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Posts Tagged ‘Faith’

Catholics, Jews, and mainline Protestants have lower divorce rates than Americans of other religious backgrounds.

read more… http://family-studies.org/what-god-has-joined-together-religion-and-the-risk-of-divorce/?utm_source=IFS+Main+List&utm_campaign=60864c3afc-Newsletter_94&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_c06b05f1ff-60864c3afc-104541745

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In God’s gates

Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, And into His courts with praise. Be thankful to Him, and bless His name. Psalm 100:4 (NKJV)

A new study finds that faith or religion can do more to provide “sustained happiness” than other types of social activities, like taking a class, volunteering for charity, or even playing sports.  Writing for TODAY, Eun Kyung Kim[i] explains that “Going to church, mosque or synagogue regularly often provides a more reliable boost in mental welfare than belonging to an active group like a book club, political organization or a sports team.”

According to researcher Mauricio Avendano of the London School of Economics (LSE) and Erasmus University Medical Center in the Netherlands. “The church appears to play a very important social role in keeping depression at bay and also as a coping mechanism during periods of illness in later life.”  American psychologist Jennifer Harstein added that religion tends to have longer lasting power than other types of activities for many people.  Religion has permanence in our life.  As she said, “Our religious affiliation is something that’s longer term. You can go, you can leave, it’s always there.  It’s sustained, like the happiness, whereas a sports group ends. It might be seasonal. Or a volunteer opportunity might end.”

While sports, politics, or hobbies can play an important role in our lives, religion tends to reach a deeper level for us.  As Harstein explained, “We know that spirituality is something that really helps people feel like they find that higher power, they find that center, that groundedness”

The study from LSE study also found that religion also helped ease symptoms of depression and help the sick cope better with their illness. One of the reasons this is so is because houses of worship often help lessen burdens for people.  When we go to church we get to present our burdens to God, and share them with people who care about us and who pray, support, and encourage us.  That gives us a powerful boost even in the most discouraging of circumstances.  This is something that social clubs, sports, or politics can’t ever do for us.

Father God, may I be blessed as I enter within your gates weekly, and may I also be a helper to those that come to your courts for help.

[i] http://www.today.com/health/study-religion-faith-can-help-provide-sustained-happiness-t39036

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Then they laid hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit. Acts 8:17 (NKJV)

We continue with the five ways you can help your children grow and mature in the faith as suggested by Karen Huber[i] Yesterday we talked about the importance of worshipping and serving together as a family.

Encourage questions.  One way to learn to ask questions is by using a board game called “The Ungame.”  The Ungame is a wonderful game to teach us to communicate better by practicing both talking and active listening.  The game includes several cards with questions which can serve as icebreakers in general or for couples.  One set in particular has questions for spiritual understanding.  For instance, “What does baptism mean to you?”  “Who is Jesus?”  A question like, “A time when it helps me to remember God’s promises is … ” can encourage your child to place God’s word in his or her everyday life. These types of questions and conversation starters may lead your child to reflect on their understanding of God and their faith.  We don’t want children to simply memorize and respond like robots or computers; we want them to live and experience faith in God.   You can also make these conversation starters a habit at the breakfast table or at bedtime and allow the conversation to go where God leads.

Consider commissioning your children as they start the school year. Huber writes, “Help them to understand their spiritual gifts or love languages and how to practice them at school. A child who’s love language is service can be a wonderful helper for new students. Praise and affirm the godly gifts you recognize in your child. Pray for them before that first day, that they would feel God’s presence during their days and that He would show them ways to be a light, loving and serving their classmates and teachers. This can help them understand their place in God’s story and the world.”

We close with these challenge: “In order to be teachers, parents must be learners, gathering light constantly from the oracles of God and by precept and example bringing this precious light into the education of their children.”[ii]

Father God, help me to be a good learner and a good teacher.

[i] https://vitalmagazine.com/Home/Article/Five-Ways-to-Help-Your-Kids-Grow-in-the-Faith/

[ii] White, E.G.  The Adventist Home. p.184

SEPTEMBER

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Growing your kids in the faith – 2

When Jesus heard it, He marveled, and said to those who followed, “Assuredly, I say to you, I have not found such great faith, not even in Israel!” Matthew 8:10 (NKJV)

Karen Huber[i] suggests five ways you can help your children grow and mature in their faith. Yesterday we talked about starting young.  Don’t wait until they are older, when you think they can understand.  They can appreciate, learn, and understand a lot from the time they are very small.

Let them see you worship.  When our daughters were born, my wife didn’t take a break of several week or months from church.  The very next week after their birth they were at church.  Sure there were times she needed to take them out because they were a bit cranky or sick, but they were in church from the time they were born.  Sometimes parents of newborns feel that they should wait to take them to church until they are older or until they are ready.  It’s best if the family worships at home and at church together from the time they are born so they get used to it and make worship a part of their lives.  You may also want to make sure your church includes children in the worship service.  If they don’t suggest it to the pastor and church board.

Give and serve together. Look for ways to serve with your family, in your church and in the community.  You can find opportunities to serve in community soup kitchens, raking an elderly neighbor’s yard, prayer walking your neighborhood, or sponsoring a child in need to attend church school.  When you get involved in mission service together as a family you will help your own children put feet to their faith. As Huber states, “Serving and giving together allows them to practice acts of love for neighbor and obedience to God.”

We play a very important role in the lives of our children. “Parents should in a special sense regard themselves as agents of God to instruct their children, as did Abraham, to keep the way of the Lord. They need to search the Scriptures diligently, to know what is the way of the Lord, that they may teach it to their household.”[ii]

Father God, guide us to worship and serve together as a family.

[i] https://vitalmagazine.com/Home/Article/Five-Ways-to-Help-Your-Kids-Grow-in-the-Faith/

[ii] White, E.G.  The Adventist Home, p.184.

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When I call to remembrance the genuine faith that is in you, which dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice, and I am persuaded is in you also. 2 Timothy 1:5 (NKJV)

From the moment they are born, we have so many dreams and wishes for our children.  We hope they will be good students, have good health, will one day have a good job, and finally that they will find a good spouse to marry, have a good home, and children of their own.  Among the hopes we have for them, none of them stands higher than the hope that the y will have a good relationship with God, accept Jesus as their Lord and Savior, be guided daily by the Holy Spirit, and become good members of God’s church.  Sometimes we worry, or fear, that they will not walk in the Lord’s ways, that they will leave everything we believe and love, turn their backs on our faith and our God, and be lost.

We need to remember that everyone of us, including our children, have the gift of freedom of choice.  Just like us, they can also choose between following God or not.  Our responsibility as parents is to show them and teach them to love Him and follow Him, but the ultimate decision is theirs and theirs alone.  So, how can we naturally and consistently guide our children as their faith matures?  Karen Huber[i] suggests five ways you can help your children grow and mature in their faith:

Start young.  Even before the child is born they hear their parents’ voices.  Make it a habit to talk and sing about God.  Once they are born, continue the practice of singing to them; and the songs your sing to them in the nursery will be the first opportunity they will have to hear of God’s love for them.  Pray for your children out loud, as you hold them, and throughout the day and throughout their growing years. You can also help your toddler to recognize and name God’s creation as they touch the grass and the flowers, as you answer their questions about the clouds in the sky.  You can teach your preschoolers how to give thanks. Share stories about who Jesus is to you.  Make the bible stories personal and practical to their young minds.

Father God, use me to help grow my children in faith in you so they will love you and serve you always.

[i] https://vitalmagazine.com/Home/Article/Five-Ways-to-Help-Your-Kids-Grow-in-the-Faith/

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Stop forming inappropriate relationships with unbelievers. Can right and wrong be partners?  2 Corinthians 6:14 (GW)

Our faith is often central to our identity and how we approach the most important aspects of our life.  Psychologist Leslie Becker-Phelps[i] writes that it’s normal to overlook some differences when first dating someone. But, sooner or later, one issue that you would be wise to address head on is a difference of religion or faith.  So, if your relationship is headed toward serious commitment, you need to consider the implications of your differences in this area and take the time to think and talk about the following possible issues that might arise:

Values: How are they different? For instance, what is your view on abstinence before marriage? Do you believe that accepting Jesus Christ as your savior is the only path to salvation?  What does that mean to your relationship is the other person is not a Christian?

Family of origin:  If your family is not happy with you marrying outside your religion, are you prepared to bring this conflict into your family of origin?  Are you ready to cope with conflicts that will very likely emerge.

Raising Children: The first decision is whether to have or not have children, how many, and how soon. What are your beliefs about birth control and abortion.  How will you raise your children?  According to your faith or your future spouse’s?  Neither?  None?

Everyday life: Some questions to consider are: How important is it for you to pray, have family worship, and attend church together? Do you want to center your social life around your religion? If so, how will that work?  Will your partner want to display symbols of their faith in your house? If so, what will those be and how comfortable are you with them?  Will you celebrate religious holy days?  Which ones?  And how?

Communication and respect are important to all relationships, but they are tested more in interfaith couples. Those differences may not seem that important now, but  they will have serious implications later.

Father God, help me to take these steps very carefully and seriously knowing they will affect my life but also my spouse and children.

[i] http://blogs.webmd.com/art-of-relationships/2015/03/what-if-my-partner-doesnt-share-my-faith.html?ecd=wnl_sxr_040415&ctr=wnl-sxr-040415_nsl-promo_3&mb=K2VcbkxhrhREAZ5zC2UpheHnVev1imbCHYS8QQY8uqo%3d

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Your Children’s Faith

Scripture: I rejoiced greatly because I have found some of your children living according to the truth, just as the Father commanded us. (2 John 1:4)

 

Observation:  Of thy children. Literally, “out of thy children.” This may reflect the possibility that all church members had not proved faithful. It may also be that John had not met or heard reports of all the “children,” and that others were equally faithful.

Walking. Gr. peripateō (see on Eph. 2:2). The word is frequently used in Scripture to describe the daily conduct (cf. Phil. 3:17).

In truth. That is, consistently living under the control of truth, faithfully performing every duty on earth as part of the walk toward the eternal home (see on 1 John 1:7). [The Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, Volume 7. 1980 (F. D. Nichol, Ed.) (687). Review and Herald Publishing Association.]

 

Application:  At first glance, this text almost seems to indicate that not all of this church lady’s children were faithful, but Paul did rejoice over those that were.  The original language, however, tells us that maybe what Paul meant to say was that the children he knew about were faithful.  As parents, we want to know that all our kids are living in such a way that they are faithful not just in the eyes of other people but in the eyes of God.  How can we ensure our kids will grow up to love and follow God?

1. Pray for them daily.  When we think about the book of Job we probably remember the disasters that came on him – lost everything, his children were killed, he got sick.  But one great lesson from his life was his constant prayers for his children.  The Bible states, “So it was, when the days of feasting had run their course, that Job would send and sanctify them, and he would rise early in the morning and offer burnt offerings according to the number of them all. For Job said, ‘It may be that my sons have sinned and cursed God in their hearts.’ Thus Job did regularly.” Job 1:5 (NKJV)  Rise early in the morning and pray for your children.  Pray for them throughout the day, and let the last words on your lips at night be prayers for them.

2. Worship with them daily and weekly.  One cannot ever underestimate the value of daily family worship, morning and evening, and of attending church together as a family.  Even as the kids grow up into adults, attending church together continues to bring the family closer to each other as the same time as they come closer to God.

3. Serve together.  Research and experience show that acts of service deepens the spiritual experience of people.  For children and young people, it is more valuable when the family devotes time in service together than when the parents send them or pay for them to go to do it.

May it be said about our children that they are living according to the truth just as the Father commanded us.

 

A Prayer You May Say:  Father God, Bless our children this day, and may they be faithful to You today and each day of their lives.

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Faith and Love Are Married

Scripture:  For this reason, because I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints, I do not cease to give thanks for you when I remember you in my prayers. (Ephesians 1:15, 16 NET)

 

Observation: Love to the saints is a natural outcome of faith in Christ. It is impossible to love God without loving the saints (1 John 4:20), and, indeed, those who are not so saintly. The love Paul commends is comprehensive, including all the saints, even those whom it may be difficult to love because of their various habits and temperaments. [The Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, Volume 6. 1980 (F. D. Nichol, Ed.) (1002). Review and Herald Publishing Association.]

 

Application: it’s amazing how many people actually notice you, your behavior, and your relationship with your spouse and family.  When you walk way ahead of your spouse, don’t hold the door open for them, or don’t look them in the eye when they’re talking to you others notice.  When you sit separately in church, don’t hold hands, or speak in unkind or rude words, others notice.  And often the ones that notice that most are those closest to you…your own children.

 

The apostle Paul commended the members of the church at Ephesus because their faith and their love went together.  In fact, he not only commended them but thanked God for them and their attitude toward one another.  He recognized their faith in action through their loving action toward all the saints.. They were not nice only to some of the saints, maybe those that were nice toward them, or those who we leaders of the church, but to all, the rich and the poor, the leader and the follower.  but most importantly, they were loving toward those saints who were members of their own household.  sometimes we forget that those closest to us are also part of God’s family and therefore they are counted among God’s saints.

 

Following the example of the Ephesians, then, our faith is not demonstrated in how many miracles we perform, if any, or if we are able to understand and teach complicated Bible passages, or whether we can guide others to a greater knowledge of God, all of which are good, but whether our love for people reflect the faith we have in the God we love and serve.  If Paul were alive and he knew us and the church where we attend on a regular basis, what would he say of us?  If he knew how we relate to those closest to us, the saints that live with us, what would he say of our faith?  I pray his words would be a strong commendation, never a condemnation.

 

A Prayer You May Say: Father God, help our faith be reflected in our loving actions toward all the saints, particularly the ones within our own household.

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Scripture: And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love. 1 Corinthians 13:13

Observation: And now—Translate, “But now.” “In this present state” [Henderson]. Or, “now” does not express time, but opposition, as in 1Co 5:11, “the case being so” [Grotius]; whereas it is the case that the three gifts, “prophecy,” “tongues,” and “knowledge” (cited as specimens of the whole class of gifts) “fail” (1Co 13:8), there abide permanently only these three—faith, hope, charity. In one sense faith and hope shall be done away, faith being superseded by sight, and hope by actual fruition (Ro 8:24; 2Co 5:7); and charity, or love, alone never faileth (1Co 13:8). But in another sense, “faith and hope,” as well as “charity,” abide; namely, after the extraordinary gifts have ceased; for those three are necessary and sufficient for salvation at all times, whereas the extraordinary gifts are not at all so; compare the use of “abide,” 1Co 3:14. Charity, or love, is connected specially with the Holy Spirit, who is the bond of the loving union between the brethren (Ro 15:30; Col 1:8). Faith is towards God. Hope is in behalf of ourselves. Charity is love to God creating in us love towards our neighbor. In an unbeliever there is more or less of the three opposites—unbelief, despair, hatred. Even hereafter faith in the sense of trust in God “abideth”; also “hope,” in relation to ever new joys in prospect, and at the anticipation of ever increasing blessedness, sure never to be disappointed. But love alone in every sense “abideth”; it is therefore “the greatest” of the three, as also because it presupposes “faith,” which without “love” and its consequent “works” is dead (Ga 5:6; Jam 2:17, 20). [Jamieson, R., Fausset, A. R., & Brown, D. (1997). Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible (1 Co 13:13). Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.]

Application: The words of today’s text are some of the best known among Christians. At the end of this section of Paul’s letter to the members of the church at Corinth, which has come to be known as the “love chapter,” for obvious reasons, we find three things which Paul says are more permanent than the gifts of prophecy or other languages. These three are Faith, Hope, and love. There are very important theological implications of these three words, some of which are addressed above. But I want to suggest that these three are crucial ingredients for a lasting marriage. Let’s think about them separately:
1. Faith. Researchers have found that successful couples that agree on four crucial areas tend to have more lasting, more satisfying relationships. Those four areas are spirituality, finances, in-laws, and parenting. If we can’t agree on our spirituality as a couple, the foundation for a long, strong relationship will be weak. Faith in God helps us when we go through the hardships of life, the pain of illness and death, the fear of losing a loved one, the conflicts and the resolutions.

2. Hope. When we become complacent in our relationship, we may not realize until it is very late in the game how far we have drifted apart from each other. After betrayal, when there seems to be no way out and no reason to move forward, when the waters of despair seem to overwhelm us, hope can still keep us together and may be the motivation to hang in, to hold on until the relationship is restored.

3. Love. The type of giving, unselfish, sacrificial love that Paul speaks about in this chapter is crucial for the well-being of a lasting marriage. Love brought us together, love has been with us through the ups and downs of life, and love will be glue that keeps us together.
When these three are still part of our marriage, I believe it can survive even the worst events and the worst memories, and will help you move forward to a more satisfying relationship.

A Prayer You May Say: Father God, may these three abide in our life and marriage, and may they keep us together for the long run.

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Already Gone

A few months back someone recommended a book to me.  The name of the book is “Already Gone: Why Your Kids will quit church and what you can do to stop it” by Ken Ham and Brit Beemer
Among the things they write in their book, they state that since 1969, 1500 churches in England have closed.  They also quote George Barna:
“A majority of twenty-somethings – 61% of today’s young adults – had been churched at one point during their teen years but they are now spiritually disengaged (i.e., not actively attending church, reading the Bible, or praying).
Ham and Beemer conducted their own study which led them to conclude that:
“We are losing many more people by middle school and many more by high school than we will ever lose in college.” p.32
“Many parents will fork out big bucks to send these students to Christian colleges, hoping to protect them in their faith.  But the fact is, they’re already gone.” p.32
In their study, they found about those who no longer believe that all of the accounts and stories in the Bible are true, that:
– 39.8% first had doubts in middle school
– 43.7% first had their doubts in high school
– 10.6% had their first doubts during college
To what does they attribute this? Two reasons:
1. The acceptance of Theistic Evolution by the church.
Theistic Evolution basically teaches that God used evolution to bring the different life forms into being.  That evolution happened over very long periods of time, much longer than. . . seven literal days.
In the late 18th century and early 19th century the scientific community in Europe began to propagate the theory of evolution, and what happened next was that many leaders of the church of England led the churches to believe the idea that the earth is millions or billions of years old and to try to reconcile this idea with the Bible.
Obviously, the way to do this was to reinterpret the days of creation as long periods of time.  Others adopted the “gap theory” explaining that there was a gap of millions of years between the first two verses of Genesis.
So here’s Ham and Beemer’s conclusion on this point:
“Effectively, the church basically hands over the history of the universe to the secular educational institutions, and concentrates on the spiritual and moral aspects of Christianity.  The church actually disconnects the Bible from the real world.  The children . . . in the churches are really taught that in the church, one doesn’t deal with geology, biology, and so on – that is for school.  In church we talk about Jesus – we deal with doctrines and we study moral and spiritual matters – but anything pertaining to understanding geology, astronomy, anthropology, and so forth is left in school.” p.78
“Please understand this!  Ninety percent of children from church homes attend public/government schools.  There, by and large, they are taught a biological, anthropological, geological, and astronomical history of the universe that totally contradicts the Bible’s account of creation, the Flood, and the Tower of Babel.” p.78
[By the way, I strongly recommend you rent and watch the movie “Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed.  With and by Ben Stein]
2. Attendance to Sunday School.
“Sunday school is actually more likely to be detrimental to the spiritual and moral health of our children.” p.38
His argument is that in Sunday School children are taught stories from the Bible, but because what they learn in public school totally contradicts the creation account, children actually begin to accept the fact that the Bible is not credible and therefore it is irrelevant in their lives.
I don’t believe they goes far or deep enough in their conclusions.
On point number 2 – Sunday School by its very nature, being on Sunday, undermines the Bible.  We can’t conclude the same about Sabbath School because Sabbath School, by its very nature, affirms the creation story, and thus validates the Bible.
But point number is more troublesome because so many of our own parents are sacrificing their children at the public school altar and then, when they begin to show signs of disconnect with the church, they want their kids to go to one of our colleges or universities.  The majority, by this point, don’t even want to go to an Adventist college or university – they conclude they are too restrictive, too conservative, etc.  In addition, their friends are going to public colleges. . .
But even those that attend an Adventist college already face a huge challenge.  Ham and Beemer conclude:
“A Christian college experience can be a very positive thing for a growing Christian’s faith.  But the numbers indicate that parents must look at their children’s early years in elementary and middle school to make sure they are prepared to defend their faith.  Because if they don’t, before they even get to college, they are already gone.” p.91-92
Whenever I hear that we’re spending too much money at the conference for Adventist education or for Adventist schools I can’t help but think of this book and ask myself, what is the price for our children’s eternal salvation?
As parents, am I willing to provide my kids with a large screen, flat panel, high definition TV, but not with the opportunity and the environment where my kids will have the best chance at salvation?
Do I want them to get the best education taxes can offer even if that means placing my kids in an environment where they will hear things which will cause them to question or doubt the validity of the Bible?
When I hear about the quality of education Adventist schools offer, compared to what the public schools offer, why do we still believe what they offer is better than what we have?
Every year I see the scores from national standardized tests and consistently they show that students in Adventist schools perform better than students in public schools, and yet many parents continue to buy into the lie that public schools are better than Adventist schools, and they have taught their children that Adventist schools are not as good as public schools and they are too expensive to boot. . . no wonder their children don’t want to attend our schools, following a myth instead of reality.
From the time our daughters were old enough to understand we taught them about the blessings of Adventist education, and we made it clear that they only had one choice until after college: Either they attended a church school, or they would have to have their mom and dad for their teachers.  Faced with that choice, they never, ever brought up the possibility of attending a public school.  Once you provide the choice of the “forbidden fruit” – public school – children will do anything to eat of that fruit.
I always said, when I get to heaven, if my girls are not there because they chose not to be, I want to face my God and tell Him – I provided them with everything they needed to have the best chance at salvation.  If I put them in public school, and don’t take them to church, and don’t spend time praying with them and studying the Bible with them at home, what will I tell my God?
We have our schools to provide our children with the best chance for them to come to know Jesus.  That chance, complemented with the work of the church and of the parents at home, will give them the best chance at salvation.
“Our ideas of education take too narrow and too low a range. There is need of a broader scope, a higher aim. True education means more than the pursual of a certain course of study. It means more than a preparation for the life that now is. It has to do with the whole being, and with the whole period of existence possible to man. It is the harmonious development of the physical, the mental, and the spiritual powers. It prepares the student for the joy of service in this world and for the higher joy of wider service in the world to come.”  {Ellen G. White, Education, p. 13}
“To restore in man the image of his Maker, to bring him back to the perfection in which he was created, to promote the development of body, mind, and soul, that the divine purpose in his creation might be realized–this was to be the work of redemption. This is the object of education, the great object of life.”  {Ibid, p.15}
True education, such as is offered in our schools – or should be offered, if it is not – should bring us all to the first four words of the Bible: “In the beginning GOD…”  because that is what everything is all about, to Him we owe it all, and to Him we’re preparing to go.  And no sacrifice is too big to make to ensure our children come to the same conclusion.
“In the beginning GOD.”

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