Thursday, August 31, 2017

New School Year- New Friends and Teaching Children to Make Good Decisions

Submitted by Pastor Van
To know wisdom and instruction, to discern the sayings of understanding, to receive instruction in wise behavior, righteousness, justice and equity; to give prudence to the naive, to the youth knowledge and discretion, a wise man will hear and increase in learning, and a man of understanding will acquire wise counsel, Proverbs 1:2-5

The most important tools parents and caregivers need to give children to equip them to survive and succeed in a dangerous world is how to make good decisions.  Knowledge of right and wrong is, of course vitally important as well.  However, young people with strong values and an inability to apply those values remain vulnerable to the world's persuasions.
While knowing what is right and wrong is fundamental to any value system, the ability to live out our value system is not so easy.  Temptations, emotions, drives, cultural influences, distorted priorities and all sorts of other pressures can regularly conflict with our values creating serious tension.  Public schools are microcosms of our society exposing our children to a wide spectrum of values each day.  Such an environment demands that children who are going be safe know how to turn their values into convictions and be able to logically defend their position.  Your child/grandchild may know what is right or wrong but not know why right is right and wrong is wrong.  If so they are vulnerable.
There are many formulas and outlines for teaching children to make decisions.  Any one of them may be chosen so long as they implement the basic principles involved in equipping a child to think through their decisions and respond rather than react to life choices. 
Decision making is a process of asking and answering questions
The most important thing you can do to help your child or grandchild make their own decisions is keep asking them questions to develop critical thinking skills.  Explaining and lecturing have limited impact in developing good skills. 
Asking questions provides awareness of the level of maturity in a child and what their primary values are.  It also reveals to them what they have not considered or need to consider.  When children ask to do something or go somewhere, the first response may need to be, "What do you think about this?"  Also, "Why do you think I would say 'yes' or 'no'?"  Becoming a part of the decision making process and not just leaving it to the parent is a great learning experience. 
There are lots of techniques you can teach them to use, although they won't need to use them all every time. Indeed, they will make some minor decisions pretty instinctively, but there will be bigger decisions as they get older for which they may need to ask the right questions.
Use a simple template to guide the decision making
Any guide should be easily remembered and as concise as possible.  Any process chosen should not be cumbersome but convenient and thorough.  Here is one sample:
Define the problem and desired end.
Brainstorm possible solutions. Identify the options
Evaluate the possible solutions.  Weigh the pros and cons
Pray about the solutions and apply Biblical wisdom.
Choose the solution that is God-honoring.
Implement the solution.
We can help our kids help themselves by taking the time to develop critical decision making skills.  You might be surprised how it will help you make decisions as well.
Scripture to Claim:

Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, "This is the way; walk in it." Isaiah 30:21

Wednesday, August 30, 2017


Submitted by Jim Garner

Change! It can have lots of different meanings or applications. For example, the dictionary says if change is being used as a verb it means, “to make or become different” or “replace with another”. However, if it is used as a noun it can be a “coin as opposed to paper currency”.  (“Show me the money!”

That’s too technical so let’s talk real life application. I do like change but I would rather have the bills. (How about you?)  Change can also be used as a social or political word to inspire a people group or political party who want to see ideals or values differently. And there are times we just like change because we get bored with the same old thing or we might need a different purpose.

But there’s also the other side of change that people don’t like. They don’t want things to be different! (Is that you?) They get comfortable and are satisfied with the way it is. But whether we like it or not, change is a part of life. We all will go through it – it’s not a matter of IF but WHEN.

This past year has been a season of change for my family. In one year, my oldest son moved three times all with the same employer from Austin to Boise to DFW and back to Austin. My youngest son got married, graduated college, and then got his first full-time church job. My daughter got her driver’s license and is beginning to think seriously about college and a career path. (“Yikes! Time needs to slow down!”) And then to top it off, my wife retired from teaching and has now become a real estate agent. Please pray for us…that’s a lot of change. I’m excited about it but it’s different and challenging in so many ways. But it’s good. It’s life!

The Bible, the much-needed and consistent spiritual authority for life for Christ-followers offers a lot of encouragement and strength as we face change in our lives. It’s coming…we just need to be ready. One minute we think we have life all figured out and “just about the way we want it” when the following things happen:

*Loss of job or job change                                                 *Relocation to a different area of the state or country
*Put on a different team or group                         *A natural disaster hits our home or church
*Sickness or death in the family
We think: “That’s not what I wanted!” But we don’t always get what we want or think we need. But there is hope and purpose in everything even when we don’t see it. Check out some of these great verses the Bible offers us for support in remembering who is ultimately in charge and that He has a plan for our lives even though we don’t have it all figured out all the time.  And that’s okay!

Hebrews 13:8 – “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.”

Joshua 1:9 – “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

Philippians 4:6-7 – “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

No Penalty, No Power

submitted by Lara Cook
Sin is no longer your master, for you no longer live under the requirements of the law. Instead, you live under the freedom of God's grace.  Romans 6:14 NLT

Freedom.  It is something that we take for granted way too often.  But sometimes we don’t live in freedom like we should as children of God, saved by grace, forgiven and redeemed.  That is because we may know in our heads that we are forgiven and absolved, but we allow the power of sin to maintain its grip on our hearts.  We can’t shake it.  We can’t accept that sin has been defeated because of Jesus Christ rescuing us and instead, we live defeated lives.  Living like this makes everything Jesus did on the cross in vain.  What good is His sacrifice if it doesn’t deliver us from the captivity of sin and allow us to live in His grace and freedom? 
As long as we are humans living on this earth, we will struggle with sin, saved or not saved.  The difference is that we have the power of Christ to fight temptations and sin.  We don’t have to fail or remain in the bondage of sin.  Because of His sacrifice on the cross we are free from the penalty of sin and the power of sin.  With this gift of absolution, we should soar in the freedom from that bondage. 
There is nothing like relief from the bondage of sin or the bondage of anything that weighs heavy on us – debt, worry, anxiety, regret, depression, fear, etc.   The moment the weight is lifted off your shoulders and the peace floods in is the best feeling in the world.  Weightlessness, freed from the mummy wrapped trappings of sin that entangle us and constrict us to the point of squeezing our life right from us.  Instead of letting sin have the power over us, we need to give the power to freedom. 
There is great power in freedom in Christ and Christ desires that for all of us.  Satan, however, is another story.  Satan wants us to live under the power of our sin and never know the freedom of Christ’s forgiveness.  He can’t touch us because we are released from the penalty of our sin, but he loves it when we continue to live oppressed lives under the power of sin.  What a waste of such a beautiful sacrifice.  Jesus has given us this amazing gift.  How effective could we be for His kingdom if we fully exercised the influence of our freedom in Him? 
What good would it be to a prisoner if he were pardoned, the cell door opened, and he chose not to leave.  What good is the gift of freedom from our penalty of sin if we can’t enjoy the freedom because we are still too bound up from the power of sin?  Live free.  Release the power of sin in your life and take back the freedom you were given. 

Scripture to Claim:
But now you are free from the power of sin and have become slaves of God. Now you do those things that lead to holiness and result in eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord.
 Romans 6:22-23

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