Five Things Every Christian Parent Should Ponder

1) God has given you charge over not only their bodies, but also their souls.

Deuteronomy 6:5-7 implores us as parents to guide our children into spiritual truth. If you leave this to the “experts” at church, they may begin to see their faith as a Sunday thing and not something lived out during the week. After all, if parents don’t talk about “God-things” with them during the week, they won’t see it as important for their daily lives either.

2) Model for your children how a wife and husband should treat one another. 

My kids “gross” out when Christi and I show any PDA. You would think we were putting hot coals in their eyeballs! Yet, I know that behind their disgust are happy children who feel safe and secure having a mother and father who love each other. A young man needs to see how to treat a woman by the way his daddy treats his mom. A young woman needs to know how to respect and love a man by the way her mom respects and loves her dad. I hope my daughter will want to marry a guy one day who treats her like I try to treat Christi. There is a good chance that will be her standard and expectation.

3) Don’t just focus on their behavior, but focus on their hearts. 

Our goal as parents is not just to get our kids to act right in public. It’s not even to get them to act right at home. We want to go deeper with them. God desires for us to show them the importance of right motive behind their actions. Why do they do what they do? How does the Gospel motivate their thoughts and behaviors? If we just drill into our kids the need to do right things without teaching them the importance of proper motive then, at best, we make them legalists — at worst, hypocrites.

4) Train your children to be measured by grace and not by their performance.

In Exodus 34, God reversed Himself to His people as a God who is compassionate and slow to anger. Yet, God also punished the wicked. His approach is balanced between grace and discipline. Your children need to see you love them for who they are and not what they do. Our kids don’t need to feel we care for them less if they don’t “perform” properly. We give them grace not because they deserve it, but because God has given grace to us. If our kids think we care more for them when they are less of a bother to us then we teach them their value is earned. This flies in the face of what the Gospel teaches.

5) Teach your children to be sensitive to the effects of sin and not desensitized to them.

Everywhere we turn our eyes are filled with immorality. Whether it be commercials, shows, Internet, news, magazines, or billboards, we are inundated with sex, violence, and all kinds of debauchery. Unless we are extremely intentional, we will become desensitized to the effects of these images on our souls. The effect on our children should scare us. If our children become desensitized then sin will become commonplace, and they will live lives of compromise and justification. This is an epidemic in our world today.

WHAT IS THE MEANING OF MY LIFE?

Psalm 42:2 My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When shall I come and appear before God?

What are we here on this earth for? What is the meaning of my life? Every generation since the beginning of creation has asked that question in one way or another. What is my purpose? Am I part of something bigger than what I see? This question is natural because it is programmed in us by our Creator. He created us with a purpose, and, unless we figure out that purpose, we will be devoid of joy and peace in our lives.

Every person on earth tries to find their purpose in some way. Most spend their whole lives filling that answer with things that rust and destroy. New home, new cars, new putters, new clothes, new jobs, new kids, new spouse… and on and on. A never-ending pursuit of something more to bring a sense of purpose and meaning to life. Yet, one thing seems blatantly obvious when you have eyes to see it; nothing really satisfies. It all leaves you wanting more. It promises so much more than it can fulfill. The feelings of satisfaction with these things never last.

The problem is within your soul. Your soul has God-size expectations. After all, it was God who breathed the soul into us (Genesis 1:26-27). It refuses to be satisfied with anything less than God Himself.

What can truly satisfy the soul? That is the question we should be asking and on a journey to answer. The answer is found in only one place — with the God who made us. It’s not enough to serve a god. We can find “gods” in many forms. They are created in the mind of man and will only bring bondage as they can only bring deception and lack any power. Religion doesn’t make us happy. Only relationship with our Creator can do that.

I am talking about the God of the Bible. The One who created you to find purpose in something greater than yourself. The One who created you to glorify His name and find purpose in His kingdom. The One who created you to put others first and find joy in living sacrificially.

The greatest irony of humanity is that, the more we fill our lives with stuff to make us happy, the more dissatisfied we get where it matters most — in our souls. Take celebrities as the example here. Fame and fortune don’t cut it. A lot of rich and famous people are miserable. It’s the wrong diet for what our soul needs. The soul lives for something more pure, more relational, more redemptive. You can only find that in God.

In a word, we are left dissatisfied. We have chased the breeze never to catch it. We have been deceived by the devil to believe we could find happiness in things that never fully deliver.

Here is where I found true satisfaction for my soul:

* Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.” (John 6:35)

* For he satisfies the longing soul, and the hungry soul he fills with good things. (Psalm 107:9)

When will you realize that Jesus is better than anything this world has to offer? When will you stop exhausting yourself chasing after happiness when it is only a prayer away?

You Said What On Facebook?


Social media is a great tool for connecting with friends from anywhere, for allowing people into our lives who want to see it, for information, and sometimes even for inspiration. There is a lot to like about social media. I use it constantly for making spiritual challenges and to communicate to church members. I like to highlight good things my kids are doing and to brag on my wife. But social media can also be the devil. I do not exaggerate. I have seen it destroy friendships, marriages, and young adult’s reputations. I have seen it be used to hurt others and as a tool for bigotry and hate.

Here are three specific ways I see social media being used in a harmful way:

  1. 1) A place to publicly shame others.

We see something posted we don’t like or something in the media that angers us and we attack with shame grenades. It feels so right in the moment. We are dispensing justice to the atrocities of what we feel. How dare they? It is only right that I call them out publicly. We feel so self righteous. And then all the people pleasers out there feel the tension of our post and so they like it and make a comment supporting us, most of the times out of a desperate desire to be liked by us than because they agree with our tirade.

You see it all the time. Someone starts their post with “You may not want to read what I am about to say. I am about to rant.’ Two things you should know when you see this. This person desperately wants you to read what they are saying or else they would not feel that way and then put it on public display. Secondly, you will see several comment who don’t necessarily further the discussion or disagree with it but quickly try to associate with the ranter out of a need to be liked. I am not trying to be harsh here but to make us aware of what is happening. It is toxic, my friends.

We also love to bash those who are unreachable to us. Celebrities and politicians are typically our target here. We shame them with hateful posts and feel justified in it because we don’t know them personally and we feel confident they want read it anyway. We just rally the other haters to shame with us. What does it accomplish? Better question is how does God receive glory from it?

Another way we shame is by setting up a straw man, an anonymous person, that we attack. We say something like “For all those posting about such and such, you are this and that.” Then everyone on our feed is left to wonder are they talking about me and if not me, then who?? Again what benefit comes from this. If I see someone saying something that I think is wrong I should approach them personally. That is what the Bible says to do in Matthew 18. This passive aggressive way of calling out the Straw Man is cowardly.

Am I ever guilty of shaming others on social media? I have committed this sin before. I am guilty as anyone. We need to call it was it is, sin. There is nothing Christian about it. The reason it feels so good is because it appeals to our sinful nature. This post will be very hard to swallow because most of us are guilty to one degree or another. The right response is not to justify our actions but to repent. To confess our wrong to God and to stop doing it.

2) A place for married people to connect or reconnect with a  person of the opposite sex in a dangerous way.

I do a lot of counseling and I used to be amazed how much social media played a role in affairs. It has become an epidemic. What starts out as connecting with a new friend or reconnecting with a friend from the past turns into flirting through private messages, which can turn into a whole lot more. Social media makes us much bolder, more confident, to the point we might find ourselves doing things we would not normally do. Before we know it we have crossed a line.

Be careful of open ended questions you ask someone of the opposite sex. i call these “feeler” statements. You are trying to gauge interest or someone is trying to gauge interest from you. It can be very subtle but it has potential to lead to infidelity. Also avoid pitfalls like buying into the notion that a little flirting is ok. It is never ok to hurt your spouse by flirting with someone else. Also never, ever, ever confide in someone of the opposite sex about problems in your marriage through social media. If you re struggling in your marriage meet with someone of the same sex who can offer goodly counsel. If you engage in spouse bashing with someone of the opposite sex, it is a sure fire way to lead to an unhealthy emotional connection with that person.

Jesus tells us to flee sexual sin. He is so serious about sin, like this, that he tells us if your eye cause you to sin, gouge it out! Don’t put your guard down on social media with people of the opposite sex. Don’t assume their intentions are innocent. Hold your spouse accountable on social media. Don’t be paranoid but be aware of who they are talking with. If your spouse gets defensive of your desire to hold them accountable, then that can be a warning sign.

 

3) A place to hate

Some of us need blood pressure medicine because we get so frustrated, so angry, at what some post. It drives us bonkers. Another picture of their child, another solicitation to buy their product, another comment about a topic they know little about. What I have learned is we get the most frustrated about things that we are prone to do ourselves. I was talking to someone recently who made a comment about someone on social media posting selfies all the time. I mentioned to them that I noticed that they posted pictures of themselves constantly too but with someone in the picture with them. They didn’t like that observation from me! Reality is someone could make the same assumption about them as they were about this other person. We need to be careful about judging the intentions of others. We sure don’t like it when it is done to us.

Here is a simple rule. If someone bothers you by their posts unfollow them. Don’t mention it to others to get a jab in on them. If you say something to someone else then you are wrong because you are gossiping and backbiting. It does not matter if they are wrong or not. No one deserves to be shamed by you! Just simply don’t follow them.

Now here is a way to grow. Ask yourself if what frustrates you about them is something you struggle with as well. Be careful of blindspots in your life. Be careful you are not judging something in others that you are guilty of.

Social media can be a beautiful place. It can be a place of torment and destruction as well. If you are Christian then you don’t get a Christian timeout on social media. God expects you to represent Him well on social media. Keep your guard up. If you can’t fight the temptation to be shameful, angry, gossipy, or lustful on social media then close your account for the sake of your own soul.

Image Bearers

Josh and Laura Porter are good friends of mine and members of Heartland. Josh is a Physician’s Assistant in Sports Medicine and Laura has a Masters Degree in Athletic Training. Josh and Laura are Independent Distributors of AdvoCare. Laura wrote this and I thought it would bless you as much as it did me.

Imago Dei.. Maybe you have heard it. Maybe this is the first time. It is inspired from this verse in Genesis.

“So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.     Genesis 1:27 

I’ll be honest.. For a long time this verse didn’t really hit home with me, until recently when I was listening to a teaching. It suddenly occurred to me that of all the creatures, animals, and living things on this earth.. He chose US to be in His image. Human kind is the crown jewel of ALL of God’s creation. Think about it.. That is a pretty amazing concept. And if we really get this, I mean REALLY get this..we will understand our value. If we understand Imago Dei than we will not treat ourselves cheaply.

What does this mean, exactly?

Well, I feel that it plays itself out in the 3 aspects or areas in our lives.

1. Mind. If we understand that we are made in the image of God, we will feed our mind. Now.. Coming from a girl who is blonder than I pay to be, I’m not saying we need to be scholars on all things. But it means that we read books, we stretch our perspectives and our brains by studying a topic, by learning about other saints who have gone before us (preferably dead), or by understanding new or different points of view on various subjects. It means we are continuously learning and using our minds!

2. Body. If we truly understand that we are made in the image of God, we will not treat ourselves cheaply. We value ourselves by putting the right nutrition in our bodies. We also want to move and work our bodies in order to get stronger and healthier. Not out of vanity, but because we need to be ready to do whatever God calls us to. We need to have adequate energy and a physical body that, by the grace of God, we can fulfill the calling that God has for us. This is why I’m passionate about nutrition.

3. Soul. This one is important. If we have struggles, such as addiction to food, lust, anger, or greed (just to name a few), these are like clogged arteries that we need to tend to and go to the Great Physician about. This is why we pray, study the Word, preach the gospel to ourselves and receive counsel… in order to deal with our junk and find healing for our souls.

Understanding Imago Dei doesn’t just help us understand our value, it helps us see others in their true light. We are freed up to love deeper the more we understand how we are loved. If we can get this.. If you can understand what it means that we are valued enough in our maker’s eyes to be made in His image, you will never look at yourself or others the same! We aren’t cheap, so let’s not treat ourselves that way!

Laura Porter

Should I Confess My Sins

I am a Christian. My sins are forgiven and removed as far as the east is from the west. I stand completely blameless before the Father because of Christ’s sacrifice.  When God sees me He sees a perfect creation. That is not because of us. It is a complete work of Christ in me and not anything I have earned by my own effort or behavior (2 Cor 5:17-21).

So if I am blameless in his sight, completely pardoned before I even commit the act, then why bother confessing sins?

Does scripture actually tell us to confess sin or is that a church tradition? Let’s look:

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.      1 John 1:9

Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.    James 5:16

I acknowledged my sin to you, and I did not cover my iniquity; I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,” and you forgave the iniquity of my sin.    Psalm 32:5

A Psalm of David, when Nathan the prophet went to him, after he had gone in to Bathsheba. Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love; according to your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin! For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me. Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight, so that you may be justified in your words and blameless in your judgment. Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me.     Psalm 51:1-5

So confession is biblical and must be a part of your life as a believer.  You see it both in the Old And New Testament. Some would argue that confession was necessary before Christ only, but it is also commanded of believers in the New Testament too.

In  order to best understand confession, it is helpful to look closely at the word in its original language. It’s construction gives us insight into its importance for the spiritual life. The word confession in the Greek is ὁμολογέω (homologeo). It is created by two separate words: homo and logeo. Home means  “same,” like in homosapien (same species). Logeo means “word,” like its usage in John 1, the logos (word) became flesh and dwelt among us. So confession means to “say the same word.” Don’t miss the significance of that: confession is saying the “same word” about sin as God does. It is to be in agreement with God about the nature of sin. How does God see sin? He hates it. So we should confess the same thing to God by acknowledging that we also hate sin and see it as a destructive force in our life. Sin dishonors God and by confessing it we acknowledge that sin is unworthy of the gospel at work in us.

To confess or not to confess is not an option for a believer. We must acknowledge our sin. We don’t need to confess to a priest or any human agency but have direct access to the Father (Hebrews 4:16).

Should we confess our sin to each other?  We are to confess sin to each other but only so we can help each other carry that burden (Galatians 6:2). I would confess sin to other Christians  I trust to help carry the burden and to hold me accountable.

Confession does several things for us. When we confess sin we are living out the gospel. Confession shows our desperate need for grace in our lives. Confession also keeps us humble as we admit daily to our struggles with sin.

Perhaps the Lord’s Prayer gives us the best insight into our calling to confess:

4 and forgive us our sins, for we ourselves forgive everyone who is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation.  Luke 11:4

Confession is good for your soul. You don’t need it to be forgiven but how can you call yourself His if you don’t despise what He despises. We must take sin seriously and confession is how we acknowledge its destructive force in us.

I suggest every night before you go to bed confessing your sins to the Lord. Thank Him for His forgiveness and grace and provision to overcome sin.

TOP 10 BIBLE VERSES YOU SHOULD PUT TO MEMORY

These verses cover several different facets of our faith as you can see by the themes listed below. Obviously the Scriptures are full of thousands of verses that all speak profoundly to our heart. I have chosen a select list that I think would be a great place to start.

Please feel free to comment on them or share a verse you would add if you came up with a list.

1) All About Grace  Ephesians 2:8-9

8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast.

2) Pleasing God     Hebrews 11:6  

6 And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.

3) Our New Identity   2 Corinthians 5:17  

17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation.[a] The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.

4) Key to Christian Living  John 15:1-5

1 “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. 2 Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit.3 Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. 4 Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. 5 I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is thatbears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.

5) Longing of Our Souls  Revelation 22:20

20 He who testifies to these things says, “Surely I am coming soon.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!

 6) Finding Rest in Midst of Struggle   Matthew 11:28-30

28 Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 Formy yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

7) Our Calling on this Earth     Matthew 28:18-20

18 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

8) Heart of Worship  Psalm 100:1-5

Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth!
2     Serve the Lord with gladness!
Come into his presence with singing!

3 Know that the Lord, he is God!
It is he who made us, and we are his;
we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.

4 Enter his gates with thanksgiving,
and his courts with praise!
Give thanks to him; bless his name!

5 For the Lord is good;
his steadfast love endures forever,
and his faithfulness to all generations.

9) Scripture is Our Victory   Psalm 119:11

11 I have stored up your word in my heart,
that I might not sin against you.

10) God’s Faithfulness to us  Number 23:19

19 God is not man, that he should lie,
or a son of man, that he should change his mind.
Has he said, and will he not do it?
Or has he spoken, and will he not fulfill it?