Archive for June, 2015

Now it came to pass after these things that Joseph was told, “Indeed your father is sick”; and he took with him his two sons, Manasseh and Ephraim. Genesis 48:1 (NKJV)

David M. Csinos and Ivy Beckwith, in CHRISTIAN LEADERS SUMMARY[i], urge us to do more to foster intergenerational community in our churches.  This could happen by making use of particular ministry models or simply by hosting events that are open to people of all ages.  As they explain, “These sorts of relationships act as buttresses that help children build a solid faith that can sustain them for a lifetime.”

According to the authors, the Search Institute found that the more likely a young person was to have supportive nonparent adults in their lives, the more likely it was that this young person would be devoted to her or his particular faith tradition. The church can get children and young people involved in the life of the church with a variety of tasks such as leading in congregational singing, scripture reading, collecting the offering, distributing communion, playing musical instruments, sharing stories, or participating in performances.

It’s one thing to provide such opportunities, but the church also needs to provide mentoring relationships.  The church cannot “force” such relationships.  It many cases, the mentor-mentee relationship where they choose one another has a better chance to grow into a long-lasting, meaningful, generative friendship enhancing their spiritual journey.

Unfortunately, one of the elements of church life that tend to segregate the generations from one another is the Sabbath school.   We would not suggest we do away with the Sabbath school, in particular the individual age classes.  Rather, we suggest we are intentional in bringing people of all ages together to learn and benefit from each other’s experience, energy, enthusiasm, and point of view.  Providing such an opportunity means that children, adolescents, and adults of all ages are all present and valued for who they are.  That was the case when Joseph brought his sons to Jacob at his deathbed.  Three generations came together for a momentous event.

Father God, help us to reach across the generations.

[i] The Journal of Family and Community Ministries 2015, Volume 28

Csinos, D.M. & Beckwith I. (2015). Better together: The formative power of intergenerational community. Journal of Family and Community

Ministries, 28, 32-46.

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Hear, my children, the instruction of a father, And give attention to know understanding; Proverbs 4:1 (NKJV)

George P. Wood writes of the 18 months he and his wife enjoyed being the parents of two foster daughters and the lessons he learned as a father.  Today we look at two more of these lessons:

Mothers Matter. Love Them More.  It is true that the best gift a father gives his children is to love their mother.  Since most of us men work away from home we sometimes forget that our wives have been working inside and many also work away from home.  It is important that we share in the household and childcare responsibilities so neither spouse is or feels overburdened with housework.  But Wood also says, “More than help, however, she needs your love. Long after our foster girls have left the home, long after our son has started his own family, my wife and I will still be together. The relationship you build in the parenting years will make or break the empty-nest years. It is easy to put off romance when you start multiplying kids in the home. Dads, don’t let that happen.”

God Loves. Share His Story Often.  Make God and His story of salvation a common theme, and often spoken message, a sweet song in your lips.  Wood writes, “He is not an abusive or absentee dad, of course-two kinds of fathers that are far too prevalent in our society. He is the loving Father whose good news story your children need to hear early, often, and most of all.”

As a father, I am the first telling of the gospel my children will ever see.  How I relate to their mother, and to them, tells them a lot about God, their heavenly Father.

Being a father is not an exact science since our children don’t come with an owner’s manual, like a car does.  Being a dad is more of an art, one that requires time, effort, and dedication to get good at.  I like these words; “Fathers and mothers. . .By the character you reveal before your children you are educating them to serve God or to serve self. Then offer to heaven your earnest prayers for the aid of the Holy Spirit, that your hearts may be sanctified, and that the course you pursue may honor God and win your children to Christ.”[i]

Father God, help me to lead my children to you and to heaven.

[i] White, E.G. Ye Shall Receive Power, p. 138

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For whom the LORD loves He corrects, Just as a father the son in whom he delights. Proverbs 3:12 (NKJV)

In his blog, George P. Wood speaks of his experience becoming a foster parent of two girls ages 19 months and two months, when he was 44 years old himself.  18 months later, they had to return them to their parents after they completed the necessary treatment which enabled them to have their daughters back.  As he reflected on the time he and his wife had with their two foster daughters, he shares what he learned – these are valuable lessons for all of us who are dads:

Time Flies. Make the Most of It.  As he writes, “Our last day with the girls is scheduled for July 27. If my calculations are correct, on that date, they will have been with us for 590 days. That amounts to 14,160 hours, which is equal to 849,600 minutes, which divides up into 50,976,000 seconds. Those are big numbers, but they represent fleeting opportunities. And they fly quickly.”

All of us who have seen our children grow right before our eyes can attest to that.  Those babies we brought home from the hospital, whose diapers we changed, woke up one day ready for school, drove themselves away to college, walked down the aisle to be married, and became adults in what seemed like a few days.  Make the best of every day you have them and create lots of memories for them and for you.

Memories Matter. Make the Best of Them. During the time the Woods had their two foster daughters, they celebrated birthdays and holidays and bought them gifts, clothes, and necessities.  Yet, he writes, “Those are not the things they will remember. Toys break. Children outgrow them. What matters are the memories we made together.”  He adds, “As a father, it is tempting-and easy-to substitute presents for presence. . . What kids want most is you, not the stuff you can give them. They want your undivided attention, the feeling that they matter to you, whatever you happen to be doing together. So put down that smartphone! Turn off the TV! Go outside and play! Read them a book! Give them a hug! Tell them, ‘I love you.’ Then, do it again. . . As you make memories with your kids, you begin to want memories more than stuff.”

Father God, help me to master the art of fathering with love.

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We often suffer, but we are never crushed. Even when we don’t know what to do, we never give up. 2 Corinthians 4:8 (CEV)

Jeannette Moninger, from WebMD,[i] finishes her list of stress-relieving tips that will help us zap stress in less than 15 minutes.

  1. Crank Up the Tunes. Research shows that listening to soothing music can lower blood pressure, heart rate, and anxiety. Create a playlist of songs or nature sounds such as the ocean, a bubbling brook, birds chirping, and allow your mind to focus on the different melodies, instruments, or singers in the piece. You also can blow off steam by moving to more upbeat tunes or singing at the top of your lungs. . . preferably in the shower or a place where no one else can hear you.
  2. Get Moving. All forms of exercise, including walking, can ease depression and anxiety by helping the brain release feel-good chemicals and by giving your body a chance to practice dealing with stress. You can go for a quick walk around the block, take the stairs up and down a few flights, or do some stretching exercises like head rolls and shoulder shrugs.
  3. Be Grateful. Keep a gratitude journal or several (one by your bed, one in your iPad/iPhone, and one at work) to help you remember all the things that are good in your life. Use these journals to savor good experiences like a child’s smile, a sunshine-filled day, and good health. Don’t forget to celebrate accomplishments like mastering a new task at work or a new hobby.  When you start feeling stressed, spend a few minutes looking through your notes to remind yourself what really matters.  You can also make a photo album on your device of pictures that bring you joy – your children smiling and having a good time, a vacation spot you visited, your favorite landscapes, etc.

I love these words:  “I have evidence–the very best–that God loves you. He will not thrust you from Him in your weakness, for He loves you. Do not worry yourself out of the arms of Jesus, but just repose in restful quietude in His love. His grace will be all-sufficient for you when heart and flesh shall fail. He will give you His peace and His grace. Gather to your soul God’s promises, for Jesus is your constant, unfailing friend.”[ii]

Father God, help me to rest in your arms or love and mercy always.

[i] http://www.webmd.com/balance/guide/blissing-out-10-relaxation-techniques-reduce-stress-spot?ecd=wnl_emw_052015&ctr=wnl-emw-052015_nsl-promo_5&mb=K2VcbkxhrhREAZ5zC2UpheHnVev1imbCHYS8QQY8uqo%3d

[ii] White, E.G.  Manuscrip Releases, vol 16, No. 243

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Relax, calm down – 2

Have mercy on me, O LORD, for I am weak; O LORD, heal me, for my bones are troubled. Psalm 6:2 (NKJV)

Jeannette Moninger, from WebMD,[i] gives us more stress-relieving tips that will help us zap stress in less than 15 minutes.

  1. Reach Out. Your social network is one of your best tools for handling stress. Talk to others — preferably face to face, or at least on the phone. Share what’s going on. You can get a fresh perspective while keeping your connection strong.
  2. Tune In to Your Body. Do a mental scan of your body to get a sense of how stress affects it each day. Lie on your back, or sit with your feet on the floor. Start at your toes and work your way up to your scalp, noticing how your body feels. Be aware of places you feel tight or loose without trying to change anything but paying close attention to sensations you feel in each body part.
  3. Decompress. Place a warm heat wrap around your neck and shoulders for 10 minutes. Close your eyes and relax your face, neck, upper chest, and back muscles. Remove the wrap, and use a tennis ball or foam roller to massage away tension. Place the ball between your back and the wall. Lean into the ball, and hold gentle pressure for up to 15 seconds. Then move the ball to another spot, and apply pressure.
  4. Laugh Out Loud. A good belly laugh lowers cortisol, your body’s stress hormone, and boosts brain chemicals called endorphins, which help your mood. Tune in to your favorite sitcom or video, reading the comics, or chatting with someone who makes you smile.

As much as we believe that God can help us when we are worried or stressed, it is precisely during those times that we tend to forget that He loves us and wants to help us.  Look at these words: “There are many who live under such a pressure of worry that they taste but little of the sweetness of God’s love. They do not know the meaning of the words, ‘That My joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full.’ Let us do our best, and then leave everything in the hands of the Lord, saying, I believe Thy promises. Wilt Thou not give evidence of Thy working? He will hear and answer.”[ii]

Father God, in my darkest hour, shine your light of love on me.  Help me to trust you and let me lean on you for encouragement.

[i] http://www.webmd.com/balance/guide/blissing-out-10-relaxation-techniques-reduce-stress-spot?ecd=wnl_emw_052015&ctr=wnl-emw-052015_nsl-promo_5&mb=K2VcbkxhrhREAZ5zC2UpheHnVev1imbCHYS8QQY8uqo%3d

[ii] White, E.G.  Signs of the Times, February 14, 1906

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Relax, calm down – 1

I am troubled, I am bowed down greatly; I go mourning all the day long. Psalm 38:6 (NKJV)

Life is busy.  We seem to be constantly occupied with work, family, children, the house, the church, the car, schoolwork, friends, television, and on and on.  Twenty-four hours a day don’t seem enough for all we have to do and we want to accomplish.  The result is that we are tired and stressed out.  We need a vacation, and we need it right now!  But we don’t need a spa weekend or a retreat. Jeannette Moninger, from WebMD,[i] gives us these stress-relieving tips that will help us zap stress in less than 15 minutes.

  1. Meditate. Research suggests that daily meditation may alter the brain’s neural pathways, making you more resilient to stress. You don’t need to think of meditation as something from eastern religions.  You can read a passage from Scripture, a bible promise, or read something from a religious book, then sit up straight with both feet on the floor, close your eyes, and think about all the details of what you read, as if you were present for that event or accepting that promise for you. As you study your bible, make a list of those passages you could use when you need to spend some time in this type of spiritual discipline.  Make prayer part of your time of meditation.
  2. Breathe Deeply. Take a 5-minute break and focus on your breathing. Sit up straight, eyes closed, with a hand on your belly. Slowly inhale through your nose, feeling the breath start in your abdomen and work its way to the top of your head. Reverse the process as you exhale through your mouth. Deep breathing slows the heart rate and lowers the blood pressure, and the oxygen-rich blood also helps you to relax.
  3. Be Present. Slow down. Become aware of one behavior or one aspect around you.  For instance, notice how the air feels on your face when you’re walking and how your feet feel hitting the ground. Enjoy the texture and taste of each bite of food.  When you spend time in the moment and focus on your senses, you can begin to feel less tense.

Father God, help me to relax and be less stressed so that the pressures of life may not overwhelm me and hurt me.

[i] http://www.webmd.com/balance/guide/blissing-out-10-relaxation-techniques-reduce-stress-spot?ecd=wnl_emw_052015&ctr=wnl-emw-052015_nsl-promo_5&mb=K2VcbkxhrhREAZ5zC2UpheHnVev1imbCHYS8QQY8uqo%3d

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Divorce facts – 4

But where can wisdom be found? And where is the place of understanding? 13 Man does not know its value, Nor is it found in the land of the living. Job 28:12-13 (NKJV)

Today we conclude with last six divorce facts as reported by MSN.[i]

  1. A study found that dancers and choreographers have the highest divorce rates (43.05 percent). Bartenders, with divorce rate of 38.4 percent, are at the second spot, closely followed by massage therapists (38.2 percent).
  2. According to the same study, agricultural engineers, sales people, nuclear engineers, optometrists, clergy, and podiatrists had the lowest rate of divorce.
  3. Couples who argue over matters of finance are more likely to get divorced. Often premarital couples bring a lot of debt into their marriage, something which causes tension from the very beginning. In many marriages one spouse is a saver and the other a spender.  Setting up a budget together, and keeping the finances together can help these couples to understand and manage their finances better and prevent that area from becoming a serious issue in their relationship.
  4. A study published in the journal “Family Relations” found that marriages are less likely to end in a divorce among couple with higher levels of education. At the same time, African-American women don’t seem to enjoy the same degree of protection that education confers on marriage.
  5. According to a researcher at the Ohio State University, men are likely to gain weight after divorce. One of the advantages of marriage is that spouses look after each other’s well-being. Divorced men, much like their single counterparts, don’t have that someone helping them to take better care of themselves.
  6. A study in Sweden found that people who spend more than 45 minutes commuting are more likely to divorce.

My hope is that as we review these 24 facts we will be warned but also reminded that our marriage is worth fighting for,

Father God, thank you for bringing us together as husband and wife.  Help us to fight for our marriage so we will stay happily together.

[i] http://www.msn.com/en-us/lifestyle/relationships/24-facts-you-never-knew-about-divorce/ar-BBjYgIX

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