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Tag Archives: Children serving others

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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Life is but a Vapor

“You do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life?

It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away” (James 4:14).

 “Ella Volunteer Homeless ShelterIt certainly adds weight to the scripture’s characterization, life is like a vapor.” This is the response I received  from a friend after notifying him of a mutual friend’s tragic death. It made me pause, then reflect upon my life. Have I been wasting much precious time with things that don’t really matter? Yes, I’ll be honest, I have spent way too many moments with worry, over thinking, harboring ill-thoughts toward others, spending money I don’t have on things I don’t need (or at times, even like), trying to figure out the end results, and so on.

Our most recent losses:

  • A friend, who was a loving father, grandfather, and faithful Christian.

  • Our friend’s son who died from cancer this past year. At the same time, she made the difficult decision to place her husband* into a nursing home.

    * Charlie, a dear man, who led many souls to Jesus, including my husband. Charlie selflessly visited the lonely and forgotten at nursing care facilities and homes for the disabled. Now, as his life draws near, he is the one in need of love and care. His dear wife Marilyn provides this for him, during her daily and tiring visits.

These most recent losses fill me with deep sorrow and thoughtfulness, as I ponder my own impending death; when God chooses to take me to my “forever” home.

Our oldest daughter and her husband recently moved into their new home, which took nearly a year to build. Jennifer recently told me that she didn’t mind all the extra effort and resources they poured into their new house, because it will be their “forever” home. I like that!  We, who call ourselves Christians, should have the same outlook, as we plan and co-labor with Christ, building the Kingdom of God, our forever home.

I recommit my life to wholly living for Christ and His Church. Help me, God, to prioritize my life according to Your will and purpose in my life.

TRAINING CHILDREN AND GRANDCHILDREN TO EMBRACE LIFE WITH A SENSE OF GRATITUDE, THANKFULNESS, AND AS FAITHFUL STEWARDS, MAY BE CHALLENGING TO MOST AMERICAN CHRISTIANS.

Let’s not only prepare our children for academic excellence, playing sports, and securing a good-paying job, but let’s help them realize their life’s purpose:  To use their gifts and talents for the glory of God.  

I recently spent a day volunteering at a homeless shelter with our oldest granddaughter. It was a very rewarding experience. My prayer is to have more of these kinds of opportunities with all my grandchildren…to serve others in the name of Jesus.

It’s important to teach our children (age-appropriate) about death. I’ll never forget when our now 10-year-old granddaughter began asking me this question, “How does Jesus take people to heaven when they die?” After trying to explain, Ella profoundly stated, “I know, Jesus carries people to heaven with balloons.” Since then, when a loved one passes away, we release balloons. When Jesus takes me home to heaven, I hope to have a large bouquet of rainbow-colored balloons released on a warm summer day.

Similarly, our 5-year-old grandson recently said goodbye to one of his pet ducks that was born with a birth defect. Jack named him Donald and was quite attached to this little white-feathered creation. Jack is beginning to realize there is a time to be born and a time to die. His parents took this opportunity to explain death and eternity to Jack. They also had a burial for Donald and placed a little wooden cross on his grave.

Having experienced the death of both of my parents by age 7, I fully understand the importance of talking to children about death, and eternal life. 

I came across this article from Scripture Union: Talking with your children about Death… Issues to think about.

Based on and adapted from: Children and Grieving (SU) J Goodall 1995

http://www.scriptureunion.org.uk/Families/Parents/Talkingabout/Death/1200.id

Celebration Ideas for Grandparents Day, Sept. 7.

http://www.grandparentingwithapurpose.com/2014/07/celebration-ideas-for-grandparents-day-sept-7/

 

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