Welcome to the World of Doubts

We will be publishing a series this week on our blog, aimed at parents of young teenagers. We believe it will be a good read and reminder for all parents. If you’re not a parent of a teen yet, read on. You will need this. If your children are already past their teenage years, read on and be in prayer for the younger families in your church and the local youth ministry.

This series was originally posted on Mark Oestreicher’s blog.

A nervous set of parents met with me. Tears came quickly. Judy, the mom, spoke in-between honks into her tissue: “Johnny, our 7th grader… [honk!]… he’s always been such a good boy. And he’s always loved Jesus.”

The dad nodded.

Judy continued: “But the other night at dinner… [honk!]… Johnny said, ‘I’m not sure I want to be a Christian anymore.’” [honk!]

A big smile broke out across my face.

Their faces made it obvious they were somewhere between confused and offended by my grin. So I explained:


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You Will Overcome

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Sidelined-meme

In the late 1400s in Nuremberg, Germany, two brothers, Albrecht and Albert, grew up wanting to be artists. They came from a very large family of more than a dozen siblings, and their father was a goldsmith. Although their family was relatively well-off by the standards of that day, their parents could not afford to send both of them to study art. So as the brothers grew older, Albert told his brother, “Albrecht, I want you to go and study to be an artist. You have an amazing talent, and I know you will draw and paint many beautiful works. I’m going to work in order to pay for your studies.”

“How? What will you do?” asked his younger brother.


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Top 5 Children’s Books with a Lesson

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We need to get back to the basics.

When it comes to spending time with our kids, it seems that no matter what technology emerges, parents always find their way back to what is tried and true: playing, creating, and reading.

But, with time being of the essence more now than ever, it sure is nice when we can accomplish more than one objective with our kids at a time!

Think of it like sneaking extra vegetables into spaghetti sauce or into a fruit smoothie – you’re still meeting a basic need (feeding your child), but you’re also getting in an added benefit.

I like to do the same during family reading time.


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Bad Dads – No More Holes and Wounded Souls

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Bad-dads-of-the-Bible-meme

 

When my oldest son, Jamin, was moving out of the toddler years, I started to have a difficult time hugging and kissing him. I wasn’t really sure why. But for some reason, it felt strange and well… just weird. So I decided to talk this situation over with my wife, Yvette. She listened intently as I explained my dilemma. When I finished, without hesitation she said matter-of-factly, “Well, you’re just going to have to hold your nose and do it because he needs it…”

So I did. I hugged and hugged and kissed and kissed. And, ironically, I found that the more I did it, the less weird it felt. So much so, that my now thirty-year-old son and his twenty-eight-year old brother Justin still frequently get a “wet one” on the forehead along with a daddy bear hug — or two.


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Desperate Dads Go to Jesus

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dad-time-max-lucado-meme

Our kids were God’s kids first… We tend to forget this fact, regarding our children as “our” children, as though we have the final say in their health and welfare. We don’t. All people are God’s people, including the small people who sit at our tables. Wise are the parents who regularly give their children back to God.

A father is the one in your life who provides and protects. That is exactly what God has done.


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Reflections on Dad

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learning to ride a bike

I’m going to be honest: it’s not easy to get my boys to “reflect” on something. Reflecting requires quiet, stillness, uninterrupted thought… yeah, three boys under the age of eight don’t do much of those things!

With Father’s Day approaching, though, I knew it was important to help them spend some time thinking about the man they call Daddy and just why they love him so much.

We say I love you and go about our days, but the people we love are worth more reflection than just a few simple words. And this is even more significant to me as we raise boys.

They have an amazing, godly father who they love to the moon and back, but I want them to know just exactly what is so special about him, what they can admire and what can inspire them to be men of godly character, and the things that make him the the dad God had in mind for them from the beginning.

If you have boys, you probably know the answers that come first when a boy talks about what he loves about his dad…


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The Secret of Fatherhood

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grunge image of a field

We all have insecurities boiling inside us. Our culture tells us incessantly what failures we are as fathers.

Even our own genes can throw up roadblocks. We don’t get to be the heroes we feel like we should be. And so we fail. We lose interest. We’d rather play video games.

But we can’t. We have to push aside those fears and insecurities and our own laziness – the “ways of childhood” the apostle Paul talks about (1 Corinthians 13:11). We have to transcend our own weaknesses and predilections and become the greater man. I think God calls us to do just that.

For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you wantwrites Paul in Galatians 5:17.


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Parent’s Progress 06.12.14

We are sure there are different theories behind this practice in parenting. Either way you feel about it, this is some good food for thought. 

Click here for advice on how to handle your teen and tech.



How I Still Evangelize

by Lyndsey Graves

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    by Lyndsey Graves

    “It makes me feel kind of icky.”

    “I might have to do it, but I hope I never do.”

    “Outdated and unnecessary.”

    – Three reactions to the idea of evangelism, demonstrating that popular attitudes toward it are roughly analogous to those towards colonoscopies.

    I involuntarily gathered these quotes by taking a class on evangelism this semester, and then by accidentally reading books for the class in public. My boss said aloud what everyone was thinking when he cheerfully-aggressively smiled and replied, “Just don’t evangelize me!”, executing a surprisingly spry spin away from me and closing his office door.

    I have my own history with the word. As a kid, I came to believe that it meant getting strangers to convert to Christianity, especially if they were Catholic; so “evangelism” used to make me, a guilt-prone and stranger-averse child, feel slightly sick and clammy, like in those dreams where you’re back in school and you have to take a test you had no hope of preparing for. I didn’t even have a proper testimony, just an always-there knowledge that God was… always there. So when I first heard the whole “preach the Gospel at all times, and if necessary, use words” concept, it felt like getting off the hook for some cosmic homework assignment.

    I am 100% into the idea that living a Christlike life is the best and most important way to evangelize – to “bring good news” – so that just maybe, other people can catch a glimpse of Jesus. Yet if that exhausts the definition of evangelism, we sort of lose the need for the word. The intention behind the verb goes missing. Yes, people might stop handing out hellfire tracts, so that’s a definite win, but we might also forget that “talking about your faith” was ever something done outside the walls of our Jesus club/church.

    And if “going and preaching the gospel” is something to do, shouldn’t we somehow make a point of doing it… whatever it is? Even if it doesn’t mean telling other people their religion is stupid, or tricking them into accidentally coming to church, or doing mime-skits where the “lost” drink “beer” out of soda bottles handed to them by the “devil”/youth-group-guy-with-beard – shouldn’t we consciously share what is, ostensibly, good news?

    I’ve reached the unpopular conclusion that we should. OK, so we’re all terrified that we’ll do it badly and ruin something precious – either the message of Jesus or a friendship. Great! The boring-mean-killjoy side of me thinks maybe we could stand to feel a little more cautious and reverent about some other things we Christians do; maybe we could be treating many more things and people as precious. A better side of me thinks this feeling means we’re finally starting to understand what evangelism is about: honesty and humility. Of course it’s scary; talking about faith can’t rightly be done without God’s help, and of course it feels vulnerable – you’re telling this personal story, and your friend might reject you, or Jesus, or both.

    And I think that’s part of why it’s been done so terribly in the past. It was easier to hide behind deceit, covering over the more difficult parts to make it all more attractive. Or else to mask our vulnerability with pride, pushing others toward faith through fear and threats, or “winning” arguments without ever really seeing people. But I don’t think that simply clamming up about our faith in response to these evangelistic tactics is helping to redeem those experiences for ourselves or other people. Maybe learning to share with our friends the struggles, journeys, and stories that are a part of us could put us on a path toward healing.

    I think I can identify the times I’ve engaged in something akin to evangelism; Each time, it was accompanied by that please-help-me-what-am-i-doing feeling that usually means I’ve wandered out to the edge of faith, where God wants me to be. It happens when we put new effort into translating an old story into someone else’s language, when we ask for the gift of speaking faithfully, when we trace back over the outlines of what all this means for us.

    It happened in a youth-group room when I gave my over-prepared junior-year “talk” and said how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ. It happened when I prayed halting, quiet prayers with high schoolers at the youth center who trusted me with their wounds and their scars. When I sat in an empty Gothic sanctuary with a questioning undergrad on Maundy Thursday last year, trying to talk about Holy Week sans Christianese and it was like he was washing our feet right there. Or when I blogged good news in a tear-filled flurry of breathless inspiration that felt like Spirit overflowing.

    These moments have taught me a surprising reason God might want us to talk about him. Because in the middle of telling the old, old story, I heard the good news again for the first time. A listening, waiting, humble evangelism always teaches our own stories back to us. And in hearing those stories, in God’s helping us to tell them, in having to actually look at God again, we are folded back into her love anew.

     


    Lyndsey Graves blogs at To Be Honest. This post originally appeared at On Pop Theology.



    Missions Update from Africa

    by Vickie Reynen

    May……

    It may be the shortest -named month of the year, but it’s packed!

     

    April showers…(or snow)..

    In April, Mike and I were in the states to attend several meetings and touch base with family and friends.  Some of the highlights: attending a retreat for FM Conference OverSeers & Area Directors (and spouses..YEAH!)  and truly being encouraged; Spending time with our kids  and our soon-to be son-in-law Jamie, and his parents; attending Easter service  with Kelly, Kenzie & Kyle; seeing MIke’s parents again before heading back to Nairobi. (oh..and, yes, we even enjoyed the one day of snow flurries).

    Missions June '14 1

    Meanwhile in West Africa…


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