Tips for Connecting With Your Teen

 Are you connecting with your teenager or growing farther apart every day?  Here are three things you can do to communicate and connect on a deeper level.

 So, what do you and your teen talk about?  My guess is that you discuss such items as academics, work, behaviors, privileges, sports involvement, picking the right friends, choosing the right clothes, performing chores, and obeying the rules of the house.

Now, take a minute and think about what else you talk about.  Pretty short list, isn’t it?

 Most of what we talk about is what they’re doing or need to do, not about what they’re thinking about or asking about their passions and goals in life.  This imbalance can create the impression that your relationships with your teen is determined by their actions and how they perform, versus your desire to really know them.

 The point is this . . . talking to your teenager does not necessarily mean you’re communicating.  In fact, too much talk can cover up what really needs to be said.  Sometimes the most important connection with your teen can happen with very few words.  Are you looking for ways to really connect with your teen’s deepest hopes, concerns and fears; or is the mode of communication between the two of you an endless stream of superficial words, demands, and lecturing?  I encourage you to stop the chatter, look for what’s under the surface, and connect with your teen in a more meaningful way.

 I.  Communicate By Asking Questions

The power of a parent asking questions is remarkable effective.  Everyone knows that when you are asked your opinion, you feel valued.  I’m talking about “What do you think?” questions, not “What did you do?” questions.  When asked in a non-condemning and non-prying way, these questions can convey a sense of value and relationship that is unparalleled by any other act of kindness.  The movement toward a teen by asking them what they think lets them know you have an interest in them and that you value their opinion.

 So, ask your teen lots of questions.  Not ones that make them uncomfortable, but the kind of questions that make them think about things.  Find out how they would do something, where they would go, and why they think a certain way.  Talk about controversial subjects as you would to a friend or co-worker for whom you have extreme respect.  Never belittle their opinions about things.  After all, did you know everything when you were a teen?

 If parents don’t ask questions, they could be missing serious hidden situations in the life of their teen.  Wise parents understand that anything can happen today, so they maintain an open line of communication with their teen to prevent things from getting out of hand if it does happen.  Foolish parents never give it any thought, so they never ask questions. The most common comment I hear from the parents of hundreds of struggling teens is this:  “I never knew this could happen to my child.”  Let me assure you from years and years of experience that anything can happen to anyone at any time.

 Engaging with your teen through the power of caring inquiry is crucial, but you must also learn to keep your mouth shut long enough to hear your teen’s answer.  If you know something is wrong, be sure to inquire past their first “Nothing’s wrong” answer.  And when the real answer comes out, regardless of how bad or shocking it is, don’t respond with anger or disappointment.  Just listen.  Establishing a line of communication is far more important at this point than scolding or getting your “I told you so” point across.

 Sometimes just by asking questions you empower teens to apply the values you have taught them to their own current situation.  Your questions might also encourage your teen to ask questions of you.  And if she does start asking questions, she might be inviting you to a dark and shameful corner of her world.  I always tell parents to ask questions, because I know it works.

 II. Communicate Respect in Times of Conflict

Maintaining an attitude of respect is key.  It is basically putting your child first and showing them respect, even as you demand the same of them.  This affects your tone and demeanor, since you wouldn’t yell at, belittle, or talk down to someone you respect.  Show grace and respect in the way you communicate to your teen and they’ll learn to do the same with you.

 In times of conflict, my goal for every difficult and sometimes heated discussion is this:  At the end of the argument, I want there to be an opportunity for us to hug one another, even if I didn’t change my mind nor lessened the consequences.  That’s the goal.  Even if we can’t agree, I still remain in charge, and we can at least agree to disagree because it was all talked out.

 Being respectful has nothing to do with how right you are and how wrong they are.  It has nothing to do with the discipline you may need to apply to their behavior.  It has everything to do with maintaining the right approach whenever you talk to your teen, and thereby maintaining your relationship.  Sometimes when you need to address an issue, I again recommend asking a question.  Asking a thoughtful question can help engage their thinking process and the system of beliefs you’ve taught them.  You may be surprised to find they come to the right conclusion all on their own when they are shown respect in this way.

 III.  Communicate by Listening More, Speaking Less

Not talking is one action.  Listening is another action.  Just because you’re not talking doesn’t mean you’re listening.  God gave us two ears and one mouth because He wanted us to listen twice as much as we talk (okay, not really, but it gets the point across).  You may hear what your teen is saying, but are you really listening without trying to correct him or get him to answer the correct way?

 Most of the time, your teen says things to you or to others not to communicate valuable information, but simply to process life.  She doesn’t need a response or a judgment, she doesn’t need an opinion or a solution, and she probably isn’t really asking for anything.  She just needs a listening ear.  So take time to listen – slowly.

 A Sunday school teacher once asked the ten-year-old in her class, “What’s wrong with grown-ups?”  A boy responded, “Grown-ups never really listen because they already know what they’re going to answer.”

 If this sounds like you, it may be time to admit that listening is not something you do well.  Polishing up your listening skills is never a bad idea.  Good listening habits can easily get tossed aside in the business of life.  But the way you listen to your child goes a long way in determining his willingness to share his deep concerns with you.  And if you ever want him to listen to you, then you had better teach him how to listen by your example.  Practice listening to your child.  Position yourself at his eye level, and make lots of eye contact.  And don’t worry about your answers.

 All teens want to do is talk and have someone listen to them.  If a teen shares what is on her heart, and that is missed by a parent more concerned about the delivery of the message than the heart of the communication, that teen will eventually quit sharing.  If your teen is in the shutdown mode, there is a reason.  And the reason may be that you aren’t listening to what’s being said anyway.

 Most kids want to say, “My parents listened to me, and they heard me and they valued me.”  For your kid to say that, I’d say you are moving toward perfection.  If you are willing to just listen, you might touch the heart of your teen and convey a sense of value.  Don’t worry about your answer, just focus on listening as your teen shares their heart.

 If you’ve been a bad listener, keep working at it, and share your desire to be a better listener.  Find opportunities for your teen to talk, even if they seem a bit forced at first.  Eventually, with diligence on your part, your teen will again learn to trust their dreams, thoughts and questions with you.

 ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Mark Gregston is an author, speaker, radio host, and the founder and director of Heartlight, a therapeutic boarding school located in East Texas. Call 903-668-2173. Visit http://www.heartlightministries.org, or to read other articles by Mark, visit http://www.markgregston.com.

 

 

Teens Consumed by Video Games

 Video game sales now surpass sales of both music and movies. For millions of kids and young adults, playing video games has become an obsession.

 To give you some history, I grew up in New Orleans – not exactly the most conservative city. But when I was a kid, people weren’t allowed to play pinball games at the arcade until they were 21. That seems like a silly law today, especially since nowadays nearly every family has their own version of a pinball arcade right in their own home, and most kids play games on their cell phones. I find nothing wrong with most of these games. In fact, playing a video game together with your teen is a great way to connect. But some kids and young adults are being consumed by them, and that’s where the problems lies.

 I think what happens in many homes is that the parents buy video game consoles, intending to play games together as a family. The kids initially enjoy them, and the parents play along from time to time. But the excitement eventually wanes and the kids come home from their friends’ houses asking for the more advanced video games their friends have. Partly out of guilt for not playing with them more often, mom and dad agree to buy the more advanced video games that the kids can play on their own, not paying much attention to what’s on them or how much time is spent playing them. After all, it keeps them at home, out of trouble.

 The Draw of Video Games

 Teenagers love playing video games because they provide a challenge and an escape. It’s also something they can be very good at and be proud of their skill.  But they also offer mental and visual stimuli that can cause the “gamer” to forget where they are. In fact, hours can pass as if minutes. It’s sad that we live in a culture that is so stressed that kids feel the need to escape in this way. It shows the intensity of that world out there and the need for parents to make their home and their relationship a place of rest for their teen.

 What’s more, kids find a sense of value and esteem in playing these games. Even the dorkiest kids can become virtual sports stars, rock stars, cool secret agents or Rambo-like warriors in these games. It’s one thing they can do better than their parents and maybe even their friends, so they relish it. And it’s one place — maybe the only place — where they feel totally in control.

 When It Becomes All-Consuming

I find it interesting that the word “Atari,” the brand name of one of the original video game platforms, means in Japanese “you’re about to become engulfed.” And that’s exactly what happens to kids and an increasing number of young adults who play video games. They become engulfed in these games and lose all sense of time or care for anything else. Many kids stay up all night secretly playing video games, night after night. The loss of sleep causes them to become emotional wrecks and their grades begin to slip. Like any other addiction, they can’t get enough of it.

There is also an opportunity cost to playing video games. Every hour spent on them is an hour the teen isn’t doing something more productive, like learning a new hobby, getting exercise, doing homework, or spending time with the family. Anything that takes over a child’s time and attention for many hours every day should be moderated. Parents need to moderate the amount of time that their kids play and the type of games their kids play, and not just follow the rating on the package. Make sure the game is appropriate for your child and your family values.

Some argue that playing video games is a good way to spend time with friends, and I agree. But kids who are consumed by these games will tell you that they started playing games with their friends, but then moved on to playing against people online that they don’t even know. S o that’s a red flag — don’t let your kids become so consumed by these games that they no longer invite their friends over to play.

The Effect of Violent Video Games

While most moms don’t want their kids playing “shooter” games, research is split on the effect of violent video games. I find just as many experts saying they have a negative effect as not. I truly think that it is more of a reflection on the individual child, their maturity, and the situation in the home than anything else. If you have a kid who is already prone to violent outbursts, hangs around with violent kids, or seems to lack a moral compass, violent games should be avoided. It’s akin to giving stimulants to a hyperactive kid.

Some experts offer the horrific shooting at Columbine High School in 1999 as an example of the negative impact of violent video games. The two teenage shooters, Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris, were known to be immersed in violent video games. They reported in their online diaries that their lives were most gratifying while playing in a virtual world. Some think that the two killers may have been desensitized to killing due to their constant exposure to violent imagery and actions in such video games, as well as the violent movies they both enjoyed, which gloried killing.

Trouble began to brew after the games were grounded when Klebold and Harris were arrested for breaking into a vehicle. That’s when they had time on their hands to begin planning the school massacre. Some experts believe that the anger and tactics that were previously being projected into the video games was unleashed into the real world when they could no longer play. Maybe so, but psychiatrists diagnosed Harris, the leader of the two, a psychopath who was already bent on killing those in the school who had wronged him. A psychopath has no ability to tell what is real from what is not real, and is characterized by selfishness, ruthlessness and the inability to feel guilt.

So it becomes a “chicken or the egg” question. Did the games cause Harris to become a psychopath, or was he already a psychopath and the games fueled his murderous intentions? Obviously, the latter is true. If violent video games did create psychopaths, we’d see Columbine-like massacres happening around the world every minute of the day, because millions of kids and young adults are playing them. Of course, that’s not happening.

I believe that for most kids violent video games won’t do anything at all – especially if the game is played only periodically as a pastime. The normal child won’t become desensitized to killing people by simply playing “shooter” video games. They know that the opposing characters in the game aren’t real — no different than the skeet I shoot or the plastic ducks lined up at the shooting range at the fair. For boys, who are visually-oriented and naturally have a warrior instinct, these games of skill and conquering are very appealing. It’s when they’re played incessantly that the fantasy world can sometimes get mixed up with the real world. And that’s a problem only if the child is already emotionally unstable.

Getting It Under Control

What you as a parent can do is to keep an eye on the games your teen is playing. When a new game is purchased or is given to your teen as a gift, play the game with them to learn how it works and what images and values it portrays. If you find it objectionable, then get rid of it, even if your child pitches a fit. Most cities have video game exchanges, so take your teen there so they can find a better game to trade for. Don’t throw the baby out with the bath water by banning video games altogether. There are literally thousands of good games, including skills-based sports games, skateboarding games, motocross and racing games, city-building games, and multi-tiered adventures with no immoral or violent overtones.

If your teen is spending way too much time playing video games, or if the games are affecting their motivation or personality, then it’s time to act. Cut back the number of hours they play daily. Shut down the unit and take away the power cord after a certain hour in the evening. Require that they match the time they play video games with equal amounts of other more productive non-digital activities. And remember this … kids play video games on their computers and on smart phones as well, not just using the game box hooked to the TV, so be sure to keep an eye on that as well.

Playing video games can be a fun activity that you and your teenager can enjoy together. In fact, it can help your relationship if you make it a point to play with them on a regular basis. But it can be an unhealthy activity if it consumes your child’s time and attention, takes them away from you, their friends or the rest of the family, or if it promotes immoral thoughts or behavior. Some video games can feed violent or antisocial behavior in teens who are already prone to such problems.

If your teen is already caught up in video games to an extent that it is consuming their life, and you can’t get them away from it, then treat it like any other addiction. Intervene with the help of a good counselor who deals with such addictions. They’ll give you the tools you both need and uncover the root causes for why the teen tends to be consumed by this kind of activity.

The bottom line for parents is this … tell your kids that you’ll stand beside them through thick and thin, but you’ll stand in front of them when it comes to blocking anything unhealthy, immoral or antisocial that is influencing their life. And that includes controlling their use of video games.

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Mark Gregston is an author, speaker, radio host, and the founder and director of Heartlight, a therapeutic boarding school located in East Texas. Call 903-668-2173. Visit http://www.heartlightministries.org, or to read other articles by Mark, visit http://www.markgregston.com.

 

 

Witchcraft and its influence in our society.

One day a frog jumped into a pot of water that was sitting on a stove, he happily swam around this pot for hours and hours, never noticing a woman come over to the stove and turn on the knob to boil the water, he just kept swimming around. As time went by the water became hotter and hotter and cooked the frog.

Why did the frog not jump out of the pot you might wander? Because he never noticed the climate change. He kept swimming and never realized that the water was becoming warmer and warmer until it had reached boiling point.

I believe that is what is happening in the Christian world right now. I would love to scream this message from every roof top, WE ARE BEING COOKED ALIVE BY THE LIES OUT THERE PEOPLE!!!!

What lies you may be thinking?

For the past 100 years that we as a people have had the luxury of technology, movies and television have bombarded us with messages that are not necessarily godly, or have great morals.

But, we have sat back and allowed these messages into our homes; the media has been extremely influential when it comes to how the people of a nation think.

Now, go with me on a little bunny trail for a moment, in the 1940’s Hitler launched a massive propaganda campaign to sell his “Ideals”. The majority of the population bought into the lies and went along with the popular thought of the day. Yes, there we people that stood up to him and spoke against him, but the majority, believed the propaganda that was now becoming the norm for their society.

I believe that in a lot of ways we as Christians have done the same. The bible teaches that we are to live in the world not as (like) the world. (1 Peter 2:11) in other words we need to live our lives here but not like those who are unbelievers and who carry out all kinds of sins. We actually have to live to a higher standard, act differently, react differently, all the while showing the love of Christ to those around us.

So how have we adopted the common and accepted thoughts of the day? Well let’s look at the things that we believe about witchcraft.

Witchcraft, comes in all shapes, sizes and ways, sometimes subtle and innocent looking and in other ways it comes across as quite blatant.

On television these days, there are shows such as, Wizards of Waverly place, The Mentalist, Medium, Harry Potter to name but a few.

They are dangerous because when it becomes the accepted norm in our society to embrace these “evil” practices, it is not a far stretch to begin thinking that it cannot be all that bad.

I see the influence of these practices in our Christian circles all of the time, parents not saying no to children who love to embrace these kinds of shows and then end up taking this stuff and thinking into their belief system. I believe that it is a very slippery slope that we are on when we embrace this kind of evil. Then the parents do not understand why their children behave badly or have serious nightmares constantly. It is because they have literally said to Satan, come on in and have free reign to torment my child.

What is wrong with it you might be wandering well let me share with you what God says on the word. I am a firm believer that if you are going to take God at his word you cannot pick and choose what works for you to believe, you believe the whole counsel of his word or not.

So, let’s go back to the Old Testament for a moment,

Deuteronomy 18:9 – 13

 When you enter the land the LORD your God is giving you, do not learn to imitate the detestable ways of the nations there.  Let no one be found among you who sacrifices his son or daughter in the fire, who practices divination or sorcery, interprets omens, engages in witchcraft, or casts spells, or who is a medium or spiritist or who consults the dead. 

 Anyone who does these things is detestable to the LORD, and because of these detestable practices the LORD your God will drive out those nations before you.  You must be blameless before the LORD your God. 

As you can see, God told the Israelites that he was going to give them the land of Canaan, and in doing so he was going to drive out the nations that currently occupied the land. Why did he want to drive them out and destroy them, well it is because of the evil that they practiced.

Brothers and Sisters, you have to realize something, God is a holy God, and when the devil opposed him and he was cast out of heaven, all that he did, said and practiced was considered evil.

God tells us as his children not to partake in these practices because it literally opens the doors for the enemy to come in and bring destruction into our lives. Trust me, if you give the devil (deceiver) half a chance he will take it and take the next 10 as well.

So God does not want us to practice divination (the art, practice, or gift of discerning or discovering future events or unknown things, as though by supernatural powers). The new age movement is full of these practices at this time. Books are being written about it, and people are seeking them out in droves. I even see people set up booths in the malls, to tell people their future. I hate to burst the bubble, but it is from demons that they get their information. I would not want to trust a demon with “knowledge of my future”. I want the Lord Jesus Christ through the Holy Spirit to show me and lead me into my future.

Interpreting omens (anything perceived or happening that is believed to portend a good or evil event or circumstance in the future; portent.) Again, it is dealing with the future, only God knows our future and it is to him that we must always look.

Witchcraft (the art or practices of a witch; sorcery; magic. magical influence; witchery.) This is the blatant practice of the magic arts, evil wizardry. It is destructive and will destroy us if we choose to participate in it.

Here is a sick example of the power that witchcraft can have on a nation of people. In South Africa, witchcraft is practiced but most of the tribes in the nation. They have a Sagoma, which is a witch doctor, medicine man. He is basically the head of the spiritual environment of the tribe. These witch doctors have been instructing young and old men alike to have sex with virgins in order to cure themselves of Hiv/Aids. These young men so desperate for a cure that they believe and trust these Sagoma’s and rape hundreds of thousands of young girls yearly. Some need operations when they are found, just to fix their insides. That my friend is evil.

This is just one example of the evil practices of witchcraft. It is real, it has some power to perform “supernatural things” but in the end, it is not of God, and will bring destruction into the lives of all who practice it.

Tarot Card readings, going to fortune tellers, and reading horoscopes, all fall into these deadly categories for Christians.

The reason that I feel the need to sound the warning bells on this issue is that it is becoming a widespread practice around the world. People believe that they are becoming enlightened by engaging in these practices that God finds detestable, even well-meaning but uninformed Christians.

As a Christian we have to guard our hearts, and thinking from these evil practices of our day. We have to be careful that we are not engaging in things that would bring God dishonor, and we have to warn others when they fly to close to the flame themselves.

So I urge you today, if this article has struck a cord with you and you find yourself in a place where you are playing around with Ocultic practices as well as getting into the New Age movement, Repent!

It is evil in the sight of God and he will hold you accountable for it, but if you repent and turn away from following after these things, the lord Promises that he will forgive you and remove those sins. Don’t delay, cry out to him today and allow him to Pour forth his truth and love and peace into your heart.

Here is a little prayer to help you along.

Dear Jesus Christ

I come before you today and I realize that I am in sin, I have delved into things in this world that you call sin. You have wiped out entire nations because of their evil practices. Father, I want to be clean before you and have the right mindset, forgive me for dabbling into these sins, set me free I pray from the power of Satan and fill me with your Holy Spirit now. I believe that you are the son of God, sent to this world not to condemn it but to save the people. Thank you for saving me. In Jesus name I pray,

Amen

 

 

Day 18~We have a Situation {Pretty Girls and the Boys Who want to Date Them}

I have beautiful daughters.  When they were babies they were beautiful, when they were toddlers they were cute and when they started to grow up , I knew we’d have a problem.  The problem is this: Boys like pretty girls.  I was not a pretty girl~ I was the awkward, looking for my own style(actually, I had no style and could have cared less) kind of girl that boys just want to be friends with.  That’s okay, I was good with that.  But now, I have 3 daughters.  Two of them old enough for the boys to be pursuing.  I need a bigger gun. I need more guns.  I need something more intimidating than my disapproving mother look(which I use far too much for my own liking).

 We have a rule in our house: no dating.  Period.  And I don’t have this rule because I’m mean or because all boys are bad(most of them have less than noble intentions).  I have these rules because I dated a boy(I’m married to him now).  When I dated him , we were both out of high school but we were still driven by a lot of hormonal desire. I had no idea how quickly a guy can go from being your friend to wanting to get your clothes off.  And just so we get something straight here~ I was the “good girl”.  There was no 3rd base or even 2nd base in our courtship. This is the reason for short engagements: you like him, he likes you~ you love him, he loves you~ you want to marry him, he asks…let’s go.  That’s the way it was for us. 

 But back to my girls: No dating, we’ve made that abundantly clear.  And I’ve explained it to my girls this way: If a boy wants to date you now, when you’re 13, 14, 15, what are his intentions?  Does he want a companion? Does he want to show off a pretty girl on his arm in the school hallways? Does he want a girl wearing his football jacket at games? Does he want you to come for Sunday dinner to hang out with his parents? What does he want to date you for? Well, they can never answer that question.  And the reason they can’t answer that is because the boys can’t answer it either!

 This past weekend, my 13  year old told me about a boy at school who has been hounding her to “go out with him”.  Hold the phones!!!  She’s THIRTEEN!!! She hasn’t been on the planet long enough to listen to cassette tapes or know what a rotary phone is! She doesn’t remember Y2K or life before Hannah Montana.  SHE IS A CHILD.(it’s okay, I’ve cleared this with her).   And what’s worse, is the boy on the hunt is in Grade 10~ 2 years older.  I realize for some of you reading this , this seems rather insignificant and probably innocent.  Let me paint a picture for you:

  A boy(he is not a man) over Facebook has asked now at least 3 times this question: “Will you go out with me?”  What does that mean?  Where I come from “going out” means we’re actually going somewhere. So, I pressed my daughter, “Where does he want to go out?”  Her answer is typical:”Well, he doesn’t want to go anywhere. That just means he wants us to be a couple at school.  Mom, no one goes out on dates anymore~ it’s just school-dating.”

 Hmmm. School Dating.  How lame.  Sad, isn’t it? That these young people have taken a sacred institution like dating and reduced it to hallway hand-holding and after-school hook-ups.  Ooops. Hook ups? What?  Oh yes.  Let’s get at the heart of this:  These boys like a pretty girl on their arms.  They like the status of being able to “get” a girl and be “in a relationship”. But most of them don’t know the first thing about relationships, commitment, sharing and caring, sacrifice or love.  In fact, none of that is on their radar or agenda. The only thing they care about is having their raging-hormonal-needs satisfied. And most of them don’t really understand what that’s all about . All they know is that the guys in his class are “doing it” and obviously that’s just what you do. Right? I mean, if you have a NEED , you fill it.  Right? Come on, get with the program. 

 I’ve been accused of many things. But the thing that really gets my goat is when other mothers call me unrealistic, naive and unfair when I ban my kids from dating.  It has happened more times than I can even express. So many parents have just rolled over on this issue.  They have traded the boundaries of appropriate teenage boy/girl contact for a whatever-may-come attitude. They have given into the puppy dog eyes that their daughters give them or they have never set a boundary in the first place. Most parents just think that dating is a part of growing up and so it is to be expected.  But that is so wrong.  Dating is serious business. Dating is the first step to marriage.  It involves emotions and feelings of the heart. It grapples with mature situations like physical touch, sexual stimulation and broken hearts.  No 13, 14 or 15 year old should be dealing with those issues. They’re still growing for goodness’ sake!! Many of them haven’t even gone through puberty.  And now we have 11 and 12 year olds trying to wade these waters too.(My 11 year old has told me what’s going on in her class too). 

 I’ve seen the hurt and heartbreak. Our oldest daughter thought she could handle it. She didn’t tell us because she knew we’d disapprove.  When she was barely 14 a boy asked her out. She said no. He did not relent. Even after she told him that we had rules in our house and why we had rules he continued.  Within a couple of weeks he was hand-holding and kissing her in the hallways. Every girl loves the attention of boy and so she kept her secret.  That is, until her mother walked into the school one day and saw.  Let’s just say that an animal instinct came over me.  In my coolest(not so cool), calmest(not very calm), quietest(not quiet at all) voice I approached them and told him to remove his greasy hand from my daughter.  I also told him that if he ever touched her again, I would touch him.  Oh yes I did.  There were teachers and students who just stood and stared.  There was no sound. I actually don’t remember much. I do know that I e-mailed the creep and told him to back off(because he needed more than one reminder) or I would have him looking for protective body-guards.  Maybe I didn’t handle it well and certainly my daughter was mortified and embarrassed.  The good that came out of this was: 

 •My daughter realized that all the times I told her I was everywhere and knew what was going on, became a bold new reality for her.

 •She got a reputation in school for the girl who was untouchable(but it did take a few guys a little longer to learn)

 •We, the parents, gained new respect with the teaching staff and other parents for doing what they knew they should do but didn’t know how

 •She realized that he wasn’t all he said he was when he spread rumours, tormented her and ultimately took up with other girls telling them the same things he told her: “you’re the only one” “I love you” “I’ll wait for you”

 I’m so thankful that we caught it before something more than kissing happened.  But I’m sad that her first kiss is no longer special. I’m sad that a boy who couldn’t take no for an answer robbed her of a special moment.  And I’m sorry that her first experience with dating was without her parents’ knowledge or consent. 

  Nearly 2 years later, she has come to realize that boys in school are after 2 things: status and sex.  And when they get bored with one or the other, they shake off the old and pick up a new toy.   For most of them, the new lasts maybe 1,2 or even up to 6 months. But unless the boy is getting regular sex, he’s likely to drop a girl very quickly. 

 Can I believe I’m discussing this? No, not really. It’s surreal.  I am sad for this generation of young kids who are trying to grow up way too fast in bodies that are not ready to be grown up, with minds that are no where capable of processing the magnitude of the choices they’re making.

 My 13 year old’s suitor is persistent.  I will give him that.  He has tried several times now to get my daughter to agree to “go out” with him. Here’s a pointer, little boy:  WHEN you’ve grown up enough to be able to have a job that can pay for dinner out at a nice restaurant and can drive to pick up my daughter and bring her home safely, you can then approach ME and tell me WHY it is you want to DATE her. Not “go out”.  If you cannot, or will not do this , then you are not ready to date my daughter or anyone else’s for that matter. And furthermore, don’t be a wiener and ask her out on Facebook!! If you can’t talk to her to her face, you are not ready to be in a real relationship.  Oh, and one more thing: How many kids do you want to have? And how will you support them? Because, as far as I’m concerned, those are two questions you need the answers to before you start to date. 

Ya, I’m like that.  My daughters are not some boy’s property.  They are not the latest tool on the shelf~ ready to try out and test.  They are beautiful, awesome , creative PEOPLE who deserve guys who want to see them succeed in their dreams and goals.  They deserve men who want to hold them when they cry, tend to them when they’re sick, love them , cherish them and grow in a relationship through all the good times and bad times.  And none of that includes sexual gratification. Sex is the bonus for doing all of this FIRST.  Sex is the icing on the wedding cake for committing your life to your wife.  If only the boys on Facebook loved my daughters as much as I do.

 Oh, and Facebook boy: One more tip~ If a girl tells you that her parents don’t condone dating at her age, that would be your first and only clue to drop it. Unless, of course, you enjoy being publicly humiliated in the school in front of all your peers. I mean, if you enjoy that sort of thing, by all means….keep at it. I’m quite comfortable making you feel like the small, pathetic creep that you are.

 

Written by:

Juanita Dueck. To follow her blog and her other insightful and often to the point articles, about life, love and God, please check out the rest of her articles.

 

http://prairiejuan.wordpress.com/2011/10/18/day-18we-have-a-situation-pretty-girls-and-the-boys-who-want-to-date-them/

 

 

 

Hero worship

The culture these days is very much so into hero worship, what do I mean by that? Well if the world is not going crazy about a specific sporting event, or celebrity player, they are chasing down movie stars and royalty. When Prince William and Kate got married earlier this year, you would have thought that no one had ever gotten married before.

Thousands flocked to London to catch a glimpse of the royal couple and millions more tuned into the television programs that were doing live telecasts of the event. The world literally stopped for a day to watch 2 people say their vows.

Why are we so quick to elevate people into high positions in our lives, I think that we can find that answer in the word of God. God has told us in his word that we are all created to worship him, some choose to and others do not; but we are nevertheless beings made to worship a Holy God.

I have come to realize over the years that it is so easy to worship things or people and that it is offensive to God when we do. When God first set out the laws (10 Commandments) to the Israelites, he told them not to worship anything that they had made with their own hands; they were to worship Him alone. Things have not changed over the centuries; we have just made different idols in our lives.

 The reason that it is offensive to him is that he created us to have fellowship with him, to get to know him and his character, and learn to trust and rely on him and his power to live our daily lives.

When we start to allow ourselves to worship things or even people we are no longer worshiping the Lord most High.

I found myself in that very spot once again, just recently. I would love to tell you that this is the first time, but unfortunately it is not, and knowing human nature, it probably won’t be the last but I can and must learn from it and learn instead to surrender my heart, hopes and fears to the lord instead of placing myself in a position where I hope that others will be able to satisfy those needs within me.

 I have found that if I admire someone and their walk with the lord, it is not a hard stretch for me to put them in a place in my heart where I revere them so much, that it could be classified as worship. That spot is only reserved for God. I do not build a shrine to them in my living room and burn candles but I often see them as invincible, amazing, so together, and of course so spiritually close to God. All of the things I desire for my own life. (not necessarily the invincible or amazing, just close to God).

What happens then is that I feel embarrassed and afraid to share with them things that are happening in my life, that I would need prayer or advice on. As I get it into my head that they would not respect me if I admitted that I was weak.

The lord reminded me yesterday, that the person to whom that I had given this elevated spot in my heart and mind, was just as weak as I was, she was just as dependent on God for her daily strength and bread as I was. There are areas in her life, where she walks by a deeper faith than me, because God in his great mercy has revealed things to her that as of yet he has not shown me. It does not mean that I need to put her into a higher and more elevated position in my life.

She too struggles in life, she too has to rely on God for everything, just as I have to, there is no difference between her and I.

So when the lord says to me, that I can pray for the sick and they will be healed, or pray that people would come to know Him as there lord and savior I can believe him and allow him to have the rightful place in my heart, instead of me placing my friend and mentor in a place where she never wanted to be in the first place. A place of awe and hero worship.

I was reading a verse of scripture the other day, that illustrates this concept beautifully, it is found in the book of James. It shows us, that even though we would be quick to elevate a man, because his prayer was answered by God in a dramatic way, he was still just a man. A man with fears, hopes, dreams and failures.

James 5:13 – 18

Is any one of you in trouble? He should pray. Is anyone happy? Let him sing songs of praise. Is any one of you sick? He should call the elders of the church to pray over him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord.  And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise him up. If he has sinned, he will be forgiven.   Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective. 

Elijah was a man just like us. He prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the land for three and a half years.  Again he prayed, and the heavens gave rain, and the earth produced its crops.

As you can see brothers and sisters in Christ, we have all been given the authority and right to pray for the sick and pray to God our father, and Elijah was a man just like us, there was not a thing that was special about him, except that God had called him to be a prophet to the nation of Israel, and that when he prayed he did so with faith and believed that God would do what he knew that only God could do.

It never ceases to amaze me how quickly and easily we can get it into our heads that because people are doing what we dream of or desire to do, that they are super human.  

If you find yourself in a place of misplaced worship, with spiritual mentors or even other people who have influenced you for the good, I ask you today, to go before God and ask him to forgive you for worshipping things that take your heart and dependence away from him.

Jesus is the only measuring stick that we need to use when measuring our walk with him, he will reveal to us all that we need, when we are ready, therefore we can confidently trust him to teach and handle our hearts when we go astray. We can trust him to be more than enough for us, and freeing us up from the need we might feel to worship things of our own making instead of him.

I pray that the Lord Jesus Christ will strengthen your hearts today, fill you with a passion for his truth and a desire to keep your eyes completely fixed on him.

In Jesus name,

Amen

 

What does the bible teach about Forgiveness?

There are two kinds of forgiveness in the world as we know it, Divine forgiveness and Human forgiveness, both are equally important and we as Christians need to practice one and receive the other.

Divine forgiveness is as follows:

Psalm 103:2 – 5

Praise the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits– who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion, who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s. 

Psalm 130:3-6

If you, O LORD, kept a record of sins, O Lord, who could stand?  But with you there is forgiveness; therefore you are feared.  I wait for the LORD, my soul waits, and in his word I put my hope.  My soul waits for the Lord more than watchmen wait for the morning, more than watchmen wait for the morning. 

Matthew 26:28

 This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.

Mark 1:4

 And so John came, baptizing in the desert region and preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.

Mat 6:14 – 15

For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins. 

Acts 2:38

Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

Acts 5:31

God exalted him to his own right hand as Prince and Savior that he might give repentance and forgiveness of sins to Israel. 

 Acts 13:38

Therefore my brothers, I want you to know that through Jesus the forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you.

Act 26:17 –18 Paul speaking to King Agrippa, about why he preached the good news of the gospel.

I will rescue you from your own people and from the Gentiles. I am sending you to them  to open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.’

Ephesians 1:7-8

In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding.

James 5:15-16

 And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise him up. If he has sinned, he will be forgiven.  Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective. 

1 John 1:8-10

If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word has no place in our lives.

These are but a few scriptures that show us the powerful divine forgiveness that is extended to us as human beings from God. He says that we all sin and fall short of his glory and therefore in order for us to be in right standing with him again, we need to have our sins forgiven and wiped away. That is what he offers to us.

Human forgiveness

The other side of that is that because he gives us forgiveness, we are commanded, (not suggested to) but commanded to forgive others as well, God makes it very clear that if we do not forgive others for what they have done to us, he will not forgive us. Ouch!

Therefore, let’s take a moment and have a look at what God commands us to do when it comes to forgiveness and what that looks like for us as believers in Christ Jesus.

 Matthew 6:9 – 15

This, then, is how you should pray: “‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.  Give us today our daily bread.   Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.  For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.  But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins. 

Mark 11:25

 And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.”

 Luke 17:3 – 5

 So watch yourselves. “If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him.   If he sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times comes back to you and says, ‘I repent,’ forgive him.”   The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!” 

Ephesians 4:29 – 32

Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.  And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.   Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice.  Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. 

Colossians 3:12 – 17

 Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.  And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.   Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.   Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God.   And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. 

As you can see, forgiveness on both sides of the track is vitally important. We need God’s forgiveness for the sins that we have committed that have separated us from him, and we need to forgive others because God has told us to.

Jesus says in John 15 that we are his friends if we do what he commands us to do.  Therefore he commands us to forgive, no exceptions or excuses, just forgiveness.

It is way easier said than done I know as it is often a nicer feeling (not really) to simmer about the injustice that you have just suffered at another’s hand. It feels good (not really) to think of all the things you should of said, could have said, and things that you would like to say to the offending party. It is often a temptation when you are placed in this situation to want to plot revenge.

God removes that burden and tells us that we need to leave space for him to take revenge for us.

Leviticus 19:18

“‘Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against one of your people, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the LORD.

As you can see brothers and sisters in Christ, seeking revenge and holding onto a grudge or unforgiveness goes against what God has commanded us to do. It puts us into captivity as we brood over the injustice done and strips us of the freedom that Christ has given to us as his children, to be free to love our enemies, regardless of how they treat us.

I have personally suffered the sting of rejection from those whom I loved and thought would protect and love me, and if I had allowed unforgiveness to reign in my life I would have become very bitter, angry and hateful. But instead the lord had graciously revealed to me that holding onto grudges was not his will for my life and it was not in my best interest to do so. He came to set me free from those feelings and hurts and I could not be free until I released those who had injured me.

If you find yourself in a place of harboring unforgiveness in your heart, I want to urge you to consider the above verses that you have read, let the truth of them settle deep within your heart and not only receive God’s divine forgiveness but ask God for the faith and strength to forgive those who have wronged you. I know that you will not regret your decision to do so.

Blessings to you

 

 

 

 

Bitterness in the Garden of Our Hearts

“See to it that no one comes short of the grace of God; that no root of bitterness springing up causes trouble, and by it many be defiled” (Heb. 12:15).

It is impossible to pass through this world without being struck by injustice or heartache. Unless we process our struggles in Christ, a single wounding of our soul can create a deep bitterness within us, poisoning our very existence. In my forty-plus years of ministry, I have known far too many Christians who have perfected the art of looking polite, while living inwardly with an angry, cynical or resentful spirit. They have swallowed the poison of bitterness and they are dying spiritually because of it. The problem is that, as Christians, we know it is wrong to react with open anger toward people. However, rather than truly forgiving and surrendering that injustice to God, we suppress our anger. Anger is a result of perceived injustice. Suppressed anger always degrades into bitterness, which is, in reality, unfulfilled revenge.

Embittered People
The Bible not only provides the biographies of heroes of our faith, but it also documents the lives of common people, individuals who experienced the same kind of heartaches as we do. Some overcame wounding or loss and subsequent bitterness, while others became examples to avoid.

Consider Naomi from the book of Ruth. A famine in Israel led Naomi’s family to migrate to Moab. Without family or friends to support her, as aliens in a foreign land, Naomi then suffered the loss of her husband; his death was followed by the death of her two grown sons. When Naomi returned to Israel with Ruth, her daughter-in-law, she announced to those who knew her, “Do not call me Naomi; call me Mara [bitter], for the Almighty has dealt very bitterly with me” (Ruth 1:20).

The name Naomi means “pleasant.” We can imagine that when Naomi was dedicated to God as an infant, her parents prayed that her name would forecast her future. Now, however, the very opposite had occurred. Naomi was deeply embittered by her loss, to the extreme of blaming “the Almighty” for dealing “very bitterly” with her.

If you have ever listened to a bitter person, there is nothing “pleasant” about them. Yes, we should weep with those who weep, yet a bitter soul is a spirit trapped in a time warp; they live in the memory of their pain. Several years ago I met a woman who had suffered a difficult divorce. I talked with her every six months or so for two years, and each time we talked she said exactly the same negative things about her ex-husband. Although she was divorced from him, she was now married to a bitter spirit that held her captive to her heartache.

An embittered soul is one that continually blames someone else for their situation. For Naomi, her bitterness was actually focused towards God. She was angry that He allowed hardship and loss in her life. “The Lord has brought me back empty” (Ruth 1:21). In effect she was saying, My sorrow is God’s fault.

Contrast her life with that of Job’s first encounter with loss (Job 1:1-22). Job lost his children and possessions, yet he bowed and worshiped: “The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away. Blessed be the name of the Lord” (Job 1:21).

How we handle sorrow reveals the depth of our worship of God. When life cuts us, do we bleed bitterness or worship? Job bowed and drew close to God. Naomi withdrew and talked about the Lord with her back to Him. I have dear friends who lost their only son when he was a teenager. In the midst of their heartache, they have become examples to everyone of true worship. Over the years, their pain actually purified and deepened their worship; their suffering made them more compassionate toward the suffering of others (See 2 Cor. 1:3-4). I also know others who have suffered the sudden loss of a loved one and, within weeks, withdrew from God and became embittered. Adversity does not perfect character; it reveals character. It exposes what is happening inside of us.

Poisoned
In ancient times mankind experimented with vegetation, seeking to learn which plants were edible and which were poisonous. In his search, he discovered that, generally speaking, if a plant or fruit was sweet, it was usually safe to eat; bitter plants, man discovered, would either sicken or kill. Likewise, the bitter experiences of life, if we ingest them into our spirits, can become a spiritual poison that destroys our hopeful expectations and attitudes. Such an experience may enter your soul via a relational wound or injustice; it can begin through a major disappointment or loss. However, once bitterness enters the human soul, like ink spreading in a glass of water, it can darken every aspect of our existence.

Indeed, not only can bitterness ruin our lives, Hebrews warns that a root of bitterness can “defile many” (Heb. 12:15 NIV). A spiritual root of bitterness is a hidden, unresolved anger that is buried beneath the surface of our lives. Outwardly, we look “properly Christian” until we begin to discuss with others the situation where someone hurt us. As we speak, that root “springs up” and it defiles others. If you haven’t dealt with your bitterness, beware when you speak to others, lest you defile them with your words. If you are listening to an embittered person, take heed that the spirit of bitterness is not being transferred to your life as well!

Neglect
In Genesis we find another bitter soul in Esau, the brother of Jacob. Esau had foolishly bargained away his inheritance when he was young and then lost his father’s blessing when he was old. When Esau discovered he had lost both to his brother Jacob, the Bible tells us he “cried out with an exceedingly great and bitter cry” (Gen. 27:34).

To lose something through our laziness or neglect can create bitterness of soul. Additionally, to have someone deceive us and take what was rightfully ours is equally as destructive. I know people who were lazy and did not esteem their education. Today they are bitter employees working for minimum wage. I also know young, unwed mothers who let deceitful boys steal their virginity, which later also embittered them. Even spiritual people can find themselves suffering with bitterness caused by neglect. I know a pastor who was so devoted to his ministry, he consistently neglected his wife. She finally divorced him. Cry and plead with her as he would, he suffered the bitter loss of his wife, the emotional estrangement of his kids, and the respect of his church.

Esau’s loss made him very bitter. Yet, have we, like Esau, lost the more valuable elements of life because of our neglect? Have others received blessings that were earmarked for us, and has that loss created bitterness within us? May the Lord reveal to us these roots of bitterness that, like time-released poison, are quietly killing us.

God desires to return to us our ability to love and laugh again. Let us, therefore, sincerely approach the throne of God’s grace and ask Him to show us the garden of our hearts. Yes, and let us see if our souls are truly free of the root of bitterness.

 

A service of Frangipane Ministries, Inc.
Copyright (c) 2011
All rights reserved.
Unless otherwise stated, all Scripture quotations
were taken from the
NASB.

 

 

 

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What is your self-image like?

There are many advertisements on television these days that show a glamorous image of both men and women. Adverts for teeth whitening, weight loss, increase stamina, the right car to drive, best neighborhood to live in, the best casino to visit, the best vacation time to have, the list seems endless.

What effect do all of these advertisements have on our emotional well-being?

Well for starters it reminds us that we are not good enough, and therefore to be good enough we will need, this product or that. This car would make us feel better, and look better whereas the others will not. If you want to be appealing to the world around you, you will need to be on a diet and on and on and on!

Are these things even realistic for the everyday person? Can we seriously live up to these expectations?

Now, what about the expectations that we place on ourselves?

When I was growing up, I heard many times over the years, that I was not good enough, I was fat, I was not smart enough, I was wasting my life, I had nothing to offer the world around me, I was a failure.

Please don’t get me wrong, many people loved and encouraged me to be all that I could be and more, but being emotionally sensitive I heard that I was never going to measure up to anyone’s standards.

These thoughts and doubts, fears and lies, held me captive for many years, because I believed every one of those lies to be the truth. I believed that I was not smart enough to do anything of great consequence for people. I believed that if people really got to know the real me, they would discover like I had, that I was a complete and utter failure.

So, I tried to hide my pain and suffering, by eating more, I became a compulsive cleaner, cleaned everything in sight as well as a control freak. I had to control all of my situations so that I would feel good about myself.  I found myself sleeping a lot, as that helped me just to forget or at least temporarily forget the pain that I felt in the depths of my heart.

It was only when I had given my life over to the lord Jesus Christ that I began to discover that the image (idol) that I had built, of who I thought resembled me, actually was not the truth at all.

Those hurts, unkind words and lies that I had believed had kept me in a prison of fear and doubt about myself and my abilities as a person.

The Lord start to unravel those lies when I accepted him as my lord and Savior, the first thing he taught me was that I was now a new creation in him, the old person that I used to be was now dead, and He put His Holy Spirit within me to create a new me.

2 Corinthians 5:17

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! 

In the book of Genesis, it tells us of how God created the world and everything in it and when it was all done, he said it was Good.

That meant, that God thought that I was good too, who he had made me to be was good and he was pleased with me.

The next thing that He did was to show me in his word that I was forgiven of all of my sin, and that He no longer held it against me, I was washed clean.

 Colossians 1:21-23

Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior.  But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation— if you continue in your faith, established and firm, not moved from the hope held out in the gospel. This is the gospel that you heard and that has been proclaimed to every creature under heaven, and of which I, Paul, have become a servant. 

Then he showed me that he really wanted me to be on this earth and that I was very valuable to him,

Ephesians 1: 4-8

For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves.  In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding. 

 Also Psalm 139 : 13 – 16

For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.   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, your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.

As you can see, God sent his son Jesus Christ to be the ultimate sacrifice for my sins and yours as well; he then said that because of that sacrifice I would become a new creation in him, holy and blameless in his sight. He predestined that I would be his daughter from before time began for us, and He even knit me together in my precious mother’s womb.

God showed me that I had been given the gift of the Holy Spirit because I believed in his Son, which was a deposit guaranteeing my eternal hope and future.

Ephesians 1: 13 -14

And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession–to the praise of his glory.

Once he had established in my heart and mind the great love he had for me, and telling me that I was his possession he set about showing me, where my true image of myself needed to be.

 I believe that the question that he asked me was this, “How long will you believe the lies of who other people say you are, compared to the truth of who I say you are?”

I had no real answer to that, as I had taken on and built a false image of who I thought I was; media, friends and family had helped erect this enormous idol in my life.

 Why would I call it an idol? Because it is what I believed to be true about who I was, and I was not willing to believe God and his word over what I perceived to be the truth.

It was at this point in my walk with the lord that I believe the lord led me to read about many great believers who had walked this road before me, I read how they believed God and because of that unshaking belief, miracles happened, not only in their lives but in the lives of others around them.

I saw how they learned to rely on the Holy Spirit to direct them and bring hope and restoration to their lives as well as the lives of other people. I desired to experience that. So I searched scripture concerning what it meant to be a woman whose heart was totally devoted to God. I wanted to exchange that false image with the one that God was building in my life, with whom he said I was.

I discovered that the bible said, because I was now a believer in Christ Jesus, I was his child, (a princess!!!!). I was an heir with an eternal inheritance. I no longer had to rely on my own abilities and strength to see me through the day; I could and should run to God as he was my stability, (A Rock, a Fortress, a Shelter in times of trouble, Psalm 91).

God showed me that if I would learn to trust in him, I know longer had to rely on my own wisdom, strengths and ability, because I now could trust in him to help me through all situations and therefore, I could do all things through Christ who gave me strength.

I was starting to see, that in myself I was weak, full of fear and doubts, but with Christ living within me, my confidence and abilities, my strength, wisdom, boldness, love, kindness and peace all came from Him. I no longer had to look within myself to be all that I could be.

I can with confidence look to Christ for all of the help, and self-image that I need, as he is changing me daily to become more and more like himself.

I don’t know about you, but that is a way better image than the one that I had created for myself, Christ in me, the hope of my future Glory!

 

 

Repairers of the Breach, Part 2

Do Not Criticize the Breach, Repair It!

“Thus says the Lord God, ‘Woe to the foolish prophets who are following their own spirit and have seen nothing. O Israel, your prophets have been like foxes among ruins. You have not gone up into the breaches, nor did you build the wall around the house of Israel to stand in the battle on the day of the Lord'” (Ezek. 13:3-5).

 The Lord is raising up a remnant of true Christ-followers. When they see a need in the church or their community, instead of just finding fault, they go “up into the breaches” and stand in the gap. They are not just critics; they are agents of redemption.

 It is easy to find fault and do nothing. Yet, when we see a battle raging in another congregation, the fact is that all churches are imperfect. The issue is not whether we can see what is wrong, but will we stand in love and prayer until that which is wrong is made right?

 You may be thinking, “You don’t understand; I have revelation of the end-time move of God. These churches barely believe in Jesus.” Even if a church is weak, the Lord’s heart is such that He will not extinguish “a dimly burning wick” (Isa.42:3).

 Even if we consider ourselves more spiritual than other churches, that is not a reason to stand aloof from their need. Hebrews tells us that “without any dispute the lesser is blessed by the greater” (Heb. 7:7). If you are truly “greater,” without a hint of pride you will seek ways to be a blessing to struggling churches. Your Christlike love will help carry them through their battle.

 If we truly have Christ’s heart, we will desire to see the entire body of Christ brought forth, not just our local assemblies. We will respect and appreciate the diversity of ways through which Christ reveals Himself in the church. Remember, there are four Gospels, not just one. Each provides a different angle into the nature of Christ. We need the variety of churches to reach the variety of people in our cities.

 In truth, Jesus said that the greatest among us would become the “servant of all” (Mark 9:35). If a church in your city holds to and confesses Jesus as their Lord and Savior, then that church is needed to complete God’s work in the city. As you join one another for daily or weekly prayer, you will be blessed and surprised by God’s preparation of others. Do not come with an attitude to teach or lead, but to love and serve. In this, God is not looking for leaders but followers of the Lord Jesus Christ.

 If we do not adjust to His will, we will be unable to stand against the enemy. Indeed, the day in which we live is not a day of peace; it is a time of war, and a house divided cannot stand. God is gathering us together not only to Him but also against the spiritual forces of wickedness in every region. Therefore, the breaches between us must be filled, the walls built, and we must learn to stand together in the day of the Lord.

 You Be the People

You do not have to go to Bible college to find fault with the church. In fact, if you remember, you could find fault with the church even before you were a Christian. However, if you want to be like Christ, you will position yourself to see God’s mercy triumph.

 We are called to stand “in the gap.” What is the “gap”? The gap is the distance between the way things are and the way things could be once they are redeemed. God calls us to stand in that space between realities, to cast down the accuser of the brethren and pray for redemption!

 Some of us have cried for years, “Where are those who will lead us into Christ’s fullness?” We have assumed that God had others in mind. What the Lord is saying, however, is, You be the men and women that others are looking for. You be the peacemakers, the sons and daughters of God that bring healing and order and love to His church.

 The responsibility is upon each of us. There is a tremendous job ahead, but the Lord Himself has promised, “Those from among you will rebuild the ancient ruins; you will raise up the age-old foundations; and you will be called the repairer of the breach, the restorer of the streets in which to dwell” (Isa. 58:12).

 Let us lay our lives down in committed faith believing that in our lifetimes, on this earth and in our communities the corporate church of Jesus Christ will be restored, united and made ready as a bride for her Beloved!

 –adapted from The Three Battlegrounds

 A service of Frangipane Ministries, Inc.

Copyright (c) 2011

All rights reserved.

Unless otherwise stated, all Scripture quotations

were taken from the NASB.

 

 

 

 

 

Repairers of the Breach – Part 1

“And those from among you will rebuild the ancient ruins;

You will raise up the age-old foundations;

And you will be called the repairer of the breach,

The restorer of the streets in which to dwell.” (Isa. 58:12)

 The Gathering Together of the Saints

True Christians from all backgrounds share an expectation commonly known as the rapture of the church (see 1 Thess. 4:16-17). Although debate surrounds the timing of this event, Scripture assures us that at the last trumpet we will be caught up to “meet the Lord in the air” (v.17). So, while critics will say that Francis does not believe in the rapture, the truth is that I do. However, it is plain that, according to many Scriptures, there will also be a time of unusual grace prior to the rapture in which the living church of Jesus Christ, like a bride, makes “herself ready” (Rev. 19:7).

 During this unparalleled season of preparation, those who are alive in Christ shall realize a level of holiness and purity that will be the overflow of the presence of Jesus Himself manifested through the church (1 Thess. 3:11-13; Eph. 5:26-27; Phil. 1:9-10). The result of this new spiritual fullness will be a new level of unity. Faultfinding and gossip will disappear. In their place will be intercession and love. Wholeness will return to the citywide church. This also means that the ambition and division we see today between congregations will be identified as sin, which will be repented of before Jesus returns.

The truth of this message must be made clear, for most Christians consider oneness within the body inconceivable before Jesus returns. They have not discerned nor warred against the enemy’s lies, which have conditioned believers to accept strife and sectarianism in the church. It is my passionate conviction that the church that will ultimately be raptured will be free of strife and carnal divisions – it will be a bride “having no spot or wrinkle” who has “made herself ready” for her bridegroom (Eph. 5:27; Rev. 19:7).

According to Scripture, during the rapture, “in a twinkling of an eye” our bodies will be changed (1 Cor. 15:52). But our character, that is, the essence of who we have become, will remain intact. There will be no regrets or wondering how “those from that church” made it, for the living bride will be a church built together in love, meeting in separate buildings but serving the one and only Lord. These true disciples of the Lord Jesus will be known for their intense and holy love for one another – not merely in their individual local assemblies but within the context of a citywide church.

It is highly significant that the scriptural term for the rapture is called the “gathering together” (2 Thess. 2:1; Matt. 24:31). What ultimately will be consummated in our gathering together physically to the Lord will be precipitated by a spiritual gathering together of His body on earth. Concerning the era known as the “end of the age,” Jesus taught that the “good fish” shall be “gathered . . . into containers” (Matt. 13:48). And in the context of spiritual warfare, Jesus warned, “He who does not gather with Me scatters” (Matt. 12:30).

This scattering, dividing process among the Lord’s sheep has gone on long enough. Jesus has set His heart to bring healing and unity to His body. In this regard, through the prophet Jeremiah, the Lord spoke a somber warning. He said, “Woe to the shepherds who are destroying and scattering the sheep of My pasture!” (Jer. 23:1). The Son of God is not pleased with the carnal divisions in His body! Indeed, the Lord promises to chasten those pastors who continue to build their kingdoms without laboring together to build His. To them He says, “I am about to attend to you for the evil of your deeds” (v. 2).

In the tenth chapter of John, the Lord makes His goal clear: there shall be “one flock with one shepherd” (v. 16). He reveals it is the wolf nature which “snatches [the sheep] and scatters them”; and it is the hireling nature that allows the scattering to occur. But His promise to His sheep says this: “Then I Myself will gather the remnant of My flock…and they will be fruitful and multiply. I will also raise up shepherds over them and they will tend them; and they will not be afraid any longer . . . nor will any be missing” (Jer. 23:3-4). The pastors of the last Christian church will be under-shepherds to the Lord Jesus; they will be anointed to gather together His remnant and under that anointing shall be “fruitful and multiply.”

Indeed, right now, in the context of humbling ourselves and submitting our hearts to His will, we are participating in being “gathered together.” This process will progressively increase until the barriers between brethren are melted by the overcoming nature of Christ’s love. Before Jesus returns, we will truly be “one flock with one shepherd.” We will be a holy and blameless sheepfold, meeting in different buildings but baptized into one body.

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One of the stated goals of In Christ’s Image Training is to inspire and empower individuals to be more Christlike in regard to their churches, cities and nations. Jesus said the future belongs to the church: whatever we bind will be bound and what we release will be loosed. The future does not belong to the wicked, it belongs to the praying, believing born-again church – it belongs to those becoming Christlike! In truth, In Christ’s Image Training is a society of redeemers who are not intimidated by evil but believe that with God all things are possible, even revival and times of refreshing.

A service of Frangipane Ministries, Inc.

Copyright (c) 2011

All rights reserved.

Unless otherwise stated, all Scripture quotations

were taken from the NASB.

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Finally, any questions about the teachings of Francis Frangipane can be sent to info frangipane org. God bless your pursuit of His heart.