God woke me up from a sound sleep to remind me of His marvelous and overflowing grace in my life.

Several years ago I worked at a Christian conference center. Part of my job responsibility was to meet with prospective clients, to generate and coordinate new events for the conference center.

During this time, I had the opportunity to get acquainted with Barbara, the beautiful and gracious wife of the conference center’s president. Her smile and contagious love for life made it easy for us to become quick friends. Our friendship led to taking a “work” trip together after Barbara convinced her husband (my boss) that she should be my travel companion, partially for safety reasons. He agreed, after recalling my solo trip to Colorado, where a bear had given me quite a scare!

Blue Ridge Mountains

Our friendship and desire to glean expert advice for developing quality events led us to the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains in North Carolina. After a few delightful days sightseeing…including the Biltmore, we headed to our destination, The Billy Graham Training Center at The Cove, Ashville, NC. Here we spent hours viewing the beautiful facilities and attending a seminar session on prayer. Drawing so close to God in this setting, Barbara and I also opened our hearts to each other in the quietness of our room. Girls just seem to know how to go deep when all the makeup is washed away and the PJs are on.

The Cove

Prior to our trip, I learned that Barbara had been dealing with some major health issues. She had undergone two liver transplants two years prior to us meeting.

After exchanging some thoughts from our earlier prayer session, our conversation quickly turned to our love for Jesus and for our families. We discussed the importance of living out our faith passionately and with solid convictions based on God’s Word, so our children would desire this same kind of love for Jesus in their lives. We laughed and cried together the entire week, which ended way too soon.

Shortly after we returned home, Barbara became very ill and soon after went home to be with her LORD and Savior. I was deeply saddened, and at the same time so grateful to have had the opportunity to become friends with a woman who lived out such a vibrant faith, demonstrating genuine love for others and the grace of God.

God is still using our abbreviated friendship to remind me of God’s amazing grace in my life. As I alluded to in the beginning of this testimony, I was awakened abruptly the other morning from a deep sleep. I rarely recall much of my dreams, but this time it was so specific, and I knew it had special meaning for me.

My time spent with Barbara, especially during our trip, was vividly revisited during my dream. Awakening with some urgency, I began to recall more details of our time spent together. Barbara and I were very close in age, in fact, we were born just two days apart. We will both celebrate our birthdays in August. Barbara in Heaven, and me still here on earth. The following is what I believe God wants me to receive from my recent dream.

Life is short during our time on earth. The Bible says, we are like “a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes” (James 4:14). Barbara was 46 when she passed away, leaving behind a loving family, including two children. She shared with me during our PJ hours her desire to see her children grow up, marry, and have their own children, etc., but she knew in her heart this may not happen. I believe that even though Barbara’s desire didn’t come to fruition on earth, my heart tells me that all is well with her soul, and that the vibrant Christ-filled life she lived before her children is continuing to live on through their lives.

As I quickly approach my 62nd birthday, I am once again reminded of the marvelous and overflowing grace God has shown me throughout my life. I praise Him for giving me the breath of life, for physical healing, giving me a loving and faithful husband for over forty four years, three amazing adult children, six grandchildren, a life of much love expressed through friends and family, and the desire to live for Jesus in a chaotic world.

I don’t know how many more years I will live on earth, but whatever remains, my desire is to be daily awakened by God’s grace, and to extend this grace to those around me.

I don’t deserve all that God has done for me, and I don’t understand why some lives are much shorter than others. Like Barbara, my mother passed away before she got to see me grow up, marry, and have children. I didn’t like this, but I have made the choice to accept God’s sovereign will in and for my life. Someday it will all make sense when Jesus comes to take me home. I’ll be so excited to see my mom and Barbara, along with so many other loved ones who placed their trust in Jesus.

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” (John 3:16).

Building A Legacy of Faith

  • Discuss with your children the reality of life and death. (Do so with age appropriate thoughtfulness.)

Share the birth story of your child. Retell the events surrounding their birth (who was there, what kind of day it was, the feelings of love you experienced while holding them for the first time, etc.). Take this opportunity to reinforce your unconditional love for them.

Read the following Scripture with your child, emphasizing that God created them, loves them unconditionally, and that He has a special plan for their life.

“For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.
15 
My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place,
when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
16 
Your eyes saw my unformed body;
all the days ordained for me were written in your book
before one of them came to be.
17 How precious to me are your thoughts,
[a]
God!
How vast is the sum of them!
18 
Were I to count them,
they would outnumber the grains of sand—
when I awake, I am still with you
 (Psalm 139:13-18).     

Our children are a gift from God (Psalm 127:3) and all life is to be cherished and lived for the glory of God.                                                      

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future” (Jeremiah 29:11).

 “For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so that we can do the good things he planned for us long ago” (Ephesians 2:12).

  • Teach your children to read the Bible so that they can follow and live God’s plan for their lives.

“Your word is a lamp to my feet, and a light to my path” (Psalm 119:105). “I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you” (Psalm 119:11).  

Suggested Resource:

Teaching Children About Heaven: Answering Your Child’s Questions by Randy Alcorn  https://www.epm.org/resources/2010/Mar/24/teaching-children-about-heaven-answering-your-chil/

 
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Posted by on August 5, 2019 8: 38 am - in Building a Legacy of Faith, Eternal Life, Faith in Jesus

 

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Producing Empty Results?

Do you ever feel that your efforts are useless or produce empty results? I think we’ve all been there, right? It can happen at the workplace, in the home, on the golf course, or anywhere. We are all hardwired to achieve success when we set out to accomplish a task.

rosesMost recently, I diligently tried to revive my roses from all the damage they received due to a deluge of rain. To no avail, after spraying with anti-fungal product and mulching, etc., my roses still look pitiful, producing puny-looking blooms. Sometimes our best efforts result in poor or even empty results.

Obviously, producing beautiful fungi-free roses is not as crucial as raising spiritually healthy children. As much as I enjoy the beauty of a bountiful array of roses, my greatest joy comes from experiencing our children and grandchildren growing in the knowledge and wisdom of the LORD.

Sometimes my best efforts for transferring a strong faith in Jesus to my family ends up feeling empty, or at least less fruitful in my perception. For instance, this past year I started a drama/music ministry with our grandchildren. We named it Lights Shine Bright. They were excited to share their talents at nursing homes and churches. My grandeur plans also included presenting at a low-income children’s center. Seemingly, the door closed due to scheduling conflicts, and yes, I felt like my efforts came up empty. My desire is to see our grandchildren use their gifts and talents for the glory of the LORD, while sharing the love of Jesus with others.

cast netI’m pretty sure the Apostle Peter felt as though his efforts were futile while fishing all night without even getting a nibble. This miraculous fishing story is recorded in the Gospel of John (John 2:1-14): Later, by the Sea of Tiberias, Jesus again revealed Himself to the disciples. He made Himself known in this way: Simon Peter, Thomas called Didymus, Nathanael from Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two other disciples were together. Simon Peter told them, “I am going fishing.”

“We will go with you,” they said. So they went out and got into the boat, but caught nothing that night.

Early in the morning, Jesus stood on the shore, but the disciples did not recognize that it was Jesus. So He called out to them, “Children, do you have any fish?”

“No,” they answered.

He told them, “Cast the net on the right side of the boat, and you will find some.” So they cast it there, and they were unable to haul it in because of the great number of fish.

Then the disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” As soon as Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on his outer garment (for he had removed it) and jumped into the sea. The other disciples came ashore in the boat. They dragged in the net full of fish, for they were not far from land, only about a hundred yards.

When they landed, they saw a charcoal fire there with fish on it, and some bread.

Jesus told them, “Bring some of the fish you have just caught.” So Simon Peter went aboard and dragged the net ashore. It was full of large fish, 153, but even with so many, the net was not torn.

“Come, have breakfast,” Jesus said to them. None of the disciples dared to ask Him, “Who are You?” They knew it was the Lord. Jesus came and took the bread and gave it to them, and He did the same with the fish.

This was now the third time Jesus appeared to the disciples after He was raised from the dead.

Take-aways from the truth of God’s Word

  1. Listen for God’s direction or leading in our lives, especially when our personal efforts seem empty.
  • Initially, the disciples didn’t recognize Jesus on the shore. Then Jesus spoke these words: “Children, do you have any fish?”
  1. Follow God’s instructions. / Obey His commands.
  • After hearing His voice, the disciples followed these instructions: “Cast the net on the right side of the boat, and you will find some.”

The outcome: “So they cast it there, and they were unable to haul it in because of the great number of fish.”

  1. Recognize God when He draws near. “None of the disciples dared to ask Him, “Who are You?” They knew it was the Lord.”

The disciples knew it was the LORD because they had spent three years developing an intimate relationship with Him.

The only way we can know it is the LORD is by spending time with Him. This happens primarily by…

Developing these spiritual disciplines:

  1. Reading the Bible
  2. Prayer
  3. Seeking God through quieting the noise of the world (Unplug!)
  4. Fellowship with other Christ followers
  5. Worship through a Bible-teaching/preaching church

These spiritual disciplines are more often caught than taught to our observing children and grandchildren. When is that last time your children/grandchildren caught you reading your Bible, kneeling next to your bed in prayer, turning off your cell phone while experiencing the beauty of God’s amazing creation (beginning with your family…sharing an uninterrupted meal together), worshiping together on the LORD’s Sabbath?

Remember, there are times God wants to redirect our efforts to reflect more of His holiness in our lives and within the lives around us. Our greatest need is to recognize the LORD in our midst rather than experiencing mere human successes.

lights shine bright

Lights Shine Bright

I’m praying to God and listening for Him to speak to me about our Lights Shine Bright ministry. One of my grandsons keeps asking me, “When are we going to do our program again?” Thus, I am exploring our options and watching for God to lead the way.

Thoughts and Scripture to ponder

God may be asking you to let go of your preferred “fishing” style and be ready to cast your net on the “right” side. Follow God’s direction and be amazed at the results you will “catch!”

“Choose my instruction instead of silver,
knowledge rather than choice gold, for wisdom is more precious than rubies,
and nothing you desire can compare with her” (Proverbs 8:10-11).

“Now then, my children, listen to me;
blessed are those who keep my ways.
Listen to my instruction and be wise;
do not disregard it. Blessed are those who listen to me,
watching daily at my doors,
waiting at my doorway.
For those who find me find life
and receive favor from the Lord” (Proverbs 8:32-35).

“You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart” (Jeremiah 29:13).

The definition of insanity:

“Doing the same thing over and over again but expecting different results.” – Albert Einstein

This quote is simply a reminder to stop repeating the same human efforts that continually produce empty results. Instead, listen to and follow the LORD’s direction, for He is the One who transforms the heart and produces a great catch.

For further study:

John 15:1-17; 1 Corinthians 3:7; Mark 4:1-20

 

 

 
 

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It’s Easy to Envision A Worldwide Flood

I’ve been thinking of all the rain and flooding the Midwest is presently experiencing, which is extremely devastating to so many people, especially those living in the heaviest hit areas. I recall crossing the Mississippi River in 1993 when its banks were overflowing. Sadly, experts are predicting the flood of 2019 could surpass the historic flood of 1993. Yet, there is another flood that surpasses these two floods and all others in history. It was a global flood that wiped out all living creatures on the earth, except for one righteous man, Noah, his wife, their three sons and their wives, and pairs (male and female) of every living creature according to its kind. (Genesis 6-8)

It’s easy to envision a worldwide flood, one where God intentionally flooded the entire earth in forty days and nights with nonstop rain. Thankfully, God promised never to destroy the entire earth again in this manner. “I establish my covenant with you: Never again will all life be destroyed by the waters of a flood; never again will there be a flood to destroy the earth” (Genesis 9:11).find-rainbow-day

As tragic as it is for people to experience the horrific effects of floods (especially the loss of life, homes, and livelihoods), an even worse tragedy is to go through all of life without acknowledging God as the Creator and Sustainer of eternal life, which is found only through a personal relationship with His Son, Jesus.

This Scripture keeps creeping into my mind: “The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by human hands.  And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything. Rather, he himself gives everyone life and breath and everything else. From one man he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands. God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us.  ‘For in him we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:24-28a). The apostle Paul being distressed over the idols in the city of Athens, preached the good news of Jesus and His resurrection. Some of them “sneered” while others “wanted to hear more” and some became believers.

The evidence is clear, not only of the worldwide flood that occurred during the day of Noah, but most importantly, the evidence of the One True God and His one and only Son, who died for the sins of all humankind, and was resurrected on the third day, and is now preparing a place (in Heaven), for all who will call upon His holy name. “If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved” (Romans 10:9).

My heartfelt prayers go out to all the flood victims across our country.

Suggested Resources for parents and grandparents who are intentionally discipling their children and grandchildren in the LORD:

Answers in Genesis – https://answersingenesis.org/

The Ark Encounter:  https://arkencounter.com/

Creation Museum: https://creationmuseum.org/

https://answersingenesis.org/the-flood/

https://answersingenesis.org/kids/videos/science/mount-st-helens/

 

 

 
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Posted by on June 7, 2019 9: 17 am - in Bible Truths / Stories, Eternal Life

 

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Biggest Regret as a Mom

I recently shared with my family that my biggest regret as a mom was not helping our children learn to read and study the Bible. As a rather young mom and new Christian, it took me awhile before I realized the importance of daily Bible reading in my own life. This happened several years after receiving Jesus as my Savior.

I look back and recall the first time the Bible became a focal point in our home. Shortly after my husband surrendered his life to Jesus, he began reading the Bible every night after returning home from working the 3 – 11 pm shift. I immediately witnessed the transformation that was taking place in Jeff’s new life. Tweaking my curiosity, I began reading parts of the Bible and other resources which led me to understand my sinfulness apart from the loving and saving grace of Christ.

Our family 81After Jeff and I received Jesus as our Savior, we immediately started attending church together as a family. So many beautiful memories flood my heart as I look back on this time of growing in the wisdom and knowledge of the LORD while raising our children.

Some researchers say there’s a definite decline in church attendance by young families; probably for multiple reasons. Stop it! Parents, please beware of the devil’s scheme to dethrone Christ in your life and home. Believers need one another and Christ’s Church, to grow in faith through the Word and prayer, enjoying sweet fellowship, and to worship the One True God corporately.  No regrets from this mom for taking our children to church (every Sunday morning, Sunday night, Wednesday night, and all the other special services).

Every human being has a natural inclination toward worship. If our world isn’t rightly ordered, we will end up worshiping and serving things besides God. It isn’t until we’re able to rightly prioritize God above everything else in our world that we can begin to worship in spirit and truth.

Spurgeon quote

Thankfully, our children were learning the basic Bible stories at church from their Sunday school teachers and becoming familiar with Scripture through programs like Bible quizzing, Vacation Bible school, and from holiness pastors who unashamedly preached God’s Word faithfully.

Back to my biggest regret. I missed the opportunity to nurture our children’s faith in Christ by helping them learn to read and study the Bible in our home. Yes, we read and even memorized some Bible verses together, especially when preparing the kids for a Bible quiz, and we had family devotions that taught biblical principles. Regretfully though, we never specifically trained our children to build an intimate relationship with their Heavenly Father by diligently reading the Bible with them or teaching them to seek God and His wisdom by reading their Bibles. Yes, they all had their own Bibles with nice covers, and they carried them to church. And thankfully, I know their teachers taught them to read their Bibles while at church. So, you see, the Church is vital in partnering with parents to effectively disciple our children and youth. The primary responsibility of training children in the ways of the LORD, however, remains the role of the parents. The reason: To produce Godly offspring. (Malachi 2:15):

Has not the one God made you? You belong to him in body and spirit. And what does the one God seek? Godly offspring. So be on your guard, and do not be unfaithful to the wife of your youth.”

A primary purpose of marriage is the production of Godly offspring—that is, offspring trained in the ways of the Lord. Notice how the Scripture says “Godly offspring”—

If parents fail to transmit knowledge to the next generation, then that generation will not have the knowledge to transmit to generations after. Consider (Psalm 78:1-7):

family Bible reading“My people hear my teaching; listen to the words of my mouth. I will open my mouth with a parable; I will utter hidden things, things from of old—things we have heard and known, things our ancestors have told us. We will not hide them from their descendants; we will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the Lord, his power, and the wonders he has done. He decreed statutes for Jacob and established the law in Israel, which he commanded our ancestors to teach their children, so the next generation would know them, even the children yet to be born, and they in turn would tell their children. Then they would put their trust in God and would not forget his deeds but would keep his commands.”

 (Excerpts above provided from the following article.)

Where Are All The Godly Offspring?

BY KENNETH HAM  | FRIDAY, DECEMBER 01, 1989

https://www.icr.org/article/where-are-all-godly-offspring/

And from the Word of God through Moses (Deuteronomy 6:4-9):

Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.  These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the door frames of your houses and on your gates.”

As I draw near to God every morning through His infallible Holy Word, I can’t help but wonder why anyone would want to miss out on this amazing love story of God for His creation. The apostle Paul reminded young pastor Timothy of this when mentoring him for the ministry of Jesus Christ.  (2 Timothy 3:14-17):

“But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it,  and how from infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”

Learning of my God-given responsibility a little later than I would have liked, I am now using every opportunity I have to encourage our grandchildren to read and study the Bible. I keep several age-appropriate Bibles on hand to read with them, and as they begin reading, to read to me.  

If your children or grandchildren are not learning to read and study their Bibles in your home, possibly you could begin by instructing them. First, be sure that you are being intentional with your personal Bible reading. Kids often will model what they see their parents doing (at least when they are young). Prayer is the key. Ask God to give your children a desirous heart for knowing God and for digesting His holy Word. Challenges and resistance will arise. Expect it and prepare for them. Don’t back away from raising Godly offspring. The world and the evil one would like nothing better than for you to raise children who are living their lives by the varied opinions of others rather than truth from their Creator and Heavenly Father, the God of our universe and caretaker of our eternal souls.

I hope that you will not have the same regret I have. It truly could mean the difference between your children living a life of eternal significance for the glory of God or simply living a self-centered life that leads to destruction and eternal Hell. Don’t take the risk that your children will learn all about God and His plan for their salvation in Christ through church (they may), but they may not.

 
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Posted by on March 27, 2019 7: 25 pm - in Building a Legacy of Faith, Eternal Life

 

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