The Christmas Story

From the beginning of the world, God’s intention was to bring his beloved creation back into a relationship with him. He told the people of Israel 500 years before Christ came, that he would be sending a Child, born of a virgin that would become the savior of the world.

Read along with me as we follow the prophecies of the coming King.

Isaiah 9:6 – 7

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.  Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the LORD Almighty will accomplish this.

This is the account in the book of Luke, that describes how the Angel Gabriel came to Mary to tell her that she would become pregnant by the Holy Spirit.

Luke 1:26 – 55

 In the sixth month, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee,  to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary.  The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.”   Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. 

But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God.  You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus.  He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end.” 

“How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?”   The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. 

 Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be barren is in her sixth month.  For nothing is impossible with God.” 

 “I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May it be to me as you have said.” Then the angel left her.   At that time Mary got ready and hurried to a town in the hill country of Judea,  where she entered Zechariah’s home and greeted Elizabeth.   When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit.  In a loud voice she exclaimed: “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear!   But why am I so favored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? 

As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy.  Blessed is she who has believed that what the Lord has said to her will be accomplished!”

 And Mary said: “My soul glorifies the Lord  and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,  for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant. From now on all generations will call me blessed, for the Mighty One has done great things for me–holy is his name.  His mercy extends to those who fear him, from generation to generation.   He has performed mighty deeds with his arm; he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts.   He has brought down rulers from their thrones but has lifted up the humble.   He has filled the hungry with good things but has sent the rich away empty.   He has helped his servant Israel, remembering to be merciful  to Abraham and his descendants forever, even as he said to our fathers.” 

The lord in his great Mercy sent his son Jesus Christ to become the savior of the world, why did we need a savior, because sin came into the world and because God is a holy God, those who are sinful cannot come into in his presence. Therefore he needed to make a way back for us.

Romans 3:22

 This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.  as done has been done through God.”

The bible teaches us that God loves us, read this verse and see how much.

John 3:16-21

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

The moral of the story is this, God loves you, and he sent his son Jesus Christ to this earth so that you could have a relationship with him, so that he can set you free from sin and death. He can give you peace, help you to walk in love and fill with his Holy Spirit power.

He wants to give you hope, hope for the future, both here on earth and for eternity.

Jesus is the reason that we take time to celebrate christmas, God have us the gift of his son, and so therefor we give gifts to others in appreciation for what God has done for us.

I pray that you will enjoy the gift that God has given us, and accept him as your lord and savior today!

Helping Your Child Own Their Spiritual Journey

Statistics show that 85% of kids today are leaving the church upon graduation from high school.  When I was a teen, I wasn’t brave enough to say: “I don’t wanna to go to church today.”  For today’s teen, leaving the church is normal – but not necessarily helpful.  Teens today are exposed to more opportunities and options in the kind of church they want to go to.  And when they begin to put into practice their developing desire for independence, you might need to be prepared.

 Building Independence

 Every parent wants their child to grow up and become a successful adult; I know these parents.  They’re great parents.  But as our kids grow up, they begin to exercise more independence.  How we respond to them, especially in this area of going to church, will affect their decisions.  As we raise our kids, there are different signs and little signals that show us that our goal of helping our children become independent, is working – this is one of them.  Even if you don’t like the idea of your child not going to church with you, it’s a good sign.  It shows us that they are starting to think on their own instead of just following us.

 Parents, I understand that we’re dealing with an issue that’s very important to you.  The real issue is faith in God, not going to church.  I so often hear parents say “as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord,” and then in the next breath say to their kids “as long as you live under my roof, you will live by my rules.”  Does this sound familiar?  To tell you the truth, it unnerves me a bit.  You need to sit back and evaluate your values, beliefs and goals for your child.  If what you are telling them is contradictory, then you are going to be making your uphill battle even harder.

 The Bigger Picture

 Ultimately, you are helping your child form a belief system – not just a habit of going to church.  So, if your child can choose the church that he wants to go to, then you can help him achieve your own goals for your children.  Your goals may be for his spiritual training; if he can reach those goals on his own, it may be better to have him go to a different church that meets his interests, while keeping him connected to the church.

 Let’s keep the kids involved in something.  I may lose the opportunity to sit in church with them, but I may gain something far greater in having them part of something that will help them throughout their life.  The bigger issue is their spiritual health.

 Responding When Your Child Chooses Something Else

 I would encourage you to pre-meditate your response when your teen tells you that he doesn’t want to go to church.  Are you going to allow your child to make choices in his life?  Even if you know they won’t make the choice that you want?  Just because you like the idea of your family doing things together, doesn’t mean it’s wrong for your teen to desire something different.  This is a season of independence you need to embrace in order to hold onto the bigger picture – faith in God.

 As a parent, I want to help my child make good choices.  If they make choices that you don’t agree with, you may need to reign in the choice they are allowed to make.  Allow them the opportunity to make a choice, but provide for their training as well.  This way, instead of choosing not to go to church at the age of 13 or 14, you give your child the option to go to one of two or three churches.  They keep the ability to make a choice and have control over their lives, and you still help guide them toward faith.

 At some point, your teen may reject any choice you give them.  But teens send out signals in advance of coming to this point, so you need to pick up on these clues.  If they’re falling asleep, writing notes during church services, or are more interested in eating after church than being part of church, you may need to address their actions.  If you see these things coming up, pull your teen aside and talk to him about it.  The issue could be something other than the church itself.  By talking to your child, you can help determine the motivation behind the behavior.

 Make sure that your plan gives some opportunity and flexibility that reaches your goals for them.  As they get older, if your child chooses not to go to any church at all, keep your relationship with them.  Don’t shame them in the process or make sarcastic remarks.  These things will show your child that you are disappointed in them; instead, let God work it out and bring them back in His time.

 You can hear us talk on this subject by listening to our radio program.  It’s called, Parenting Today’s Teens.  Next time, expert Chap Clark shares what he has seen in the lives of families that are facing this issue.  He’ll also share strategies he has found helpful for maintaining that relationship and allowing your teen to define his relationship with Christ.  Chap has been with Young Life for years and is now the Vice Provost at Fuller Seminary in Pasadena, California.  We will also talk, as always, with a teen who has experienced this issue in his life.

 You can hear Parenting Today’s Teens online, as a podcast, or find a radio station near you.  All the information is found at www.ParentingTodaysTeens.org.

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.

 

 

What must a person do to find God?            

What must a person do to reach the top, to find God, He must be willing to start!

I have a white cat, and  he loves me regardless of how I treat him. Tonight I ask why? Why do you love me when I neglect you, don’t pet you, or even forget to feed you?

Why me in particular, everyone else in the house shows you more love, but you are always curling up to me at night and you love me, pushing your perfect little head into my hands as if to say, “here I am, love me”

You look at me with those big green eyes and I can see that you are thinking, “I know that you are there and all I want you to do is to pay me some attention.”

Even when I try to do something else you nudge even closer to me, purring saying, “love me, love me”

Now if a cat can be and is like this, how much more is God, always pursuing us.  He pursues us with love and patience, slowly nudging, slowly poking his face in our face, until we are persuaded that he loves us with an everlasting love.

But unlike the pushy cat, he is ever the gentleman, waiting for our surrender, our love, our dependence on him.  Then the roles get reversed again, as we find ourselves nudging and pawing closer and closer into our heavenly father’s arms and say yes Lord, I am finally here, I want you, I want to walk with you, I love you, I understand, I get it finally. I want you more than anything, in the entire world,

Father God, help me each day to be like that cat, who wants more and more of you every day, never satisfied with just a little bit of you, but wants your whole attention.  Help me never to be satisfied with just a little taste but always wanting and pursuing more.

Amen

 

What’s up With Angels? Part 2

Angels play the role of messengers. The messages they brought gave revelation of God’s plan to man.  They brought messages of strength and comfort. They brought messages of warning.   Angels even herald in the events in the book of Revelation. 

 Angels where sent to bring messages to Abraham, Jacob, Joshua, Gideon, Samson’s mother, Zechariah, Joseph, Cornelius, Peter, Paul and to Mary the mother of Jesus.

 The greatest message of all proclaimed by angels was the coming of God’s son.

Let me share with you this good news.

An angel appeared to Zacharias as he was fulfilling his duties in the temple. The angel told him he would have a son who would prepare the way for the Lord. His son was John the Baptist.

He told Zacharias this is good news.

“I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God, and I have been sent to speak to you and to tell you this good news. And now you will be silent and not able to speak until the day this happens, because you did not believe my words, which will come true at their proper time.” Luke 1:11-19

 Six months later after Elizabeth (Zacharias’s wife) conceived the same angel Gabriel appeared to a virgin named Mary. The angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favour with God. You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus.  He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever: his kingdom will never end.” Luke 1:26-38

Shepherds living out in the fields near Bethlehem were terrified when the glory of the Lord shone around them. But an angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Saviour has been born to you: he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”  Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.”  Luke 2: 8-14

Why is this message important?

  When God created the world he made it subject to man.

We lost this authority through sin. Therefore God gave the law that through the law we would become conscious of sin. In all the ages no man could keep the fullness of the law except one – Jesus. (Acts 7:53) Stephen says to the Jews, “You who have received the law that was put into effect through angels but have not obeyed it.”

(Hebrews 2:2) For if the message spoken by angels was binding, and every violation and disobedience received its just punishment, how shall we escape if we ignore such a great salvation?

 The message that Jesus was born into the world is tremendous good news. Jesus did what angels could not do.  The world was not made subject to angels but to men. Christ did not take on the nature of angels but of man. Hebrews 2:5-16

 The one who created the universe by speaking it into existence loved us so much that he left the splendour of heaven to be born as a man.  Not only did he come as a vulnerable infant to

live among us and understand the sufferings and trials of man but he shed his innocent blood that we may have eternal life.   Jesus calls us brothers and welcomes us into the family of God.

This gives me cause to sing with the angels God’s good news.

 (Hebrews 1:3-7, 13) After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven. So he became as much superior to the angels as the name he has inherited is superior to theirs. For which of the angels did God ever say, “You are my Son: today I have become your Father”? Or again, “I will be his Father and he will be my Son”? And again, when God brings his firstborn into the world, he says, “Let all God’s angels worship him.”

In speaking of the angels he says, “He makes his angels winds, his servants flames of fire.”

To which of the angels did God ever say, “Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet”? 

 Not only do the angels worship Him, but these created beings serve him. The angels who stand before the face of the Father worship Jesus and proclaim his coming into this world.

  What will you do with the angel’s message that Jesus has come?

 If you have never made Jesus Christ your lord and savior, today is the day of Salvation, as you can see from the above scriptures in this article, the Angels were sent by God to do a very important job, there were to tell mankind that God was sending a savior, a savior who would die for the sins of the world, and would gladly do it, so that we might be free from the death that sin brought us.

 Because of the broken fellowship between God and man, God needed to have a bridge that would be able to span time, and bring his precious creation back to him. Yes that means you, God wants to be in relationship with you. He wants to talk to you, set you free from your sin, and never hold it against you, he wants to give you the gift of eternal life.

 What do you need to do to accomplish that?

 It is simple, the bible says that if we want to spend eternity with God, have our sins forgiven and removed from us, all we have to do is to believe that God did indeed send his Son Jesus Christ from heaven to earth to be our savior. Yes it is that simple. Then when we believe, we will discover that our lives do not match up to his Holy standard, so we need to ask him to forgive us of our sinful behavior. He is glad to do that, and the best part is, that he never brings it up again.

 If you would like that kind of assurance that you can have the gift of eternal life and your sins wiped away forever, please pray this simple prayer with me,

 Dear heavenly father

I believe that you sent Jesus Christ, your son to this earth to be a sacrifice for my sins, I recognise that I am a sinner and that my lifestyle does not measure up to your holy one, please forgive me for the sins that I have committed against you. Come into my heart today, and change me forever. Thank you, Amen

 If you have prayed this prayer, welcome to the family of God.

 To read part one of this article click here:

Written by Lorraine Jacyszyn

 

What’s Up with Angels? Part I

Throughout history people have been fascinated with Angels. There are many different stories and view of what angels are, their roles, and their place in the grand scheme of things. To find the truth the best place to go to is the bible. What does the bible say?

 Hebrews 1:14

Are not all angels ministering spirits sent to serve those who will inherit salvation?  So, who are those who will inherit salvation? They are those who have accepted Jesus Christ as their Lord and Saviour. 

The examples of angels appearing to man in the bible mainly had two roles: One as protectors and secondly as messengers from God. Does God still use angels to minister to men?

I believe so.  As an example I will share with you my own personal encounter.

 It was after midnight when I awoke with a start. My eyes still tightly closed I could feel a strong presence in the room with me.  Fearfully I opened my eyes. What I saw scared me so much that I couldn’t even scream. A huge being in the form of a man stood hunched over in my room.  He was so huge he couldn’t stand erect. The glow from his face was so strong I couldn’t make out distinct features. His feet and legs seemed to burn like they were of fire. His belt seemed to be made of stars. But what my eyes were really riveted on was the huge shining sword at his thigh. 

 “Oh, boy, I’m done for it now.” I thought.

“Fear, not!” he commanded firmly, as if he knew what I was thinking. The words leapt into my mind.  It seemed that I could communicate with him through thought.

Somehow reassured by his words, my racing heart began to subside and I could gather my wits about me enough to ask a question. “Why are you here?” I questioned without speaking aloud.

“I’m here to protect you.”

 I wondered what he was protecting me from.

“Now go to sleep.” There was no arguing with his words and I instantly slept.

Again that night I was awakened.  My mom who was in the next room was screaming.

I rushed in and asked her what the matter was.

“There are demons circling around my head. They’re trying to get me!” My mom sobbed hysterically.  At this point in time my mom was not a Christian.

Quickly I laid my hands on her and prayed. Then I commanded the demons to leave our house in the name of Jesus.  My mom quieted and said they were gone.

Puzzled about what was happening I went back to my room.  The angel was still standing there, still glowing, and still watching. I felt comforted and went back to sleep.

The next morning I woke and wondered if the night before had been a really, really

vivid dream.  My mom confirmed that I really did come into her room and she had

seen strange things dancing around her head. Later that day, we learned that our psychotic

neighbour in the townhouse beside us had committed suicide in her bedroom.  Her

bedroom wall adjoined my bedroom.  It made sense now.  The angel was protecting me.

Well that experience, in my mind, really blew the whole image of angels being cute cherubs with wings and halo’s. The angel I saw was a mighty warrior.  Just like the angel that appeared to Balaam’s donkey.

Numbers 22:31

 Then the Lord opened the eyes of Balaam and he saw the angel of the Lord standing in the way, and his sword drawn in his hand: …

The angel sent to me was for my protection just as the Lord sent angels to protect Lot and his family and lead them out of Sodom. (Genesis 19)   Daniel was protected from being harmed by the lions.

Daniel 6:22

My God sent his angel, and he shut the mouths of the lions. They have not hurt me, because I was found innocent in his sight. …

Peter was rescued from prison by an Angel.

 Acts 12:7

Suddenly and angel of the Lord appeared and a light shone in the cell. He struck Peter on the side and woke him up, “Quick, get up!” he said, and the chains fell off Peter’s wrists.

All of these examples speak of angels appearing to adults. What about children? What about the question of guardian angels?  Jesus spoke to us about angels watching over our children. The disciples were asking Jesus who was the greatest in the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 18:1) Then Jesus called a child to him and Said, “Whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.”

Jesus went on to say, “Take heed that you do not despise one of these little ones, for I say to you that in heaven their angels always see the face of My Father who is in heaven” Matthew 18:10 This leads me to believe that God assigns angels to guard our children.  It doesn’t say anything in the Bible if these angels every leave our children when they reach a certain age. But we do see in Psalm 91 it is God’s desire that we live under the umbrella of his protection.

 Ps 91:11-12 For He shall give His angels charge over you, to keep you in all your ways. In

Their hands they shall bear you up, lest you dash your foot against a stone.

 Ps 91:14-16 “Because he loves me, says the Lord, “I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name. He will call upon me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in

trouble, I will deliver him and honour him. With long life will I satisfy him and show him my salvation.”

Does it thrill your heart to know that Jesus loves us so much that he sends his angels to protect us?  It boggles my mind and it gives the angels cause to wander also about this great salvation that Christ has bought for us.

1Peter 1:12

It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves but you, when they spoke of the things that have now been told you by those who have preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven. Even angels long to look into these things. 

To read the second part of this article click here:

 Written by: Lorraine Jacyszyn

 

Praying God’s will for your life!

How do we know what the perfect will of God is for our lives? I have heard many well intentioned people say things about finding and praying for the will of God in my life, but what does it mean exactly and how do we do it?

 I would like to take a few moments and share a couple of the truths that I believe God has taught me over the years, concerning praying for his will to be done in my life.

If you have been a Christian for a while, you might have had people say, we want to live our lives according to the will of God.

 My question has always been what is the will of God for my life? If I am supposed to live my life according to it, then how do I discover what it is?

This is where prayer has become an essential part of the journey to discovering what God’s true will is for my life, and not only that, but praying specifically for it to happen.

I believe that the lord had revealed to me this one fundamental truth;

 IF I want to know what the will of God is, then all I need to do is to look in the bible, as they are the very words of God, to the world.

That sounds easy enough, but there are long genealogies, stories of war, famine, drought and the like. There are also stories of beatings, depravations and shipwrecks. How on earth can I a mere lay person discover God’s specific will for my life in the midst of all of that.

This is where I believe that the lord stepped up my training. As I would read the bible I discovered that some passages would specifically give a command that said, do this or that as it is in accordance with the will of God. That seemed easy enough.

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.”

In the passage above, Jesus taught his disciples how they should pray to God the Father, according to his will, we learn that we are to reverence God (hallowed be your name), we can ask for his kingdom to come and for his will to be done on earth as it is in heaven.

We can ask him to give us our daily bread ( what we need to live on, eat, clothing, shelter etc) We can also confidently ask him to forgive us the sins that we have committed that has hindered our relationship with him, as well as for us to forgive those who through their sinful behavior have hurt/offended us. Then we can pray that we not succumb to the temptations that the devil would throw at us during our day, but instead be able to resist them in the power of the Holy Spirit. We can also ask God to deliver us from the evil one, that we will not be trapped by his schemes and devices and led into sin.

 Through these verses we also discover the importance that God puts on us forgiving other people, as he says that if we forgive men, he will forgive us to. It sometimes feels better (for a moment) to hold a grudge or feel justified in your anger against someone, but the truth is, that Forgiveness is God’s will for us, and it will set us free.

As you can see, we have discovered in this short prayer many things about God and his will for our lives, and so it is with confidence that we can pray these things daily.

My question was though, are there more passages of scripture that would help me to discover a greater depth to God’s will for my life?

 The answer came through the revelation of the Holy Spirit as a big fat Yes!  I asked the Holy Spirit to reveal to me how to figure out more of God’s will for my life and he showed me that the more that I read scripture, the more I would discover things that were principles of good godly living. Sometimes these principles were hidden among the accounts of people who had gone before us, and what they learnt along the way. Sometimes the truth was out in plain sight.

I did discover however that without the Holy Spirit leading the charge in my education, it was just words on a page to me, instead of the living principles that I knew that they were.

Jesus promised that he would send the Holy Spirit to teach us how to live lives that are pleasing to the will of God. Therefore we can confidently pray, knowing that it is God’s will, for the Holy Spirit to teach us the things from heaven that would help us to live our lives here on earth.

John 14:26

 But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.

As you can see from the above verse Jesus told the disciples that he would send a counselor to us, and he is the spirit of truth, it is his job to lead us into the truth of God.

There is also another very important concept that I would like to bring your attention to as well, and that is, that Jesus said that when we have faith in him, we will be able to ask for anything in his name and he will do it; now I am sure that he was not talking about us asking for things that would be for selfish reasons, like a million dollars, a Lamborghini and so forth, No, I believe that he is wanting us to ask for things, that will aide in our Christian character and that would benefit others around as well.

 John 14:12 – 17

 I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.   And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father.  You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.  “If you love me, you will obey what I command.  And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. “

Therefore, we can conclude that not only does God want us to ask him for things, but he wants us to have faith in him, walk in obedience to him, and ask him for anything in his name and he will do it.  These are facts from the bible that we can literally put in our “bank account” of God’s will for our lives.

In the book of Proverbs there are many revelations of God’s will,  for instance, in the beginning of the book it tells us to ask and seek for wisdom.

Therefore, when I pray, I can confidently ask for wisdom as well as be assured that what I am asking for is God’s will for my life.

I can also ask that this godly wisdom would help me to discern between good and evil, righteousness and wickedness. I can ask the Lord to help me to live a disciplined and prudent life that will lead me to doing things that are just and fair. Proverbs 1:1-3

All I have done is read the first 3 verses of the book of proverbs and discovered that God wants me to desire wisdom, he wants me to learn the difference between wickedness and righteousness and he wants me to be disciplined enough to pursue that.

Then as I read further through the book of proverbs there are many other things that I can pray for, like “lord, help me to learn not to be lazy, but be diligent as you promise in your word that if I am diligent and work hard I will be rewarded with wealth”  Proverbs 10:4

Or,

 “Lord, please help me to be wise in heart and accept your commands, let me not become like a foolish man, who just talks all of the time, but never takes the time to listen to instructions, help me oh lord to be a person of integrity all the days of my life so that my walk with you would be secure, because your word says that he who takes a crooked path will be found out. Lord I see so many examples of that around me in the news daily, help me oh lord I pray”  Proverbs 10:8-9

As you can see that when we take the time to search out the word of God and then pray it back to God, we will soon learn not only what His will is for our lives, but we will also pray that it would become a reality and part of our lives. Therefore, I confidently know that what I have asked the lord for He will give me, as it is a part of His will for my life, or else He would not have put it in the bible!

Brothers and Sisters in Christ, I want to encourage you to take a deeper look at the word of God, and see how you can turn it back into prayer, not only for your own life but also for those around you, your loved ones and your neighbors. God delights in answering us, and when we desire to have the things that he has already prepared for us, like, wisdom, diligence, righteousness then it becomes even easier for him to answer with a YES to our requests.

If you have never prayed in this way before and you find it a bit intimidating, I suggest that you start small, like in Proverbs chapter 1. Read it through, and ask the lord to show you have to pray it back to him, asking him for the wisdom, insight and fear of the lord that would strengthen you in Him.

I know that when you start to pray in this way, the excitement of discovering God’s will for your life will become overwhelming at times, be sure to write in a journal the different insights that the Lord gives you along the way as well. I know that you will be blessed.

Please remember that God’s will and wisdom is not limited to the book of Proverbs so be sure to keep reading through the entire bible, asking the Holy Spirit to reveal his truth to you along the way as you pray and seek the will of God for your life.

My prayer for you, is that you will discover the depths of wisdom, truth and God’s will for your life as you spend time daily with him in his word. I pray that you will not just read the word, but that you will learn to apply it to your life and that you will become more and more Christ like daily. In Jesus name I pray,

Amen

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Experimenting With Drugs

If you’ve seen an unexplainable or drastic change in your teenager’s honesty, grades, behavior, attentiveness, or friends, it may not be hormones.  It could be that they are experimenting with intoxicating substances that are as close as your kitchen drawer, medicine cabinet or garage.

It used to be that older teens were most susceptible to drug experimentation, but kids today are experimenting earlier and earlier.  In fact, 10 to 14 year-olds are now the most likely to begin experimenting with one intoxicating substance or another.

One fad is a throwback to the 60’s hippie culture, marked by an increased popularity, availability and use of marijuana (pot), as well as the more seriously addicting 60′s drugs like heroin and LSD (acid).  Today’s pot is several times more potent than it was just a few years ago and heroin is even more accessible in some schools today than alcohol.

Illegal drugs get a lot of news coverage, but there are literally thousands of less sinister, but potentially more dangerous, ways for kids to get high, including:  potent concoctions of common household glues, solvents and aerosols, prescription pain medications like Oxycontin and Vicodin, or even some of the plants found in your yard.  Some kids even get a buzz off of massive doses of certain vitamins.

Most teens think they’re invincible, so their drug history is their badge of courage.  They learn about every source of intoxication from the Internet and then try them one after another.  So, they could be experimenting with huffing aerosol propellants, glues, gasoline, or paint.  Or, they could be crushing cold medications and sniffing them like cocaine or guzzling liquid cold medicines.  They could be taking your prescription drugs or taking nothing at all and just playing the “choking game” to get a temporary high from near asphyxiation.  Still others show their courage by experimenting with the harder drugs like ecstasy, crystal meth, crack, cocaine, LSD, or heroin, which are all highly addictive.

When Does It Start?

When I ask kids in our counseling program the age they started experimenting with drugs or alcohol, they usually report it was in the 7th or 8th grade; and some as early as the 5th grade. Most say they were introduced to drugs or alcohol when staying overnight at a friend’s home or other overnight youth event; or, at their friend’s house after school when their parents weren’t home.  Others were introduced to drugs or alcohol when attending parties … usually parties where older teens are present and parents are absent, distracted, or don’t care.

Fact is, parents today who allow their teenagers to stay overnight with friends may be putting their teen in peril.  After the parents are asleep, the kids try to outdo each other in regard to how far they will go, armed with the latest vices from the Internet.  That’s why I recommend putting a stop to slumber parties at age ten.  Stop at age 10 for a couple of years …..slumber parties where the crowd influence is greater than just sleeping at someone’s house.  From then on, the normally innocent agenda of pizza and pillow fights tends to shift to more sinister things these days.

By the time most parents first discover their child is using drugs, the child has usually been involved for several years.  But if parents can be diligent in keeping their kids from experimenting with intoxicating substances before age 14, they’ll be less likely to get started at all, so it’s important to be the most vigilant in the critical tween and early teen years.

The Addicted Teen

There’s obviously a difference between experimenting with drugs and being addicted.  However, experimenting is no less dangerous, since we hear stories every day of deaths of first-time users.  And some drugs are so addictive, that they can lead to a lifetime addiction with their very first use.

There’s nothing more gut-wrenching for a parent than to deal with their teenager’s drug addiction.  Just watch a few episodes of the show “Intervention” on television and you’ll see what dealing with an addict is like.  It’s a constant nightmare, not just for an addict, but for the entire family.  The lying, stealing, fits of anger, run-ins with the law and constant fear that the child will overdose can destroy and bankrupt a family.  And it won’t get better without treatment and ongoing support, sometimes spanning the addict’s entire life.

Sadly, each year more than a million teenagers need to go into substance abuse treatment programs.  And just like alcoholism, many of them will struggle with that addiction throughout their entire life.  That’s why it’s far better for parents to prevent kids from experimenting with drugs early on, before they get a foothold.

Why Do They Experiment?

Kids are usually motivated to experiment with drugs by curiosity and the need to fit in.  They want to try what their friends are trying, and they have a great need to belong.

Some kids experiment because they are seeking relief from anxiety or emotional pain.  In essence they are self-medicating or using drugs or alcohol to cope with the stresses they are feeling.  For instance, many kids use marijuana to reduce their anxiety, but medical studies show that the prolonged use of the drug has the opposite effect, leading to heightened anxiety, depression, nervousness, mental disorders, paranoia and panic attacks.  While some parents diminish the seriousness of use of marijuana, they should pay attention to what the National Institute on Drug Abuse says are the effects of its prolonged use.  They report it can cause, “… impaired attention, memory problems, diminished learning capacity, interference with the formation of memories and the ability to retain knowledge, a general apathy toward life events, poor coordination, diminished interpersonal skills, and poor judgment.”

Sadly, other kids experiment with drugs to tempt their fate.  Teens with more serious emotional and psychological problems turn to dangerous concoctions or massive doses of drugs as a form of “Russian Roulette.”  They reason, “If I die, then so be it.”  Not a week goes by that I don’t receive a message from a parent or grandparent, heartbroken that their teen overdosed and died.

 Signs of Drug Use

There are many signs of substance abuse that a parent should watch for, but the only way to know for sure is to take your teenager to get a full-spectrum drug and alcohol test (a test for many types of drugs).  To be sure, have it done professionally by a local lab that processes tests for businesses.  Give your teen little forewarning to prepare for the test, since they can usually find ways on the Internet to falsify the results.

A substance abuse test is warranted if you see any of these signs:

Masking – you notice that they are consuming mega doses of vitamins, teas and herbs in attempt to mask drug use.

Increased lying – not just once or twice, but chronic dishonesty, especially if lying is new for your teen.

Breakdown in normal habits – drastic changes in sleep, appetite, the ability to complete schoolwork, loss of interest in things they once loved, extreme forgetfulness, and marked decrease in hygiene.

An unusual odor on clothes or in the room — frequent use of incense or deodorizers to mask the smell, frequent use of eye drops (to alleviate bloodshot eyes), extended periods locked alone in their room or the bathroom, frequent use of the garage or shed or other vacant buildings.

Change in friends – your teen exchanges healthy friendships for fierce loyalty to questionable people you don’t even know.  They may even run away, or disappear with their new friends for long stretches of time.

Stealing or sudden wealth — shoplifting, credit card abuse, valuables disappearing from the home without explanation.  Or, you may see unexplained money, jewelry, new clothes, or new gadgets from the selling of drugs (even from selling your prescriptions).

Change in schedule – up all night, or up very late at night, sleeps for days, misses work, misses appointments, wants to be on the phone late at night or regularly wants to stay overnight at a friend’s house or out camping.

Aggression, anger, mood swings, disrespect, and blaming – to an unreasonable degree, and directed against you and your family or other authorities.

Drug paraphernalia — pincers or paper clips for smoking, empty or disassembled pen cases for snorting, empty aerosol cans, burnt spoons, homemade pot pipes, steel wool, hypodermic needle parts, unknown prescription bottles, empty liquid cold remedy bottles, cold remedy blister packs, missing glues or solvents, or knives and spoons used for crushing and sniffing pills repeatedly show up in their room.

Dropping grades– lack of care for school, sports or other healthy pursuits.

 Drugs May Be the Behavior Issue

It’s easy to identify bad behavior and blame drug use on teenage rebellion, but it could be that drugs are what’s affecting your child’s behavior.  The real dilemma comes from the parent not believing their child might be experimenting with or using drugs in the first place.  This is simply denial.  Until a parent understands the real possibility of drugs use — even if their teen has good Christian friends and is active in church — they won’t be able to get to the root of the problem.

You may not understand the reason your child has chosen drug use as their way to “cope” with some giant in their life, but that’s another matter altogether.  And because it is inconceivable that your child would ever do such a thing, you may fail to consider it, discuss it with him or drug test him to find out.  I’ve found that parents with kids in Christian schools are the least likely to admit their teen has a problem.  After all, they are in a “safe” environment, right?  Wrong!  Kids that have come to our program with drug issues tell me that the drug problem is more prevalent, not less, in the Christian schools they’ve attended than in public schools.

Before Counseling, Get the Drug Use Under Control

Since drug use may be the cause of behavioral issues, all the behavioral counseling in the world will have little positive effect until the drug use is stopped and the lingering effects of the drug are out of the teenager’s system.  Depending on the drug that was used, the after-effects can last several months.  That’s why at Heartlight, we require that kids with known drug dependencies first go through a separate addiction treatment program.  We cannot deal with their inner issues until the drug issues are taken care of.  Likewise, don’t attempt to get counseling for your teen until the drugs are out of their system.  It’s a waste of money and time.  The best plan is to have the two therapies work hand in hand, ensuring that the ongoing support of an Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous program continue in tandem with your teen’s counseling for emotional and behavioral issues.

If your teen is showing any of the signs I’ve already mentioned, I recommend that every few weeks, unannounced, you drug test your teen.  Make it a prerequisite for using the car.  Hold them accountable to the results, just as if a court would hold them accountable if they were on probation.  Test them even when they squeal in protest or appear disappointed that you don’t trust them.  Easy-to-use home drug and alcohol test kits can be bought in almost any drug store that can be used for regular monitoring.  And when you test them, stay in the room.  Don’t trust them to give you a valid sample.  If they are getting caught up in that culture, they’ll also know ways to get around the test and they’ll have no trouble lying to you about it.

Overall, your teenager needs to know you will do everything in your parental power to keep drugs from becoming a part of their history, even if it means putting them in an addiction treatment program or reporting them to the authorities and landing them in jail.  Better a few days in jail and a time on probation where they’ll get tested regularly, than a lifetime in the grip of drugs.

 Don’t stick your head in the sand or otherwise pretend that your teen knows better than to try drugs.  If you are dealing with an out of control teen, and there have been no other traumatic events or psychological problems in your child’s life, you are most likely dealing with the effects of drugs or alcohol or other intoxicating substances in one form or another.  The sooner you know what you are dealing with, the better the chance you’ll have for finding the right kind of help for your child.

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.

 

 

The Spoken Word – Gossip

I have once again been reminded of the fact that the words that proceed from my mouth will either bring life and refreshment to myself and those around me or they would bring death.

It is very easy to form bad habits when it comes to the use of our mouths. Sometimes those habits have been taught to us by other people and other times, we adopt them because it makes us feel better about ourselves.

The Lord recently revealed to me that my mouth once again was getting me into trouble. At the time I enjoyed every morsel that came out of my mouth. I felt justified to say what I was saying and it was not until later did I realize the damage that I had been doing.

You see, I had been having some issues with a person, and how their attitude was affecting me and everyone else around them. Where I landed in hot water with God was, I was retelling these “facts” to another person, “teaching them, what not to do” yes, I know, ridiculous but that is what I did.

I would love to sugar coat what I did, but the truth of the matter is, I was gossiping, slandering and tearing down the integrity of that person, as I retold “My side of the story”. Yuck!

In the process, I realized that not only had I compromised my relationship with both of those people, but I had sinned against God who tells me not to gossip, and slander another person. I felt horrible and apologized to the person whom I had told the story to.

You see, in my irritation with the person, I felt justified to shake my head and say,” see look at that behavior is it not awful?” not realizing at the time, that my behavior was just as bad. God wants us to be people of integrity who use our mouths to bring life to all those around us. To speak well of them, instead of using our time to tear them to pieces as we smugly sit on the side lines and discuss them.

I know that I do not want people to talk about me behind my back, therefore I need to make sure that I do not do it to other people.

James 3 tells us that the tongue is hard to control, but we need to learn to bring it into submission under God.

James 3:5-6

 Likewise the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark.   The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole person, sets the whole course of his life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell. 

James 3:9 – 10

 With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God’s likeness.   Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers, this should not be. 

I desire to be a woman whose tongue brings life to those around me, I desire to build up and encourage the people that God has given me the privilege of ministering to. I cannot do that, if I allow my tongue to be used as an instrument for evil.

In the book of Isaiah, God had shown the Prophet Isaiah a vision of heaven and had called him to be a prophet to the people of Israel, but during the time of this vision, Isaiah realized that he was a man of an unclean tongue who also lived amongst people who also used their words for evil and not good.

Read the following scripture to find out what God did to remedy this situation;

Isaiah 6:1-7

 In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord seated on a throne, high and exalted, and the train of his robe filled the temple.  Above him were seraphs, each with six wings: With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying.  And they were calling to one another: “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory.” 

 At the sound of their voices the doorposts and thresholds shook and the temple was filled with smoke.   “Woe to me!” I cried. “I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the LORD Almighty.” 

Then one of the seraphs flew to me with a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with tongs from the altar.   With it he touched my mouth and said, “See, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for.” 

Brothers and Sisters, your sin and mine have also been atoned for by the blood of Jesus Christ through his death on the cross. You have been given the right to become a child of God and been sealed with the Holy Spirit as a deposit guaranteeing your inheritance one day. Therefore, you have also been given the ability to choose to walk in righteousness all the days of your life.

If you have found yourself depicted in this article, I pray that you would ask the lord to forgive you. He promises that he will.

Please understand something, I did not start out the day, thinking, hey I am going to gossip about someone today, but I found myself there. I know that the bible teaches that we should not do it, therefore I knew that what I had done was sin. I still did it, but when I realized that I had sinned against God I asked him to forgive me. Which I know he did as that too is a promise in the bible.

I believe that God enables us to learn and grow more and more into Christ likeness when we acknowledge sin in our lives, repent quickly, learn from it and determine not to do it again. In the following scripture the apostle Paul tells the believers where we are to set our minds, they are to be set not on earthly things but in the heavenly realms. We are to clothe ourselves with the good that God has given us, and literally de-robe from the things that held us captive before, even gossiping.

 Colossians 3:1-17

 Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God.  Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.   For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.   When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.   Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry.  Because of these, the wrath of God is coming.

You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived.  But now you must rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips.  Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator.  Here there is no Greek or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all. 

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. 

I pray that the lord will bless you today as you clothe yourself with Him and His righteousness, and leave behind the things that will put you into the bondage of sin once again.