Family Ministry

advice, thoughts, and discussion

How do I bring my child to Christ?…and help keep them there

We recently had some exciting news in our Family Ministry this week. Another child made the decision to follow Christ! He was at home and just started talking to his mom out of the blue, making what will be one of the most important decisions of his life! After talking with his mom, she was saying she really wanted some help as to how to lead her kids in prayer in accepting Jesus in their hearts. So, here’s the easiest way to lead your kids in prayer – the ABCs. (and while I believe there’s no exact formula to this…no “magic words”, this will help kids understand the decision they’re making and know what following Jesus is all about.)

A- ADMIT you are a sinner & ASK for forgiveness!

*Romans 3:23- “For all have sinned & fall short of the glory of God.”
*1 John 1:9- “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”

B- BELIEVE in Jesus as your Savior & BECOME a child of God by receiving Him!

*John 3:16- “For God so loved the world that He gave His one & only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have everlasting life.”
*John 1:12- “Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.”

C- CONFESS that Jesus is Lord & CHOOSE to follow Him daily!

*Romans 10:9- “That if you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.”
*Luke 9:23- [Jesus said,] “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.”

Now we all know that saying this prayer isn’t the “be all, end all.” We need to live a changed and transformed life where we continue growing closer to God and become more and more like Him. Sadly, 80% of people fall away from God and the Church at some point in their lives. I’m not talking about struggle or wrestling with Biblical Truths. I mean falling away. Completely. How can we help our kids on their Christian walk to the best of our ability, so they don’t have to walk down the path that so many take? How can we Raise a Kid with Strong Faith?

To Raise a Child to Have Strong Faith, the Parent must be Secure in Their Emotional Attachment to God

Zechariah 2:7-8 teaches that to God, His faithful people are the apple of His eye. Christian parents must first and foremost be secure in the fact that God not only knows them by name, but that He honestly cares about them on an emotional level. Too many have hardened their hearts – in spite of copious church attendance and Bible study – against this kind of intimate love relationship with God.

An intellectual faith that fails to move into the heart is insufficient in the dark hours to preserve our own faith. How much less is it likely that we can pass it on to the next generation as something to be secure and comfortable in?

To Raise a Kid with a Strong Faith, Christian Parents Must Have Perspective on Their Relationship with God

Zechariah 3:2 reveals that those who have been saved are much like a stick that was snatched from a fire. Smoldering a bit around the edges, we are now free to live a full life and a life everlasting.

At the same time, this very fact needs to drive home the point that being saved is not something the Christian parent somehow accomplished by themselves; instead, it is an act of God that was undertaken in spite of the way we lived our lives prior to truly knowing him. Having the perspective that the relationship with God is not one of equals is a powerful reminder that — while we are the apples of God’s eyes — we were in need of saving.

To Raise a Child with a Faith that can Move Mountains, Christian Parents Must Model Such a Life

1 Peter 4:7b-11 shows a glimpse of righteous living. It speaks of having a clear resolve of right and wrong and controlling the urges that might lead into overdoing things. Love is a staple Christianity, but it isn’t meant just for Christians. Christian parents need to demonstrate what having a relationship is all about. There are opportunities for a Christian – parent or not – to demonstrate gratitude and love to God by acts of service within the church, the community, the family, and elsewhere. This can be done through evangelism and service, and doing everything as if the people you are interacting with are Jesus Himself. (Yes, this even includes music that you may not prefer at Church, or your boss who you don’t particularly like!) While it’s very possible to preach about having a faith that will move mountains without actually living it, the odds of a child absorbing this principle and then living out their faith without having seen this faith in action are slim at best. Instead, there is a good chance that the child will learn hypocrisy of Christianity, instead.

Children are hands on learners; give them something to see, touch, follow, imitate, and learn in your own everyday walk with God, and you will be raising a child with the firm conviction that in time they, themselves, will possess a faith that can move mountains.

 

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Why do people do bad things?

There was a lot of talk between the kids in our eXclaim service. And some of it was about Christmas. Some of it was about friends and toys and exciting things that kids usually talk about. But, most of what I heard this morning from our Kindergarten-sixth graders was – Did you hear about what happened in Connecticut? My family knew someone there! Why do people do bad things?

Whoa! What a deep question, why do people do bad things…and what a difficult question to answer for kids without a huge explanation about higher Theological ideas like the problem of pain or the fall of man. How do we address these problems with our kids at church? How do we talk about the horrible things that can happen in our world? How do we talk about tragedy?

So, I thought I would take the time to give the 1, 2, 3 of talking tragedy with kids. I used our curriculum’s blog (252 basics) to find the tips. You can use these when you can’t find the words to say, or you can go over this strategy when you have a training for your ministry lay leaders:

1. Remember that the parents are the primary teachers for kids. And different parents may have chosen to handle the subject differently. One kid in your group might know all the details while another may only know generalities. We need to respect the choice parents have made for their family. Do not review details, or allow a kid to review details with the rest of the group.

2. We always want our groups to be safe environments for kids to process tough issues. If one kid seems to have more questions or have a need to talk, find a way to pull that child to the side and let him share his feelings, thoughts or concerns. Then suggest you both talk with his parents together.

3. Just like adults, kids have a desire to want to do something to help. Let them write letters encouraging the kids of Sandy Hook Elementary. Lead them in prayer for the families and the survivors.

Also, you can simply tell them that, God is good. He will work through all things, good or bad. He didn’t make the bad things happen because those people were bad or needed punishment. Even though God is Good and Powerful, there are still bad people in this world who do very bad things.

Help your kids to pray for those who have known tragedy intimately. Encourage them to talk to their parents, and that it’s alright to be scared. But, teach them to remember – “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.” Psalm 23:4

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Feeling Down?

I have a confession to make. I have some struggles, just like everyone else. One major struggle that I deal with is anxiety and depression. It’s not uncommon for me to still be in bed on a Saturday (or another morning that I don’t need to get up for work) and wish that I could just stay in bed all day. Now, I’m not talking about the occasional, “Oh, my bed feels so warm. I wish I could just snuggle up and read or watch movies all day.” I’m talking about, “I don’t think I can face this day. I have no energy. I feel hopeless.” And then, I feel guilty! For being so blessed in my life, for having it “so good” compared to so many others….and do you know what that leads to? You got it. More depression.

I’ve gone to counseling to try to “solve” my anxiety and depression. But I never have anything to talk about. I’ve tried to take medications as well. They just seem to make me gain weight! (Now, try to tell me that you wouldn’t get MORE depressed if you anti-depression medication was making you blow up like a balloon at a carnival.) Now, I’m not saying that these methods don’t work for people. I’m not even saying that they wouldn’t help me if I found a counselor that I connected to or was put on a different medication. What I’d like to talk about is how my depression and anxiety affects my marriage.

My husband is amazing. He listens to me cry for no reason, he’ll hug me when I get “that look” on my face, and he makes me get up and go on with my life…even when I feel like I can’t sometimes. But even the most compassionate and loving husband would get confused and frustrated when his wife is unhappy and lethargic for no reason. I decided to do some investigation about how I, and some of you out there can either help ourselves or help our spouses to cope with this illness. And how our marriage can thrive in the midst of it.

“Depression is a disease that can make marriage miserable. When one spouse is depressed, it affects both partners. It can rob emotional, spiritual and physical intimacy and drives both parties into isolation.

If your spouse is depressed, you might feel ignored, unimportant and frustrated. Maybe you wonder why your mate can’t just turn off the negativity and get on with life. If you’re the one who is depressed, perhaps you wish that your spouse would get off your back and you’re feeling trapped with little hope for recovery.”

We’ll look at a few points; depressed people feeling guilty, being married to a depressed spouse, and the weapon that depresses depression.

1- Let’s deal with one of the thoughts that I’ve dealt with. Is depression a sin? Can a person be freed from depression?

After research, this is the number one question asked by Christians who deal with depression. (Oh good, I’m not alone!)

Here’s some insight that I’d like to share from Dr. Bruce Hennnigan. “Depression can, in many instances, have a physical cause. So can alcoholism and several other things spoken against in the Bible. Follow me closely here: The tendency toward depression or alcoholism is not a sin; giving in to them, however, is a sin.The alcoholic will probably get drunk when he drinks, so the Christian who is an alcoholic and wants to stay in God’s will must make sure he never takes another drink. Likewise, the person who has a tendency toward depression isn’t at fault if his or her emotions begin a downward spiral. However, how he/she responds to that downward spiral will determine if there is sin.

Action Steps to take:

When you feel depression beginning to take hold of your life, try to do the following:

  1. Make sure you’re still reading the Bible and praying. You have the power, in Christ, to do what God wills.
  2. Thank God for loving you and bringing you through the bout of depression. God’s Word, not your present emotional outlook, is your authority.
  3. Try not to make a major decision while in a depressed frame of mind.
  4. Thank God for taking care of you and loving you even when you can’t feel it or see it. This exercises your faith and strengthens you.”

2- I think my spouse is depressed. What now?

Misconceptions often prevent those with depressive illnesses (including anxiety and panic) from getting treatment. For some, words like mental illness and therapy still make people feel weak or damaged in some way, the whole world able to see what you’re dealing with. In reality, depression can be much less obvious. Even so, it still debilitates and destroys its victims if left untreated.

A few key signs of depression are:

  • Daily sadness
  • Loss of interest in activities previously enjoyed
  • Restless, anxious or irritable behavior
  • Trouble concentrating, focusing or remembering
  • Excessive weariness and lethargy
  • Sleeping or eating too much or too little
  • Unexplained aches and pains
  • Thoughts of suicide or death

If you recognize any of these symptoms persisting in a spouse for more than a few weeks, check with your family doctor.

Tips from Carolyn MacInnes on helping your spouse:

“When a care-giver understands that clinical depression is a genuine medical condition, he or she may actually feel empowered. It’s encouraging to realize there are a number of tangible ways to help a spouse who is depressed:

Do

  • Pray fervently with and for them.
  • Share meaningful Scripture verses.
  • Help them see that the family needs them to get well.
  • Listen; give credibility to their feelings.
  • Seek help for yourself and offer to see a therapist with them.
  • Encourage them to consider medication; research shows that 80% of those suffering from depressive disorders can be treated successfully with modern medications.
  • Show affection; encourage them to get out and do things with you.

Don’t

  • Tell your loved one to just pray about it or make them feel like healing would come if they’d simply trust God more.
  • Make them feel guilty for the impact of their illness on the family.
  • Blame or criticize them.
  • Imply that they need help because they’re weak. Also, don’t immediately exclude other family members from counseling. Sometimes, complex relational issues involving several family members can spark depression.
  • Expect medication to solve everything. Also, don’t discount the need for prayer — and possibly therapy.
  • Let them continue in a pattern of sleep and isolation.

3- Let’s beat this thing!!!

Doctors Mark A. Sutton, Bruce Hennigan, M.D. suggest that the best way to beat depression is perseverance. “After realizing you are experiencing a depressive episode, how do you react? If you are like many I’ve counseled, you give up. You throw up your hands and say, “Depression is here again. There’s nothing I can do about it.” And then you let the disease dictate how you will react emotionally. Black moods and periods of doubt control you until the depression leaves and the cycle, for the moment, is complete. Then you wait, without realizing it, for the next cycle to begin.”

But what if we changed the cycle? Believe it or not, it is within our power to do so.We may not be able to stop depression, but we can choose how to respond to it. Here’s where the weapon of perseverance delivers a mortal blow to the enemy. Tell depression: “I’m never giving up or giving in to you. You may continue to plague me, but I’ll fight you with everything I’ve got. My emotions don’t belong to you, and I refuse to let them be held hostage without a fight. You may knock me down, but I’ve decided to keep on getting up. And I’ll fight you every time.

What does this type of attitude accomplish?

  • It breaks your usual cycle. You no longer simply give up when depression hits you.
  • The process of deciding to fight depression, even when you don’t feel like doing so, begins to give you more control over your emotions and helps you no longer feel like a victim.
  • As you decide to fight depression every time it appears, you build confidence in yourself. In many cases this shortens the amount of time depression stays with you.
  • Using the weapon of perseverance on a regular basis builds powerful habits in your behavior. Use it long enough and eventually you begin fighting depression when it appears without even realizing it!

Deuteronomy 31:8 –” The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.”

And here’s what I want to leave you with. Depression happens. It’s horrible. But, we will overcome…and, just think of how much greater Heaven will be for those of us who struggle here on earth?

Also, read the Psalms. They will encourage you in times of trouble and remind you that God will never leave you. He’s always there. Even in the bad times.

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