Thursday, June 15, 2017

The Road Less Traveled... for a Reason

People love to ask us questions about our field.

And I love to share about our field!

But sometimes they ask questions that are difficult to answer. They seem like simple questions, but in fact they are quite complicated and have a "long story" explanation.

Take, for example, this simple question:

"How long does it take you to get to church?"

Of course the person who asks this question is expecting me to give a simple time answer ( hours and/or minutes.)

If you are wanting a simple answer, the best I can do is to tell you it takes us anywhere from thirty minutes to an hour and a half... and there have been a couple of occasions where we never made it there at all.

For those who enjoy the "long story," just keep reading.




Here is how it works in a third-world country: We must have plan A, plan B, plan C... and so on. And it isn't necessary to go in alphabetical order either. Our family has found life more exciting when we skip to plan F and come back to plan D if plan F fails. It keeps things lively and fresh.

On the way to church, we may encounter a plethora of obstacles. We have learned how to skillfully navigate those obstacles with a laugh and a Facebook post.

Some of these obstacles are nature. Cows, chickens, ducks, dogs, goats... usually these are pretty easy to get around. Occasionally the cows take a little more effort to dodge. If the chicken decides to cross the road (for whatever reason) and we hit it, it costs us 1000 rupees. That's about $10 USD. Ducks are $14 USD. 

Monsoon season brings its own road adventures and obstacles such as washed-away, slippery, or soupy roads.






Then there is the construction. Construction is never announced. There are no signs or cones in the road. We just come upon it and deal with it. Either we find a way to remove the obstacle, or we must turn around and try plan N. Plan N is not that fun, but it is better than plan Q.

On many occasions, the men have had to remove large rocks where construction crews decided the best place to dump the rocks was right in the middle of the road. Sometimes the construction crew helps. Other times they stand and watch in awe that the foreigner is willing to get dirty by picking up these rocks.






 A few times this dumping practice has forced us to park the car and walk.




Sometimes the obstacle is people, political demonstrations, or festivals held in the streets. We just have to wait until they move on or some kind person clears the way for us to pass through.




Often there are traffic jams caused by narrow road ways and impatient drivers.




All these adventures remind me of another road:

Matthew 7:13-14 "Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it."

It's not the easiest road to navigate, but it is the only one that takes us to the place we want to go. Yes, there is an easy road, but destruction isn't the destination I prefer. That's where the easy road leads.

So as you think about all our physical road adventures, stop and think about those who are on the wrong road spiritually. What are you doing to get them on the right road?



Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Cinnamon Amish Bread

 

I live this recipe. It's simple. It's fast and super yummy. Whenever in a pinch and I need to throw together a goody for breakfast, snack or desert I almost always have these ingredients in the house.

Cinnamon Amish Bread

Makes 2 loaves

1 cup butter, softened

2 cups sugar

2 eggs

2 cups buttermilk or 2 cups milk plus 2 tablespoons vinegar or lemon juice

4 cups flour

2 teaspoons baking soda


Cinnamon/sugar mixture:


2/3 cups sugar

2 teaspoons cinnamon


Cream together butter, 2 cups of sugar, and eggs.

Add milk, flour, and baking soda.

Put 1/2 of batter (or a little less) into greased loaf pans (1/4 in each pan).

Mix in separate bowl the 2/3 c sugar and cinnamon.

Sprinkle 3/4 of cinnamon mixture on top of the 1/2 batter in each pan.

Add remaining batter to pans; sprinkle with last of cinnamon topping. Swirl with a knife.

Bake at 350 degrees for 45-50 min. or until toothpick tester come clean.

Cool in pan for 20 minutes before removing from pan.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Abide



My eyes open with the morning light.

A fresh, new day.

I rise and start on the plans for the day.




The list is long, but my strength seems enough.

Breakfast, dishes, chores.

My strength begins to fade.




I hear Him call.

"Abide."

Language class, homeschooling the children, cleaning.




I feel it in my muscles... in my bones.

A quick break for lunch. My eyes are heavy, but I must press on.




Visit a neighbor. I struggle to understand her. I feel like a failure in my language skills again. I walk home with my shoulders slumped.

Then I hear Him call.

"Abide."

Prepare my children's class lesson. Walk to the store for dinner supplies. My strength is almost gone, but the day is still hovering over me like the blazing sun.



Dinner prepared. Dishes washed. Clothes ironed for the next day. Children tucked in bed. Nothing left to give... nothing left... I wasn't strong enough...




I hear Him call... "Abide."

Rewind the day and start it again...

My eyes open with the morning light.

A fresh, new day.




I rise and get alone with Him. I open the Book. He speaks to me.

John 15:5 "I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing."

My strength will not be enough, so I must abide.

Breakfast, dishes, chores.




I rest in Him... I abide.

I hear Him call, "My grace is sufficient for thee."

Language class, homeschooling the children, cleaning.

A joy. A peace. A strength not my own.

A quick break for lunch. A prayer to focus on the tasks still before me.

Visit a neighbor. I struggle to understand her, but I know that He can do things I cannot do. A hug. A smile. We may struggle to understand each other, but she can see Christ loving her through me. His love has no language barrier. I walk home trusting Him to work.




Prepare my children's class lesson. Walk to the store for dinner supplies. My strength is almost gone, but His strength sustains me. His Word guides my steps.

Dinner prepared. Dishes washed. Clothes ironed for the next day. Children tucked in bed. A loving home. A peaceful evening. I lay down upon my bed and whisper a prayer of thanksgiving. He did it. He used me again. He sustained me.

I hear Him whisper, "My strength is made perfect in weakness... Abide."

Friday, June 2, 2017

Stages in Ministry: When You're Not Doing What You Thought You'd Be Doing


It’s kind of funny when you're as old as I am and you look back over your life. My husband and I have been on the field of Spain for nearly thirty-three years, and almost none of that time was spent doing what I envisioned.

Every field is different, and every missionary woman is different. So are our ministry purposes (schools, church planting, Bible translation, children’s homes, medical missions, etc.). We are singles, wives, and moms.

I don’t pretend to have the answers for every missionary woman. But, I thought you might learn through some of my own history. I hope you’ll smile with my memories and see how God was in it all—even when I had absolutely no idea what was going on.

We arrived in Spain with a baby in our arms—a screamer, who was quickly nicknamed “Comanche.” We knew nothing: no Spanish, nothing about the culture, zero. We were homeless, carless, and clueless. Thankfully, our co-workers were helpful and patient. They searched for an apartment for us, and they helped us to clean it, buy a car, and start paperwork for Spanish residency. They also got us enrolled in language school.

Eight months later, they left on furlough. We quickly found out that total immersion was somewhat close to drowning. We worked with the Spanish pastor and his wife, who spoke no English. To say the least, our conversations were “interesting,” like point, gesture, and grunt. Our private prayer meetings were bilingual. Our missionary co-workers experienced some health issues and remained in the States about two years instead of one. In the meantime, the Spanish pastor became discouraged and threatened to quit. We encouraged him to hang on at least until our co-worker returned. Can you imagine?!!!

By the time our co-worker got back, thankfully, the Spanish pastor was doing better. We also had a nice-sized group of young people, and my husband and I took the reins with them. My husband was barely able to read the devotionals, but we were making friends and having some kind of an impact in lives. I had our second baby, and we took both children everywhere with our young people.

Soon, it was time for us to leave on furlough. We had been in Spain for five years. Our furlough was longer, also, as we needed more support. Then, I found out I needed surgery. Our visas expired, and it took six months to get new ones. It was a long, painful—literally—time at home, filled with misdiagnoses and frustration. But also, God was giving us some new supporting churches, and they have stuck with us all these years.

When we arrived back in Spain, we were ready to start the new church—the reason we went in the first place. This was our vision. But, things didn’t work out that way. There were problems in the first church, and all of us were needed there. We were able, though, to find and buy a storefront in our target area. We applied for a building permit. (The storefront was rough brick on the outside and not even a finished floor inside. There were no walls or divisions.) We waited for permission to start building while holding weekly prayer meetings with our co-workers. God blessed! In fact, one of our supporting churches sent us nearly enough money to supply all the materials for finishing the inside. We hadn’t asked for anything, but God supplied. Our co-worker is a skilled carpenter and bricklayer, and my husband is a good electrician. They learned tiling together and did a beautiful job on the church. The two of them finished it in a year.

During that time, with our little ones, we continued to help out wherever we could in the first church, especially with young people. In 1994, we were able to open the new church. (It was ten years after we arrived on the field.) We had a wonderful opening service on a Saturday evening. I believe there were over eighty people present—many from sister churches. The next morning, a handful of people from our target area, our co-workers, and us attended. Soon, we held our first baptismal service. The new church had begun!

We did tract distribution on Saturdays and personal evangelism whenever we could. At that time, we got an average of one response for every 2,000 tracts that we distributed in mailboxes in our target area. Some people accepted Christ as a result, and we had other opportunities for personal testimony and witness. The church began to grow with baby Christians and non-believers attending as well. There were times when I had the opportunity to teach a children’s class and other times when we had no children. People moved out of the area in search of work. Our church attendance went up and down, and we tried to be faithful in outreach while ministering to those who attended.

Then, there were a couple of church splits in the first church. Some of those people came to our services. I began to teach the young women for a while. The pastor of that church resigned, and our co-worker was called back to take over. It was only natural that the families that had come to our church from that town would go back to their local church.

We were left with a “geriatric church.” My husband and I—with one teenager still at home—were easily the youngest people in the church. Soon, two of our women passed away and one moved away. We had no couples, no children, and everyone was up in years. It was almost funny! People would visit—and stay for one service. Did we scare them? Truly, it’s hard to attract families when you don’t have any. It’s hard to attract children when there aren’t other children or teens in the church. Some did come, though, and a young man our son’s age began attending.

I did weekly Bible studies with several different women. One of them has learned to read during our studies, and she came to know the Lord, too. Talk about a transformed life! She’s a new person!

We also experienced threats, harassment, and hostility.

What did I think I was going to be doing on the mission field?
  • Mentoring groups of eager women—being a Titus 2 teacher
  • Having a children’s ministry

What did I end up doing?
  • Camp ministry
  • Homeschooling for sixteen years and mentoring my own children
  • Bible studies with those who wanted them, when they wanted them
  • Teaching those few children we had in our church at different times
  • I invented other areas of outreach. I wrote my book, began blogging, wrote a second book, and I counsel and mentor women by telephone, online, etc.

What have I learned?
  1. My ideas and God’s are often poles apart. I need to be doing what He has in mind.
  2. There are stages in everyone’s ministry.
  3. You do what needs done, when and where it needs to be done.
  4. For married women: ask your husband what his priorities are for you. This will quickly help you sort out your own. Someone gave me this advice years ago, and it has been very helpful!
  5. If God doesn’t open a door, don’t push.
  6. Cleaning the restrooms, mopping floors, keeping the nursery, and aiding a drug addict are just as spiritual as teaching, if they’re done in joyful service to the Lord.
  7. It’s okay to ask God to show you ways you can do personal outreach. He will show you!
  8. When God opens the door, go through it! God will give you the ministry He wants you to have and empower you to do it.

Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable,
always abounding in the work of the Lord,
forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.
 (1 Corinthians 15:58)

May God bless you in whatever He’s put on your plate today!


  

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Do You Crunch & Munch?

Devotion:
de-vo-shun
noun
Loyalty, love, and enthusiasm for a person.




I remember when I first started going to a Baptist church when I was in high school It was the first time I remember hearing the term "devotions." The pastor or the Sunday school teacher would say something about doing "personal devotions." I had no idea what they were talking about! Apparently, though, it was important to do this thing called devotions.

At some point I finally figured out that they were speaking about having private time in prayer and in God's Word. Although I finally knew what they were talking about, I still had no idea how to do devotions. No one really ever pulled me aside and discipled me to teach me practical things like that. I just kind of flubbed through it. Consistency was difficult at best. Over the years I kept trying and fine tuning my devotional time. I found things that worked for me and got me in the Word. Consistency came with hunger for God's Word and self-discipline.

Today my quiet time has blossomed into a beautiful quilt of memories and styles. I wish someone had taken the time to teach me about devotions so that this quilt could have been made much sooner and with less struggle. It makes me wonder if there are other women out there looking for that kind of help. Maybe there are women looking to freshen up their devotional time that has become stale. That happens occasionally, too.

I hope I can give some simple insights and ideas so that you can glean the most possible out of this precious time called "devotions."

Here's the key to it all: There is no set-in-stone way to do devotions. It is as individual as we are. There are three things required for devotions: prayer, God's Word, and you.

I have come across or used six different styles of devotions (or some variation of these six) over several years. There are times when I found one to be better than another. I simply change up my style depending on the need, where God leads, the Bible passage, etc.


Through the Bible

I chose the "Through the Bible in Six Months" plan, but many people do the one year plan. I recommend everyone to read through the Bible at some point (if not several times.) There are schedules that go straight through the Bible and others that go chronologically.

One Year Reading Plan
Six Month Reading Plan

Pros: You get a great overview of the Bible as a whole. You will read passages you usually neglect. You will build endurance and discipline.

Cons: It's difficult to call ANY form of Bible reading a "con." Any time we get in the Book it is a good thing! But for practical purposes, reading through the Bible at a specifically scheduled pace can feel overwhelming. If you like to dig into the Word, sometimes it can feel rushed. It is easy to begin treating the Bible more like a textbook, and it is tempting to treat devotion time as something to be marked off the "to-do" list. To overcome these "cons," don't feel bound to the schedule. If something catches your eye, park on it. No one says you must finish in a year or you fail at Devotions 101.



Crunch and Munch

In this method, you pick a book in the Bible, and you read until God points something out to you. You basically read until you get something to meditate on (munch on) all day long.

Pros: This method is great for when your time is limited. As a mother with young children, I thrived with this method. It also helped me with my struggle with consistency. It trained me to think throughout the day on what I read. It was easier to digest smaller portions.

Cons: It is very easy to pull passages out of context with this method. Be sure to read enough to get the context of the passage.



Apple Tree

Imagine walking past an apple tree full of apple. You decide to get some apples. The first time you do it, you grab the apples that are easy to reach from the ground. The second time, you have to stretch and reach a little farther. The third time, you have to grab a ladder and get up in the tree to reach more apples. You get a little deeper in the tree each time. 

Just like that, you pick a book in the Bible. You go through that book at a quick pace the first time, maybe a chapter or two a day. You glean the easy and quick to spot truths. The second time you go through, you slow down and look for new things you didn't see the first time through the book. The third time, you go verse by verse, taking time to look up words, meanings of people's names, cultural references, etc.

Pros: This method easily develops into Bible studies because your curiosity gets you! It gives you a good grasp on the book as a whole. It is easier to maintain context and good interpretation habits.

Cons: It is a little more difficult with larger books.



Devotional Book

This method is self explanatory. You use a scheduled devotional book as a guide.

Pros: This method can be very beneficial for those who struggle with consistency. It is easy to do because everything is laid out for you.

Cons: It is easy to create a dependency on being "spoon fed" instead of listening for God to speak to your heart directly from His Word. It can encourage laziness in building endurance and discipline. Many devotional books are shallow in their content. The reader can be at the mercy of the doctrinal accuracy of the writer if the reader doesn't do the research.

Gleanings from the Fields Devotional Book (PDF written by Baptist Missionary Women from around the world.)
Apples for Teachers by Frank Hamrick (written for Christian school teachers, but I gleaned a ton as a homeschool mom and a Sunday school teacher.)
A Word to the Wise by Paul Chappell (Goes through Proverbs. Has more "meat" to it than most devotional books.)



25 and Zoom

This is my favorite method. You pick a book of the Bible and read through it at a fast pace several times... as many as 25 times. (Obviously not in one sitting! It can take several weeks depending on the book and your reading pace.) Then after that, slow down and "zoom in" verse by verse. 

Pros: This method is amazing at helping you keep passages in context as well as understanding the book as a whole. When you go through the book slowly that last time, you will be shocked at how much "jumps out" at you.

Cons: More difficult to do with larger books.



PPON (Psalm, Proverb, Old Testament, New Testament)

Pick a book in the Old Testament to work through as well as one in the New Testament. Read one chapter in each every day. Also read a Psalm and a chapter in Proverbs every day.

Pros: Gives a well-rounded diet of wisdom, encouragement, and knowledge everyday!

Cons: If time is limited it can be more difficult to do. It can sometimes feel overwhelming if there are too many thoughts to meditate on for the day.


Other tips for devotion time:

  1. Journaling your devotion and prayer time is very effective in aiding growth. For some people, journaling can feel distracting or cumbersome and interfere with developing consistency. For others, journaling helps them to focus and helps them to retain truths to meditate on throughout the day.
  2. Pray before and after reading the Bible.
  3. Have a plan and have your supplies ready.
  4. Reevaluate occasionally and don't be afraid to adapt your style to the need.
  5. Fast food is better than no food, so if for some reason you are cut short on time, commit to praying and reading something in God's Word everyday even if it is just for a few minutes. Check out this blog post: Yesterday's Lunch by Jamie. It will encourage you!

by Charity, Southern Asia

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Ministering Around The World- Part V; Russia, Norway & Alaska

These three places are from pretty wide ranges but they also have some similarities that I thought might make them fun to view together. And it was very educational in that some things I thought made them similar actually weren't at all! Well that has been one of the great things about this project is learning so many unlearned things and correcting false assumptions. So let's dig into these 3 very interesting countries.

Geographically I saw Alaska, Russia and the islands of Norway being all isolated cold type environments but come to find out that Norway isn't just the islands of the North but most of the country is attached to Europe by Sweden and Denmark. I didn't expect that but I also didn't expect Norway to be the most unreached country out of the three with only one independent baptist missionary I can find.

 

I found four great ladies to help me learn about these three countries: Holly Grotke (served in Alaska and now going to Norway), Gayle Compton (Alaska), Amber Pranger (Russia), & Joy Crockett (assisting in Norway). They were all very kind and informative. It is always and honor to interview the ladies I get to meet about their ministries and how God is working.

Norway was said to be a mainly Lutheran country, Alaska ranges from Episcopal to Anamism and Shamanism where these ladies serve and 47% Protestant in the country as a whole, and Russia leans on the Russian Orthodox Church. What a range of religions and differences! These countries also vary greatly in size and population. We all know the enormity of Russia, with 144 million people burrowed in its massive country!

 

And surprisingly Norway although quite smaller than Alaska far out weighs them in citizens. Norways shores include 5 million people while Alaska only consists of approximately 739,000 people.

All three of these countries have Modern societies within their borders. Norway is not only modern but extremely expensive. It is said to be the most expensive country in the world to live in. Russia is mostly modern throughout in varying degrees. With many cities sporting an industrial feel with skyscrapers and apartment towers throughout . Alaska on the other hand varies greatly. They have some very large and modern cities such as Fairbanks and Anchorage but there is also small villages that have an almost third world quality to them. In many communities in Alaska, people live very traditional lives. They still hunt and fish for a living and livelihood.

 

The missionaries in both Alaska and Russia say they believe there to be 20-40 independent Baptist missionaries serving in their countries. While Norway only has 1 independent baptist missionary serving there but coincidentally one of the ladies I interviewed who served in Alaska for many years is now in a transition to going to serve in Norway, Holly Grotke. And Holly told me there is another two couples trying to go there also as missionaries. The visa process is not easy or cheap.What a blessing to see more couple joining forces to reach these 5 million unreached Norwegians with the gospel. Please pray the Lord provides a way for them to move there and begin the work.

The Norwegian people are very independent people. They are trained from a young age to care for themselves and they don't quickly trust others. As in many other countries, for them trust is vital for someone to openly listen to the gospel message. The lady told us that it is not uncommon to take 10 years to completely win someone's friendship! Can you believe that? Can you imagine the dedication and love it takes to keep loving someone for years and years so that eventually you can share the message of Christ with them and hopefully they will accept him?

The lady I spoke to about Norway is actually involved in a missionary encouragement ministry. Her husband and her, travel all over the world trying to up-lift, invest, labor with and encourage the missionaries serving there. They understand the power of discouragement and how the devil loves to use it and how he fights the spread of the gospel. They feel called to help "hold up the arms" of those laboring around the globe. I'm sure that must be especially encouraging to those who serve in countries with very few missionaries and very slow conversions.

People in both Alaska and Russia also tend to be reached by relationships, however not quite as lengthy of ones as Norway. In Alaska the people aren't quick to accept outsiders and it definitely takes some time to win an audience to share Christ. One of the ladies worded it great, that their main outreach is hospitality. Not only by kindly sharing the gospel in outreach ministries but also by showing kindness to neighbors and friends by spending time with them and lending a hand when necessary. In Russia, Amber also spoke of spending time with people sometimes on special occasions and sometimes just sharing a cup of tea. She said they use American holidays as a way to invite others over and prayerfully build the relationship and share Christ through anything possible. In Norway they will also teach English classes or even host classical music concerts to create environments where they can meet people and sew seeds of the gospel.

In Russia and Alaska there is a basis of works salvation Christianity that the missionaries are working to overcome. I don't know if anyone of you reading were saved out of a works based religion, but it has a strong hold on your heart and mind that loves to snare those who hear the truth. When they hear the truth they are plagued with doubts about the validity of simply trusting the act of One. Surely they must have to DO something. Bible truth and the Holy Spirit conviction are truly necessary to break through the blindness and confusion.

In Russia as many of you may have read in the news many missionaries are facing more and more oppression from the government. You can read about a recent story here about a missionary facing this problem.

http://www1.cbn.com/cbnnews/world/2017/january/exclusive-american-missionary-fights-to-pray-read-bible-in-putins-russia

To have religious freedom to meet in a group or invite anyone to a group religious meeting or hand out literature with a church's name on it you must have your church registered with the government. Thankfully those who do register with the government are granted unfettered religious freedom. But for those who don't, it makes any form of outreach, church services or publicity a fearful thing.

I asked the ladies about what was one of their largest struggles. In Norway and Alaska they spoke of the depression that darkness brings. We have all heard about the months of darkness in these far North countries. And we have previously in a post about Greenland, talked about the power this has over our emotions and how it drives many in those cultures to alcohol and how many other problems stem from that.

This is a unique struggle that requires the grace of the Lord to maintain a joyful spirit in this environment. It also creates a society under the power of alcohol, which we all know is a stronghold of the devil that people need the power of God to overcome. In a Alaska it is also very uniques because many places are quite remote. Some have only plane access and the people drive everywhere on ATV's. While in Russia, Amber said that the struggle is living in such a busy society. The people keep a packed schedule and tend to not want to take time for church.

From the European country of Norway, to the frigid American territory of Alaska, to the vast country of Russia I've enjoyed learning about the culture, the missionaries lives and ministries and the need of the people. I'm again inspired by what can be accomplished in the lives of those who simply say, "yes" to the Lord and follow his path for their lives.
The Lord is able to use his children in difficult challenging situations to shout out his gospel across the globe. I'm always encourage by fellow servants who faithfully and patiently love and invest in people. I'm thankful for these ladies and the many others who are serving in these countries. I hope these few things will help you pray for those you support in these countries.

Pranger Family

By: April McTague

 

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Rules for Parenting and Youth Ministry


I am going to share with you a little known secret: Missionary kids are not perfect.


I think I just heard a collective gasp from around the world. Some missionary moms just gasped because I spilled the beans. Other moms gasped because I just destroyed your fairy tale idea of missionary kids.

All joking aside, missionary kids are just like other kids. They make mistakes. They sin. They make bad choices sometimes. Honestly, there are times when I have thought of my own children, "Who is this kid? He/she should know better!" Sometimes I find myself demanding or expecting perfection out of my own children.

Now don't get me wrong. My kids are amazing. I love watching God work in their lives. I love seeing them make great choices. I love seeing them grow and change. But there are times when they trip and stumble.

When I am reminded that they are sinners (just like me) sometimes I get frustrated. Sometimes I feel fear. Sometimes panic wants to invade my heart. During those moments, I try to do some reflection. I reflect on lessons on parenting that God has already taught me through His Word, through counsel, and through past experiences.
3 John 1:4 "I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth."

Parenting and youth ministry is difficult and often heartbreaking. Just as seeing our children walk in truth can bring great joy, seeing our children stumble can bring deep grief. During those times we must stay focused. We must not forget what God has already taught us, and we must learn each day as the Lord teaches us new things.

Join me as I share with you such a time of reflection.

  1. Rules - Relationship = Rebellion
  2. Relationship - Rules = Dysfunction
  3. No matter what shocking news they tell you, never let the surprise show on your face. If they confide in you, they are looking for security. If they think they have shocked you, it may close off the doors of communication and trust. Just remember, no matter the shocking news, they have come to you. That's a good thing, and it is a foundation you can work with to help them get on the right path.

    Proverbs 1:8-9  "My son, hear the instruction of thy father, and forsake not the law of thy mother: For they shall be an ornament of grace unto thy head, and chains about thy neck."

  4. No matter how great of a parent or youth leader a person is, it does not guarantee children who will choose right. God is a perfect parent and look at us! So if you discover one day that your children are sinners, just as we are, be patient with them just as God is with us. If sin must be confronted and corrected, make sure you are spiritual (walking in the spirit and not in anger and disappointment) AND that you do it in meekness. After all, we are all in the same boat... we are all sinners.

    Galatians 6:1 "Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted."
  5.  Don't fall for the quality/quantity lie. "It's not how much time you spend with them; it's the quality of time." Ugh... No, quantity matters greatly too. Set time aside. Sacrificial time. When we do that it sends the message that our children are extremely valuable and worth sacrificing for.

    Psalm 127:3 "Lo, children are an heritage of the LORD: and the fruit of the womb is his reward."
  6. When young people (especially around the age of 12 and above) begin questioning our standards and convictions... and when "Don't do this because I said no" is no longer good enough, don't panic. It's actually a wonderful opportunity and exactly where you want them to be. We don't want them to have convictions and standards simply because mom and dad do or because a Sunday school teacher does. We want them to know what they believe and why they believe it. We want them to own it for themselves.

    So when they begin questioning, encourage their questions! And be ready to answer from Scripture why you believe and practice what you do. If they say they aren't sure they believe the same that you do, don't worry. Keep pointing them to God's Word and tell them they don't have to agree with you... they should, however, seek to line up with Scripture. While they must submit to your authority while in your home or under your authority, you are preparing them to follow God's Word even when you are not around.

    Proverbs 4:5 "Get wisdom, get understanding: forget it not; neither decline from the words of my mouth."
  7. Be real. Young people can spot a fake miles away.

    James 1:22 "But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves."
  8. Be consistent. Follow through or you become hypocritical in the eyes of young people.

    Ecclesiastes 5:5 "Better is it that thou shouldest not vow, than that thou shouldest vow and not pay."

  9. Don't send mixed messages. "Church is vital!" But then you allow them to skip church for ball games. "The Bible is our standard!" But then you can't explain from the Bible why you do what you do or don't do. "Obey authority!" But then they see you trying to skirt around rules. Mixed messages send the message that truth is relative and they can decide what is right for them... and that's not true.

    Matthew 15:8 "This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me."
  10. We want our children to know God's Word. Having standards is a good thing. But without an intimate relationship with the Lord, these things puff them (and us) up in pride. We must teach our children that motive matters. Love for the Lord should be our driving force. It will keep us meek. It will keep us humble. In turn we can teach our children through our actions and attitudes.

    1 Corinthians 8:1 "Now as touching things offered unto idols, we know that we all have knowledge. Knowledge puffeth up, but charity edifieth."
  11. We cannot be the Holy Spirit in the lives of youth. Manipulation, nagging, appealing to emotions, and cultivating guilt are destructive behaviors born out of a lack of faith. They tear down. God's Word must be carefully used in love with a heart for rescue and edifying, trusting that we may impact the ears, but the Spirit takes the Word and penetrates the heart. We must never use the Word as a battering ram to break into the heart. Doing so will merely harden a heart toward the conviction of the Spirit. Wield the Word gently in faith and let the Holy Spirit do His work in His time and in His way.

    Hebrews 4:12 "For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart."
  12. Stop rescuing children from the consequences of their actions. Sowing and reaping is God's design, and it is often the method by which we grow and learn. Yes, be compassionate. Yes, weep with them if necessary. Sin brings pain. Hurting with them helps them to understand that we know what it is like to face the music of our sinful choices. Allowing them to face the consequences also shows them the faith that you have that God is working, that God is holy, that sin is ugly, and that they can grow if they choose repentance. If the consequences they face break your heart... imagine how God feels when He must chastise us.

    Galatians 6:7 "Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap."
  13. If they come to you in confidence, don't ruin their trust by sharing things with others. The trust of young people is a valuable and fragile thing. There are certain things we are legally obligated to tell to authorities, but even in that we should be up front about it with them and let them know we have to tell. Other things... if it is best shared, ask permission or better yet, encourage them to do the right thing and tell. Let them know you are with them and supporting them. Go with them literally if needed.
    Proverbs 11:13  "A talebearer revealeth secrets: but he that is of a faithful spirit concealeth the matter."
  14. Our greatest ministry to children isn't cleaning or cooking. It isn't games and date times. It isn't gifts or lesson plans or even hugs and kisses. It's prayer. Pray pray pray. God can do what we cannot. God can protect and God can reach a heart. God can heal. God can convict. So pray faithfully. Pray fervently. Pray consistently. Pray.
    1 Thessalonians 5:17  "Pray without ceasing."

Parenting and Family Book Recommendations



   



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by Charity, Southern Asia
Author of Heart-At Home Mom